Though cruise in New Zealand faces tough challenges in the short term, at least the industry can be sure there will be demand to get back on ships when the sector can ramp up operations here again.
Benjamin Dale, New Zealand account manager with destination management company (DMC) Akorn, says a real worry had been whether or not people are still wanting to cruise.
‘The answer to that has been a resounding yes. Cruise is selling extremely well (around the world) so demand is not a worry any more.’
Viking has launched its Welcome Back to the World Sale, featuring special offers on an extensive selection of Viking’s river, ocean and expedition cruises until 24 December 2021.
Delivering savings of up to A$8,000 per couple, the sale includes a selection of flight offers as well as an exclusive Viking Explorer Society member offer – saving past passengers an additional A$600 per couple when they book before 31 October 2021.
The New Zealand Cruise Association has expressed its frustration yet again at the government’s failure to even indicate a timeline for a restart in this region.
The association says that it is ‘most likely not until next year’, in its latest newsletter.
‘This month would ordinarily (whatever that means now) see the beginning of the New Zealand cruise season. However, port visits have reduced by 88%, with more to come. It’s important to understand that cruise lines want to operate here but are unable to do so because of the New Zealand government prohibition on ships entering our maritime border.
Emerald Sakara will be the second luxury superyacht for Emerald Cruises and join the yacht cruising fleet in 2023, along with the addition of a new sailing destination – The Seychelles.
Following her maiden voyage through the islands of The Seychelles in the Indian Ocean, Emerald Sakara will join sister-superyacht Emerald Azzurra sailing the Mediterranean, Adriatic, Red and Black Seas. The additional capacity is required to keep up with strong demand for Emerald Cruises ocean-going itineraries – which saw Black Sea sailings sell out within two weeks of being released, despite the global pandemic.
Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) has unveiled its upcoming multifaceted entertainment and onboard experiences on Norwegian Prima.
The vessel, the first of six ships within NCL’s all-new Prima Class, debuted with record-breaking sales when it was announced in May this year.
The Tony Award®-nominated musical ‘Summer: The Donna Summer Musical’ is its interactive headlining act.
PONANT has unveiled a new range of voyages for the Antarctic season including two new itineraries from and to New Zealand. These are aboard the first LNG-powered hybrid electric luxury polar exploration vessel, Le Commandant Charcot.
Guests can access new activities from citizen science to kayaking, hiking or snowshoeing, to polar diving without a wetsuit and polar swimming in a drysuit. More than 20 naturalist-guides will be supervising the activities and taking guests to meet an array of wildlife during Zodiac and hovercraft outings.
French Polynesia is repositioning its cruise industry in favour of ships with small and medium capacity.
A release from Tahiti Tourisme says the destination will ‘reposition around four axis’, applicable from 1 January 2022.
Firstly it will favour year-round turnaround ships based in French Polynesia, of small and medium capacities (700 passengers).
Viking has opened for sale a selection of ocean cruises in Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Alaska departing up to April 2024, on the 930-guest Viking Orion.
The itineraries are designed to provide peace of mind for travellers to plan in advance, and include Australian and New Zealand-favourites such as the 23-day North Pacific Passage from Tokyo to Vancouver via Russia and Alaska, the 15-day Far Eastern Horizons from Hong Kong to Tokyo and the 17-day Komodo & the Australian Coast sailing from Sydney to Bali.
PONANT has released a new brochure for Australia and New Zealand, focused on Luxury Expeditions for 2022 and 2023, offering destinations from the polar cap to the outback.
The brochure highlights local markets’ most in demand itineraries including Australia’s Kimberley, East Coast and Tasmania, as well as New Zealand’s Sub Antarctic Islands, Papua New Guinea and Melanesia.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Oceania Cruises are seeing a positive shift in interest towards 2022 cruises as the markets here start to see a light at the end of the lock-down tunnel.
Senior vice president and managing director Asia Pacific of the lines, Steve Odell, says that while that is happening, interest and bookings for 2023-24 continue at pace.
