Royal Caribbean is bucking the cruise industry trend this summer and will carry more passengers around New Zealand waters.
The line estimates it will carry between 80,000 and 85,000 passengers, up from about 60,000 last season.
Across the entire industry, numbers of passengers are forecast to dip from 211,000 last year to 200,000 this year as other lines’ ships are redeployed.
Royal Caribbean’s Sydney-based commercial director Adam Armstrong said that like last year, his firm will have five ships here but the big liners Celebrity Solstice and Voyager of the Seas would be here for a longer season.
Armstrong said New Zealand was becoming more popular internationally and more ships were becoming available after cruising around Asia during the northern summer.
“More ships are being based in this part of the world, particularly in Asia. We benefit from that because of the seasonality – our ships migrate by following the sun,” Armstrong said.
Australia and New Zealand was a good region in which to base ships and attracted a wide range of nationalities.
New Zealanders were among 115 nationalities cruising on Royal Caribbean and Celebrity ships around this country.
Armstrong said the New Zealand cruise industry was well regarded.
“It needs to keep doing what it’s doing. What New Zealand has been good at is handling larger ships and that’s what other ports elsewhere haven’t been able to keep pace with, you’re very fortunate to have deep-water ports for cargo that can be adapted for cruise ships.”
He said smaller ports such as Napier, Picton and Gisborne could attract more ships with alterations to dredging programmes and pier extensions.
“But generally infrastructure is among the best in [the] countries we operate.”
Shore excursions were some of the best on offer around the world, he said.
“Perhaps what New Zealand tour operators need to work on is for the increasing number of Australians coming over who have slightly different tastes to Americans and Europeans on a once-in-a-lifetime trip.”
Australians who were more familiar with this country were not so interested in $300 high-end tours.
“The more repeaters we get the more savvy they are and the more picky they are with their tastes. They’re looking for variety,” Armstrong said.
Figures released by Cruise New Zealand showed that last summer, cruise ship visitors contributed $310 million to this country’s economy.
Australians still dominate arrivals into New Zealand at 53 per cent.
Royal Caribbean International is in its 45th year and has just carried its 50 millionth passenger.