Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth 2, which has already experienced its share of
controversy this month, is feeling heat on another front. The ship, slated
to make a maiden call at Bay of Islands, Paihia, New Zealand, on February 6,
has opted instead to replace that port with a stop at Hobart. It’s a
controversial decision -- some local folks there claim that the potential of
protesters against cruise ships on that day, a holiday called “Waitangi Day”
-- is what is scaring QE2 away. Waitangi Day celebrates the 1849 treaty
signing between Britain and New Zealand.
A spokeswoman for Cunard says that potential protests were less of a factor
than the very real possibility of overcrowding in the areas near where QE2
will dock (a new pier has been built right by the treaty grounds). “Bay of
Islands will be very congested on Waitangi Day, and we've taken the decision
to offer our guests a less crowded and more comfortable alternative by
calling at Hobart,” says Cunard’s Julie Davis. It's also a known factor that
there have been disturbances in Paihia on Waitangi Day in the past. We based
our decision on those two concerns.”
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