Sydney may have the coat hanger, opera house and one of the most beautiful deep-water harbours in the world, but it’s not a patch on Auckland according to the readers of Porthole Cruise.
New Zealand’s biggest city has won the ‘Best Australia / New Zealand Cruise Destination’ category in the 2019 Porthole Cruise Readers’ Choice Awards, a title determined by thousands of readers of the niche consumer magazine.
The accolade is not to be sniffed at, the industry pointing out New Zealand’s skyrocketing popularity as a cruise destination means if cruise passengers were a country, it would rank third behind Australia and China as a source of international visitors for New Zealand.
A recent Australian cruise industry report showed accommodation to be the biggest beneficiary of passengers’ onshore spending, the industry delivering almost half a billion dollars to accom venues annually, or some 33.3 percent of traveller spend.
ATEED’s general manager for destination, Steve Armitage, said: “The cruise industry is an important high-yield market for us, which significantly contributes to our visitor economy.
“Many passengers can make the most of Auckland’s emerging luxury sector and we are proud that they are vouching for our region as a high-end destination.”
Porthole’s editor-in-chief, Bill Panoff, said the win “speaks volumes about Auckland’s unique allure for experienced cruisers, the gracious hospitality of New Zealanders, and the absolutely stunning natural beauty of the area”.
A 2018 Destination AKL 2025 strategy projected 171 cruise ships would visit Auckland by 2025, a target likely to be eclipsed well ahead of schedule with 163 visits already scheduled for the 2020-2021 season.
Auckland is also beginning to host larger cruise ships more often. Later next month, the 3080-passenger Ruby Princess will anchor in Auckland for the first time and will be joined on the same day by the 3560-passenger Majestic Princess. With the significant changeover of passengers for both ships, the city will host a record 15,000 passengers that day.
Steve Armitage has welcomed the increase but says but the challenge is to convince passengers to stay in the region longer.
“Winning this award shows that passengers are starting to see Auckland as a fantastic destination in its own right and not just a gateway to and from New Zealand,” he said.
“We offer the best of two worlds – an urban oasis of world-class restaurants and unique art and culture; and a natural playground of native forests and island getaways. Auckland is a paradise that deserves attention.
“The cruise industry is an important high-yield market for us, which significantly contributes to our visitor economy. Many passengers can make the most of Auckland’s emerging luxury sector and we are proud that they are vouching for our region as a high-end destination.”
ATEED stands for Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development.