The arrival of the 1950-passenger Sun Princess at the Port of Napier on October 17
will herald the start of the region’s 2015/16 cruise ship season.
by Clinton Llewellyn
Napier’s reputation as one of the country’s most popular destinations with cruise ship passengers has been reaffirmed, with the start of the 2015/16 Hawke’s Bay cruise ship season just weeks away
The arrival of the 1950-passenger Sun Princess at the Port of Napier on October 17 will herald the start of the region’s 2015/16 cruise ship season.
In 2014/15, 57 cruise ships visited Hawke’s Bay with 98,100 cruise ship passengers disembarking at the Port of Napier. Fifty-one percent of those visitors were from Australia with the rest made up from the UK, USA, New Zealand, Canada, Germany and China.
The number of cruise ship visits to the region in 2015/16 is set to drop to 44 due to The Golden Princess bypassing Napier in favour of Gisborne this season, but is forecast to bounce back to 55 in 2016/17.
The loss of visits by the Golden Princess has been offset by survey results that rank Napier and the city’s port above all other ports in the county, in terms of visitor experience and exceeding the expectations of cruise ship passengers.
The survey was part of an economic impact report recently released at Cruise New Zealand’s 2015 annual conference.
In a survey of cruise ship visitors to Napier, 84% felt “very welcomed” and rated Napier “5 out of 5” – the highest ranked performance of all cruise ports in New Zealand.
Forty-two percent of visitor surveyed said their expectations “were greatly exceeded” and more than 60% were “extremely likely” to recommend Napier as a cruise ship destination - again, the best results of any port in the country.
Jane Libby, Napier i-SITE manager, was thrilled with the survey results. “ We work very hard to deliver exceptional service to our cruise ship passengers both before they arrive and once they are onshore and are very proud to have received such high accolades”
Hawke’s Bay Tourism manager Annie Dundas said cruise ships were good business for the region.
“We know cruise ship passengers have a very high return rate so their first time experience is very important and to rank this highly in terms of visitor experience is a real credit to the Port, Napier City, the Napier i-SITE and the tourism operators who service this industry,” she said.
The cruise sector contributed $436 million in value-added earnings to the New Zealand economy in the 2014-15 season and supported 8365 jobs.
Despite the loss of the Golden Princess, there are a number of new cruise ships that will visit the region for the first time this season.
The four-star French-owned Le Soleal will arrive in Napier for three visits during January and February.
The five-star Azamara Quest holds 688 passengers and 408 crew while another newcomer, the Albatross, carries 830 people.