At the recent annual general meeting of Cruise New Zealand in Auckland (July 30), Chairman Kevin O’Sullivan shared that New Zealand was "a well-established cruise destination", which benefited from the Australian growth as a source market.

O’Sullivan added that the continual work to encourage lines to bring more and bigger vessels to New Zealand cruise ports had been reinforced by the decision to homeport the new Quantum-class ship of Royal Caribbean, Ovation of the Seas, in the region from December 2016.

The 348-metre, nearly 5000-passengers vessel will be the biggest cruise ship to visit NZ. Each visit will equal 12 Airbus A380s arriving simultaneously. However, the lack of berthing for bigger ships meant Ovation could not be accommodated at the port of Auckland. 

O’Sullivan explained that the Ovation was still coming to Auckland but would be using tenders (small vessels to ferry passengers between ship and  port). This could impact negatively on cruise experience, including limiting the time that vacationers spent on shore. 

According to O’Sullivan, Cruise New Zealand was advocating for improved infrastructure in all cruise ports, as well as reduced barriers to ensure that New Zealand was ‘cruise friendly’. Government’s new travel tax was an unexpected barrier that would detrimentally affect the tourism sector as a whole, including cruise in particular. The ‘border levy’ could cost almost $90 million cruise industry earnings in 2018-2019, compared to the $7-$8 million the government expected to collect from the new tax. 

The tax was proactively fought against as part of a travel coalition led by Tourism Industry Association NZ. One of the goals of Cruise New Zealand for the coming year was to significantly raise the profile of cruise sector with the public and decision makers. 

The cruise sector is a valuable part of New Zealand economy. It has contributed $436 mill in value added earnings during the 2014-2015 season and supported 8365 jobs