The Land of the Long White Cloud has always attracted not just Australian cruisers, but a raft of visitors from America, Europe and Asia.
Despite a 100-day no-sail order by the US health authorities, keen sailors are utilising their future cruise credits or reduced fares which has led to sold-out itineraries through New Zealand ports as soon as January next year, according to the NZ Herald.
New Zealand’s cruise ban was due to expire last week, but the suspension period has been extended by another 60 to 90 days.
But it’s not keeping cruisers away.
Premium cruise line, Oceania which has the Regatta scheduled for Australia and New Zealand sailings, is currently booked out for New Zealand cruisers, according to the NZ Herald. The same story applies to Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth. Both ships, which are due to call at ports like Auckland and cruise the Milford Sound, are at full capacity.
And Oceania has signalled it is confident it will be cruising in the region by January 2021.
The renewal of the ban has left cruise companies confused and their itineraries untenable.
The New Zealand Cruise Association has said that perhaps, domestic itineraries for Kiwi passengers could be the answer to get ships moving again.
But there is the question of how the lines crew their ships. There are still no clear dates as to when cruising can resume.
“We are all waiting on the Government to consider opening cruise travel in the short to medium term,” Kevin O’Sullivan, the CEO of the New Zealand Cruise Association told the NZ Herald.
“We are focusing on beginning to cruise with only New Zealand passengers, but have not received any clear direction.”
The association also said that ‘backyard cruising’ would not only be a viable option for members, but it would also boost domestic tourism travel at level 1 restrictions.
But, in order for this to happen, plans would require “a willingness from government agencies to debate what processes should be used”.
“At least one cruise line already has robust onboard health protocols and others will follow.”
Oceania’s Regatta is due to arrive in Auckland next year, starting her season on 19 January, and the line told the NZ Herald that they are confident they will be able to deliver its 864 passengers.
“Oceania Cruises is seeing guests beginning to plan their next travel adventure with the line offering more than 400 voyages departing in 2021 and 2022, sailing throughout Australia-New Zealand, the South Pacific,” said a spokesperson for the cruise line.
But a Cunard representative said: “It is unfortunately too soon to comment on Cunard’s 2020-21 local season yet and the comprehensive protocols we will be implementing.”
P&O Cruises Australia, another cruise line under the Carnival Corporation brand, is due to send the Pacific Aria to Auckland, as early as 4 September.
But a spokesperson said: “We don’t make decisions on cruise seasons or the resumption of cruising in isolation. These decisions are constantly under review by us and in consultation with relevant authorities.”