‘We’ve seen record sales days and bookings from both sides of the Tasman. People are looking at bigger suites – the top half of the suites category – and they are booking longer trips with different destinations.
Scenic has released details of recent ship enhancements, including a new entertainment partnership on Scenic Eclipse. Over the past 12 months, Scenic has refined a number of its culinary experiences and venues.
The Yacht Club’s dining area has been extended and a food island has been installed. House-made gelato will be served, and new large sofas will replace the traditional tables and chairs. Guests can also relax in new wicker swinging egg chairs.
The new Night Market @ Kokos is based on night markets and street food from around Asia, India and the Middle East. Sushi @ Koko’s has also expanded to include more window seating.
Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) is inviting New Zealand and Australian travel partners to register and start warming up for Walk for Wellness 2021 – the popular initiative that celebrates wellbeing within the travel industry, now in its second year.
This year’s Walk for Wellness challenge will run from 1-31 October, coinciding with a number of mental health events taking place throughout the month including World Mental Health Day on Sunday 10 October. It encourages travel agents to get active and track their steps towards a combined goal of 100,000km via a free mobile app, while taking part in weekly challenges and connecting with peers in the travel community along the way.
A large number of consumers, even avid cruisers, in New Zealand and Australia are not aware of health and safety measures being implemented by cruise lines, a Cruise Critic survey shows.
Presenting the results at the CLIA Cruise Forum webinars last week, Cruise Critic’s Colleen McDaniel said the gap in client’s knowledge presented obvious opportunities for the trade.
The survey asked respondents how they would rate the cruise industry in successfully implementing measures to keep guests and destination residents from contracting and spreading Covid-19.
More than 90% of avid cruisers from Australasia support moves to only allow fully vaccinated passengers and crew on board, according to a survey released at the CLIA Cruise Forum webinars on Friday.
Conducted by Cruise Critic, the Australia New Zealand-centric survey, which allowed people to tick more than one answer in this particular question, asked respondents which Covid health measures they supported to ensure a safer cruise experience.
The results were presented by Cruise Critic’s Colleen McDaniel – fittingly from her cabin on a cruise ship in the Caribbean. ‘Vaccination was rated as the most supported measure, which is fantastic because that is the tack cruise lines are taking,’ says McDaniel.
Travel advisors should plan to prioritise loyal customers when people are able to travel again, a presenter at the CLIA Cruise Forum webinars said last week.
Michael Londregan, senior vice-president global operations of Virtuoso, was one of many speakers who noted that overseas experience indicated a rush to travel advisors when borders opened. Ironically this could cause problems considering the huge reduction in staff that travel businesses now have.
Scenic’s 2023 Europe River Cruising collection is open for reservations. The early release has been opened exclusively for Australian and New Zealand clients. It enables Future Travel Credit holders to re-book their preferred suite and dates and for clients planning ahead, the ability to reserve their new cruise booking.
Travel advisors will earn a bonus 2% commission on all new Europe River Cruising bookings made online via ExpressBook, before 30 September 2021.
Viking’s commercial manager New Zealand, Steve Parker, says the company’s newest ocean ship – the 930-guest Viking Mars will be heading this way from Europe in October 2022.
‘We have released a selection of cruises which if combined will give clients an opportunity to cruise all the way from Barcelona to Auckland. Agents can book one cruise or all six cruises to make a 92-day voyage of a lifetime,’ he says.
‘Several New Zealand agents have made bookings already and it is recommended to book early so you can secure the same cabin on each sailing. One agent booked three couples who wanted to travel together so there are definitely opportunities out there.’
Viking has two ocean cruise itineraries due to depart in 2022 on Viking’s newest ocean ship – the 930-guest Viking Mars. The diverse itineraries include destinations such as Greece, Oman and Egypt, or Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Thailand.
Clients can save up to $2000 per couple on these 2022 itineraries (check conditions).
