The fascination that Auckland has with its port, and particularly with its cruise ship terminal, has little comparison with like facilities elsewhere in the world. Most international ports now cater for large numbers of cruises each year, many more than what is seen in Auckland. Examples are Le Havre in France (some two hours' drive from Paris), and Southampton in the UK. These literally pump out passengers both on arrival and departure. As many as four large cruise ships a day come and go.
Passengers typically want to exit the ship, gain access to transport and get on into the country for an experience. On return, after a weary day they want nothing more than to get back on the ship and kick their shoes off and relax. So why the fascination with a new terminal for Auckland? It's difficult to figure out.
Reality tells me that what Auckland needs is a comfortable facility for both arrivals and departures, covered and with a nice façade. Anything else is a waste of money. Add a few retail outlets for returning passengers, and the facility is complete. Certainly there is no need for more.
The best result for visiting passengers is a happy experience in the city, not hanging around a cruise terminal. The city fathers should not try and compare a cruise terminal with an airport: the experiences are totally different, and spend is not important to the passengers. Further, many ports of call in Europe are just that, ports. There are containers and port traffic mingled with passengers. The latter don't care.
It's time for Auckland to wake up and spend its money wisely. International ports are for arrivals and departures, it's that simple. A focus on moving vehicle traffic is essential and most important to the comings and goings of cruise ships. The terminal is of secondary consideration.
Paul Keane is a registered property professional and has vast experience in New Zealand’s commercial property industries. He provides retail and property consultancy including development management to many New Zealand property owners, developers and city councils.
This post originally appeared on RCG's blog.