Cruise lines protest Kiwi fees

ALAN WOOD
Last updated 05:00 20/08/2014

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New Zealand's fuel and port costs are among the highest in the world, representatives of international cruise lines say.

Even though cruise passengers regularly applaud their experience of New Zealand, the high costs of operating were a challenge for cruise lines. Ports needed to adapt to keep the business, the representatives said.

The comments were made by cruise-line representatives to delegates at Cruise New Zealand's recent annual conference in Napier.

"More than ever, established products and ports are competing globally," Royal Caribbean Cruises planning spokesman Christopher Allen said.

"Auckland is competing with Port Canaveral and Barcelona. Napier is competing with Cozumel [in the Caribbean], Palma and Ushuaia [in South America]."

The higher costs, combined with the trend of increasingly bigger ships, had significant implications for New Zealand as a cruise destination.

New Zealand must be prepared to host the next generation of cruise ships to remain competitive, Allen said.

Despite the costs issues, Royal Caribbean Cruises told the conference it was expecting a record number of New Zealand port visits and passenger numbers for the 2015-16 cruise season, up 600 per cent from the 2010-11 season.

Crystal Cruises spokesman John Stoll said he agreed there were challenges for the New Zealand market. Both the cruise line's reputation and the appeal of the destination played a part in a passenger's decision to take a cruise. So all parties needed to work together to maximise the opportunities for the sector, Stoll said.

Cruise New Zealand general manager Raewyn Tan said she was working with different sides of the industry to help try and make the country an even more attractive destination for cruise lines.

For example, one idea for reducing fuel costs was to use Auckland rather than Sydney as the departure point for some cruises around New Zealand, cutting down on a trans-Tasman leg.

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