The 21-day Passage to India departs 25 October 2022 from Athens to Mumbai and is priced from $9695pp in a Veranda Stateroom. Highlights include Haifa, Israel; Luxor, Egypt; and Aqaba, Jordan.
Oceania Cruises has introduced 16 new Europe and Tahiti voyages for early 2022 aboard Regatta and Nautica.
When Nautica debuts on 1 April 2022, the ship will have emerged from an extensive period in drydock. The debut of Nautica and re-start of Regatta heralds the completion of the US$100 million plus OceaniaNEXT rebuild of the brand’s four 684-guest Regatta Class ships and the brand’s full return to service, with all six ships sailing once again.
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) managing director Australasia Joel Katz says this is the only major cruise region in the world not making progress towards revival after the Canadian Government announced it had brought forward the end of its cruise suspension to 1 November 2021.
Canada’s plans to revive cruise tourism place it alongside other destinations including the US, UK, Europe and parts of Asia where cruising has already resumed under stringent new health protocols and testing regimes.
Silversea launched a new travel trade incentive this week and at the same time took the opportunity to re-engage with some 120 agents and brokers at a function in the Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour.
With the Learn & Sell Silversea to Win incentive, each new booking wins a bottle of Pommery Champagne.
After announcing the restart of select tours and cruises in recent weeks, Tauck now plans to resume full operations of all remaining 2021 itineraries during August and September. This includes the return of Tauck’s Danube and Rhine river cruises, its land tours in Italy and elsewhere across Europe, and its explorations of far-flung destinations ranging from Morocco to Machu Picchu.
Tauck expects to operate more than 80% of its pre-pandemic portfolio of tours and cruises this year, with a full return of all itineraries slated for 2022.
Cruise World, which represents Tauck in New Zealand, reports enquiries for Europe river cruising. The company says that while availability on some 2022 dates is already limited, this news allows agents and their clients to do some travel planning.
PONANT is about to commence its 2021 season of small ship cruising in the Mediterranean and the French coastline, along with expeditions exploring Iceland.
‘While in Australia and New Zealand our ongoing discussions continue with governments, hopeful of border openings for small ships to provide much needed - and wanted - domestic cruising, Europe is well underway with its restart for the summer period,’ says Sarina Bratton, PONANT chairman Asia Pacific.
Viking has released close to 1000 new departure dates for its 2023 European river cruise programme.
The departures are across a range of itineraries along the Rhine, Main, Danube, and Russian and Douro rivers including the ever-popular Grand European from Amsterdam to Budapest.
One of the region’s leading cruise personalities is reminding New Zealand travel agents to stay positive and keep pushing the luxury, small ship category.
The comments by Steve Odell, senior vice president and managing director Asia Pacific of Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Oceania Cruises, come at a time when the lines are announcing a progressive return to sailing and pent up demand is filling the ships fast.
Viking has launched a new feature within its Agent Marketing Centre aimed at helping New Zealand travel agents create more engaging and effective social media campaigns.
It also provides access to Viking’s content library that includes the most popular river and ocean itineraries, ship tours and destination highlights.
Viking’s marketing centre can be found within the existing travel agent portal and makes it easy to customise Viking marketing materials with an agency’s contact details and call to action, generating a personalised file, ready to go.
Holland America Line plans to restart cruising to Alaska in July, roundtrip from Seattle, Washington, aboard Nieuw Amsterdam
Bookings are open for the 10 Saturday departures that will operate from 24 July to 2 October. The seven-day Alaskan Explorer itinerary calls at Juneau, Icy Strait Point, Sitka and Ketchikan. Scenic cruising in Alaska includes Glacier Bay and Stephens Passage.
Plans for these cruises to fulfill Holland America Line’s obligations under the Passenger Vessel Services Act (PVSA) are expected to be approved, as are final instructions from CDC, and the company is beginning the return-to-cruising preparation process immediately.
