Voyager sails into misty Milford Sound
The waters of Fiordland have been a maritime highway for giant floating hotels this month.
Voyager of the Seas was the latest cruise ship to sail into the Fiordland sounds on Saturday in what is peak season for ships sailing through the south.
The 311-metre-long ship is the second-largest ocean liner to visit Milford Sound, after the Queen Mary 2.
It was a misty and moody day for those on board the vessel, which is capable of carrying more than 3000 passengers and 1000 crew.
While in Milford Sound, passengers who had alighted the ship in Port Chalmers to visit Queenstown by road were ferried back by Go Orange vessel Milford Haven.
The Voyager of the Seas returned to sea after its brief visit to Milford Sound and continued its journey to Sydney.
Environment Southland maritime manager Kevin O'Sullivan said the Voyager of the Seas was one of about 85 cruise ships predicted to pass through southern waters this season.
The season runs from October to May with February the busiest month.
There had been several cancelled visits, all because of weather-related issues, he said.
The cruise ship industry was becoming more important for Southland but more could be done to get people off the ships and into the province, he said.
This season, 16 cruise ships had already dropped anchor off Stewart Island, providing potential economic benefits to the businesses on the island, Mr O'Sullivan said. One or two ships had also berthed in Bluff, with passengers able to disembark.
The number of cruise ships sailing into southern ports was predicted to remain at about 85 until at least the 2016 season, Mr O'Sullivan said.
"The number of ships heading south was determined by port capacity at the major ports, including Auckland," he said.
The Southland Times