In another sign that travel is returning to a (new) normal, cruise ships are starting to return to New Zealand waters en masse.
While the Pacific Explorer made an appearance in Auckland in August, the season is only just beginning to get into full swing.
The giant floating hotels have struggled to cope with the fallout from Covid, and their environmental impacts cannot be underestimated either, but they will also be a welcome sight for many tourism-dependent businesses across the country.
Here’s a quick look at the first six ships sailing here again.
Call to: Tauranga, Auckland, Bay of Islands, Fiordland, Dunedin, Christchurch.
Spear : 2017
The Majestic Princess has already opened the floodgates for cruises for the season after visiting Tauranga and Auckland. It’s in the Bay of Islands on Monday.
Unusual feature: This ship was designed for the Chinese market and therefore has some features not found anywhere else in the Princess fleet, including a Chinese specialty restaurant. It also has the SeaWalk, which is a glass walkway over the ocean that hovers 39 meters above the water and extends 8.5 meters beyond the edge of the ship.
Best for: Those who appreciate a relaxed atmosphere.
Not so good for: Those who enjoy roller coasters and water slides.
Call to: Auckland, Bay of Islands, Fiordland, Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington, Napier, Tauranga.
Spear : 2010
Celebrity Eclipse is the third ship in the Solstice class, preceded by Celebrity Solstice and Celebrity Equinox. It underwent a complete renovation in March 2020.
Unusual feature: The restaurant concept Le Petit Chef, described as a “fusion of entertainment and cuisine”. The tables here come alive with animations.
Best for: Those who like a little more sophistication with their cruise.
Not so good for: Those who watch their money. You may have to shell out for things like specialty meals.
Ovation of the seas
Call to: Napier, Wellington, Picton, Fiordland, Dunedin, Christchurch.
Spear : 2016
The Ovation of the Seas is Royal Caribbean’s third Quantum Class ship and the 19th largest cruise ship in the world.
Unusual feature: There are more than 11,000 works of art costing $6 million on board, including the world’s first moving sculpture at sea.
Best for: Those who need entertainment. You won’t be bored.
Not so good for: Those who want some peace and quiet.
Call to: Tauranga, Christchurch, Dunedin, Fiordland, Wellington, Napier, Auckland.
Spear : 1998
Originally launched in 1998, the Grand Princess received a facelift in 2019 with extensive renovations.
Unusual feature: There is a specialty tea room and library called Leaves, which offers up to 500 different tea blends.
Best for: Those who like a bit of retro sophistication.
Not so good for: Those who like new ships.
Call to: Fiordland, Dunedin, Christchurch, Kaikoura, Wellington, Napier, Gisborne, Tauranga, Bay Of Islands, Auckland.
Spear : 2003
Westerdam is a Holland America Line Vista Class cruise ship. With the sister ships Oosterdam, Zuiderdam and Noordam, the names represent the four compass directions in Dutch.
Unusual feature: The Musical walk. The ship emphasizes live music with classical, blues and rock ‘n’ roll fans well catered for.
Best for: Those who love live music.
Not so good for: Those who like rowdy parties.