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No cruise ship gain for Picton

JARED NICOLL
Last updated 15:27 23/10/2012

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Marlborough has gained nothing from Lyttelton Port's inability to cater for the majority of cruise ships, says Port Marlborough chief executive Ian McNabb.

Lyttelton Port of Christchurch announced last week it was unable to accept bookings for most cruise ships in the 2013-14 tourist season. It has been unable to take the liners since port infrastructure was damaged in the Canterbury earthquakes in September 2010 and February 2011.

However, Mr McNabb said it was unlikely Port Marlborough would benefit from the situation. Most big cruise liners would continue to go to Akaroa instead, with passengers ferried ashore by tenders.

"Maybe if we were a port 50 kilometres down the road, but no, all that's happening is they're going to Akaroa.

"There's no change - it's what's been happening for the last couple of years. For us it's not good, bad or indifferent.

"Until they get their infrastructure fixed along the Cashin Quay area [at Lyttelton Port], they won't take cruise ships."

Akaroa, about 80km from Christchurch on the southern side of Banks Peninsula, began hosting the extra cruise ships late last year and will host 80-plus ships this season, which ends in April.

Lyttelton Port chief executive Peter Davie said the complex nature and limited time before the start of the 2013-14 cruise season was "challenging".

"When we do the cruise berth development we will need to take into account infrastructure such as roads and parking for coaches to provide customers with an experience that is up to international standards."

The port will continue catering for smaller cruise ships.

Lyttelton Port hosted 50 cruise ships, carrying more than 100,000 passengers and crew, in the 2009-10 season before the earthquakes.

Twenty cruise ships are scheduled to sail into Picton this season, bringing more than 33,000 passengers. The first ship was in port on October 9.

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- The Marlborough Express

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