NZ’s first cruise ship since beginning of pandemic arrives – next stop Fiji

The Pacific Explorer
The Pacific Explorer ... its arrival in Auckland also marks the reopening of cruising to the Pacific, with the ship on its way to Fiji next. Image: Samuel Rillstone/RNZ

RNZ News

The P&O Pacific Explorer has docked in at Queens Wharf in Auckland from Sydney, the first cruise ship to arrive in Aotearoa New Zealand nearly two and a half years.

New Zealand Cruise Association chief executive Kevin O’Sullivan told RNZ First Up that being the first back in the country’s shores, it was a symbolic event for New Zealand.

“It’s going to be a very exciting day and it will be very exciting for the guests coming ashore as well.”

P&O spokesperson David Jones told Morning Report cruising back to New Zealand would be ramping up over the coming months.”

Twenty ships were due to dock in the country before Christmas, he said.

Its arrival also marked the reopening of cruising to the Pacific, with the ship on its way to Fiji next.

About 2000 people — including crew and 1200 passengers — were on board.

Below occupancy
‘We’re actually deliberately operating below occupancy because we’ve really only been back in business for a few months.”

“Cruising is the same but different,” he said.

“You’ve still got the same experience, the relaxation, being taken to great destinations but the changes are the protocols.”

The Pacific Explorer was based in Australia and followed Australian covid-19 rules, Jones said.

“The protocols are probably tighter than any land based environment.”

Passengers and crew need to be fully vaccinated, wear masks when they embark and disembark and when they cannot easily isolated on board.

If there was a covid-19 case onboard, the person and those occupying the same cabin would go into on board quarantine facilities, O’Sullivan said.

Up and running globally
Cruising had been up and running around the world for a long time, he said.

“We’re last really to get cruise ships back so all the hard work’s been done on the cruise ships a long long time ago and we’re getting the benefit of it.”

The last season before the pandemic arrived had an economic value of $550 million, and was on it’s way to being a billion-dollar industry, he said.

“For Auckland alone, the value of that last [truncated] season was around about $200 million.”

Retail NZ said the arrival of cruise ships was welcome news after the long winter of Covid-19.

The next cruise ship would arrive in October.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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