For passengers on cruise ships touring New Zealand, the port town of Napier is the highest ranked destination, according to end-of-cruise survey results for the 2014/15 season revealed at the recent Cruise New Zealand Annual Conference.

Napier continues to receive top marks out of New Zealand ports and be rated as ‘very welcoming’ by passengers states a recent article in local newspaper Hawke’s Bay Today confirming its status as one of the best cruise ports in NZ. Passengers’ expectations continue to be exceeded as they enjoy the warm hospitality of the people of Napier City and the wider Hawke’s Bay region, Napier i-Site Visitors Centre and local tour operators. Just over 98,000 passengers disembarked at the Port of Napier in the 2014/15 summer season with most hailing from Australia, United Kingdom, United States, New Zealand, Germany and China. Many passengers now eschew the shore excursions offered onboard their ship for more competitively priced tours with local operators available in most ports. Napier i-Site, in conjunction with local operators, have been particularly successful in offering a wide range of alternatives to those offered on the ships in recent years. Here’s a step-by-step guide to getting the best value from your cruise ship visit to Napier;

1. Take the free shuttle from the ship directly to the Napier i-Site Visitor Centre.

Unlike some ports visited, Napier has a continuous (usually about every 10 minutes) and Free return shuttle service to and from the Visitor Centre on beautiful Marine Parade, right in the middle of town. Just jump on and a quick 5 minute ride will deliver you to the hub of local tour operations.

2. Check out the variety of tours and activities on display on the forecourt.

The Napier i-Site Visitor Centre – to give it’s full name – has created a mini-market atmosphere on its forecourt. As you arrive on your shuttle bus you’ll see lots of colourful display stands arranged along a series of tables in front of the Visitor Centre. Each stand represents a local tour or activity operator who can tell you all about what they have to offer that day. You’ll be talking to the actual people who create and conduct the tours. This allows you to ‘browse’ the various displays and ask any questions you want to before making a much more informed decision.

3. Book your tour or activity with the Visitor Centre staff inside.

Co-ordination of all tour bookings is controlled by the staff in the Visitor Centre itself. This provides assurance of service and security of payment to passengers. Once you’ve selected a tour, the operator taking the tour you pick will complete a sales slip for you to take inside to the Visitor Centre for booking and payment. At the counter inside the staff then issue you with a voucher to present at the beginning of your tour. It couldn’t be easier or more secure. However if you would like to skip this step it is also recommended to book ahead of time. Tours have been known to sell out on busy days – Napier Cruise Tours

4. Present your tour voucher to the driver at the designated boarding area.

Next to the Visitor Centre building are a series of angle parks where touring vehicles are boarded. 15 minutes before your tour or activity is due to depart, present yourself to a representative of the tour company in this area and give them your voucher as you board the vehicle. and you’re off…..Have fun!! Top Tip: For the most enjoyable and enlightening tours of Napier and it’s stunning surrounding areas, look for the Bay Tours people in their bright Green shirts or pre-book one of their tours at the Bay Tours website. Our #1 rating on TripAdvisor reflects the quality of the tours and guides.

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