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Cruise season kicks off with 500+ visitors on Europa 2, Star Breeze

Wednesday 31 January 2024 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Economy, Local, National


Cruise season kicks off with 500+ visitors on Europa 2, Star Breeze
Star Breeze, the second cruise ship for the year, arrived yesterday. LOSIRENE LACANIVALU/24013023 / 24013024

More than 500 cruise ship passengers arrived in Rarotonga, with the Europa 2 inaugurating the year’s cruise season on Saturday, followed by the Star Breeze on Monday.

Brad Kirner, director of Destination Development at Cook Islands Tourism Corporation, expressed their delight in welcoming the visitors.

With a combined total of 610 passengers and 369 crew onboard the two ships, Cook Islands Tourism representatives welcomed around 500 visitors during their stop.

Kirner said the majority of visitors had pre-booked tours, while others opted to explore the island independently.

Tourists enjoying their time in Rarotonga, buying souvenirs from local vendors. COOK ISLANDS TOURISM CORP / 24013025 / 24013026

He emphasised the welcome boost these mid-level “expedition” cruise ships provide to the local economy during the low season.

“Cook Islands Tourism certainly sees the value in developing the cruise liner market further, and are currently engaging with a cruise specialist familiar to the Cook Islands cruise offering,” Kirner said.

“But we must be careful to attract the right types of ships, at the right times, with appropriate visitor experiences to ensure our community gains the most benefit, while avoiding the much publicised ‘downsides’ of cruise tourism.”

Approximately 11,000 cruise ship passengers arrived in Aitutaki and Rarotonga in 2023.

For Rarotonga alone, there were 6500 visitors and 4500 for Aitutaki. And out of the 38 cruise ships scheduled across Aitutaki and Rarotonga, only 22 were able to land passengers ashore.

Kirner earlier said this means that approximately 40 per cent of potential cruise arrivals were lost.

For 2024, he said they have roughly 34 cruise ship visits scheduled across Aitutaki and Rarotonga, spread throughout the year.