QE2 Skips Bay of Islands

January 30, 2003
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.”