LYTTELTON Port Company has tested a new berthing strategy to help transport cruise passengers into the nearby city of Christchurch.

The arrival of Royal Princess in the first week of November kicked off the cruise season at the South Island port. The port is expecting 79 cruise visits this season.

LPC head of customer relations Andrew Todd said operations ran smoothly on the Royal Princess berth.

“Down at the wharf, we had three loading zones, one for the Christchurch shuttle for Christchurch attractions and independents, a second for Shorex operators, including the Gondola Express, and a third for the Lyttelton shuttle,” he said.

At a public meeting in June this year, residents raised concerns that the township needed help coping with thousands of visiting cruise passengers.

“The challenge we faced as a port was that together with all the key stakeholders, come up with a solution that was best for all concerned and, most importantly, the residents in Lyttelton,” Mr Todd said.

Last week, thirteen hundred passengers caught a shuttle directly into Christchurch from the berth while 300 passengers and crew used the free shuttle into Lyttelton.

“Feedback for Lyttelton has been very positive; while there were markedly fewer passengers in the township, there appear to be no issues with buses, with some visitors walking around the township and making small purchases.”

LPC said it is looking at improving operations at the cruise berth for the next two cruise ships to streamline passengers exiting the ship directly onto the shuttles, alleviating delays as quickly as possible.