Cruising in the lap of luxury

BILL MOORE
Last updated 13:00 04/02/2014

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Nelson port-watchers accustomed to chunky car-carriers and workmanlike container ships got a treat on Tuesday  morning when the sleek cruise liner Seabourn Sojourn came through the Cut.

The luxurious 32,346 ton ship, christened in 2010, is the newest of the six liners in Seattle-headquartered Seabourn's fleet and the company's website says its spa is the largest on any ultra-luxury ship, encompassing 1060 square metres of indoor and outdoor space over two of the seven decks.

The ship has six whirlpools and two swimming pools, including the pool patio, with a pair of large whirlpool spas and a "beach"-style pool, a range of shops, a grand salon for dancing, lectures, shows, cabaret and classical music, and a large "living room" to replace the traditional cruise ship lobby.

Harbourmaster Dave Duncan said the ship was due alongside Main Wharf at 8am but was brought in a bit earlier on the slack tide.

"They were a very professional bridge team so we just became part of the team - they have good bow-thrusters and twin engines, and the fact that there was no tide to really bother us made it all easy."

It had travelled from Wellington overnight and would sail for Sydney at 6pm today.

Captain Duncan said it was a bit early to blow a welcoming ship's horn blast on the way in, "so we'll do it on the way out - if I remember".

There was an occasional complaint about the noise.

"We try not to disturb too many people but it is a good thing to do, and part of a tradition."

He said it was the ship's first visit and he hoped it would be back. "Now it's all up to the land services."

A number of activities were booked for the ship's 450 passengers from around the world and Nelson-Tasman Tourism chief executive Lynda Keene said earlier it was expected about 300 would head into the city on a free shuttle bus, with others booked on tours to the Abel Tasman National Park, Happy Valley Adventures at Cable Bay, wineries and art galleries.

The Seabourn Sojourn is the first of six cruise ships to visit the port this year. Captain Duncan said the 630-ton cruising super yacht Belle Aimee, which arrived from Wellington yesterday and is berthed in view of Wakefield Quay, was privately owned and was booked to leave for Fiordland on Thursday.

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- The Nelson Mail

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