Port Taranaki and Venture Taranaki are looking forward to welcoming international tourists back to the region’s shores with confirmation that the maritime border will open to the cruise industry at the end of July.
“This is fantastic news, and it’s very exciting for our region and businesses throughout Taranaki,” Port Taranaki head of commercial Ross Dingle said.
“Taranaki is a great destination with many wonderful experiences to offer our cruise passengers. We’ll now work closely with the New Zealand Cruise Association and the cruise industry to support the sector to transition safely back into business.”
Venture Taranaki general manager people and place Vicki Fairley agreed.
“Prior to the pandemic, cruise had been a growing opportunity for us as a region, and we’re thrilled to be welcoming back cruise passengers once again as we continue to support the growth and development of our visitor industry,” she said.
Tentatively, three vessels are scheduled to dock at Port Taranaki in the 2022-23 summer – the Europa 2 at the end of January, Island Princess in mid-February, and Seabourn Odyssey in early March.
“It’s still early days, and the schedule is not yet confirmed. However, should Island Princess visit, at 294m long and with capacity for more than 2200 passengers, she would be the largest cruise ship to have ever visited Port Taranaki,” Mr Dingle said.
“She would certainly look sensational coming into port.
“At Port Taranaki we have the infrastructure to accommodate all types and sizes of vessel, and the region has the facilities and places of interest to cater for all types of cruise preferences.”
At this stage, eight cruise ships, some on multiple visits, have signalled their interest in visiting Taranaki during the next two summers, including the Queen Elizabeth, another 294m vessel that holds more than 2500 passengers. She had been scheduled to visit Taranaki in the 2020-21 summer, before the COVID-19 pandemic brought an abrupt halt to the industry.
The last cruise ship to stop at Port Taranaki was the Azamara Journey in February 2020.
“It has been an extremely tough period for the cruise industry and the wider tourism sector. At the time COVID-19 hit, as a port and a region we were gaining momentum and building a reputation as a necessary stop on the cruise ship itinerary,” Mr Dingle said.
“So we’ll now work alongside Venture Taranaki, the New Plymouth District Council, the Taranaki Chamber of Commerce, and tour operators to build that momentum again, promote Taranaki as a great destination to visit, and ensure the region is well prepared for future visits.”