Owners of a new generation mega cruise ship heading for New Zealand say they welcome plans by Ports of Auckland to extend its container wharves.
Royal Caribbean's Ovation of the Seas plans to call at ports throughout New Zealand and will be the biggest cruise ship to ever visit here. In Auckland it would be too big for the current cruise ship base on Princes Wharf.
While there is some local opposition to the port company expanding its container operation the cruise line says it is not worried by the plans.
"The more wharves built in Auckland harbour the better," said Gavin Smith, regional vice-president, Royal Caribbean, Asia Pacific.
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Ovation was 3m longer than the biggest cruise ship to so far visit New Zealand, the 345m-long Queen Mary 2 which has had to berth at Jellicoe Wharf during visits.
In other ports, cruise firms also worked at older facilities which the megaships were outgrowing.
"Passengers are expecting to have a more authentic experience and if that involves coming through an industrial precinct so be it," said Mr Smith.
Lines are building bigger ships packed with more features as they try to out-do each other and justify charging a premium in what has been traditionally a low margin industry.
At double occupancy Ovation can carry nearly 5000 passengers and will have a glass observation capsule that rises 91m above the deck, bumper cars, a circus school, a skydiving experience and 18 eateries including a Jamie Oliver restaurant.
Ovation's keel was laid about a month ago in Germany and the $1.25 billion ship should be finished at Easter next year.
Ovation would do three round trips from Sydney during the summer of 2016-17 calling at about six New Zealand and Australian ports.