Luxury liner's passenger influx no boon for retailers
Hundreds of passengers from a sleek, luxurious German cruise ship will come ashore in Nelson next month, but it won't provide a bonanza for the city's retailers.
Instead, the visitors will go on pre-arranged tours during the one-day stop, including a sightseeing trip along the Abel Tasman National Park coastline in much more modest local ferries.
The 198-metre Europa, which has 275 crew and a maximum of 408 passengers, is due to arrive at Port Nelson at 7am on Tuesday, February 12, the first cruise ship to visit the port for five years.
It will tie up for about two hours and disembark 100 passengers who will begin a tour taking in the Suter Gallery, World of WearableArt and Collectable Cars Museum and Hoglund Art Glass, before winding up at Kaiteriteri.
After dropping them off, the ship will sail for Kaiteriteri, arriving about 11am, and another 130 passengers will transfer to a Wilsons Abel Tasman boat and journey along the coastline, getting off to walk a portion of the track. A few will also have a kayaking excursion.
A handful of others will take helicopter trips from Nelson and Kaiteriteri.
The Europa, launched in 1999 and owned by Hapag-Lloyd, has repeatedly been named "best cruise ship in the world" by travel guide Berlitz. It has seven passenger decks and 204 suites and is rated five-star plus.
Nelson Tasman Tourism international marketing manager Loren Heaphy said there would be several buses and extra activity at Port Nelson and Kaiteriteri, "but no opportunities for Nelson city retailers on this particular visit, as all passengers are prebooked on shore excursion packages".
Future cruise ship visits, four of which have so far been confirmed for this year and 2014, "represent a significant opportunity", she said.
"Nelson Tasman Tourism and Port Nelson are working hard to market the region to cruise ships."
Tasman District Council harbourmaster Steve Hainstock said the Europa's Tasman Bay anchoring point would be at its master's discretion.
"If it's a calm day, it will probably be directly off Kaiteriteri," Mr Hainstock said.
"If it's less calm, it will probably anchor in the middle of the Astrolabe roadstead."
Wilsons Abel Tasman chief executive Darryl Wilson said the company had organised sufficient German-speaking staff to make sure the visitors were well catered for.
They would be carried aboard the company's flagship, the Abel Tasman Voyager.
"We've got staff all over it to make sure they have a great time in the park."
While the Nelson region was off the main cruising route and would probably always be a niche market for this type of tourism, the visit was "great to see".
"It's a broadening of the market, which is healthy," he said. "We provide a great product for those who are a bit more adventurous."
The ship is scheduled to sail for the Marlborough Sounds about 7pm after picking up the two groups of passengers, expected to be mainly Germans accustomed to its high level of service.
In an article after a cruise on the Europa, American Society of Travel Writers president Lillian Africano said complimentary champagne was offered at breakfast.
"At the first gala dinner, large portions of caviar were served over ice, with mother-of-pearl spoons. At one sitting, it was mentioned that the price was €1600 [$NZ2528] a kilogram," she wrote.
The next cruise ship to visit will be the smaller Hapag-Lloyd vessel Bremen, which will call at Kaiteriteri and Golden Bay on March 11.
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