The cruise industry is confident it can weather the storm of the
current global economic downturn.
Although cruise bookings for 2009 are down for most countries,
executives at the recent international cruise industry event
Seatrade were positive about the future globally, and for New
The international cruise industry has seen unprecedented growth
in recent decades, with New Zealand claiming its share of this
In the 1996/97 cruise season 27 cruises brought 19,000 visitors
to New Zealand. In comparison, 2007/08 saw 98 cruises visit New
Zealand, carrying over 116,000 people. This represents a 300 per
cent increase in passenger numbers in just the last four years.
However 2009 is expected to be a slower year. The Cruise Lines
International Association (CLIA), North America's largest cruise
industry body, estimates 2009 will see a five per cent rise in
passengers to about 13.35 million. With many of these travellers
staying close to home, New Zealand is expecting a drop of around 10
Although this sounds a lot, Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive
George Hickton says the drop will actually take us back to 2007/08
"These were a record for the time," he says, "and we would
expect numbers to flatten in the current economic climate. With
fewer travellers and some companies deploying ships nearer the US,
it is only realistic to expect numbers to be down next season."
Despite these challenges, Captain Craig Harris, Chairperson of
Cruise New Zealand, says that attending Seatrade confirmed the
cruise industry has a positive future in New Zealand.
"Everyone we met with was really positive about New Zealand. Any
decreases in cruise visitors next season will be due to the global
situation, as opposed to anything specific about New Zealand," he
"The industry will grow again. If anything, it will be our
ability to upgrade our cruise infrastructure that may have the
biggest future impact on numbers."
Although official numbers have not yet been released, the
2008/09 season in New Zealand looks like it may have been another
record, with New Zealand on track for a predicted 120,000 cruise
And there are positive moves a-foot for next season. Seabourn
Cruise Line's luxury six-star $US250 million ($NZ467.02 million)
newly-built Seabourn Odyssey, due to be delivered June 2009, will
be visiting New Zealand in 2009/10.
Changes in other parts of the world may also benefit New
Zealand. Australia is seen as a major emerging source market and
New Zealand will benefit from local market sourcing in Australia to
Internationally, tactics to reassure and encourage cruise
visitors to continue to travel include slashed fares, 'home
porting' (changing ports to allow US cruise passengers to drive to
their cruise start point) and 'job-loss assurance' - a guarantee
that if passengers lose their jobs before they take their cruise
holidays, they will receive a full refund.
The industry's optimism is reflected in the fact that eleven new
ships that had been commissioned are still on track to be built.
One of these, the Oasis of the Seas, will carry 5,400 passengers,
which is 40 per cent larger than the current largest ship.
"The industry continues to be upbeat about the future, viewing
the recession as another obstacle in a long line of obstacles -
September 11, the Gulf War, the oil crisis of the 1980s - through
which the cruise industry has maintained steady growth," says
There is definitely potential for growth. A 2008 survey by CLIA
found 34 million Americans plan to take a cruise in the next three
The CLIA fleet will see 14 new ships (including river cruise
ships) at a cost of USD4.8 billion (NZD8.96 billion) set sail in
2009 to meet expected growth in demand. A further 21 vessels, with
a total cost of USD14 billion (NZD26.15 billion), are scheduled to
enter the North American market between 2010 and 2012. New Zealand
will be looking at how to make the most of the potential.
more about developing the cruise industry.