KELLY BURNS
ONE of the world's most luxurious liners, Queen Victoria, will berth in Napier on Art Deco Weekend in its maiden crossing of the Pacific Ocean.
When it calls into the city on February 16, it will be the longest vessel of any kind to visit Napier.
Its 2000 passengers and more than 1000 crew will berth in time for the grand Art Deco parade, and will be greeted by about 100 vintage cars, a brass band and Bertie.
The Queen Victoria is 90,000 tons and the second largest Cunard ship ever built, after the Queen Mary. It has seven restaurants, 13 bars, three swimming pools, a ballroom and a theatre.
Stretching 294 metres long and sporting Cunard's distinctive signature red-and-black livery, the two-month-old Queen Victoria will be the youngest passenger ship to visit New Zealand.
Port of Napier commercial manager Chris Bain said it would be a special day as the port will be opened to allow the public to view the "spectacular vessel".
Queen Victoria is expected to dock at 12pm and leave at 8pm.
"In terms of a cruise vessel it is as good as it gets, six stars ... We feel very lucky to have it here," Mr Bain said.
Port of Napier marine manager Paul Holmes said pilots had been in touch with the vessel to discuss passage plans and expected a safe arrival.
"It's wonderful to have a vessel of her size and stature paying a visit to the Port of Napier - she's a very powerful ship."
Napier mayor Barbara Arnott said the passengers and crew would be welcomed warmly.
"Before they get off the ship they get a feeling of the friendliness of Hawke's Bay. It has a big effect on economy so [we] want to keep them coming and the challenge is to grow tourism infrastructure to cater for these ships."
Hawke's Bay Incorporated tourism manager Kris Larner said it was "truly special" the ship in New Zealand waters for the first time was stopping in Napier.
"It will allow for passengers to immerse themselves into Art Deco and get a flavour for our point of difference," she said.
Napier is one of only three New Zealand ports of call during the Queen Victoria's maiden voyage around the world. The cruise ship cost £270 million ($681 million) and has 16 decks.
The ship had an unfortunate start to its career when a bottle of champagne failed to break when hit on the hull in the christening ceremony by Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.
But a back-up bottle did eventually smash officially naming the super liner.