Princess Cruises has released a new interactive agent engagement series to better connect with their trade partners called MIMOSAS – Medallionised Interactive Modules OnDemand for Short Attention Spans.
Built to supplement Princess’ Academy Training Program, MIMOSAS presentations can be done in as little as eight minutes, with viewers able to navigate through the presentations to get the content that is relevant to them.
Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) will continue to support the New Zealand trade from its Sydney office in the meantime, but will re-evaluate the need for a local office as business builds back up.
Ben Angell, vice president and managing director NCL Asia Pacific, says the company continues to evaluate the situation across the whole region. The NZ office was a recent Covid casualty.
‘However, we provide strong support out of Sydney and we have connections with the trade here. That’s right for us at the moment but we’ll look again as things develop.’
As it prepares for a return to service beginning 25 July 2021, Norwegian Cruise Line has announced the premiere of ‘EMBARK – The Series’, a docu-series chronicling the brand’s comeback.
The first of five episodes will premiere on 16 April, 12pm.
This is part of the Company’s ‘EMBARK with NCL’ editorial content platform.
Following on from the record sale of its 2021/22 and 2022/23 World Cruises, Viking is encouraging agents and their clients to consider other Grand Voyages, which range from 37 to 93 days.
‘The halt on global travel due to the Covid pandemic has created a greater desire to travel than ever before and on a much grander scale,’ says Michelle Black, MD Viking ANZ.
Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), has released a collection of port-intensive South Pacific itineraries for 2022. Sailing aboard the recently refurbished Norwegian Spirit, NCL’s new voyages will visit destinations such as New Caledonia, Vanuatu, Fiji, American Samoa, French Polynesia and Hawai’i.
As well as seven, 12 and 14-day South Pacific cruises, Norwegian Spirit is embarking on an exclusive ‘Fire and Ice’ voyage, with the contrasting destinations of Alaska and Hawai’i in one comprehensive itinerary.
Princess Cruises has released a full year-long programme of voyages including a new 2022-23 Australian summer season. Princess has also revealed its 2023 Round World Cruise – six months ahead of schedule.
The planned programme has 134 departures on 90 itineraries to 108 destinations in 33 countries and will feature an entire Medallion Class-enabled fleet of four ships including two Royal-Class sister ships, Royal Princess and Majestic Princess, based in Sydney for the first time.
The NZ Cruise Conference 2021 has been postponed until mid-year 2022.
Chairman Debbie Summers says this year has proven that the sector is still in a time of flux and change. ‘The board felt it is better to wait, get a semblance of a season under our belts in 2021-22 and organise something that is positive, value for money and with international speakers at this later time.
‘We are potentially looking at a series of regional updates with members as we travel the country over the remainder of 2021.’
Adventure World Travel is offering travellers a deal on an all-inclusive Hurtigruten expedition cruise to Antarctica.
When booking the 14-day Highlights of the Frozen Continent itinerary, guests will receive free return airfares from New Zealand to South America, EUR300 onboard credit, plus, exclusive to Adventure World Travel, a free Buenos Aires walking tour and free traditional tango show and dinner. Travellers will also have an additional two pre and one post voyage accommodation nights.
A leading proponent of expedition cruising says he is already hearing from cruise lines that the PONANT debacle this week may put them off visiting New Zealand in the future.
Aaron Russ, general manager Wild Earth Travel, says the PONANT cancellation had the feel of ‘pure politics’ and that contrary to some claims Immigration New Zealand was fully consulted while the cruise line went through the protracted and drawn out process of gaining health clearance and maritime exemption to operate here.
PONANT has 'regretfully advised' that its small expedition ship Le Lapérouse has been forced to cancel her season of seven fully booked expedition voyages in New Zealand for New Zealanders.
The full statement from PONANT reads:
'The New Zealand Department of Immigration has declined to approve visas for 61 of the ship’s 90 crew. Visas were issued for 29 technical crew however INZ was not prepared to issue visas to the 61 hotel staff.
