Cruise ship companies open bookings for 2022, hoping borders will reopen by then

Cruise ship lines are already making bookings for the summer 2022 season, hoping international borders will be open by then.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the cancellation of more than 1000 port calls around Aotearoa this summer, costing the industry nearly $700 million.

In Picton's port, cruise ships are normally lined up at the dock behind other cruise ships and the Picton Flower Ladies greet passengers from all over the world and give out flowers.

"[It] started off with about 10 ships a year; now we're up to about 58 last year," Picton Flower Lady Yvonne said.

But this year they are out of a job because there are no cruise ships anywhere in New Zealand.

More than 1000 port calls cancelled because of COVID-19, Cruise Ship Association CEO Kevin O'Sullivan said.

"This season would have been worth probably around about $690 million," he said.

It's estimated the Marlborough region alone is missing out on $30 million, and without those tens of thousands of paying visitors businesses don't need to hire summer staff.

Most businesses are expected to survive on the domestic dollar but Destination Marlborough General Manager Jacqui Lloyd says for those who rely on the cruise market, it's a different picture.

"There will be businesses that may not operate through this year and look to reopen next summer," she said.

By then it's hoped borders or bubbles will be open and if so, cruise ships are already lining up to set sail to our shores again.

But to get to the new normal, COVID-19 has to be brought under control, so the rebuild of New Zealand's tourism economy can begin.