Cruise Industry Celebrates First Auckland Visit Since Pandemic

New Zealand’s cruise industry is celebrating the arrival of the first international ship to sail into Auckland’s Waitematā Harbour in more than two years.

P&O CruisesPacific Explorer reached Auckland on Friday, August 12, as part of a South Pacific cruise from Sydney, becoming the first international vessel to carry passengers to New Zealand since the start of the pandemic. It follows the New Zealand Government’s decision to open the international maritime border after July 31.

Cruise Lines International Association's (CLIA) Managing Director Australasia Joel Katz said the New Zealand cruise community could now begin rebuilding an industry that was previously worth almost NZ$570 million ($367 million) a year to the New Zealand economy. “New Zealand has now joined the rest of the world in a careful resumption of cruise operations,” said Katz. “We now have an opportunity to revive a sector that previously supported many thousands of jobs in communities right around the New Zealand coast.”

Cruise lines have extensive health and safety protocols in place in response to the global pandemic and have worked closely with New Zealand health authorities to confirm requirements for local operations.

“While no setting is immune from COVID-19, the cruise industry’s health measures have been shown to be effective in more than 100 other countries where cruising has already resumed,” said Katz. “The experience on cruise ships overseas has shown significantly lower levels of serious illness and hospitalization than on land,” he said. Pacific Explorer is the first ship to visit as part of a gradual resumption of operations in New Zealand that will continue with visits by other vessels in the spring and summer.

“The sight of Pacific Explorer in Waitematā Harbour will be cause for celebration for the many New Zealanders who rely on cruise tourism for their livelihoods, and for the wider tourism industry as New Zealand approaches the summer cruise season ahead,” said Katz.

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