New Zealand has been rattled by an earthquake, but this is not expected to affect the itineraries of the many cruise ships sailing there this summer. The main ports affected by the quake – Wellington and Marlborough – are already back in action.
A record number of passengers are cruising to New Zealand as word spreads internationally of the country’s stunning clean, green landscapes – seen so evocatively in films such as Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.
The country also has the advantage of deep water ports to accommodate the giant cruise ships that now sail to Australasia.
The youngest and most luxurious ship ever to cruise to New Zealand, Seabourn Encore, arrives in February, just one month after she is officially named in Singapore.
Also sailing several cruises to the North and South Islands of New Zealand is Royal Caribbean’s 167,000 tonne giant Ovation of the Seas.
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Australasia’s Brett Jardine says a record 33 ships will be cruising New Zealand waters between now and April next year.
These ships will make almost 800 visits to New Zealand ports, with port calls to many new destinations, including Stewart Island at the very tip of the South Island where the flightless Kiwi bird is found.
Mr Jardine says the record season reflects New Zealand’s growing popularity as an international cruise destination. “The country’s popularity as one of the world’s hottest cruise destinations is clearly evident this summer.”
A typical cruise itinerary tends to include Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington, Akaroa, Port Chalmers and Fiordland. Bay of Islands, Napier and Picton also receive a significant proportion of cruise activity.
Research has shown that up to a quarter of cruise passengers return to New Zealand within a year of their cruise for a more in-depth visit.
Other maiden visits to New Zealand this summer, mainly from the port of Sydney, include the luxury Azamara Journey which sails in scenic Milford Sound; Norwegian Star which makes seven maiden calls; Hapag-Lloyd Cruises’ Europa 2 which debuts in Auckland on December 20 with eight inaugural calls around the country; and Oceania Cruises’ Sirena which makes six maiden calls to local ports.