The luxury German cruise ship MV Europa glided into Nelson yesterday morning.
The 198-metre ship paid a flying visit as part of a day-long stopover to the Nelson area.
Nelson Tasman Tourism chief executive Lynda Keene said 100 passengers got off at Port Nelson to take part in pre-booked tours, which included visits to the Suter Gallery, World of WearableArt and Collectable Cars Museum and Hoglund Art Glass, before heading to Kaiteriteri.
Ms Keene said 50 to 100 passengers were expected to visit Nelson City this morning. This differed from previous reports which had said passengers would not be visiting the city unguided.
Those passengers were to get a bus to Kaiteriteri at 2pm. The Europa would then leave for a short trip across Tasman Bay to Kaiteriteri.
It was expected to leave Nelson about 11am and arrive at Kaiteriteri at lunchtime.
A Wilson's Abel Tasman boat would pull alongside and 130 passengers would board that vessel for a cruise and walk in Abel Tasman National Park. Helicopter trips over the national park and Nelson had been booked for 40 passengers, with half taking a trip from Nelson and the other taking helicopter trips from Kaiteriteri.
The Europa has 275 crew and can carry 408 passengers.
Nelson Tasman Tourism international marketing manager Loren Heaphy said the arrival of the ship to Nelson had gone smoothly and the weather had been beautifully calm.
Mrs Heaphy said it was fantastic to see the return of cruise ships to the region and she said Nelson Tasman Tourism had been working really hard with Port Nelson to develop the cruise market.
"Hopefully this is the start of bigger and better things to come."
Mrs Heaphy said the Europa was a boutique ship and the councils' tourism company hoped to attract larger cruise ships looking to vary their cruise routes.
The next cruise ship to visit will be the MV Bremen which arrives on March 11 in Golden Bay.
In the 2013-14 summer four ships have already been confirmed, she said.
- © Fairfax NZ News