$300m cruise ship industry just gets bigger
New Zealand's cruise industry expects a 20% increase in passenger numbers this season, which kicks off today as the 238m Dawn Princess glides into Auckland.
Even Dunedin has set up a makeshift cruise terminal featuring a marquee to shelter passengers from the weather while waiting for their transport.
Cruise New Zealand expects more than 208,000 passengers to arrive this season, compared to 173,000 last year and 136,000 in 2010.
Chairman Craig Harris reckons those passengers will bring in about $300 million in direct spending nationwide.
The biggest growth is expected in passengers from Germany, Britain and Japan with the deployment of ships from those countries – for example, the Artania and Bremen from Germany, the Aurora and Queen Mary 2 from the UK and the Asuka II from Japan.
Two Italian ships, the Costa neoRomantica and the Costa Deliziosa, are also expected to increase passenger numbers from Italy, France and Spain.
At 311m long – more than three football fields – it is the largest ship ever to visit New Zealand. It carries 3114 passengers, 1176 crew, has 15 decks, a wedding chapel, a casino, athree-storey dining room and an ice skating rink.
However, because to its enormous size, it will dock at Auckland's run-down Princes Wharf instead of the redeveloped Shed 10.
Staff from Royal Carribbean, which owns the ship, have been visiting Auckland frequently to ensure the port can handle a ship so big.
Problems include the height of the passenger doors to position the gangways at a safe angle and the size of the turning basin the vessel needs.
While Voyager is the largest ship to come here, the newest ship, MS Marina, will also visit starting with the Bay of Islands on February 24.
At 236m and carrying 1258 passengers, it is considerably smaller than Voyager but was built just last year for Oceania Cruises. It boasts nine dining venues and 626 staterooms, 90% of which have private verandas.
Mr Harris says the industry will continue to grow, and commends cruise regions on embracing cruises.
However, he says regional cruise designations need to think about developing their infrastructure to accommodate the increasingly large size of modern cruise ships.