AucklandThe main port in New Zealand for big ships and turnaround operations, Auckland’s cruise numbers are steady, and the port is entering its second year of operations with the refitted Queens Wharf berth.

A newly established “Cruise Forum” provides the place for infrastructure owners, facility managers, tourism operators and the cruise industry to meet regularly and discuss operational matters and to explore improvements, explained Leigh Robins, marine and cruise operations manager for Ports of Auckland.

“If there are any issues that affect the operation of the ship, we bring together all the stakeholders involved and discuss ways to improve this.”

One example would be a small issue that came up with the Celebrity Solstice’s turnaround with the sheer number of people and bags.

“All the parties got together to work through the issues one by one and put some changes in place to assist with dealing with the number of passengers, bags and traffic that this particular ship brings,” Robins continued. “The subsequent exchange visits were very much improved. Preplanning and open dialogue with all stakeholders is how we rise to the challenge.”

Robins said one trend coming from deployment was moving toward more emphasis on the Asia/Pacific island market out of Australia.

“The change isn’t significant, just some redeployments around the Pacific Rim,” Robins noted. “Auckland plays a very important role in the whole NZ cruise business. It is the only port in NZ that has the facilities to be able to accommodate a large ship turnaround visit. If vessels were not able to call into Auckland, it is likely they will not visit other ports in NZ either.”