The largest cruise ship ever to visit Tauranga sailed in on Monday, December 26, at 6:20 a.m., welcomed by thousands of spectators gathered on Mauao and Pilot Bay.
As the luxury mega vessel rounded the corner of Mauao, twice bellowing its horn in greeting, sightseers audibly gasped at the sheer size of it. People waved and cheered as it passed.
Ovation of the Seas is longer than 3 rugby fields, weighs 168,660 gross register tonnes and carries 4762 passengers.
"It's just gigantic," said cruise ship fan and local Rodney McKenzie.
"It's like a floating city,"
Even when still out at sea it looked massive, he said, and up close it was an amazing sight.
Mr McKenzie regularly climbed part-way up Mauao to his special spot, which was a great vantage point to see cruise ships pass by.
"Cruise ships are rather graceful and majestic, I think. That's why I like to come out to greet them."
The Royal Caribbean ship included surfing and skydiving simulators, bumper cars, robotic bartenders and a rock climbing wall.
Once docked the Bay of Plenty Times spoke with passengers getting off to enjoy Mt Maunganui and Tauranga.