The Taranaki region is to get a pre-Christmas tourism boost with the visit to Port Taranaki of a cruise ship that accommodates more than 1800 passengers and crew.
The 220m long Maasdam, operated by Holland America Line, is to dock at Blyde Wharf at 8am on Thursday, 13 December, and depart at 5pm the same day.
The ship, one of the biggest to ever visit the region, can carry 1266 passengers and 580 crew. Port Taranaki is the fourth stop on a voyage that starts in Auckland and includes Australia. Having sailed to New Plymouth from Wellington, the Maasdam will head to Nelson after its short stay.
Port Taranaki customer relationship manager Chris Dillon said it was exciting to have such a large cruise ship visit Taranaki, and a sign that the region was becoming a recognised stop on the cruise ship itinerary.
“As the gateway to the region, Port Taranaki is thrilled to work in partnership with Venture Taranaki to attract cruise ships and help boost Taranaki tourism,” Mr Dillon said.
“Historically, Taranaki hasn’t been on the radar, but Port Taranaki has been working actively with the cruise industry in the past few years to promote Taranaki as a destination, through our membership of the New Zealand Cruise Association and by attending their annual conference."
“The result is that the port and Taranaki are now being promoted through the cruise lines themselves, which is a very important step forward.”
Mr Dillon said once at Port Taranaki, the passengers would have the choice of going on bus tours of the region or getting a shuttle from the ship to Ngamotu Beach from where they could check out the area or head into the city.
“We’re looking forward to giving the visitors a warm welcome and hope they have a great time, and then spread the word to family and friends,” he said.
“It’s also an opportunity for Taranaki to get repeat business, as often when cruise ship passengers have a good experience, they return to a destination independent of a cruise ship.”
As well as the Maasdam, regular visitor the Caledonian Sky will stop off at Port Taranaki on 31 December, arriving at 7.30am and departing at 6pm. The ship accommodates 114 passengers and 74 crew.
The sailing ship the Spirit of New Zealand, which is used for a youth development programme where young people help crew the ship and learn communication and leadership skills, will berth at 7am on Tuesday, 26 February, 2019 and depart the next day at 10am.
Mr Dillon said normal shipping and port operations would continue alongside the visits of the cruise ships and Spirit of New Zealand.
“Port Taranaki has the facilities and berths to accommodate cruise ships at the same time as our regular shipping operations,” he said.
“Safety is paramount in everything we do at Port Taranaki, therefore the buses and shuttles will be berth-side when the ships arrive and will ensure the safe passage of the passengers through the port operations area as they head out to spend the day in Taranaki.”
ISS-McKay Ltd national manager cruise services Douglas Colaco (left), Port Taranaki customer relationship manager Chris Dillon, and Holland America Line marine manager Michel de Pooter at Port Taranaki.