Cruise ships to bring in $9 million in a week

By Keith Perry

Auckland's economy could be boosted by $9 million from visits by a record nine cruise ships in one week, shipping industry estimates show.

Ports of Auckland will service the nine as they berth this week.

Four of them will dock in just two days, Friday and Saturday.

The week began and ends with visits from two queens - the Queen Elizabeth 2 arrived at 6 yesterday morning and left at 1am today and her big sister, the Queen Mary 2, arrives next Saturday.

Despite the Queen Mary 2 being the biggest cruise ship ever to call here, the most challenging day for port logistics will be on Friday when two giant ships, the Statendam and the Sapphire Princess, arrive in the early morning within an hour of each other.

"It will be the biggest passenger exchange the port has ever handled - nearly 8000 people in one day," said Wayne Mills, general manager of port services.

"That's equivalent to more than 19 jumbo jets."

A Ports spokeswoman said these nine visits were expected to pump about $9 million into the regional economy, based on cruise ship visit numbers.

The Queen Mary alone is estimated to contribute $1 million during her brief stay in terms of berthing fees, fuel costs and cash spent by passengers and crews on shopping and tourism.

The 63,800-tonne QE2 is thought to pump half a million dollars a day into local economies.

A 2005 Market Economics report on the significance of the cruise industry to Auckland forecast that the direct spend by the industry in the 2005-06 season would be $51 million, generating $104 million of economic activity in the region, and sustaining 752 fulltime-equivalent jobs.

It says of this, $46 million would be contributed to GDP.

Last night, Cunard Line president and managing director Carol Marlow said: "More and more people seem to be taking cruises now, some 14 million a year.

"And we are seeing a growth in families taking cruises together - with the grandparents, parents and children coming on board.

"People seem to have higher disposable incomes now and want something a bit different."

On Friday, the busiest day, 2700 passengers will disembark from the Sapphire Princess and a similar number will embark, and the Statendam will have 1250 off and on.

The two liners also have 1750 crew between them.

Customs marine and trade acting manager Simon Williamson said the service had organised extra resources to help deal with the number of passengers needing to be processed.

"The challenge for Customs is some passengers and crew will be leaving the ships and returning home via other transport. So we need to make sure this happens as seamlessly as possible while not jeopardising border security.

"It's definitely a busy time for us but we are ready for it," Mr Williamson said.

The number of ships calling in such a short time means not all will be able to berth at the main Overseas Passenger Terminal at Princes Wharf.

The Statendam will be processed at the recently upgraded secondary facility at Queens Wharf and, later in the week, the 345m-long Queen Mary 2 will berth at Jellicoe Wharf, which can accommodate length more safely.

Money Ships

* Direct spending by the cruise industry in the 2005-06 season has been estimated at $51 million.

* That is forecast to generate $104 million of economic activity, sustaining 752 fulltime-equivalent jobs.

* About $46 million of that will contribute to GDP.

* The Queen Mary will contribute $1 million in terms of berthing fees, fuel costs and passenger and crew spending.

* The QE2 is thought to pump $500,000 a day into local economies.

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