New Zealand’s maritime border is now open to international cruise ships, specialist vessels, and recreational vessels such as yachts. At midnight on July 31, the country’s maritime border re-opened to cruisers after over two years of closures.
New Zealand’s Cruise Ban
The Prime Minister of New Zealand publicly announced the initial cruise ban on Saturday, March 14, 2020, at 4:30 pm NZ time. Cruise ships already in New Zealand’s waters at that time were not included in the ban, which was expected to end on June 30, 2020.
New Zealand’s maritime border hasn’t encountered a foreign cruise ship since March 2020, but on August 12, 2022, P&O Cruises Australia’s Pacific Explorer will be the first ship to re-enter its border.
The Carnival-owned Pacific Explorer will embark from Sydney, Australia, on August 8, 2022, and arrive on August 12 for a full day of adventures, 7 am to 3 pm, to Auckland, New Zealand, for a 12-day, round-trip Fiji sail.
Tourism Minister Stuart Nash said, “The return of cruise ships is another boost for local communities. Pre-pandemic their visits were worth in excess of $500 million a year, of which $356 million was spent onshore, providing a valuable economic contribution to our regions.”
“Most cruise visits are during the warmer months of October to April, and summer is our bumper tourism season overall. This means it will be full steam ahead for the industry who can plan with certainty for the rest of the year and beyond,” Nash said.
The industry body and leading voice of New Zealand’s cruise sector, The New Zealand Cruise Association (NCZA), has had its annual conference canceled for the past two years, but it will finally be held in Auckland on August 18 of this year.
During New Zealand’s record year of 2019, cruise expenditure was $569.8 million, while 322,000 cruise passengers visited the country, an increase of 24 percent over 2018. That same year 176 cruises visited, with 981 calls made to ports on its North and South islands.
After several canceled cruises, the country would like to reach the numbers it experienced in 2019 and plans to recoup its losses since the cruise ban in 2020.
“After two years of hardship, hundreds of Kiwi ship suppliers and tourism operators can start rebuilding their businesses back, helping communities that have suffered during our pandemic years and begin preparing with confidence to provide our top service to cruise visitors,” stated the NCZA Chair, Debbie Summers.
New Zealand’s Requirements for Cruisers
Anyone arriving by sea, unless exempt, will need to be vaccinated now that New Zealand’s maritime border has reopened.
On July 31, 2022, The Ministry of Health announced that the same vaccination rules for passengers arriving by air would apply to arrivals on cruise ships and recreational vessels.
Exemptions to the vaccination requirements for both air and sea arrivals include New Zealand citizens, permanent residents, Australian citizens who are residents in New Zealand, and children 16 years old and younger.
All non-exempt cruise ship passengers will now need proof of vaccination, and cruise operators will need to provide information and evidence to the New Zealand government.