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Rarotonga bustling with weekend cruise ship visit

Monday 30 October 2023 | Written by Al Williams | Published in Local, National


Rarotonga bustling with weekend cruise ship visit
The MS Noordam just off the coast of Rarotonga on Saturday. PHOTO JOANNE HOLDEN/23102901

Rarotonga was bustling on Saturday with a visiting cruise ship and a Rugby World Cup final.

As the All Blacks were narrowly outclassed by the Springboks 11-12, a sizeable crowd gathered at Punanga Nui Market in Avarua to view the game on a big screen.

Numbers continued to swell as passengers from the MS Noordam made their way to the market and around the island during the course of the day.

Operators on Rarotonga welcomed the influx of visitors.     

“Saturday was a great day and very busy for our services trying to cater for a what is already a busy day of the week with the markets, and then the visitors from the ship,” Danny Cook of Cooks’ Island Bus Passenger Transport said.

“A typical Saturday would see us with four buses operating from 7am to 10pm. With the cruise ship staying in yesterday we had all hands on deck with all our available buses being sent out to cater for the ship visitors and visitors staying locally.”

Cook said his team are usually notified of an arriving cruise ship in advance through various channels, as well as direct contact from passengers on the cruise ships.

“Most of the time we will work with the local ship agent which has direct contact with cruise ship company.

“The local agent will usually confirm with the ship the available services on the island before docking, one of the most important being our service.

“Apart from that there is just the tourism information staff at the harbour on the days.”

Cook said his team are expecting a couple more ships this week.

Cook Islands Tourism Industry Council president Liana Scott said the MS Noordam looked super impressive and was pleased to hear guests could come off the vessel and experience Rarotonga while contributing to the economy through spending.

“Often tours and activities are booked on these days, and given accommodation is so full on the island at present, it means that the additional capacity can be added without taking away from room stock.

“The other positive of course is that often some of these fleeting visits become a conversion to a holiday in the future.”

Honourable George Maggie Angene, Minister of Punanga Nui, said the market was very full with tourists from the visiting ship.

“I talked to tourists and they were happy to see the standard of the market.”

Minister Angene said the big screen had been installed at the market at the request of Prime Minister Mark Brown, while Minister of Infrastructure Cook Islands Albert Nicholas had also been assisting with improvements at the market.

The MS Noordam is 82,500 gross tonnes, 285 metres in length, has 11 passenger decks, a capacity for 1900 passengers and 800 crew, with a maximum speed of 23 knots.

She was christened in 2006, in New York.

The vessel left Rarotonga bound for Tonga on Saturday and scheduled to stop in Australia and New Zealand.