Canterbury’s tourism operators are gearing up for another busy cruise season as the first of 90 cruise ships scheduled to visit the region over the next few months steams towards Akaroa.The Sea Princess is due to arrive in picturesque Akaroa Harbour on Saturday morning (October 13). Its arrival will mark the start of a record-breaking cruise season during which an anticipated 144,000 passengers and more than 50,000 crew members will visit Christchurch and Canterbury.
Between now and April next year 86 cruise ships will drop anchor in Akaroa Harbour while another four will dock at the Port of Lyttelton. That is a 14% increase on last season.
The Queen Mary 2 will make its first voyage to Akaroa while the super-sized Carnival Spirit will visit three times over the coming months.
Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism industry partnerships manager Caroline Blanchfield says Canterbury has become a popular port of call with the cruise companies.
“We’ve been working hard to promote Canterbury to the cruise companies and it is definitely paying dividends. This season we’ll be seeing more high-end American cruise ships visiting our shores and more European cruise ships,” Ms Blanchfield says.
Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism chief executive Tim Hunter says surveys conducted by the cruise lines during last season show passengers rate highly the time they spend in Canterbury.
“Carnival Australia passengers rated their Christchurch experience last season as 90 out of 100 and Akaroa as 87 out of 100. The feedback was positive from Princess Cruises’ passengers too who rated Akaroa 6.3 out of a possible 7, which was the highest rating of all the New Zealand ports,” Mr Hunter says.
“That’s fantastic news from our perspective and clearly shows the appeal this region holds to visitors. The cruise lines use these ratings to decide which ports are included in itineraries each year. We’re determined to build on those results this season and ensure all our visitors leave our shores eager to return and see more of this wonderful region.’’
Temporary visitor facilities have been set up in Akaroa to cater for the influx of cruise passengers and Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism has been working closely with the Christchurch City Council and the Akaroa Wairewa Community Board to ensure the township is ready to welcome the tens of thousands of passengers who will call there in the coming months.
Source = Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism