Extra cruise ship visits will provide a well needed boost as leading Bank Peninsula Tourism operator Black Cat Cruises gears up for a challenging summer season.
Akaroa is the main port of call for cruise ships visiting Canterbury this season and Black Cat Cruises is committed to making sure it is prepared.
“Cruise ships are a huge bonus for us in what is set to be a challenging season, but we are moving ahead with a staff head count only marginally behind a normal year,” Black Cat Cruises Managing Director Paul Bingham said.
“We are getting very good support from the cruise ships and as the largest tourism operator in Akaroa we are happy with the business so far and feedback in general has been excellent.”
Bingham said seven staff have been recently employed for the summer season and that Akaroa has handled its first cruise ship visits of the season extremely well.
“Restaurants, cafes, shops and operators have all been busy when a cruise ship is in; it has been great to see and we are looking forward to more of the same over summer.”
Black Cat Cruises has been putting on an extra morning cruise to deal with the cruise ship passengers and a portable cabin has been set up on the town’s main wharf as a make-shift visitor centre and extra copies of the Akaroa Visitor Guide and the Akaroa Town Map have been printed for summer.
Akaroa’s Town Crier also greets all arriving cruise ships and roving ambassadors will be on the streets to help visitors find their way around the town.
The Sea Princess is in Akaroa tomorrow for its third visit of the season. The ship has room for
1950 passengers and 900 crew and will visit a further two times this summer.
Bingham said it was also very important not to just think about the next month but to also focus on the next summer season and next year.
He said it was very important that domestic and international visitors realise that Canterbury was open for business and that Christchurch still has an important ‘gateway’ role while recovery proceeds.
“The region of Canterbury has some great options for visitors, and the French inspired village of Akaroa offers relaxing restaurants, great cafes, sailing, cruising on the harbour and swimming with the rare Hector dolphins.”
Bingham said the company had also been looking at new products as well as ensuring its current ones stacked up well for the challenging summer season ahead.
A new product developed has seen Black Cat Cruises combining with the Akaroa Cooking School to offer a new Triple Treat excursion for groups. Aimed at groups of 15 or more the trip includes a nature cruise that includes a stop at the Salmon Farm to catch a fish, and then it’s on to the cooking school to turn the Salmon into a delicious feast.
The cruise company’s popular Great Quail Island treasure hunt started again in early October and the Canterbury Cat in Lyttelton harbour is proving a good choice as a function and events venue.
“We know there are challenges ahead but we are planning as best we can to be in the best shape possible and we are going forward in a positive manner.”