Bay of Plenty tour operators and retailers are gearing up for the start of the cruise season, which will see three vessels making maiden voyages to Tauranga.

Eighty-five cruise ship visits are scheduled this cruise season, which begins when the
108,000 tonnes Golden Princess sails into the Port of Tauranga on October 10.

Among the three vessels making maiden visits is the Cunard cruise line's Queen Mary 2 which is the world's only transatlantic passenger vessel to carry dogs and cats.

After a multi-million dollar redesign last year its animal guests travel in style.


As well as the 24 onboard kennels complete with extensive play areas, it has a dedicated owners' lounge, a kennel master and an animal welfare expert who facilitates contact between owners and their pets.

Owners can sign up to the 'Pets on Deck' programme, which includes a range of pet-friendly services and amenities.

That includes fresh-baked biscuits at turn-down, a choice of beds and blankets, and even a coat with a QM2 logo.

As part of the enhanced programme, dogs and cats receive a complimentary gift pack featuring a Frisbee, name tag, food dish, scoop, and a portrait with their owner.

There are also two items essential for any dog even at sea - an authentic New York City fire hydrant and a British lamp post

The 148,528 tonnes QM 2 which arrives on March 4 next year will be staying overnight.

The Viking Sun, due to visit on January 31, is making its first 141 days world cruise and the Norwegian Jewel are both making their maiden voyages to Tauranga.

The largest ship making three visits this season is the $1.25 billion mega cruise liner Ovation of the Seas which is 347m long and weighs 167,800 tonnes.

The luxury superliner Celebrity Solstice will make six visits during the season which runs until May 18, 2018.

Tourism Bay of Plenty chief executive Kristin Dunne said Cruise New Zealand estimated $45m is expected to be poured into the local economy this cruise season.

"This season is largely business as usual and we are looking forward to welcoming over 165,000 cruise passengers to our shore again," she said.

Under Esther Goldsworthy's continued management we have hired a great team to welcome and inform passengers, including a new volunteer ambassador team."

"We continue to work collaboratively with retailers, attractions and tour operators to assist businesses to create opportunities with Cruise.

"We're pleased the industry is stable with sustainable businesses that are growing each year," Ms Dunne said.

Mount Mainstreet manager Ingrid Fleming said it was important the whole community puts out the welcome mat to cruise ship visitors.

Lots of people do already come out to welcome and farewell the ships and their guests, which is great to see and we encourage more people to do so," she said

"Cruise ships visiting our shores is an important economic boost for our retailers and the local economy," she said.

Our ultimate goal is to ensure that we create a positive experience for our guests so they'll share that with their family and friends back home and want to come back again."

Tauranga Mayor Greg Brownless agreed.

"It's becoming more and more important, as these days around half of the cruise passengers choose to stay in Tauranga for the day rather than travel on elsewhere.

"Even those who visit other places are usually back with enough time left to take a walk and perhaps some shopping at least in the Mount area where the ship is docked," he said.

"Cruise tourism is not only a way to help our economy, it's also a way for us to meet friendly people from abroad and for them to interact with us," Mr Brownless said.