Royal Caribbean International regional vp Asia Pacific, Gavin Smith, has confirmed that Port of Tauranga is on the itinerary for Ovation of the Seas’ extended maiden season in Australasia in 2016-17.
‘Confirming Tauranga as a port of call for the region’s very first newbuild cruise ship demonstrates our commitment to, and belief in, the New Zealand cruising market,’ Smith said.
‘Each time the ship calls in Tauranga, she will deliver an injection of around NZ$780,000 into the local economy.
‘Tauranga rates time and time again as one of our most popular New Zealand destinations. We look forward to sharing this beautiful destination with our guests from around the world.’
Port of Tauranga chief executive Mark Cairns said the dredging of Tauranga Harbour will allow visits by the 168,666gt ship.
Cairns said tenders for the work close in June and the dredging will be completed by August next year, in plenty of time for the arrival of Ovation of the Seas.
‘We’re delighted to be able to accommodate larger ships such as Ovation of the Seas,’ he said. ‘The introduction of bigger vessels shows the confidence that cruise companies have in New Zealand as a destination.’
He added that the cruise industry brings a lot of economic benefit to the wider Bay of Plenty economy.
A spokeswoman for Royal Caribbean told Seatrade Cruise News that the company is still finalising itineraries for Ovation of the Seas in New Zealand and Australia.
Neither Auckland’s Princes or Queens wharves are big enough to accommodate Ovation of the Seas and it would need to use an industrial wharf as an interim solution.
Cruise New Zealand has been lobbying for new infrastructure since Quantum of the Seas was announced for China in 2014.
CNZ gm Raewyn Tan said cruise ships deployed in Asia would look at Australasia during Asian winters.
Ports of Auckland, which is owned by Auckland Council, is proceeding to build a B2 extension on one side of its Bledisloe container wharf for commercial ships, but has suspended plans for a B3 extension on the other side for cruise ships until the outcome of a Port Future Study.
This follows protests from local people who claim the extensions will block harbour views.
Cruise New Zealand chairman Kevin O’Sullivan has warned that New Zealand will not be a destination for mega liners if the ships cannot berth in Auckland.
‘What’s good for Auckland in terms of cruise shipping is good for the economy of New Zealand,’ O’Sullivan said.
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