Watch NZH Local Focus: Napier's cruise ship season off to a good start

Kaysha Brownlie

The number of cruise ships coming into Napier Port this season are on the up with passenger numbers set to soar too.

The arrival of Sun Princess on Monday marks the first day of the season.

Napier i-Site manager Jane Libby says 54 ships are docking at the port this season, "it equates to about 95,000 passengers".

"Our philosophy about cruise ship passengers is that we're very privileged to have them delivered to our doorstep."

The biggest cruise liner ever to hit New Zealand's shores, Ovation of the Seas, which can hold nearly 5000 passengers, is on the list and due to arrive early January.

Last season, cruise ships pumped more than $20 million into the region's economy.

Cruise New Zealand's annual report predicts rapid growth this season.

Napier Mayor Bill Dalton says it is a boost to the economy, "we must realise it goes right across the region".

Napier Port has already upgraded some facilities to allow larger ships to stop there.

Napier Port chief executive officer Garth Cowie says bigger vessels are "cascading into the New Zealand market," which is driven by volume through local businesses.

Although expansions are influenced by heavy container volumes, he says the cruise ship season tags onto the end of their plans well.

Mr Cowie says the port is happy to be the first stop for the thousands of passengers who then venture through the streets.

The Port is currently consulting on a proposal to build another wharf, which would enable two large cruise ships in port at the same time at the height of the season.

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- NZ Herald

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