Rotorua is set to get more than a third of the 200,000-plus passengers expected to visit the region as part of a "record-breaking" cruise ship season.

The first passengers to the region will be on board the Majestic Princess which makes its maiden voyage to Tauranga on Friday.

Sean Marsh, marketing manager for Te Puia and a New Zealand Cruise Association board member, said it did not come as a surprise that the season was expected to be a record-breaker.

"The cruise trend is growing with New Zealand/Australian/South Pacific destinations the fastest-growing globally," Marsh said.

Sean Marsh, Te Puia marketing manager. Photo / Supplied
Sean Marsh, Te Puia marketing manager. Photo / Supplied

"We are seeing significantly larger vessels, most with a passenger and crew capacity of about 4000, in the Port of Tauranga."

He said the Port of Tauranga was highly rated for passenger satisfaction. "For the vessels coming in the port has a lot of space and deep berthage, and for passengers there is an interesting field directly in front of them.

"They can travel to Rotorua, to Matamata for a Hobbiton experience, down to Whakatāne or just relax in Tauranga."

He said with at least one third of cruise ship passengers choosing to head to Rotorua, Te Puia understood the importance of connecting and servicing the visitors.

"Some, particularly families, hire a car and drive over. Others come as part of a tour that has been organised as part of the cruise while others are part of an independent cruise.

"There are often time restraints so, as part of a visit to Te Puia, visitors can see the cultural centre, experience our geothermal valley, take in the marae and gallery, visit the kiwi and then have lunch.

"Everything is under one roof."

Destination Rotorua chief executive Michelle Templer said cruise passengers were an important source of visitors to Rotorua.


Templer said the city's proximity to Tauranga meant 35 to 40 per cent of passengers chose an excursion to Rotorua, making them a significant contributor to the $820m visitor economy.

The Majestic Princess. Photo / Supplied
The Majestic Princess. Photo / Supplied

"We know that the range of activities available in Rotorua is a big drawcard for cruise passengers," she said.

"The predicted growth is testament to the great work that Tourism Bay of Plenty and our local operators are doing together to create a fantastic visitor experience."

Tourism Bay of Plenty chief Kristin Dunne said the new season would see a record-breaking 110 cruise ships to the Bay of Plenty - 35 per cent up on last season's 81.

Dunne said the Bay would welcome 24 double ship days, two triple ship days, nine overnight visits and seven visits from the world's fourth-largest cruise ship the Ovation of the Seas.

She expected the season to bring 225,442 passengers and 94,724 crew to the region and inject $91m into the local economy.

"This local cruise activity spend represents 19 per cent of the total national cruise spend," she said.

"Tauranga welcomes the second highest international cruise activity spend behind only Auckland."

Dunne said it was estimated the new season would generate 1224 cruise-related jobs in the Bay of Plenty.

"These figures are evidence that our region's reputation as a world-class destination continues to soar, as cruising becomes more popular and more achievable," she said.

Mount Maunganui and District Lioness Club's Christine Potter co-ordinated about 26 regular volunteers to meet and greet the cruise ship passengers as they arrived.

"Depending on what time the ships come in we usually do a two-hour stint," she said.

Potter said the volunteers were there to welcome the cruise ship passengers to Mount Maunganui and answer any questions they had about where to shop, dine or get some exercise.

Most of the passengers had ventured to Rotorua on their first trip and were returning to see more of Tauranga city, or vice versa, Potter said.

The Majestic Princess is scheduled to arrive at 5.15am on Friday and will depart at 4.30pm the same day. People are invited to farewell the cruise ship at Pilot Bay from 4pm. The ship will be gone by 5pm.

Tauranga Intermediate School's kapa haka group will also farewell the passengers.

The details:
What: Farewell Majestic Princess cruise ship
Where: Pilot Bay
When: From 4pm Friday, October 5, 2018