Described as an “expedition ship” the MS Bremen can accommodate up to 50 passengers and thanks to its relatively small size, can call at small ports off the usual tourist routes
A total of 137 passengers was on the ship for yesterday’s visit, most of them from Germany and Europe, said ship’s agent Stuart Henry, managing director of Cruise Cook Islands.
The Bremen was outside the reef at Avatiu at 7.30am and was helped into the international berth by harbour master John Jessie and pilot Saungaki Rasmussen, at around 8am.
Stalls selling colourful clothing and souvenir items were set up on the wharf and the warm and sunny day and the pounding rhythms of a drum band soon drew a constant stream of curious visitors off the ship
Henry said most passengers were eager to explore the island and many took part in a circle island tour, with the highlight a cultural show at Muri’s rugby field.
“It was a beautiful setting with the lagoon and the motu in the background,” Henry said.
A second tour excursion was planned for the afternoon, as well as a lagoon cruise.
The Bremen was scheduled to leave the Port of Avatiu at around 6pm. It headed overnight to Aitutaki, where passengers were to take part in a lagoon cruise, snorkelling and morning and afternoon orientation tours today.
Henry said the next cruise ship to call at Rarotonga would be a frequent visitor, the Paul Gaugin, which will arrive on Wednesday next week.
Apart from the cancellation of two visits by the Maasdam due to bad weather, the Cook Islands had experienced a good year for cruise ship visits, he added.
Next year and 2020 were also looking good, and the likelihood of more frequent visits by smaller expedition ships meant several of the northern islands would be included in future itineraries, Henry said.