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Christchurch Welcomes Cruise Influx

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Diamond Princess - Due in Lyttelton next week
Diamond Princess - Due in Lyttelton next week

More than 14,000 holiday-makers will cruise into Lyttelton Harbour over the next two weeks as the port plays host to a steady stream of passenger-laden cruise ships.

With the summer cruise season now in full flight, Christchurch is preparing to roll out the welcome mat for 10 cruise ships during the last two weeks of January. The biggest day for the port will be January 28 when the Clipper Odyssey, the Nautica and the Sun Princess will all dock at the wharf for the day.

The Diamond Princess, the biggest of the cruise ships scheduled to visit Lyttelton this month, will be in port on Tuesday, January 19. It can accommodate 2600 passengers and 1400 crew.

Akaroa Harbour will welcome the Dawn Princess' passengers to its shores on January 16 while Kaikoura will play host to the Clipper Odyssey on January 29.

"Cruising has become very popular and that's reflected in the record number of passengers visiting our shores this season," says Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism chief executive Christine Prince.

"We are hosting three times more cruise visitors this season than we did just three years ago. Our numbers have leapt from 35,000 in 2006/2007 to around 100,000 this year, mainly from America, Australia and the UK. And the good news is that about 40% of those visitors are likely to enjoy their time here so much that they will come back for a longer stay."

Captain Peter Rea, port operations manager for ISS-McKay Limited in Lyttelton, says it is a big logistical exercise catering for so many cruise ships but everything is in place to ensure they have a smooth stay.

"There's a lot of planning done and it is a very busy time. These cruise ships are like small towns moving around the coast and logistically you just have to be ready to deal with anything,'' says Captain Rea.

He has been involved in the shipping industry for many years and has witnessed phenomenal growth in the number and size of cruise ships visiting our shores.

"The challenge now is to keep growing and to keep finding new places of interest for these cruise travelers to see," says Captain Rea.

Ms Prince says Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism is ensuring all passengers coming ashore receive a warm welcome as soon they step onto the quay at Lyttelton. A special visitor kiosk has been set up on the wharf to provide information and advice for cruise visitors wanting to explore the region for the day.

"Our job is to ensure we bring as much enjoyment to passengers and as much value to our economy as possible," says Ms Prince. "We're going to do everything we can to make sure they enjoy the most of their stay in our region and really get a good chance to explore this very special part of New Zealand."

It is estimated that last season cruise ship passengers directly contributed $22.7 million to the Canterbury economy.

Another 24 cruise ships are scheduled to dock in Canterbury ports in February.

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