Auckland cruise visit records all fall in February
Auckland's gateway to the seas, Ports of Auckland, has had its busiest cruise month ever, handling 31 cruise ships during February.
In all 89,516 passengers and crew visit the port - more in one month than it handled in all season a decade ago.
"It's mad but wonderful," port spokesman Matt Ball said.
As a result, this year's cruise season is expected to add an estimated $490 million to the New Zealand economy, up from $484 million last season.
Ports of Auckland chief executive Tony Gibson said it was a credit to the port's staff, who were recognised when the port won a cruise ship award in Dubai earlier this year.
"Our cruise team do an absolutely fantastic job making sure people visiting Auckland have a great first impression of our city.
"Their work is not easy, especially in a month when there were many days with multiple cruise ships in port."
With each ship's visit adding about $1.5 million to the local economy, the cruise ship industry has become a major money-spinner for Auckland.
Multiple cruise ships were becoming more frequent at the port, occurring on 12 days last month. On one day four ships called simultaneously.
Between them The World, Seabourn Encore, Norwegian Star and L'Austral brought 3550 passengers to the city on that day.
But the busiest day for passengers happened on February 24 when the Emerald Princess ended a cruise and took on a full load of new passengers.
It was the largest single "full exchange" in the country, involving 5990 passengers.
Ball said full exchanges were considered bigger boosts to the economy than transit visits, when passengers visited for a day, or partial exchanges when only some passengers joined or left a cruise.
"With a full exchange you get all this extra provisioning, you get hotel nights, you get the flights to and from New Zealand, it's a much bigger impact."
Of the 31 visits to Auckland, 16 were full exchanges, 7 were transit visits and 8 were partial exchanges.
Ports of Auckland staff were recognised when the port was crowned Cruise Terminal Operator of the Year at the Global Forum Awards in Dubai.