Fittingly, New Zealand reopened its maritime borders just before, on July 31, with P&O Cruises Australia’s Pacific Explorer the first international cruise ship to visit since March 2020 when she berthed at Queens Wharf on August 12.
Princess Cruises’ Majestic Princess follows on October 16 at the start of Ports of Auckland’s heavily-booked 2022/23 cruise season.
200 'determined' delegates
Also fitting was the conference theme — 'Make Ship Happen' — with around 200 delegates from major ports and tourism organisations across the North and South Islands coming together to express their ‘desire and determination’ to bring back to life what was New Zealand’s vibrant cruise industry.
Cruise lines on hand
They were joined by cruise line executives from Carnival Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, Ponant, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean Group and Viking.
Outgoing chairman and IDNZ Executive Director Debbie Summers told delegates the resumption of cruising had been a long time coming.
880 long days
‘As we know, the global pandemic came in March 2020 and smashed us in the face and we were very nearly the last destination to restart,’ Summers said.
She said during the 880 days before the arrival of the first post-pandemic ship to arrive, everyone had bonded together and shown great resilience to weather the storm.
Resilience and resolve
She gave the example of member Niki McKinnon Dowe of Tauranga’s Hallmark Chauffer Drive that lost 97% of business during the lockdown.
McKinnon Dowe, whose grandfather, father, brother and son are all seafarers, started the Merchant Soap Co and her handmade soaps were a novel giveaway for every delegate.
‘Our resolve stands strong behind a deep commitment and united voice with getting our cruise industry started again,’ Summers said.
42 cruise ships, more than 900 calls booked
She said a total of 42 cruise ships will visit New Zealand during the 2022-23 season.
They will make more than 900 port calls in 26 New Zealand destinations and carry around 253,600 passengers.
‘It is time for new beginnings,’ Summers said.