27 Oct 2022

More than 200,000 cruise ship passengers expected to dock in Christchurch this season

8:20 pm on 27 October 2022
Celebrity Eclipse, EC, aerial, ship exterior, blue hull, Celebrity Revolution, clouds, water

Celebrity Eclipse docked in Lyttelton Harbour on Thursday. Photo: Supplied/ChristchurchNZ

For the first time in 11 years, Ōtautahi has welcomed a cruise ship.

No large ships have docked in Whakaraupō Lyttelton Harbour since the earthquakes destroyed the previous berth.

ChristchurchNZ's Tracey Wilson said more than 200,000 passengers and crew were set to stop off this season, bringing an estimated $260 million to the local economy.

"We've got so much to be proud of as a city, much of which has been regenerated, and we want to encourage our visitors to appreciate all we have to offer and come back."

The Celebrity Eclipse's passengers enjoyed being out and about in Lyttelton on Thursday.

Christchurch's Port Hills reminded English couple, Susan and Brian, of home.

"New Zealand - it's a lovely place, it's beautiful. It looks just like the Lake District in England and very much like Scotland too. It's been wonderful [so far]," they said.

Civil and Naval bar tender and Lyttelton local, Jesse, liked seeing new faces.

"There's more people in Lyttelton, that's good. It's a port town so people should expect [cruise ships]. Much like the Sail GP, there'll be a few hiccups a few things will go wrong ... but it should be good for businesses," he said.

Alana worked just along the main road at Henry Trading.

There had been a buzz about the port suburb, but not everyone was keen on the return of cruises, she said.

"Mixed reviews around the town, it's always pretty interesting when it's been so many years. I haven't worked in Lyttelton having a cruise ship in so it's quite interesting being in here," Alana said.

Tyrone Fields

Banks Peninsula councillor Tyrone Fields. Photo: RNZ / Nate Mckinnon

Newly elected Banks Peninsula councillor Tyrone Fields said the environmental impact of cruises was weighing on the minds of locals.

"There's a lot of excitement for sure ... but people are concerned about the wellbeing of our local Hector's dolphin population. People are concerned about the impact on the seabed, and obviously the impact cruise ships have in relation to climate change.

"But at the same time, we've got this beautiful harbour here and we've got this beautiful country that people want to see and we need to manage [the concerns] together [with the tourism]."

Covid-19 had also become part of the kōrero after a different cruise ship destined for Lyttelton, Ovation of the Seas, confirmed it had more than 130 positive cases on board.

Celebrity Eclipse passengers, Australian couple John and Karin, said there have been no Covid-19 protocols communicated to passengers from the crew.

"There are a few people isolating, they might have something, a virus, but there's been no official announcement at all so everybody's just doing their own thing," John said.

"But if you sit next to someone and you sneeze, they'll go and sit in the next cabin, or even the next deck."

Karin said they did not know if there were any Covid-19 cases onboard.

"Everyone's taking mild precautions, put it that way, they're being sensible."

However, crew members were wearing masks, John said.

Celebrity Cruises refused to comment in person, but sent RNZ a written statement.

"In the event any of our guests or crew test positive for Covid-19 onboard, a robust, tiered response plan is in place that's been developed with guidance from local authorities and leading public health experts," it said.

All crew and passengers over the age of 12 also had to be vaccinated to board the ship.

But there was no comment on whether there were Covid-19 cases on board Celebrity Eclipse.

Christchurch Mayor Phil Mauger said he had faith in the ship's Covid-19 protocols.

"From what I hear, the systems [the crew] have got in place onboard will keep it well under control, I hope."

Celebrity Eclipse would dock in Wellington on Friday.

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