The cruise industry in New Zealand is approaching full recovery after the pandemic

By Ivan PetrenkoMay 2, 2024 05:32 AMNews
Large liner near mountains and houses
Large liner near mountains and houses. Source: pixabay

After years of pandemic-related challenges, the cruise sector in New Zealand is experiencing a noticeable resurgence, with passenger numbers surpassing 80% of pre-pandemic levels.

In 2023, approximately 86,300 New Zealanders embarked on cruises, a significant achievement for the region's cruise industry. While these figures don't reach the peak of 2019 when passenger numbers reached 106,300, they are in line with the global trend of cruise market recovery.

The choice of domestic routes is evident, with 77% of New Zealand cruisers opting for journeys to Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands. Wellington, the largest passenger port in New Zealand, welcomed around 200,000 travelers during the summer season, and other ports such as Lyttelton, Napier, and Auckland saw significant growth in cruise numbers and passengers.

Joel Katz, Managing Director of Cruise Lines International Association in Australasia, emphasized the country's progress, stating, "New Zealand has returned to cruising with a slight delay compared to other countries, but once ships resumed operations, New Zealanders showed great interest in cruising. By the end of 2023, the number of New Zealanders embarking on cruises exceeded pre-pandemic levels, indicating a promising recovery."

CLIA's 2023 Market Profile Report highlights emerging trends in New Zealand's cruise industry. One significant change is the decrease in the average age of passengers, which decreased from 52.4 years in 2019 to 49.3 years in 2023, indicating growing interest among younger demographics.

Additionally, the average cruise duration slightly decreased to 9.2 days, likely due to the active work and family lifestyles of younger travelers. The South Pacific region remains the most popular destination for cruises from New Zealand, followed by popular destinations such as the Mediterranean, Alaska, Asia, and the Caribbean.

Katz emphasized the importance of supporting New Zealand's competitiveness as a cruise destination and promoting sustainable growth. Despite the global success in 2023, he stressed the need to continue cooperation between the government, ports, and local communities to support the industry's long-term viability.As the summer season comes to a close, New Zealand expects a quiet period for cruises until the Diamond Princess cruise liner resumes operations in October.

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