New Zealand's first purpose-built cruise ship berth in Lyttelton Harbour is just days from its official opening but with no ships for it to welcome, there are hopes local tourism will fill the gap.
The $67 million maritime marvel is designed to take the world's greatest mega-ships, but they're no longer arriving after the Covid-19 pandemic has seen the collapse of what was a $100 billion global sector.
After a four-year build, Lyttleton Port’s general manager infrastructure and property, Mike Simmers, says he hopes it won’t be a “white elephant for a year.”
More than 80 ships were booked to dock at the brand new berth this upcoming season and now that number is zero.
“To essentially rush to complete a project in time, to be with no revenue for a year. It’s a bit of a shock,” Simmers said.
As the cruise ship industry reels from the impact of Covid-19, prematurely-retired ships are now lining a sea dock in Turkey and wreckers are dismantling luxury liners for scrap.
“Really if you'd asked me a question along these lines even in November I'd have never have dreamed just how bad things could become,” CEO of Cruise NZ Kevin O’Sullivan said.
“We will see a limited degree of cruising, Kiwis cruising around our own country but it will begin in earnest once we get into winter and October 2021,” he said.
Simmers shares his confidence, saying when the borders re-open, he’s expecting tourism to flourish again.