The 2020-21 New Zealand cruise season continues to look grim, with about 40% of port calls in the country cancelled so far, according to NZ Cruise Association figures.
At the same time the number of expected cruise guests in the country over summer has already reduced by nearly 150,000 from the expected 384,000 plus.
Princess Cruises has been largely exonerated in the report of the Australian Special Commission of Inquiry into the Ruby Princess cruise ship coronavirus outbreak. he report was released last Friday 14 and the Commissioner heavily criticised Australian health officials.
Kevin O’Sullivan, chief executive of the New Zealand Cruise Association, says the organisation is pleased with the outcome. ‘It has been a very stressful time for Carnival and Princess because of mismanagement by Australian health agencies.’
The inquiry found ‘serious errors’ by New South Wales Health in its handling of suspected cases on board.
‘The Commission’s report confirms that none of our people — the Captain, the ship’s doctor, or members of our shore side port agency team — misled public authorities involved in Ruby Princess being permitted to disembark guests on March 19,’ says Jan Swartz, group president, Princess Cruises and Carnival Australia.
‘This finding is of great importance to us because it goes to the integrity of our people. In our more than 20 years in Australia, we have always sought to cooperate honestly and professionally with officials in accordance with the regulatory environment.
‘We acknowledge the Commission’s specific comments about Carnival Australia, and we will consider these comments to the fullest possible extent,’ Swartz adds.
Princess Cruises also welcomes the Commission’s attention to improving information sharing and coordination among government agencies in the future. In our submission to the inquiry, we agreed that this area deserved consideration. We look forward to collaborating with government agencies and industry peers to improve these systems.
Supply chain survival is one of the ‘New Zealand specific challenges’ highlighted by Debbie Summers in her NZ Cruise Association chairman’s report 2020.
‘Our members include retailers, wholesalers, tour operators, port agents, ground handlers, and hospitality – all part of a supply chain that is critical to the sector.
‘In a nutshell it is crucial we all do our best to hold tight, to survive, to ignore the naysayers, to harness our passion and the facts and go out there and fight for the return of our cruise industry,’ Summers told TRAVELinc Memo after the AGM.
In her report, Summers summarised the dire current situation for cruising and outlined a number of challenges to overcome. But she also touched on opportunities – including that cruise lines are looking keenly at our region for a safe and measured restart within our domestic arena. ‘We are talking about kiwi cruises for kiwis just as Air NZ has once again opened the skies for New Zealander’s to see their own country.
‘We can stimulate travel, starting with some really immersive itineraries.’
Summers points out that supply chain survival is largely reliant on borders. ‘We need safe corridors with countries with zero comunication (this is our Government’s indication on who we can do business with in the future) opening as soon as we are able.’
She says New Zealand is fortunate to have a close safe source market (‘heading that way at least’) in Australia. ‘One in 17 Australians like to cruise. They made up over 50% of our cruise market pre Covid 19.’
New Zealand Cruise Association (NZCA) says it is working closely with with Maritime New Zealand to re-start the New Zealand cruise market with domestic cruising.
The New Zealand Cruise Association (NZCA) is continuing to lobby against the government’s decision to indefinitely continue the cruise ship ban, despite flight travel and crowded public events already being back on the table.
The New Zealand Cruise Association (NZCA) says it is imperative not to ‘waste the next month or two’ and wants close collaboration with government on what its expectations are from cruise – in the short, medium and longer terms.
The statement comes after the Prime Minister announced the continuing suspension of cruising in New Zealand until at least the end of September.
A stepped approach to restarting cruising could begin with cruises to nowhere and then extend out to domestic and regional cruising, the wider industry and affiliates heard at a webinar this week.
Hosted by New Zealand Cruise Association (NZCA), the webinar featured Joel Katz, managing director of the Cruise Lines Industry Association Australasia, and was moderated by NZCA chairperson Debbie Summers. It attracted port operators, hoteliers, ground operators, regional tourism representatives, South Pacific tourism operators and more.
The New Zealand Cruise Association (NZCA) has called for the cruise industry to share stories about why cruise is important.
‘Talk to anybody and everybody using whatever media, social media outlet you are comfortable with,’ says CEO Kevin O’Sullivan. ‘The cruise industry in New Zealand will recover, but it needs your help.’