This cruise season is set to be Napier Port’s busiest yet with more than 130,000 cruise visitors expected to boost Hawke’s Bay’s economy.

The Port recently welcomed ‘Silver Muse’, its 1000th cruise ship visits to Napier since they began calling 30 years ago.

Former 50-year port employee, and local maritime historian, Tony des Landes was there to mark the occasion.

Des Landes retired in January 2019 and still volunteers as a cruise ambassador every five to seven days at peak cruise season.

“I have cruised a bit myself so nice to give something back,” he told BayBuzz.

He also helped to record all cruise visits for the last 30 years.

In the 30 years since the first cruise visit to Napier Port, a total of 123 different vessels have called to Napier, although 13 of those returned under different names.

“I have built a database to record shipping movements, initially to preserve the ports older computer records, but later manually entered older records from old Harbour Master log books,” he said.

“Noting this 1000th milestone started after being asked recently by David Pons (Napier Port Operations Supervisor – Marine Services, Access and Cruise) about “triple” days, and while analysing the cruise ship visits I noticed at that time that call numbers were heading towards 1000. Thought it might be of interest to mention it.”

From left Silver Muse Master Captain Tomasz Kulas Tony des Landes Napier Port CEO Todd Dawson

Napier Port CEO Todd Dawson was excited to celebrate the occasion, and after Silver Muse was safely berthed, he presented the ship’s captain with a gift to commemorate this significant milestone.

“This cruise season is set to be the Port’s busiest yet with 72 cruise visits already and another 17 bookings through to early April,” Dawson said.

“We’ve had more double and triple ship stays than ever before and welcomed a number of maiden cruise line calls. That translates to more than 130,000 cruise visitors to Hawke’s Bay, which is a significant and timely boost to the local economy and our region’s ongoing post-cyclone recovery.”

He added the recent addition of Te Whiti (6 Wharf) as a multi-purpose berth boosted the Port’s wharf capacity and provided greater operational flexibility for the Port’s teams to efficiently manage the different types of cargo vessels regularly calling to Napier.

“Not only is the Port capable of berthing the largest cruise vessels coming to New Zealand, including the Oasis-class liners (such as Icon of the Seas), but we are well-placed to welcome even more cruise ship calls next season.”

Des Landes added not only was Napier Port facilitating the arrival of more cruise ships, but the ships were also getting much bigger and in turn bringing with them a growing number of visitors to the region.

“The boom of the cruise industry over the last couple of seasons has been spectacular, particularly in light of the two-year absence due to the pandemic as well as the disruptions caused by Cyclone Gabrielle last season.”

At 364m, the Ovation of the Seas is the largest vessel of any type to call at Napier Port. The vessel is scheduled to visit Napier Port six times this season, carrying close to 5000 passengers each voyage.

Modern-day cruise experiences as we know them first began in the 1960s.

However, it wasn’t until 1994 that cruise ships started calling to Napier, with the arrival of the Marco Polo (176m) on February 24, making seven visits that first season and returning for nine the following season.

Public Interest Journalism funded by NZ on Air


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  1. As this is public interest journalism, to balance the economic benefits of the cruise industry the huge environmental impact of the industry should have also been mentioned. It is a very carbon intensive way to travel, lifting the chances of another Cyclone Gabrielle sweeping through the Hawkes Bay.

  2. Well said, Dr Paul Callister. You have named the elephant in the room (or should that be “on the high seas and in our ports”).

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