The countdown to cruise is on with Wellington expecting more than 200,000 guests to visit as the cruise industry returns for its second season after the impacts of COVID.
The first official ship for the 2023/24 season, the Royal Princess, was due at CentrePort on Wednesday, 8 November. However, due to a scheduling change, the first ship – and largest – ship of the season, Ovation of the Seas, will now arrive on Tuesday morning. This means it’s a matter of days before the CBD and the region’s various attractions get a boost from the steady stream of visitors spending their tourist dollars, bolstering the local economy.
Ovation of the Seas, which was the first ship to arrive last season, can’t be accommodated in Auckland due to weather issues. It becomes the first of 106 planned ship calls from October through to April 2024. This tops last year where we had 89 calls (some cancelled due to weather), showing that cruise is making a slow but steady return to our shores.
CentrePort Chief Executive Anthony Delaney says cruise visits make the port an even bigger hive of activity alongside its regular business operations.
“We are the busiest port in New Zealand by ship movements when you include the ferry operations. Fortunately, the additional cruise ships in the harbour don’t affect our efficiency, nor our capacity to get goods to and from market, a key element in supporting New Zealand’s economy.
“It’s great to be able to provide extra support to Wellington through the cruise visits, so it can reap the benefits of tourist spending.”
Delaney also praised the CentrePort team, who have been preparing for the season.
“Our team have been working for months to get everything in order, including ways to ensure there is a sense of arrival for cruise passengers on the port itself. This includes a specially commissioned ‘mural’ of containers developed by a local artist depicting local images of Wellington. This creates a feature of information and details and a defined waiting area before people head out on their various excursions to the city and beyond.”
WellingtonNZ tourism and visitor economy manager Jo Heaton says it’s great to have the cruise passengers back in the Capital.
“They add vibrancy and economic impact to city businesses and the wider region with the visitor spend extending from major tourism attractions to small retailers.”
Heaton says getting Wellington ready for the cruise season requires a huge collaborative effort to ensure everything is ready on time for the thousands of people who will disembark over the season.
“The cooperation between CentrePort, Wellington City Council and Metlink in particular has been outstanding.”
She says the WellingtonNZ organised volunteer City Ambassadors will be ready for the season, stationed at the port and at key locations downtown to welcome cruise passengers, provide local knowledge and directions.
“They do a fantastic job for the city over the summer, providing a bit of local colour and the friendly face Wellington is famous for.”
2023/24 CentrePort cruise season statistics
Number of cruise ship visits: 106
Estimated Number of passengers visiting Wellington: 200,000
First ship: Ovation of the Seas (348m length, 6,400 passengers and crew; also largest ship)
Last ship: Majestic Princess on 15 April (330m, 4,900 passengers and crew)