Hawke’s Bay set for a booming cruise season

Local businesses and tour operators can look forward to a boost over the coming months, courtesy of a strong cruise season for 2016/2017.

More than 100,000 passengers and crew are expected to visit Hawke’s Bay between October and April and with passengers spending on average $200 per day, the cruise sector is expected to inject around $20 million into Hawke’s Bay.

“The cruise sector is vital to our regional economy. On average, every cruise ship brings an extra 2,000 people into the region, and that represents a significant boom for our local businesses,” said Napier Port Chief Executive Garth Cowie.

“The cruise sector has grown five-fold in the last 10 years, and is now equivalent to the third largest country of origin for visitors to New Zealand, behind Australia and China. The potential for our local economy is huge.”

Napier and its i-Site are regularly voted one of the best ports in New Zealand by cruise passengers, with Napier Port in conjunction with local tourism businesses providing a vintage car display on the wharf, live music from the Twin City Stompers, and free buses to the city centre.

The 2016-2017 cruise season kicks off on October 11 with the arrival of the Sun Princess at Napier Port.

Annie Dundas, GM Hawke’s Bay Tourism, said that Hawke’s Bay was a very attractive destination for cruise ship passengers.

“They love to explore our Art Deco, see the Gannets @ Cape Kidnappers, shop, cycle and visit the wineries. They really do make the most of their time off the ship and inject a lot of money across all of Hawke’s Bay. We also know many passengers return as independent travellers so the long-term benefits of cruise ship passengers are ongoing.”

55 cruise ships are scheduled to call at Napier Port over the season, including the largest cruise ship ever to visit New Zealand, the 348-metre long Ovation of the Seas. The ship will dock in Napier on January 5, carrying up to 5,000 passengers, as part of a 10-night New Year cruise around New Zealand.

Napier Port has undertaken a significant programme of investments to ensure larger cruise ships can call in Hawke’s Bay, including upgrading its cruise wharf, commissioning a new gangway, and installing lead lighting to assist with navigation. The port is currently consulting on a proposal to build another wharf along the outer edge of the container terminal, which would enable it to handle two large cruise ships simultaneously at the height of the season.

“Hawke’s Bay is growing in popularity as a tourist destination and we’re already turning five or six cruise ships away each season – that’s around $2.4 million sailing past Hawke’s Bay every year,” said Mr Cowie. “Based on these six vessels alone, another wharf would give us the capacity to bring roughly another 12,000 passengers into our region.”

More details about Napier Port’s proposed new wharf can be found here.