Summers was referring to Royal Caribbean International’s 168,666gt megaliner which had to drop anchor in Waitemata Harbour when she made her maiden visit to Auckland in December 2016 because at 348 metres she was too big to berth at Queens Wharf.
Although disembarkation by tender is not the cruise line’s preferred option for almost 6,500 passengers and crew, it acknowledges that Auckland is a key destination on New Zealand itineraries and has been forced to anchor in the harbour ever since.
Queens Wharf mooring structures on hold
In April this year plans to build two 15 metre by 15 metre concrete mooring structures fixed to the seabed at Queens Wharf were approved, which would have allowed Ovation of the Seas to berth safely.
However, due to some local opposition these plans have been put on hold and an Environment Court appeal hearing is not due until next March.
Could Lyttelton get Auckland turnarounds?
NZCA’s Founding Chairman Craig Harris said the cruise ship facility that will open in Lyttelton in November 2020 could replace Auckland for turnarounds if the problem is not fixed.
Cruise line partnership for a terminal proposed
Capt. Nikolaos Antalis, associate VP marine & safety for Royal Caribbean International Asia Pacific, suggested that Auckland speak to cruise lines about a partnership to build a new cruise terminal.
Despite the Queens Wharf setback, Summers said the cruise industry continues to grow.
‘We have surpassed that magical 1,000 port call bookings for the 2019-20 season, with a record 370,000-plus cruise ship visitors and the recent announcement by Stats NZ that since 2015 cruise spend nation-wide is up 84%,’ she said.
Footnote: Summers paid tribute to Alison O’Sullivan, NZCA’s CEO Kevin O'Sullivan's wife of more than 40 years who took the minutes at board meetings until her recent death.