“The 2012/13 cruise season is set to be a fantastic one as Ports of Auckland welcomes some of the largest cruise ships in the world to Auckland,” Wayne Mills Ports of Auckland General Manager Multi-Cargo and Marine said today.

The exponential growth in the number of cruise visits to Auckland, from just one visit in 1991 to 101 in the 2012/13 season, is testament to the popularity of cruise. With each visit contributing in excess of $1m to Auckland’s regional economy, it is integral to our economic success.

A recent Economic Impact Assessment of the New Zealand Cruise Sector released by Cruise New Zealand highlights the important role Auckland plays as the key exchange port and one of only two South Pacific hub ports, along with Sydney, for cruise.

“This season, we will be welcoming around 256,000 passengers and crew resulting in a direct spend of about $300m and $115m value added to Auckland’s economy,” Mills added.

In addition, the industry sustains over 1500 jobs in Auckland.

If global trends are anything to go by, cruise growth will continue, with reports of new ship orders, and the potential and sustained strength of the Asian and Australian economies, Cruise New Zealand Chairperson Craig Harris says.

Ships like Celebrity Solstice and Voyager of the Seas will be bringing the largest number of passengers, while the Queen Mary 2 is the longest cruise ship to visit Auckland at a whopping 340m in length.

“Will we eventually have more than one of the larger cruise ships in Auckland simultaneously? Most definitely, which is why we are working closely with our partners Cruise New Zealand and Waterfront Auckland to investigate options for future growth,” said Mills.

Waterfront Auckland Chief Executive John Dalzell says Auckland is already investing in cruise infrastructure with a new cruise facility currently under construction in Shed 10 on Queens Wharf.

“The cruise terminal will be ready for Auckland’s 2013/14 cruise season and will double the size of the current facility on Princes Wharf,” he said.

This construction work provides a very visible example of how the cruise industry supports the local economy.

Ports of Auckland is funding a new covered gangway capable of handling large passenger exchanges for the new facility. The gangway is being built locally by Auckland company Service Engineers Limited, which will inject several million dollars into the region’s economy.

Ports of Auckland manages all cruise ship visits to Auckland and provides piloting and towage services as well as cruise terminal operations.