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Cruise ship image in Auckland
Cruise ship in Auckland/photo by George Gardner

Cruising to great heights

New Zealand’s cruise sector is expecting a record season in 2015-16, with passenger numbers forecast to increase a whopping 33% to 267,800, driven by larger ships as well as more vessels based out of Auckland.

21 August 2015


In the new Cruise New Zealand economic impact summary report, released 20 August, the growth in passenger arrivals in 2015-16 is calculated to support 10,354 jobs and inject $543 million in value added to New Zealand, up from 8365 jobs and $436 million in 2014-2015, says Cruise New Zealand General Manager Raewyn Tan.

“The country is on the cusp of record growth. The next two seasons will break all New Zealand cruise records and this upward trend is expected to continue over the longer term. The strength of Australia as a source market of cruise passengers as well as New Zealand’s potential to attract the ships during China’s winter are influencing factors.”

“Not only will there be more ships, but the ships coming will also be larger on average”.

The upcoming 2015-2016 season will welcome 5 new ships including Explorer of the Seas, whose sister ship, Voyager of the Seas, is currently the largest in passenger numbers. Princess Cruises will increase their Australasian fleet to five, introducing the Golden Princess to New Zealand, and P&O Australia’s Pacific Pearl will increase their homeports out of Auckland significantly.

The 2016-2017 season will continue the excitement with Ovation of the Seas making its first call as the largest ever ship to visit New Zealand, and Holland America Line’s Noordam scheduled to make more open-jaw voyages, voyages that start or end in Auckland which are higher-yielding from pre and post stays in the country.

Cruise New Zealand is excited about the impending growth of the sector. But Tan says the looming Border Clearance Levy is casting some gloom over cruise’s bright future.

“While schedules are largely committed for the next two seasons, international cruise companies have advised they are considering relocating ships away from New Zealand as early as the 2017-18 season because of the new Travel Tax.”
Cruise New Zealand estimates the new tax could knock $85 million off the wealth the cruise sector generates for New Zealand in 2018-2019, resulting in 1629 less jobs supported by the sector. Ms Tan says these are significant losses compared to the $7 million - $8 million in tax the government hopes to collect from the cruise sector.
“Our new forecasts highlight the significant economic contribution the cruise sector will make to New Zealand over the coming years, and the important part we can play in helping the tourism industry achieve the Tourism 2025 goal of almost doubling annual revenue to $41 billion by 2025.

“A big percentage of the wealth cruise generates goes to regions throughout the country, with passenger spending on onshore activities, attractions, shopping and food and beverages, plus accommodation for visitors who fly in or out of New Zealand. It is vital the government invests in supporting that growth, rather than erecting barriers.