4 Oct 2023

Cruise industry expecting 'biggest season we've had'

3:30 pm on 4 October 2023
MS Queen Elizabeth  operated by the Cunard Line arrives at Otaru Port in Otaru City, Hokkaido Prefecture on May 27, 2023. The cruise ship which is traveling Japan for the first time in four years called at the port for the first time. ( The Yomiuri Shimbun ) (Photo by Taketo Oishi / Yomiuri / The Yomiuri Shimbun via AFP)

MS Queen Elizabeth operated by the Cunard Line arrives at Otaru Port in Otaru City, Hokkaido. Photo: AFP / Taketo Oishi

The cruise industry is banking on a record summer as new luxury operators Disney and Virgin Voyages enter the market.

The New Zealand Cruise Association says 54 ships will visit in the upcoming season, 12 more than last summer.

Around 350,000 passengers are expected with more than 1000 port visits, starting in 10 days.

NZ Cruise Association chief executive Jacqui Lloyd said some of the world's luxury liners are visiting including Cunard's Queen Elizabeth, Virgin's Resilient Lady and Holland America Line's mid-sized Noordam.

"We're expecting really good numbers. Half those vessels will be under 1000 passengers and the rest will be over that," she said.

"It will be the biggest season we've had since the 2019-2020 - that was cut short by the pandemic."

She said the cruise ship companies were looking to cater for the widest range of passengers such as Disney Wonder with its clubs for kids, tween and teens.

"Cruise is actually growing as a form of travel globally," Lloyd said.

"The interest in cruise is continuing and in fact the propensity to cruise is higher, that's the global message.

"The largest growing markets are millennials and generation X. They've done a lot of travel with their families on cruise ships and now they coming back to do it themselves."

Cruise lines will return to Lyttelton this year after an upgrade of the berth and Whangārei will be an addition to ports of call.

"Some of our smaller ports are looking to grow their cruise ships. The smaller ships that are coming in have more of a chance to tap into some of our smaller regions and spread the economic development further than our larger cities," she said.

Timaru was expected to see an increase in ships, while Kaikōura and Bluff have forward bookings.

A wide-ranging group of authorities in New Plymouth was working to boost the economy through the Taranaki Cruise Strategy.

Port Taranaki, alongside a group made up of iwi, the New Plymouth District Council, the Department of Conservation, the Taranaki Chamber of Commerce and tourism operators plan to see 28 cruise visits by 2028. While seven ships have bookings to call at Port Taranaki this summer.

The industry was estimated to be worth close to $600 million a season to the New Zealand economy.

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