Cruise ships likely to return to New Zealand in 2022

Pre-COVID, Aotearoa was the fastest growing cruise region in the world.
Pre-COVID, Aotearoa was the fastest growing cruise region in the world. Photo credit: Princess Cruises

This story was originally published by Nona Pelletier at RNZ

Planning is under way for the return of big international cruise ships but they are unlikely to be back this year.

The industry met with Tourism Minister Stuart Nash yesterday, but said it would also need the support of other government departments to bring back the ships banned from visiting New Zealand ports early in the pandemic response.

Cruise Association chief executive Kevin O'Sullivan said Nash was "most sympathetic and offered some direct support through his Cabinet colleagues".

"So we can start to discuss some of the issues directly with other government agencies in order to plan for the future and return of cruise."

He said the planning would take some time and the industry was not expecting to see another cruise season before 2022-2023.

"There are still bookings in place, but it's becoming less and less likely, because we're already in July after all and it takes several months to plan, and also there are no ships forecast at the moment to be arriving into Australia either.

"I think we might see some ships in early 2022, but more likely we will probably see a season beginning at the end of 2022."

O'Sullivan said Australia was focussing on domestic cruises, but there was no indication the big ships that would normally visit Australian waters would be arriving this season, which gets under way in October.

The industry added an estimated $650 million to the economy.