Auckland: A Cruise Port with Incredible Potential By Joel Katz, Managing Director, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Australasia & Asia
here’s no doubt Auckland has great potential as a travel destination. Its natural beauty and cosmopolitan lifestyle have rightly made it the country’s international gateway, creating important first impressions and introducing visitors to New Zealand’s distinct character and way of life. It’s a role Auckland performs well, and the impression that visitors have of the city is consistently positive – even before they get to experience New Zealand’s wider beauty. This is especially true of cruise passengers who rate Auckland highly in satisfaction surveys, thanks in part to a very professional local tourism industry and the focus of Auckland’s leaders on the importance of supporting tourism. The result is a thriving cruise sector that has grown strongly in New Zealand over recent years, injecting NZ$491 million into the national economy last financial year and supporting 9,100 jobs.
62 SECOND QUARTER 2019 | TRAVEL & CRUISE
With New Zealand’s popularity stronger than ever and cruise demand set to continue, Auckland is now in a perfect position to plan how it maintains its success and safeguards the economic benefits for communities around the country. It’s also in a position to decide what else it would like to achieve with economic winds in its favor. Auckland reached a new landmark recently when planning authorities approved a proposal to improve berthing facilities at Auckland’s Queens Wharf, which will provide much needed certainty for New Zealand’s cruise sector. The approval comes after lengthy discussions with CLIA and its member cruise lines – and means the city will construct two temporary mooring points (dolphins) to ensure Auckland is able to cater to all types of cruise vessels. Currently Auckland’s berthing facilities are inadequate for many international cruise ships, and the city cannot cater to
some of the larger vessels that operate in the region. This is hampering Auckland’s tourism industry and threatening to prevent future growth, not just for the city itself, but also for other destinations nationally. The problem is that existing facilities at Queens Wharf can only accommodate cruise ships of up to 294m in length. Ships between 295m and 320-330m can berth at the nearby Princes Wharf, but this is dependent on weather conditions and does not involve a dedicated terminal or border processing facilities. Cruise ships larger than 320-330m are unable to berth in Auckland at all, and their only option is to anchor in Waitematā harbor. Thousands of passengers and crew are then transferred to shore on tender boats in a process that is complicated and time consuming. Not only does it create an awkward arrival, it means that some passengers opt to remain on board—particularly those who are less mobile—and therefore make