Whangarei District is gearing up to welcome its first ever cruise ships in early 2024.
Three cruise ships are booked to dock at Northport at Marsden Point over February-March 2024 and seven ships are booked for the following summer season.
Mayor Vince Cocurullo says there is a strong focus on how Whangārei can make the most of this opportunity in a safe and sustainable way.
“Welcoming cruise ships to the District provides an opportunity for Whangārei to share its history and culture with international and domestic visitors through visitor experiences, great products and services, and local food and beverage.
“Northland Inc, NorthChamber, Council and Northport are working with experienced tourism operators and cruise specialists to offer a positive and safe experience for visitors, which respects our environment and culture.
“We are also very mindful of any potential impacts on residents, but with a very manageable number of ships arriving over the next few years, we expect minimal disruption for the community.”
He also notes that economic benefits will grow as the number of ships increase.
“Cruises contribute to keeping visitor attractions in operation. These economic benefits will have positive flow-on effects to the wider community.”
Cruise visitors will be encouraged to pre-book excursions throughout the District ahead of their arrival at Northport. The remainder of passengers will travel by bus to the Whangārei Town Basin.
The first cruise ship to dock at Northport will be Oceania Cruises’ MS Regatta, capable of hosting 684 passengers. She is scheduled to arrive on Sunday 4 February.
“On that day we’ll have markets, ambassadors and our i-Site team set up at the Town Basin to entertain and support our visitors.”
“We’re not expecting any major disruptions, but we can expect to see an increase in buses, which may cause some small delays,” says Cocurullo.
Northport chief executive Jon Moore says being able to start small, and build to manageable levels in years to come, is a great option for Whangārei.