Carnival Australia’s cruise ship Pacific Explorer is the first to dock in Auckland NZ since COVID

   August 13, 2022 ,   Cruise Industry

On Friday, August 12, New Zealand welcomed the first cruise ship to return since the COVID crisis, signaling a long-sought restart for the tourism industry in the region.

NZ closed its borders in 2020 as it sought at first to eliminate COVID entirely and then to control its spread. Although the country reopened to most tourists arriving by plane in May, it was not until 2 weeks ago that it lifted the remaining restrictions, including the ones on maritime arrivals.

The end of restrictions allowed Carnival Australia’s ship Pacific Explorer to dock in Auckland with ~2000 tourists on Friday morning as part of a 12-day voyage to Fiji (Lautoka) that left from Sydney (NSW Australia). The operated by P&O Australia Pacific Explorer entered Auckland Harbor at ~7:30 am after crossing the Tasman Sea. The vessel was met by the aide ship Peretta and a tugboat, which saluted her with a water cannon.

According to Stuart Nash (NZ's Tourism Minister), it was another step in the reopening of their borders and "a step closer to resuming business as usual.”

Nash added it would take some time for international tourist numbers and revenue to return to their pre-COVID levels when the industry accounted for ~20% of New Zealand’s foreign income and over 5% of GDP.

Port of Auckland (New Zealand)

Not everybody was happy with the restart of tourism. A sailboat with protesters upset about the cruise industry’s impact on the environment followed Pacific Explorer into Auckland Harbour before passengers were greeted with an Indigenous Maori welcome and a visit by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.