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Biggest-ever cruise liner due Monday

Biggest-ever cruise liner due Monday

The biggest and newest cruise ship ever to visit New Zealand berths at Aotea Quay on Monday morning (Dec. 20).

Princess Cruises’ Sapphire Princess is due to pick up her pilot at 0630hrs and is will be berthed by 0800hrs. She sails for Sydney at 1800hrs that evening.

The ship, the biggest in Princess Cruises’ fleet, was launched only in June. Princess Cruises is a sister line to P&O Cruises.

At 116,000 tons and 18 stories high, the 290 metre-long Sapphire Princess is 7,000 tons bigger than the previous biggest cruise liner to visit Wellington – her sister ship Star Princess which called here in 2003.

At 63m, Sapphire Princess is 37m taller than the Westpac Stadium. Her 116,000 tons is the equivalent of 300 Air New Zealand jumbo jets or 1,064 blue whales, the world’s biggest creature.

She is the biggest moving object ever to visit New Zealand, only just fitting in Aotea Quay.

The ship arrives with more than 3,800 people – 2,700 passengers and 1,100 crew – on her inaugural cruise from the United States to the South Pacific. From Wellington, the giant floating resort heads west across the Tasman to Sydney.

Sapphire Princess has five pools, nine restaurants and cafes, eight jacuzzis, a mini golf course, wedding chapel, luxury spa sanctuary, two nightclubs, 13 bars and lounges including a unique wake-view bar at the rear of the ship and the biggest internet café at sea. She also features a new environmentally friendly gas turbine in her funnel and 750 cabins with private balconies.

The arrival of Sapphire Princess represents history’s biggest single influx of tourists into Wellington. Her less than 12-hour stay is expected to inject in the vicinity of one million dollars into the local economy in terms of passenger and crew spending while ashore and port fees, P&O Cruises says.

During her season here, Sapphire Princess docks in Wellington seven times and makes six visits to Christchurch, Dunedin and Fjordland National Park. She visits Auckland four times, Tauranga twice and the Bay of Islands once.

Sapphire Princess New Zealand visits (2004 / 2005):

Auckland (four visits) – 8am-6pm on Dec 17 and 6am-6pm on Jan 6, Jan 30 and Feb 23

Wellington (seven visits) – 8am-6pm on Dec 20, Jan 2, Jan 8, Jan 28, Feb 1, Feb 21 and Feb 25.

Christchurch (six visits) – 8am-6pm on Jan 1, Jan 9, Jan 27, Feb 2, Feb 20 and Feb 26

Dunedin (six visits) – 8am-6pm on Dec 31, Jan 10, Jan 26, Feb 3, Feb 19 and Feb 27

Tauranga (two visits) – 8am-7pm on Dec 18 and 8am-7.30pm on Jan 4

Bay of Islands (one visit) – 8am-7pm on Jan 5

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