Auckland’s bumper cruise season has officially kicked off with the arrival of Princess Cruises’ mega liner Diamond Princess into port today (October 08).
New Zealand's tourism sector can expect a big boost, with a record breaking cruise season ahead.
Sixteen ports around the country will benefit from cruise ship visits over the next six months, including the Bay of Islands, Gisborne and Dunedin.
The Diamond Princess cruise ship is grand, it's royal and it's making her presence known at Auckland's Queen's Wharf and bringing with her the first of many visitors to New Zealand's shores.
The 116,000-tonne, Diamond Princess arrived in the harbour this morning bringing with her 2670-guests who are spending the day exploring Auckland before they embark on their next leg of their journey this evening to the Bay of Islands.
Mayor Len Brown says cruise ship visits into Auckland have more than doubled in the past 10 years.
“It’s great to see the cruise sector thriving, and that this is set to continue in the coming seasons with even more ships and passengers,” he says.
“The visitor economy plays a critical role in Auckland's economic growth and the fast growing cruise sector is going to help Auckland achieve the economic aspirations set out in the Auckland Visitor Plan.”
However, Cruise New Zealand chairman Kevin O'Sullivan said the industry remained concerned by the impact of a new biosecurity levy on passengers which is expected to apply from January.
The bookings for 2016-2017 are also on track to be another record season and will include visits from Royal Caribbean
’s Ovation of the Seas which will be the largest ship to ever come to New Zealand.
The last cruise season provided a $190m boost to the Auckland economy, up 20 per cent on the year before, and bookings are on track for another record season in 2016-17, which will include the first visit by the largest ship to visit New Zealand, Royal Caribbean's Ovation of the Seas.
Auckland plays a key role in the New Zealand tourism
industry as the primary exchange point for cruise ships – where passengers embark or disembark their vessel, and where ships are re-provisioned.
The Auckland Visitor Plan – created on behalf of Auckland Council – aims to grow the region’s visitor economy from a $4.8 billion industry in 2012 to a $7.2 billion sector in 2021.
Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) External Relations General Manager Steve Armitage says there will be 125 voyage calls into Auckland over the next eight months.