Thousands pour off cruise ships

By Roger Moroney, Tim Wakely

The Bay's population jumped by 7232 with the arrival of three luxury cruise liners yesterday.

Liner passengers kept cafes, stores and local attractions busy throughout the day.

Napier i-Site manager Carolyn Neville said the influx added to the estimated total 50,000 visitors to Hawke's Bay during the January and February period.

She said although it was a little chaotic at times, everything managed to run smoothly.

"Today was really intense," she said. "It's really fitting all the tourists in as everything managed to overlap. We had to put on three extra staff on in the overlap period. Overall it was a really fantastic day, as it was really good boost to the summer season.

"People went round the city or they went on the Napier Highlights Tour or the Regional Tour. Attractions such as the Supertrike tours around Napier have been really popular today, too."

She said having three different ocean liners here simultaneously was a reflection of how busy this part of the year was.

"February has traditionally been our busy time of year. During January and February we usually have 45,000 through the i-Site centre, in the middle of winter we usually have 15,000 people through."

Pacific Souvenirs owner John Jeffares said it was another day at the office. An office which had, on average throughout the whole day, about 50 people in it at any one time.

"Yeah it's been pretty full-on. It got panicky for a while when there was a crossover (when passengers from the second of two big liners to later berth in port descended on the CBD) but we got through it."

Mr Jeffares said the hot items were kiwi and sheep soft toys, T-shirts with a silver fern or similar emblem, caps, pendants, key-rings and caps: "And postcards ... thousands of them."

The usual staff of two or three had been expanded to six yesterday, and at the height of the afternoon, just after 3pm, 56 people were in the shop, and 11 of them in the queue to be served.

Mr Jeffares said some visitors had told him it was their third visit to Napier on a ship.

"I think I did recognise a couple," he said with a smile.

Ujazi Cafe owner Phillippa Reid said they were prepared for the influx. "This is our busy time of year and we do get a lot of tourists at this time, so there is normally a lot of flexibility with staff at this time.

However, it does depend on the cruise ship as they may have tours booked for their passengers."

Napier Inner City committee member Terri Coats said it was a good time of year for retailers because of the publicised events in the Bay.

"It's a vibrant time and the city looks fantastic at the moment. People are enjoying attractions such as the steam train."

Not all tourists were spending.

"I've had lots of tourists come into my store, most just ask for directions and some are after a bargain. Places such as Mister D and souvenir places have really taken off."

Voyager of the Seas passenger Cardille Wilson loved her short time in Napier: "We brought souvenirs and wandered around the place and took photos of the buildings."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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