GALLERY: Visitors cruise into Newcastle

NEWCASTLE put on a show yesterday for the Rhapsody of the Seas cruise ship and its nearly 2500 passengers.

The 78,500-tonne ship, which is 278 metres long, sailed into Newcastle for the second time yesterday morning.

After a spectacular sunny day exploring the sights of the city, the Hunter vineyards or the Stockton sand dunes, visitors left port about 4pm.

Newcastle City Council established a ‘‘central tourism hub’’ at Queens Wharf that included information about local attractions.

Newcastle Port Corporation chief executive Gary Webb said about 100 people used a new Cruise Hunter mobile application designed to help cruise passengers with local information.

‘‘We’ve had shops with welcome signs for the passengers,’’ Mr Webb said.

‘‘I think the experience that Newcastle and the tours off the ship provide is quite impressive’’.

Rhapsody of the Seas features an 11-deck atrium, a 30-foot rock climbing wall, and indoor and outdoor swimming pools.

The ship is the first of 10 that will visit Newcastle between now and May, bringing an estimated total of 22,000 people to the region during the 2013-2014 cruise season.

At 293 metres long, Celebrity Millennium  is even bigger than Rhapsody of the Seas and will arrive on Friday.

It last visited in January 2009, and is still the largest cruise ship to berth in the harbour.

Mr Webb said more than 12 cruise ships had already made arrangements to dock in Newcastle for the cruise season.

‘‘I think the proof is in the pudding that we continue to get forward bookings into this port,’’ Mr Webb said.

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