A final ‘bon voyage’ next Monday

The 80th and final cruise ship of the season Siena will be making two scheduled visit to Tauranga, with the first this Saturday and the second next Monday. Photo: Oceania Cruises/YouTube

Tauranga locals are being encouraged to help send off the 2016/17 cruise ship season in style when the final ship setting sail next Monday.

The 80th and final cruise ship of the season is Oceania Cruises vessel Sirena – a 181m long ship which has a gross tonnage of 30,227 and can accommodate 684 passengers and 400 crew.

She will be making two visits to Tauranga – the first taking place this Saturday, with Sirena arriving in port at about 9.15am and scheduled to depart at 7.30pm, followed by a return visit next Monday from 6.45am to 7pm.

This latest cruise ship season has been particularly busy, with 80 ships, 150,000 passengers and more than 64,000 crew members visiting Tauranga since last October. It has also been the first season for cruise ships – four in total – staying in port overnight.

Tourism Bay of Plenty CEO Kirstin Dunne says the overnight stays were a season highlight as they created opportunities to maximise the visitor experience for passengers with evening events, from which locals and retailers could also benefit.

“The success of the overnight stays, and the overall picture of the cruise ship season, shows a vote of confidence for the Bay of Plenty tourism sector and I believe it lays a solid platform for future growth.

“It is apparent Tauranga is rated as one of New Zealand's most popular destinations and we are working hard with careful planning to ensure our sector continues to bring economic benefit to the wider Bay of Plenty region.”

This season also marked the inaugural visit to New Zealand from Ovation of the Seas, the fourth largest cruise ship in the world, who docked at the Port of Tauranga three times.

A voyage that was extremely popular, with thousands of people lining Mauao, Pilot Bay and Sulphur Point to welcome the ship and her passengers to the region. When she left Tauranga later that day, similar numbers converged on the area but this time to say farewell.

Planning is already underway for the 2017/18 season, and Ms Dunne says 95 ships are tentatively scheduled, commencing with the Golden Princess on October 10 and finishing with the Insignia on May 18, 2018.

There will be 20 double ship days and a triple ship day with Caledonian Sky, Massdam and Seabourn Encore all in port on January 6.

During this time, RMS Queen Mary 2 is scheduled to make its inaugural visit to Tauranga on March 4. The vessel, the seventh largest cruise ship in the world, is 345m long, has a gross tonnage of 151,400 and can accommodate 2620 passengers and 1200 crew.

Ovation of the Seas will also return to the city with three visits scheduled for December 22, January 3 and February 9. The vessel is the largest cruise liner ever to visit New Zealand, at a length of 348 metres, 167,800 gross tonnage and a maximum capacity of 4900 passengers and 1300 crew.

“It is exciting to have RMS Queen Mary 2 visiting Tauranga. It's another opportunity to promote our abundant region and showcase our community's fantastic hospitality.

“Vessels of this size are considerable drawcards and are a ringing endorsement that cruise companies see Tauranga as a must-stop destination,” says Kirstin.



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The Lovely Mount Maunganui beach. Photo: Denis Player.

Send us your photos from around the Bay of Plenty. kendra@thesun.co.nz