Anyone who's old enough should still cringe on recalling ABC TV's kitsch comedy series The Love Boat.

Among the show's (mid-70s to mid-80s) allures was the casting of well-known actors in guest-starring roles, with cameos from many of yesteryear's movie stars.

The one-hour, now wince-worthy sitcom was based on quasi-humorous and quasi-romantic sojourns aboard the cruise ship Pacific Princess.

Every time I'm atop Bluff Hill lookout at the same time a cruise ship berths in Napier Port I can't help but churn out the theme tune - much to the distress of my kids.


It's possibly why I still see the industry as kitsch - The Love Boat has left an indelible mark on my TV generation.

But moving to Napier two years ago there's been another indelible mark - the realisation of the sheer volume of tourists who descend on the city and surrounding tourist spots as a result of these massive vessels.

Napier's CBD consequently feels much smaller come summer.

Come cruise ship season (which starts at Labour Weekend) Art Deco City moves from sleepy to sleepless.

It may sound like an invasion but it's more like a windfall - and a massive one.

Today's story (page 5) shows that Hawke's Bay's population is poised to momentarily double with a record number of cruise liners booked to visit - a surge of about 175,000 visitors.

The port confirmed it's gearing up to handle 72 cruise ships this season.

Napier Port's port services manager Bruce Lochhead said the rise was "great news" for the region's tourism industry and for local businesses.


There's no doubting that.

The pending marine migration is a seasonal utopia for anyone in the tourist trade who's both prepared and able.

Hawke's Bay Tourism general manager Annie Dundas said the record visits showed how the region's standing as a tourist destination whereby Napier and the entire region "delivers some of the highest scores from visitor satisfaction surveys conducted by the cruise lines".

As she said, that's why they keep coming back.

That's possibly the key take-home message. That is, we're not just a nominal stop on the cruise ship itinerary - we're a desired stop.