Glitch sees Napier miss cruise cash

Napier's tourism operators missed the boat yesterday when a mechanical problem on the Dawn Princess cruise ship meant 1950 passengers bypassed the Hawke's Bay port.

The ship, which sailed out of Wellington three hours late about 9pm on Tuesday night headed straight for Tauranga.

The cruise manager for the ship's agents ISS McKay, Douglas Colaco, said the late departure from Wellington had been caused by a "mechanical problem."

He was unable to say exactly what the problem was. He also declined to comment on possible compensation for passengers on the 12-day return cruise out of Sydney.

The Dawn Princess had visited Fiordland, Port Chalmers, Akaroa and Wellington on its cruise.

It is also scheduled to visit Auckland and the Bay of Islands, but bypassed Napier to make up time after leaving Wellington late.

Hawke's Bay Tourism chief executive Annie Dundas said tourism operators – such as Gannet Safaris, cafe and vineyard owners – were disappointed to miss out on the chance of hosting nearly 2000 visitors yesterday. But it was not a major blow as it was the beginning of the cruise-boat season.

The average daily spend of all visitors to Napier is $87 a day.

An estimated 100,000 cruise-boat tourists were scheduled to visit Napier as part of 76 cruise-boat visits from October to March.

This compares with about 70,000 visitors who arrived on 45 cruise ships last season.

Gannet Safaris manager Lyn Allam said 28 people had cancelled bookings on the company's overland gannet tour to Cape Kidnappers yesterday. On an average six-hour cruise-boat visit to Napier, 50 passengers would visit Cape Kidnappers, she said.

The cruise ship Volendam is scheduled to visit Napier today and 60 passengers had booked with Gannet Safaris to visit Cape Kidnappers, Ms Allam said.

Napier's i-Site Visitors Centre manager Carolyn Neville said one or two ship visits had to be cancelled each cruise-boat season.

"There's always a lot of planning and preparation that goes into these visits by the Art Deco Trust people and others. It is a bit disappointing when the ship does not come in," Mrs Neville said.

She discovered the Dawn Princess visit had been cancelled early yesterday morning.

The Dominion Post