Currently, debate is occurring in Auckland re the location of a cruise ship terminal. Newspaper correspondents and commentators all talk of the economic benefit from a suitable facility, stemming from the tourists retail spending. The reality is very different.

Wellington currently cops circa 130 cruise ship visits annually, mostly in the summer months.

I lie in bed in the morning and watch them appear at the harbour mouth about 6am then sail rapidly up the harbour to their berth some distance from the city centre. Frequently two arrive, one tying up behind the other.

If in my Wellington office later that day I watch them depart, usually in late afternoon. From their berthage most of the ship’s occupants pile into buses for a city tour. A lesser number opt to walk about the CBD from the prime central spot the buses drop them off near my office. They’re conspicuous as they’re the sort of folk one doesn’t see in the capital but might in Westport.

The buses reappear at midday to take them back to the ship for lunch and if they’re so inclined, bring them back after. Typical cruise ship occupants are 70 year old retired Australian small town yokel and his wife, both in shorts. They spend nothing.

The liners are luxurious and provide accommodation, restaurant and other services that if on land would be beyond the boat’s occupants wildest dreams.

The port visits serve solely as an interlude but the real attraction of the cruise to these folk is the cruise, the making of new like-minded friends and the luxurious life-style they’d only otherwise know from movies.

A minor exception is Napier which has cashed in on the art deco angle with a number of efforts but in monetary terms they’re trivia.

Awake to this reality some European cities such as Venice now deny tour ships access.

Pre covid I recall an amusing television news-item from Dubrovnik. Fed up with their city being clogged by thousands of non-spending cruise liner hick tourists, about a thousand citizens gathered on the wharf where just off-shore anchored 3 cruise liners waiting to berth.

But they did not, the ships’ captain being afraid of the massed locals holding up signs and shouting at them all to bugger off. The Dubrovnik economy is based on tourism, but cruise ship sight-seers spending nothing are simply a nuisance.

We’re not at that stage yet in New Zealand and may never be, but don’t delude yourself that cruise ship visitors bring economic benefits.


2 sides to this one.
1. I used to see cruise ship passengers frequenting the viaduct in Auckland and a lot from the US would buy Cuban cigars from the cigar place that used to be on princess wharf. the bus companies do very well from cruise ships and to them I believe it is a boon.
2. Wellington literally has no redeeming features or attractions aside from Te Papa. No surprise that cruise ship visitors seek refuge for the permanent wind swept conditions to view the city from a bus

    Wellington has had the best summer weather of nearly anywhere in the country this year, with plenty of days with hardly any wind!

    And cruise ship passengers do often spend a little so better than no one at all coming in. I see them eating in Maccas even.

My wife and I went a cruise from Sydney to Auckland 22 December to 3rd January. 31st December was in Wellington. All the buses were free that day! I had told the Aussies and Poms to get a bus to see the way Wellingtonians get their houses to cling to cliffs. They were astounded at the cost of the bus fares……FREE. Apart from that Sir Bob’s comments are very accurate. The cruise liners have heavily over-priced tours arranged, the costs of which were mind boggling.

I happen to know these tourists do spend in Mount Maunganui, as without them the retail rents collapsed…with alot of secret new lease deals being done between times, in an attempt to keep the values from sinking…

Notwithstanding this, if the Port of Tauranga saw value, they would invest in upgraded facilities; but they are not…

Its all BS, driven by bureaucrats and politicians (who live in cockoo land and love spending other peoples money), all in the name of their own vanity and ego…

Their supporting business cases are developed by the big four and others (at great expense to the public), to suit an agenda…

We are led by a ship of fools, milked by less than honest consultants …

Look at what’s happening in NZ right now. The last thing we need to worry about is tourists off cruise boats. Our infrastructure needs sorting first and Hawkes Bay, the East Cape and Northland need road workers and disaster helpers. Can you imagine what it’s been like at sea around here recently? I’m going green just thinking about it.

Never seen the attraction. Being stuck on a boat with 3000 other people, just why?

To be fair to the Australian small town yokels, there’s absolutely nothing to do or spend money on in Wellington.
Auckland has a lovely (when the weather is playing ball) Harbour and a vibrant Commercial Bay and Viaduct district, which does benefit from cruise ship visitors and they do in fact spend a lot of money there- the restaurants do well out of them as do the retailers

The first objective review of cruise ship visits I have read. We are led to believe that at every civilised port the travellers flock to the downtown absurdly over priced luxury stores and stock up.Personally I would rather spend a week in gaol than on a cruise ship..

Retired backpackers.

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