Summer is cruise season in God's Own country - when the days become longer, the sun comes out and the pohutakawas are blazing bright. From October, ships begin appearing in harbours all around the country, and Auckland farewells departing holidaymakers as the major departure port for cruises from New Zealand.
Six new ships, six hundred port calls
Not only will there be more ships than ever before visiting Kiwi shores, but an unprecedented six vessels will be making their first-ever forays into our waters over the summer months. These include the boutique luxury ship Azamara Quest, the first of the Azamara Club Cruises fleet to sail down under, Holland America Line's Noordam, Princess Cruises' Golden Princess and Royal Caribbean's Explorer of the Seas among a few others.
More than 600 cruise ship visits are scheduled between October 2015 and April 2016 in ports all around the country. The busy calendar kicks off with the Diamond Princess visiting Fiordland on the 2nd of October and making her way around the coast to dock in Auckland on the 8th.
More cruises for New Zealanders
Not only do the high number of cruise calls mean a great boost for local economies, but they also come with an increase in cruises departing from New Zealand, making cruising much more accessible to Kiwis. The total number of roundtrip itineraries will rise to 20 this summer, a big step up from the six which were available during last year's season.
CLIA Australasia Commercial Director Brett Jardine spoke of the future of cruises in NZ: â€œThe coming cruise season is a story of growth for New Zealand. With more ships and more port calls on offer than ever before, New Zealand is clearly firmly on the cruise map which is great news for the local economy.â€
Mr Jardine also commented that a record 65,609 Kiwis cruised in 2014 - indicating that we are not only a cruise destination but also a nation of cruise lovers wanting departures from our own backyard.
Issues facing the NZ cruise industry
The CLIA and Mr Jardine did also mention that the introduction of a new Border Control Levy from the 1st of January 2016 may have an adverse effect on the willingness of lines to visit the country - especially considering that New Zealand is â€œan already expensive destination in terms of port and related costs.â€ Whether that is true and will discourage growth remains to be seen.
The future of the Christchurch cruise port is still a question mark, however things are looking bright for ships to return to Lyttelton at some point in the coming years. In Auckland, lobby groups have postponed planned extensions to Bledisloe Wharf to accommodate bigger ships - and while the Ovation of the Seas is booked to visit in late 2016, this remains unresolved.
Are you keen for more cruises departing New Zealand? We certainly are! Let us know which cruise lines and ships you'd like to see sail here, in the comments below.