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by Chris Tobin

Dozens of people gathered at various viewing points to watch the return of the cruise ship Seabourne Encore to PrimePort Timaru on Tuesday morning.

The ship’s arrival marked the end of a three-year absence after its last stay when strong winds drove the vessel off its moorings, ending in a collision with a concrete ship, the Milburn Carrier II

That incident was not on people’s minds as they viewed the impressive-looking vessel slipping quietly into the port in calm seas, returning to No1 wharf which had undergone a substantial upgrade since the ship’s last visit.

The Seabourne Encore had pulled bollards from the wharf in the 2016 incident.

Akorn Destination manager Mark Kerr said there were “350 guests on board”.

Upon disembarking the passengers were taken to a range of activities which included visits to Maori rock art sites. One bus travelled to Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park and back; another busload travelled to Timaru Airport to board a flight to Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park.

The Seabourne Encore departed at 8pm.

A return visit is scheduled for February 14.

Two other cruise ships are scheduled to visit Timaru this summer – the Silver Muse on February 7 and Europa 2 to arrive on February 15.