Wellington, the busiest port in New Zealand, anticipates over 200,000 visitors during the 2023/2024 summer cruise season, after witnessing robust economic growth in 2023 as well. This is a strong comeback for cruising in the region and shows the growing demand for trips to this highly desirable destination.

Wellington, the capital of New Zealand, is gearing up for an influx of over 200,000 visitors as the cruise industry begins its second season following the disruptions caused by the COVID pandemic.

In a notable scheduling change, the inaugural ship of the season, the impressive Quantum-class vessel Ovation of the Seas from Royal Caribbean International, is set to dock at Wellington’s CentrePort on Tuesday, October 31, 2023, coinciding with Halloween. Royal Princess was originally scheduled to be first, on November 8, but is now scheduled to arrive later in the month.

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This arrival marks the beginning of the sailing season — for Wellington at least — in the Southern Hemisphere. Ovation of the Seas, capable of accommodating 6,400 guests, was the first ship to grace Wellington’s shores last season as well. 

Ovation of the Seas will be arriving in Wellington from French Polynesia. After Wellington, the ship is scheduled to visit the Bay of Islands in New Zealand before arriving in Sydney, Australia. The ship will then sail out of Sydney on voyages of various lengths until mid-April, 2024.

“We are the busiest port in New Zealand by ship movements when you include the ferry operations,” Anthony Delaney, CentrePort’s Chief Executive, remarked. “Fortunately, the additional cruise ships in the harbor don’t affect our efficiency, nor our capacity to get goods to and from market, a key element in supporting New Zealand’s economy.”

Wellington, New Zealand (Photo Credit: Stefan Mokrzecki / Shutterstock)

Unfavorable weather conditions in Auckland have led to Ovation of the Seas‘ return to Wellington, making it the first of the 106 planned ship visits scheduled from October 2023 to April 2024. This signifies a slow yet steady uptick for the cruise industry in the region. For comparison, CentrePort logged 89 cruise ship port calls in 2022 (some of which were cancelled due to weather).

The final ship on the itinerary for Wellington this season is Princess Cruises’ Royal-class Majestic Princess, with a passenger capacity of 4,900. Expected to dock at CentrePort on April 15, 2024, this visit will mark the conclusion of what promises to be an exciting cruising season in New Zealand.

As New Zealand’s most active port, CentrePort has also announced healthy financial results for the fiscal year ending on June 30, 2023. The port revealed an impressive underlying net profit after tax of $11.9 million, marking a substantial 48% surge from the previous year’s $8 million.

“The port’s achievements across the last 12 months are a testament to the work the port and its people have done to increase efficiency and capacity,” Delaney pointed out.

Bolstered by increased earnings and a strategic focus on energy transformation to curtail emissions, CentrePort can now boast enhanced capacity, supporting New Zealand’s supply chain and tourism growth. 

This expanded capability also enables CentrePort to accommodate ships that face challenges docking in Auckland and other ports across the country, exemplified by the case of Ovation of the Seas this season.

Wellington, New Zealand (Photo Credit: Uwe Aranas / Shutterstock)

Furthermore, CentrePort is making significant strides toward environmental sustainability by establishing a marine MicroGrid energy system, plus a shore power system. MicroGrid technology enhances docked ships’ efficiency and sustainability at ports.

These green initiatives will help reduce the port’s dependence on non-renewable energy sources and also help ships switch off their engines while docked to curb both noise and emissions. Solar panel arrays are set to be deployed by mid-2024 as well, further enhancing CentrePort’s eco-friendly infrastructure.

CentrePort’s impact on the supply chain is further augmented by inland hubs located in Whanganui and Marlborough. These hubs provide flexibility for shippers, enhancing efficiency and convenience.

In addition to its recent financial achievements, CentrePort has also been recognized as the most efficient container port in both New Zealand and Australia for two years running, according to the World Bank CPPI index.

CentrePort’s future related to moving goods, profitability, and welcoming cruise ships and their guests looks very bright indeed.

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