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Weather always an obstacle for cruise ships, says Tourism

Friday 21 April 2023 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Economy, National, Travel


Weather always an obstacle  for cruise ships, says Tourism
The Aranui 5 cruise ship and cargo ship arrived in Aitutaki yesterday morning. Photo: MACK MARONA / 23042022

Weather will always be a significant impediment for realising the full potential of a cruise ship, says Cook Islands Tourism Corporation.

On Wednesday morning, the cruise ship Paul Gauguin was unable to call into Avatiu Port, Rarotonga due to rough seas, high swells caused by the adverse weather condition. The ship then made its way to Aitutaki where guests were able to disembark later in the afternoon when rain cleared.

Cook Islands Tourism chief executive officer Karla Eggelton says it is always sad to know that after a lot of hard work and effort in planning and preparing for each cruise, the excited visitors aboard are unable to experience Rarotonga and other Pa Enua ports of call because of weather. 

Eggelton said to fully realise the potential of cruise ships, the vessels need to be able to berth so passengers can disembark safely. 

“Until we have adequate and appropriate infrastructure to support cruise ships, weather will always be a significant impediment for realising the full potential of cruise. 

“For Rarotonga and other ports of call in the Pa Enua, this also means bigger, wider and deeper harbours. We just have to work with what we have and get smarter at doing it.”

Eggelton says cruise is only a small contributor to the visitor economy, so any infrastructure investment would have to be seriously considered against the expected return on investment of that business. 

“That is why the current strategy is to seek out super yachts, sailing boats and expedition type cruises, which are typically smaller sized ships carrying a smaller (and more manageable) number of passengers.”

Cruise Cook Islands’ Stuart Henry earlier said bad weather has always been a problem for cruise ships in the Cooks.

“Due to the fact we are not fortunate to have deep natural harbours like many Tahiti Islands, the weather will always be a challenge.”

Henry said the cost to build a purpose platform pier or harbour for cruise ships would not be viable and a major priority for Rarotonga as air travel is sufficient to service tourism requirements on the island.

Meanwhile, Aranui 5 visited Aitutaki yesterday and is expected to be in Atiu today. It will also make its maiden voyage to Rarotonga tomorrow at around 7am.

Aranui 5 is a custom-built passenger-freighter providing the comforts and modern conveniences of a cruise ship and also a cargo service to remote areas.

According to Epik Escapes, the vessel accommodates 230 passengers with 103 cabins ranging from dormitory style, sleeping four to eight, to staterooms with private balconies. There are bars, a restaurant, swimming pool, a boutique, a gym and a tattoo studio.