New services being launched for cruise ship passengers


Volunteer ambassadors, a hop-on hop-off bus service, and a cruise ship day ferry timetable – it’s all go as Tauranga prepares to welcome the first cruise ship of the season this Saturday, 15 October.

Bethlehem Coachlines is restarting its popular city tour to service passengers from the larger cruise ships that will be returning to Tauranga this season after a two-and-a-half-year absence while New Zealand’s maritime border was closed.

The 90-minute bus loop will include eight stops at locations across Tauranga and Mount Maunganui, such as the Tauranga Art Gallery and Classic Flyers Aviation Museum. It will run on repeat most cruise ship days, giving passengers the option to hop back on the bus loop every 30 minutes. Drivers will also welcome other visitors and residents if they want to purchase a ticket on the day.

Meanwhile, the Wednesday Challenge is extending its new pilot ferry service to offer a special timetable to support the arrival of the Majestic Princess this Saturday.

The ferry will run regularly between The Strand pier in Tauranga’s CBD and Salisbury Wharf, at Pilot Bay, this Saturday. The first trip will start at Pilot Bay at 9am, with the final ferry departing Pilot Bay at 6.30pm.

The Majestic Princess will bring in up to 3,560 passengers and nearly 1,350 crew and Tourism Bay of Plenty General Manager Oscar Nathan expects residents will flock to Pilot Bay during the day to see the ship or to farewell it at 5.30pm.

“We’re pleased that our partners – Mainstreet Downtown Tauranga, Mount Mainstreet, the Wednesday Challenge and Tauranga Water Transport – have agreed to support this cruise day ferry initiative,” Nathan says.

“It will be a scenic and convenient transport option for residents who want to celebrate the arrival of the first cruise ship to enter our harbour since March 2020, and it will also help mitigate traffic congestion in the area on the day. We’re hoping to extend this ferry service to operate throughout the season, whenever large cruise ships will be in port.”  

The first Tourism Bay of Plenty ambassadors to volunteer for the upcoming cruise season have also been gearing up to share their local knowledge with cruise passengers.

Tourism Bay of Plenty cruise ambassadors 2022. Photo / TBOP

Rosemary Briggs and Julie Young enjoy meeting people and say that’s the main reason they’ve agreed to hand out visitor maps, point passengers in the right direction to join a tour, and answer the questions passengers usually ask, such as where to get free Wi-Fi and a good coffee.

“I love people who do exciting things, like travelling,” says Rosemary.

Julie has previously worked as a tour guide in New Zealand and overseas.

“I’m looking forward to meeting and greeting the people and introducing them to the activities they can do here. They’re always happy to be on holiday,” she says.

Tourism Bay of Plenty Cruise Supervisor Nicole Ellis is grateful for experienced ambassadors, like Rosemary and Julie, who have returned after a long COVID-related hiatus and who are willing to spend four hours of their morning, on ship arrival days, to help passengers enjoy the short time they’re onshore in the Coastal Bay of Plenty.

“We’ve also taken on some new ambassadors, and we’re keen to get even more! It’s a great way to contribute to the busy, multinational vibe that makes our city so special during the peak visitor season,” Nicole says.

“It’s been a while since we’ve heard so many different accents and languages, and I think we’ll appreciate that even more this summer now that our border is open and international visitors are coming back.

“If anyone else would like to volunteer as a cruise ambassador this season, I’d love them to email me at”