Akaroa ready for 'busiest' cruise season
Akaroa is ready for a record-breaking cruise ship season, Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism (CTT) says.
Princess Cruises' Sea Princess will tomorrow be the first of 86 cruise ships to visit Akaroa this season.
The ships are expected to bring about 200,000 visitors to the Banks Peninsula town, making it New Zealand's busiest port.
Carnival Australia says this summer will be its busiest cruise season yet.
Chief executive Ann Sherry said New Zealand was ''right up there'' when it came to destinations that appeared on the bucket lists of its passengers.
''The unique Kiwi flavour and level of service that local ambassadors, tour operators, business owners and the broader community make New Zealand a place cruise passengers want to return to year after year.''
It was particularly impressive to see the efforts of smaller regions as they prepared to embrace the thousands of visitors the cruise ships brought during each visit, she said.
The company expected to pump more than $200 million into the national economy this season, including $29m in Christchurch and Akaroa, with each standard port visit expected to generate about $500,000 in spending.
CCT industry partnership manager Caroline Blanchfield said the benefit to Christchurch's economy could be even higher.
The organisation planned to survey passengers this season to find out where they went while onshore and how much they spent.
''Cruise is growing. It's long-term, it's here to stay and we embrace it.''
Passengers appeared to be embracing Akaroa, with Carnival Australia visitors rating Akaroa 87 out of 100 and Christchurch 90 out of 100 last season, she said.
The United States-based Princess Cruises ships also rated Akaroa highly, giving it 6.3 points out of 7 - the highest rating in New Zealand.
Blanchfield said the ratings were important because companies used them to decide which ports to include in their itineraries the following season.
Akaroa was ''ready to go'' tomorrow, including opening a temporary information centre within the last few weeks after its previous building was closed because of earthquake damage, she said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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