Traffic management port focus

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Traffic management will be a key part of Port Otago’s review of the cruise ship season.

The last cruise ship of the season, Sirena is scheduled to arrive in Dunedin on Monday.

Port Otago general manager commercial Peter Brown said while a recently installed passenger terminal had been an improvement, managing freight traffic and cruise ship passenger traffic was an ongoing issue.

It was important to have a clean separation between passengers and tour vehicles and port operations, he said.

A major challenge for Port Otago, as Mr Brown told The Starin October before the first ship of the season had arrived, was ensuring all passengers were disembarked from each vessel in a timely and efficient manner.

The port’s sole key performance indicator from cruise ships is to get the ship tied up, gangway alongside and passengers on the wharf within 15 minutes. Mr Brown said that target was met on most occasions this season.

“I would say we had a 90%-plus success rate on that.

“There were a couple of times when, due to weather or some other consideration, the ship perhaps berthed the other way round from what was expected or what was planned for.”

Sirena will be the 79th cruise ship to berth in Dunedin or Port Chalmers this season. There have been eight cancellations.

About 90 are booked for next season. Carrying fewer than 1000 crew and passengers, Sirena is one of the smaller cruise ships to arrive at the port.

The largest was Ovation of the Seas, which arrived in January carrying 5000 passengers and 1500 crew.

Larger vessels presented additional challenges for port staff, Mr Brown said.

“It means the preparation is more complicated in terms of building a structure that the gangways then sit on because the height of the gangways and where the gangways are actually going to be located can change from visit to visit depending on tides [and] depending on arrival.”

However, the successful visits of larger vessels such as OvationĀ showed Port Otago had the capacity to handle them, Mr Brown said.

Asked whether new developments elsewhere in the country, such as the possible expansion of Christchurch’s Lyttelton Port to accommodate large cruise ships, would put pressure on Port Otago, Mr Brown said Port Otago was leading the way.

“We’re not followers in this market; we’re actually leading in terms of the facilities that we provide for a port for cruise ships.”