Businesses anticipate return of cruise ship season

Businesses anticipate return of cruise ship season

With less than a week to go before the first cruise ship of Aotearoa New Zealand’s summer season arrives on Kiwi shores, Tauranga business and tourism operators are eagerly anticipating the influx of international visitors to the region.

The Majestic Princess arrives at the Port of Tauranga at 5.30am on Saturday, 15 October, departing again at 5.15pm with up to 3,560 passengers on board. It’s the first cruise ship of the summer season to arrive in New Zealand since borders closed in 2020.

Tourism Bay of Plenty General Manager Oscar Nathan says it’s a privilege to host the first of New Zealand’s summer cruise guests and to delight them with the manaakitanga that the coastal Bay of Plenty is renowned for.

“After a pause in cruise ships coming into our waters due to COVID-19, to see tourism pick up again in the Bay of Plenty is a significant milestone for everyone involved in the tourism and cruise industries – locally and nationally.”

Mr Nathan says cruise ships bring a real buzz to the region, with manuhiri (visitors) making the area even more vibrant for residents and visitors.

“With approximately 171,000 cruise ship manuhiri and almost 73,000 crew members expected for the 2022/23 season, more people will be shopping, dining, and adventuring in the Bay of Plenty, which will be fantastic to see.”

The last full summer cruise season contributed $89m to the local economy - the second-highest level of regional cruise spend in New Zealand, behind Auckland.

The Mount Maunganui Business Association Destination Marketing Manager, Claudia West, says members are excited to see the return of large stream tourism in the region and are keen to see how the season unfolds.


“So much has changed since COVID, and we’re anticipating that the make-up of cruise passengers may reflect this, so we are eager to see how they’ll choose to spend their time while they are here.

“Regardless of what they choose to do, there is so much on offer – from experiencing the delights of the coastal Bay of Plenty, wandering the Mount Mainstreet shops and cafés, learning to surf at the main beach, or stand up paddle boarding at Pilot Bay – we want to provide tourists a taste of our slice of paradise.”


Mrs West says with the summer season ramping up, retailers are now actively recruiting for the busy season.

“Like everyone, finding staff has been a challenge, so retailers are bringing on summer staff now, which will support the cruise ship season.

“The Mount is a desirable place to be over the summer, so we’re hoping this will help to attract people to work and play here,” she says. 


Recent research (August 2022) by Nexus Research shows 76 per cent of residents are happy to welcome cruise ships back because of the significant economic benefit, vibrancy, and cultural diversity the passengers and crew bring.

“We know that the return of cruise ships does come with some impacts,” Mr Nathan says.

“That’s why we’re working closely with stakeholders on traffic management and with Port of Tauranga to better manage vessel arrival and departure dates, to manage the impact on infrastructure and to provide an enjoyable visitor experience.”


There will be 103 cruise ships docking at the Port of Tauranga this season, with the final cruise ship, the Majestic Princess, arriving on 8 April 2023 for its seventh visit of the season.




Additional information


  • Locals are being encouraged to celebrate the return of the summer cruise season by farewelling the Majestic Princess from vantage points such as Pilot Bay and Mauao when the ship departs at 5.15pm on Saturday, 15 October.

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