Yesterday (October 3), was announced the official start of New Zealand's biggest ever summer cruise season with the arriving of Diamond Princess in Wellington.

The Princess Cruises ship had to sail into Fiordland on Friday, but altered her route in order to avoid bad weather, and granted Wellington the opportunity to greet the first ship of the 2015-2016 season. After cancelling calls at Fiordland and Dunedin, the Diamond Princess ship also skipped the port of Akaroa and stayed in Wellington overnight. 

Another 33 cruise vessels will follow this summer, with a total of 701 visits to 16 ports in New Zealand through June 23, when Pacific Pearl will sail out. 267,800 cruise passengers will land in NZ during that time, a whopping 33% more than 2014-2015 cruise season.

Raewyn Tan, Cruise New Zealand general manager, said that not only would there be more ships, but these would also be bigger on average.

Eight of the expected vessels are new to the waters of New Zealand, including Explorer of the Seas, whose sister ship, Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas, is currently the biggest in passenger numbers. Golden Princess will be also introduced to New Zealand, thus increasing Princess Cruises Australasian fleet to five.

Other newcomers include Azamara Quest, Costa Luminosa, Noordam, Le Soleal and Coral Discoverer. From November to February, at least one ship will be hosted in New Zealand every day. According to Tan, February is the busiest month, with 10 ships on February 8.

The growth in cruise passenger arrivals in 2015-2016 is calculated to support more than 10,000 jobs and inject US$543 million to New Zealand, up from 8360 jobs and US$436 million in 2014-2015.