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Record number of cruise passengers for Auckland

Thursday 29 April 2004

Record number of cruise ship passengers for Auckland

A record 58,000 cruise ship passengers - up from 53,000 last season - will have visited Auckland when the 2003-04 cruise season ends in August.

The departure on Sunday (25 April) of the Pacific Princess ended the summer portion of the 2003-04 season. Kicking off in July this year is a series of mid-winter Pacific Island cruises ex-Auckland. The winter escape cruises are a recent phenomenon in the New Zealand cruise season calendar.

During the 2003-04 summer season, Ports of Auckland’s Marine Services team – which operates the Overseas Passenger Terminal on Princes Wharf – efficiently handled 44,000 cruise ship passengers and their large volume of luggage. During the 2004 winter season, another 14,000 passengers are expected.

The biggest cruise ship to ever visit Auckland, the 109,000 tonne Star Princess, contributed to the record passenger numbers. During the floating city’s four visits, 23,375 passengers and crew transited, embarked or disembarked. Each visit presented the logistical challenge of the equivalent of 15 full jumbo jets arriving and departing at the same time.

Excellent advance planning by Ports of Auckland, Princess Cruises, Customs and MAF ensured the visits were successfully managed.

“We invested a great deal of time and resources in planning and operational procedures to ensure that each visit by the Star Princess was a success for all,” says Ports of Auckland Marine Services Manager Wayne Mills.

P&O Cruises’ New Zealand Business Development Manager Shannon Currie said: “The successful visits by Star Princess were a great team effort. Everyone simply went the extra mile and I must pay tribute to the great co-operation we received from Ports of Auckland, Customs and MAF.”

By the end of the full 2003-04 cruise season (which includes the summer and winter seasons), 19 cruise ships will have made 33 visits. This is slightly down on the full 2002-03 season (21 cruise ships and 37 calls), which attracted additional cruise ships specifically for the Louis Vuitton and America’s Cup regattas.

Winter cruising is popular

The popularity of winter cruising continues with Auckland again hosting cruise ship visits during the winter months. P&O Cruises’ Pacific Sky will visit Auckland four times, departing with mainly Australian and New Zealand passengers on 10 to 12-day Pacific Island cruises.

“Cruising up to the Islands during winter is becoming popular with New Zealanders who want a winter escape, particularly during July and August when demand is high for Pacific Island flights and accommodation,” says Mr Currie.

An average of 3,500 passengers and crew will transit, embark or disembark each time the P&O Pacific Sky visits Auckland.

Outlook for 2004-05 season

Ports of Auckland General Manager Port Services Will Harvey said cruising continues to grow globally. The popularity of cruising is reflected in the Auckland market with more cruise ships and visits expected for the 2004-05 cruise season.

Mr Harvey said that 20 cruise ships and 35 visits were already booked for the full season. So far, this is one vessel and two ship calls up on the 2003-04 season.

Winter cruising continues its upward trend with six ex-Auckland cruises by the Sky Princess planned over the winter months in 2005.

Among the first time callers to Auckland will be the P&O Princess cruise liner Sapphire Princess, a bigger sister ship to the Star Princess, and Crystal Cruises’ brand new “glamour ship” Crystal Serenity. Another maiden caller, Renaissance Cruises’ Delphin Renaissance, will be spending three days in Auckland during March 2005. Cunard Line’s iconic QEII will be visiting Auckland again, as will a number of regular five and six star callers.

Mr Currie says that cruising in New Zealand and the South Pacific regions is growing because of the increasing demand to see new destinations. In response to this, P&O Cruises will operate four ships within the Australasian region from three bases – Auckland, Sydney and Brisbane.

“Dedicated Australasian cruise bases will help the New Zealand industry. P&O Cruises and others can see the value in having ships cruise from New Zealand and Australia to the Pacific Islands,” Mr Harvey said.

Planned improvements to the back-up overseas passenger terminal at Queens Wharf will be in place for the 2004-05 season. These include the hiring of luxury portable ablution facilities, enhancing the internal aesthetics of the existing shed, and cleaning of the wharf and terminal with Ports of Auckland’s new $60,000 mobile sweeper machine.

Positive economic impact

Mr Harvey said that yet another successful season shows the importance of the cruise industry to Auckland’s city and regional economy.

The direct spend by the cruise ship industry in Auckland for the entire 2003-04 season is estimated to be $43 million and to sustain 570 full time equivalent jobs (FTEs), according to a report by Market Economics.

“Besides their shore excursions and hotels, passengers spend about $150 each for every day they are in port. This is very beneficial to the local shops and hospitality industry,” said Mr Harvey.

Final figures on the direct spend by the cruise ship industry in New Zealand for the 2003-04 season will be available later in the year. Digital images of the Star Princess in Auckland available on request.

Ends

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