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Cruise Ship Sector Continues To Boom

Date Published: 21 June 2010

New Zealand's cruise ship sector is booming with more than 108,000 cruise passengers in the 2009/10 season.

New Zealand's cruise ship sector continues to boom, with 108,000 cruise passengers in the 2009/10 season and three more voyages to go until the season ends on 31 August.

The next two seasons are forecast to be even better, says Cruise New Zealand Chairman Craig Harris, with almost 137,000 cruise passengers expected in 2010/11, forecast to reach above 166,000 in 2011/12.

"New Zealand's popularity as a South Pacific cruise destination has skyrocketed in recent years, to the extent that total annual cruise numbers are now comparable with arrivals from China, New Zealand's fourth largest visitor market."

Australians have well and truly surpassed North America as the main source of cruise passengers this season, tracking at 45,870 so far, compared with the US at 23,560 and Canada at 4,530 passengers.

"Australians are beginning to comprehend the value and ease of a cruise holiday," says Barry Eddington, Tourism New Zealand Regional Manager Australia. "And New Zealand is perfectly suited to cruising, with a unique combination of interesting ports and on shore experiences."

He says as a result of strong Australian demand Carnival Cruises Australia has announced that in 2012 it will introduce over 38 separate cruises carrying around 80,000 passengers to New Zealand. Last year Carnival offered 11 New Zealand cruises; this year it has 17 planned.

"The importance and opportunity for growth in the cruise sector was confirmed recently by the CEO of Carnival Cruises who stated 'New Zealand is becoming to Australia what Alaska is to the American Cruise scene: a very desirable holiday destination that's ideal to visit by sea'," says Barry Eddington.

After two depressed seasons, dramatic growth in cruise passenger arrivals is expected out of North America in 2011/12.

"Cruise is a preferred form of travel for North Americans, and New Zealand is a favoured destination," says Annie Dundas, Tourism New Zealand Regional Manager North America.

"We are looking to support the cruise lines with increased investment in marketing the New Zealand cruise experience in North America. Another great opportunity is around pre and post touring, as more passengers look to extend their New Zealand experience on-shore."

Three cruise vessels will also be based in New Zealand for the Rugby World Cup 2011.

Despite the positive outlook, Craig Harris cautions there are several issues that could impact on future growth.

"We are pleased the government has decided to reduce the cruise sector's payment of marine safety charges from NZD8.29 to NZD3.30 per person. This followed intense lobbying from the cruise industry and partners after Maritime New Zealand substantially increased fees," says Craig Harris.

He said both Auckland and Lyttelton would need to address their current port infrastructure issues to capture this growing cruise market.  

"New Zealand is less than 1 per cent of the global cruise market, and we need to ensure that increasing regulation doesn't encourage cruise line operators to seek more competitive destinations."

Read more about Tourism New Zealand and Cruise New Zealand's work to develop the cruise industry

Read more about working with the cruise ship industry