With more than 50 ships calling at Auckland, this year’s cruise season will welcome 250,000 visitors to the region, a 50 per cent increase on last year

This Sunday, 15 October, marks the official beginning of Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland’s 2023 season of cruise ship arrivals, set to bring hundreds of thousands of visitors to the region.  

This cruise season sees more than 50 different ships calling at Auckland through 135 port visits and lasts until the end of June 2024. These ships will result in an estimated 250,000 visitors arriving in Tāmaki Makaurau, up 50 per cent on last season.

Tātaki Auckland Unlimited Head of Visitor Economy, Annie Dundas says cruise ships play an important role in the visitor economy of Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland.

“We know previous cruise seasons delivered positive impacts which were felt throughout the region. The 2022 season brought 38 ships and 165,000 passengers to Auckland, with each cruise passenger estimated to spend more than $700 while in the region, usually for one day. This season looks to build on those numbers and will result in significant on-ground spending with spillover effects for the wider economy. The arrival of these international visitors to Tāmaki Makaurau, many of whom haven’t been here before, will deliver a vibrancy to central Auckland, as well as a boost to the economy,” says Annie Dundas.

After welcoming the Pacific Explorer over the winter, the 2023 cruise season begins with regular visitor Celebrity Solstice docking at Queens Wharf on Sunday around 10am, and this year for the first time, Auckland welcomes three new cruises – Disney Cruise Line, Virgin Voyages and Celebrity Edge.

Auckland Deputy Mayor Desley Simpson says, “The confirmation of these new and prestigious cruise lines arriving in Tāmaki Makaurau demonstrates strong confidence in our region as an attractive global destination and is an important win for the region.

“Auckland is New Zealand’s primary exchange point for cruise ships. Spending from cruise ship visitors benefits local Auckland tour companies and tourism attractions, city centre retailers and accommodation providers, among others. International tourists bring a sense of dynamism and added vigour to the region.”

Tātaki Auckland Unlimited’s cruise ambassador programme is back in play this year to support passengers disembarking in the city. Around 20 volunteers will be on hand to assist cruise passengers find their way around and ensure they make the most of their time in Tāmaki Makaurau. The programme was reinstated in 2022 after being placed on hold due to COVID-19.

Cruise visitors will also be able to make use of iSite Auckland, the region’s official visitor centre, which recently relocated to 188 Quay Street, directly opposite the downtown ferry terminal. The centre, open daily, provides international and domestic travellers with information and booking services for activities, attractions, accommodation and transport.

Businesses in and around Tāmaki Makaurau are encouraged to welcome cruise visitors. The full cruise ship schedule is available on the Ports of Auckland website with dates of arrival and passenger capacity, so businesses can plan and prepare for demand accordingly.