Cruise lines are working hard behind the scenes to prevent a repeated of last year’s New Zealand’s biohazard regulations fiasco.

Many ships were turned away from entering Fiordland National Park, a major cruise draw card, because of tough biosecurity regulations being implemented. And while cruise lines scrambled to get divers and hull cleaning carried out to meet the rules, in place for several years but rarely imposed, many ships were still turned away.

The problem was so-called biohazards on their hulls. And New Zealand biosecurity officials demanded hull cleaning certificates which were no more than 30 days old.

While the fjords are a primary drawcard of New Zealand cruising, last season’s chaos has created fear ahead of the coming season. 

However, cruise lines such as Carnival Cruises are working behind the scenes this year to try and ensure a smoother season. 

Paul Hallett, Environmental Health Manager, Biosecurity New Zealand told Cruise Passenger: “There has been considerable contact between Biosecurity New Zealand and vessel operators in the lead-up to the 2023/34 cruise  season. These includes workshops this month for both new lines planning to visit New Zealand this season and returning lines.”

Hallett says the regulations that caused pandemonium last season will remain in place. However, he believes the lines now have a better understanding of how to meet environmental standards.

“The existing biofouling requirements remain in place for the 2023/24 season,” he says. “Following consultation with the cruise industry, we are considering introducing a new vessel standard later this year that will result in some changes for future seasons.

“We believe there is now greater awareness of New Zealand’s biofouling requirements and we are expecting a higher level of compliance this season.”

However, concerns still remain as cruise lines are working with the New Zealand Government to establish easier and more accessible hull-cleaning options. 

Cruising Milford Sound, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand

Carnival solution

Carnival Cruises told Cruise Passenger they are working towards establishing a local hull-cleaning option in a bid to meet compliance with NZ biofouling laws. 

“All Carnival Australia brands are continuing to work with the New Zealand bio security authorities to ensure our guests will be able to enjoy their cruise holidays as planned this summer,” a spokesperson said.

“We’ll continue to work with the New Zealand Government towards developing a local hull-cleaning option to enable us to meet the New Zealand Government biosecurity laws, ensuring the industry continues to deliver economic benefit to the community and world class experiences for guests.”

Hallett is aware Carnival is attempting to streamline its compliance process and is looking forward to seeing the progress.

“We are aware that Carnival is looking at technology that would allow vessel operators to carry out underwater hull inspections. This technology could avoid the need for dive surveys. We are keen to see this technology in action and to see if the reporting meets our requirements.”

A captain’s perspective

Cruise Passenger heard firsthand how difficult the biofouling requirements are to meet from Azamara Quest Captain Johannes Tysse. He abandoned plans to sail the fjords last season even though its hull had been cleaned. Tysse said that lines need to produce a certificate proving hull cleaning is less than 30 days old. 

“They don’t make it easy,” said Tysse, a 20-year veteran of the seas, in a Q&A with passengers.

Azamara Journey is visiting Australia and New Zealand later this year. The ship will call at Singapore for full and comprehensive cleaning beforehand. 

For more information on New Zealand cruise, click here