The largest cruise ship ever to visit New Zealand slipped into Milford Sound early this morning.
Greeted by rain squalls and 40-knot winds, the 168,666-tonne mega-ship carrying thousands of passengers glided in sedately with numerous flash lights popping from the multitude of decks.
The goliath ship intended to sail on to Dunedin on Thursday, but had to cancel its stop at Port Chalmers due to bad weather.
Cruise line Royal Caribbean said in a statement to Otago Daily Times it was sometimes necessary to make changes to itineraries because of severe weather warnings such as those that were in place for the coast of the South Island.
A storm system meant Ovation of the Seas' cruise from Sydney would not stop at Dunedin, a decision made ''to ensure the safety of our guests and crew, and in order to provide a comfortable cruise experience''.
The ship was expected to leave Milford Sound at noon for Wellington.
Ovation is longer than three rugby fields and is too long to berth in Auckland where it will arrive on December 27. It will have to anchor in the harbour off Queens Wharf with passengers ferried about 800m on tenders to the Viaduct area. The ship will also visit Tauranga and Picton.
Its owners, Royal Caribbean, said it is a "game changer" and had been stopping traffic in Australian cities it visited over the past week.
Ovation is the fourth biggest cruise vessel in the world, and can take up to 4905 passengers and 1500 crew.
It has a stand-up surfing pool, sky diving simulator, rock-climbing wall, dodgem cars, a circus school, and an observation gondola on a hydraulic arm rising 90m above the ship.
It has eight speciality restaurants, some bars are set up with robotic bar tenders which help deliver 127 different cocktails.