Cruise Passengers: Are You Being Served?
By Jo Heaton
This season, over 90 cruise ships will arrive in Wellington, delivering over 170,000 passengers. That’s 43,000 more passengers and a 33% increase on last cruise season. Ships will carry the passenger equivalent of around 1000 flights from Australia into Wellington. The spectacular growth of this sector makes it one of the most talked about good news stories in tourism.
The times they are a changing
- Cruising is no longer the preserve of Americans. More than 65% of Wellington’s cruise visitors this season will be Australians.
- Ships are being built bigger and they are carrying more passengers and crew. We’re fortunate in Wellington that CentrePort has great port facilities that can cater to increasingly larger vessels and two or even three ships at a time.
- Passengers taking shore excursions tours pre-sold by the cruise lines are declining. With so many Australians cruising, passengers are more likely than ever to do their own thing.
- Cruise lines don’t necessarily make their money from selling cruises. Shore excursions, alcohol, casinos, internet services and additional onboard services like spas are all revenue lines.
On 1 January 2013, Wellington will host up to 5400 cruise ship passengers; before the first resolutions have had a chance to be broken, the equivalent of 32 A320 full planes of air passengers will have come and gone from Wellington’s port in just one day. A lot of Wellington businesses traditionally like to take a break over the Christmas and New Year period, but we need shops and restaurants open and activities for these passengers to enjoy. Let us know what you have planned.
New Year’s Day isn’t even Wellington’s biggest day of the season. That will come on Wednesday 13 March, when over 6000 passengers will be in port. There’s two ships in Wellington on Christmas Eve (a little last minute shopping?), one on Boxing Day and three over Hertz Sevens weekend in February. Cruise ships are usually docked from 8am until around 6pm so ahoy there to a couple of unusual timings – on 15 December and 3 February, the Voyager of the Seas will arrive at lunchtime and depart at 10pm and the Pacific Pearl will arrive late evening and depart at 3pm in February and March.
The Window (Porthole?) of Opportunity
We know from Tourism New Zealand research that visitors that do the most are the most satisfied with their holiday. Let’s show cruise passengers – even the ones arriving on public holidays – what makes Wellington the coolest little cruise capital in the world.
If you’re a retailer or a tourism business, check out the cruise ship schedule on CentrePort’s website. Although schedules can change at the last minute (usually due to weather conditions) key dates are there for everyone to see.
- Open the doors.
- Look at the schedule and consider staying open a little longer on peak days.
- Hats off to businesses already putting out window signage welcoming passengers.
- Some stores offer special discounts, assistance with postage or accept foreign currencies to make transactions easier for passengers. They love this.
Cruise passengers spend far and wide in Wellington – and not necessarily on the obvious purchases like fridge magnets and postcards. They’re buying wine from supermarkets, wool from craft shops, memory sticks from electronic stores and apparently the under-packed Western Australians are even picking up an extra cardigan from Wellington’s vintage boutiques.
The Voyager of the Seas is one of the largest ships to visit New Zealand, with over 3200 passengers onboard and is making several visits to Wellington. The visit of the QE2 last year created a lot of interest and her sister-ship, the Queen Mary, will visit Wellington on 3 March 2013. These elegant ocean liners garner a lot of attention when they visit, harking back to the golden age of cruising. Cruise New Zealand’s website is a good tool to research the different ships, passenger and crew numbers.
To ensure that cruise passengers make the most of their time in Wellington, our i-SITE Manager Selena Murray has been recruiting even more Wellington City Ambassadors. These volunteers are based at the CentrePort cruise terminal and around key locations in the city on cruise days. They do a fantastic job of providing maps, information, directions, local knowledge and a warm welcome. The i-SITE circulates information to the Ambassadors before each cruise day so if your business is open on public holidays, do let the team know.
Covec’s Understanding the Value Created by Cruise Tourism research was released at the TIANZ Summit. Each adult cruise passenger during the 2011/12 cruise season was worth an average of NZ$887 to New-Zealand based businesses. Did your business do everything it could to benefit from these visitors?
To make the most of the opportunities presented by cruise passengers, Wellington is going to have to be open all hours. Or at least, open more hours.