Viking has released its 2022-2023 River Cruises brochure with over 230 pages of itineraries and experiences.
The brochure includes a preview of 2023 season departures, details on new ships, a dedicated section on Christmas and Christmas Market cruises, and a new cruise destination – the Mississippi River.
Travel trade and tourism operators were last night clinging to at least some hope that PONANT’s domestic cruising season around New Zealand will take shape in one form or another.
Yesterday the cruise line was continuing to talk to Immigration NZ after its shock last minute decision to prevent Le Laperouse from coming to New Zealand – despite having the green light from the Ministry of Health. At the time of going to press it was believed a final decision would be made today.
The need for flexibility in booking and reservation policies, plus reconfirmation of strong demand in the market place for future cruising, have been highllghted in recent research.
‘Viking’s annual industry survey conducted across New Zealand and Australian agents is designed to establish how agent partners are faring in the current climate and how best the company can service their needs,’ says Michelle Black, Viking ANZ managing director. ‘In 2020 due to the unprecedented impact of the pandemic on the entire travel industry, this tool has never been more important.
PONANT’s return to cruising in New Zealand is being launched with an expedition departing 8 February. Developed exclusively for Kiwis, it explores the Subantarctic Islands, Chatham Islands, and Ulva Island (Stewart Island).
Mick Fogg, PONANT’s expedition manager for Asia Pacific says, the number of visitors permitted each year to visit the Subantarctic islands is strictly controlled in order to maintain their environments.
Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) has a Take 5 offer, providing up to US$2900 in value for a limited time. The promotion sees all stateroom categories across all ships and destinations receiving all five of its popular ‘Free at Sea’ offers, with 50% reduced deposits also available.
Clients can gain a free beverage package, shore excursion credit, specialty dining package, wifi package and access to NCL’s ‘3rd and 4th guest sail at a reduced rate’ (on select sailings). Australian and
Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) has a new agent incentive programme, Partners First Rewards, that recognises travel advisors for their ongoing partnership and rewards them for bookings made with NCL.
‘The pent-up demand we are seeing for our product and specially curated cruises makes us confident 2021 will present fresh opportunities for our partners,’ says Damian Borg, Norwegian Cruise Line director of sales Australia and New Zealand.
NCL will launch a new rewards programme, Partners First Rewards, next year.
Designed for travel agents in New Zealand and Australia, it will cover three key areas:
• Regular incentives, exclusive to Partners First Rewards members;
Viking Expeditions will begin sailing in January 2022 with Viking Octantis, embarking on voyages to Antarctica and North America’s Great Lakes.
Viking’s Great Lakes itineraries will visit the states of Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, as well as the Canadian province of Ontario.
Michelle Black, Viking ANZ managing director says the cruise line has partnered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), whose scientists will join expeditions in the
Digital platform Creative Cruising New Zealand, offered exclusively by First Travel Group (FTG), is giving individual travel retailers the ability to grow more cruise revenue.
Creative Cruising New Zealand has been picking up users this year who have white-labelled the platform. FTG is working with group members to add Creative Cruising New Zealand’s platform to their websites so travel agents and customers can literally be on the same page.
As a strong indicator of the demand for cruising, Viking’s 136-day 2021-2022 World Cruise has sold out in record time.
‘Demand for cruising is still strong,’ says Michelle Black, Viking ANZ managing director. ‘We are now seeing a positive uplift in bookings for 2022 and 2023 across our river, ocean and expedition portfolios. Anecdotal feedback and qualitative past passenger research has identified a strong belief that once international travel is open there will be huge demand for available capacity
Heritage Expeditions is confident the 50-passenger ship Spirit of Enderby will be operating cruises for New Zealanders around New Zealand by late November.
The company's commercial director, Aaron Russ says all clearance and exemption requirements, including Ministry of Health clearance, have been received for the ship to be in New Zealand on the basis of the plan submitted by Heritage Expeditions.
