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22 Jun 2018
John Heaven, 87, is considered an angel by the Wellington Cruise Ambassadors (WCA) team who give up their own time to ensure cruise ship passengers have a great time in the Capital – but more volunteers are needed.
The retired builder has been in the WCA programme since it began off the back of the 2011 Rugby World Cup. He is one of 13 remaining originals still volunteering as an ambassador, and is eagerly anticipating the start of the 2018/19 cruise season later this year.
“I think I was about the first person to sign up as an ambassador. I’ve always enjoyed meeting people and that’s what drew me to the role and, of course, cruise ship passengers always enjoy and value getting advice from locals.”
One of the youngest WCA volunteers is 21-year-old Lara Snelling who recently graduated from Victoria University with a Bachelor of Tourism Management.
She volunteered to help gain experience in the tourism industry, and build business relationships.
The WCA programme is run by WREDA through its i-SITE operation. WREDA Marketing and Destination Development General Manager David Perks says John Heaven was given the nickname “Mr Available” because of the large number of WCA shifts he’s completed over the years.
“His willingness to give up his free time to ensure cruise visitor have an enjoyable experience while in Wellington is laudable. He’s inspirational to many people involved in the WCA programme, and something of a mentor to the younger volunteers.”
The last cruise season saw the arrival in Wellington of nearly 238,000 passengers, an increase of 15 per cent over the 2016/17 cruise season, aboard 81 ships.
Mr Perks says Wellington’s 2018/19 Cruise Season is looking bigger than ever with 111 cruise ships already booked.
“To help cope with the increased numbers, and to ensure passengers get a rewarding Wellington experience, we are looking for around 50 more people to volunteer as ambassadors,” Mr Perks says.
The Wellington Cruise Ambassadors team is made up of people from a wide range of backgrounds and ages – from enthusiastic students to retirees eager to showcase the city.
Prospective volunteers can register their interest on [email protected]