Optimism is growing around the resumption of New Zealand based cruising, with PONANT releasing details of three cruises early next year.
The company says it is ‘working with authorities for a potential restart and looks forward to a positive result.’ PONANT adds that the objective is to ‘provide locals with a fabulous luxury expedition programme at the same time as giving economic benefits to
The 2020-21 New Zealand cruise season continues to look grim, with about 40% of port calls in the country cancelled so far, according to NZ Cruise Association figures.
At the same time the number of expected cruise guests in the country over summer has already reduced by nearly 150,000 from the expected 384,000 plus.
Viking has a sale on a number of voyages departing in 2021, 22 and 23, with savings of up to A$4600 per couple when booked before 30 November 2020.
The Explore The Viking Way sale features generous flight credits and savings on Viking’s most popular river, ocean and expedition cruises. With the extension of its Risk-Free Guarantee to 30 September 2020, clients have the freedom to change their plans up to
24 hours before departure, for any reason.
A leading cruise practitioner has welcomed what he describes as Azamara’s commitment to New Zealand in ‘grand style’ for summer 2021/22.
The comments from Jeff Leckey, general manager cruise at House of Travel, follow the news that a full circumnavigation of New Zealand is planned on Azamara Journey for 20 January 2022.
Princess Cruises has been largely exonerated in the report of the Australian Special Commission of Inquiry into the Ruby Princess cruise ship coronavirus outbreak. he report was released last Friday 14 and the Commissioner heavily criticised Australian health officials.
Kevin O’Sullivan, chief executive of the New Zealand Cruise Association, says the organisation is pleased with the outcome. ‘It has been a very stressful time for Carnival and Princess because of mismanagement by Australian health agencies.’
The inquiry found ‘serious errors’ by New South Wales Health in its handling of suspected cases on board.
‘The Commission’s report confirms that none of our people — the Captain, the ship’s doctor, or members of our shore side port agency team — misled public authorities involved in Ruby Princess being permitted to disembark guests on March 19,’ says Jan Swartz, group president, Princess Cruises and Carnival Australia.
‘This finding is of great importance to us because it goes to the integrity of our people. In our more than 20 years in Australia, we have always sought to cooperate honestly and professionally with officials in accordance with the regulatory environment.
‘We acknowledge the Commission’s specific comments about Carnival Australia, and we will consider these comments to the fullest possible extent,’ Swartz adds.
Princess Cruises also welcomes the Commission’s attention to improving information sharing and coordination among government agencies in the future. In our submission to the inquiry, we agreed that this area deserved consideration. We look forward to collaborating with government agencies and industry peers to improve these systems.
Supply chain survival is one of the ‘New Zealand specific challenges’ highlighted by Debbie Summers in her NZ Cruise Association chairman’s report 2020.
‘Our members include retailers, wholesalers, tour operators, port agents, ground handlers, and hospitality – all part of a supply chain that is critical to the sector.
‘In a nutshell it is crucial we all do our best to hold tight, to survive, to ignore the naysayers, to harness our passion and the facts and go out there and fight for the return of our cruise industry,’ Summers told TRAVELinc Memo after the AGM.
In her report, Summers summarised the dire current situation for cruising and outlined a number of challenges to overcome. But she also touched on opportunities – including that cruise lines are looking keenly at our region for a safe and measured restart within our domestic arena. ‘We are talking about kiwi cruises for kiwis just as Air NZ has once again opened the skies for New Zealander’s to see their own country.
‘We can stimulate travel, starting with some really immersive itineraries.’
Summers points out that supply chain survival is largely reliant on borders. ‘We need safe corridors with countries with zero comunication (this is our Government’s indication on who we can do business with in the future) opening as soon as we are able.’
She says New Zealand is fortunate to have a close safe source market (‘heading that way at least’) in Australia. ‘One in 17 Australians like to cruise. They made up over 50% of our cruise market pre Covid 19.’