New Zealand is gearing up for a bumper cruise season, with a record number of cruise ships headed for our shores.
Cruise Lines International Association Australasia commercial director Brett Jardine said 33 ships will be cruising local waters between October 1 and April 30, with nine making their inaugural calls.
In the same period last year, New Zealand welcomed 28 ships.
The ships will make more than 600 calls to ports around the country, including close to a dozen maiden calls for cruise lines at destinations including Stewart Island, Wellington and Kaikoura.
Among the visitors will be the largest ship to sail to New Zealand, Royal Caribbean's 167,000-tonne Ovation of the Seas, as well as the youngest and most luxurious ship to cruise local waters, the Seabourn Encore, which will arrive in New Zealand just one month after she is officially named in Singapore.
Jardine said the record season reflected New Zealand's growing popularity as a cruise destination, as well as continuing growth in Kiwi passenger numbers.
Figures showed close to 70,000 New Zealanders took a cruise in 2015, a 10 per cent increase on the previous year.
"New Zealand's popularity as one of the world's hottest cruise destinations will be clearly evident this summer," Jardine said.
"Not only will there be more ships visiting than ever before, there will be scores of inaugural calls around the country as cruise lines extend their itineraries to take in a wider range of beautiful ports around the North and South Islands."
SPOTLIGHT ON: OVATION OF THE SEAS
Why it's a game changer: Launched in April 2016, the 4180-passenger Ovation is the latest Quantum-class ship and will be the newest, biggest, most advanced ship to sail in New Zealand waters.
Features: Skydiving and surf simulators, North Star viewing capsule, spectacular Two70 entertainment venue, Seaplex activity space, 21 restaurants and cafes, solo, "virtual balcony" and family cabins.
Essentials: Ovation will arrive in Fiordland on December 21, followed by Dunedin on December 22. See www.royalcaribbean.com.au
SPOTLIGHT ON: SEABOURN ENCORE
Why it's a game changer: Encore will be the youngest, most luxurious ship to grace local waters.
Features: The elegant 604-guest ship is slightly larger than its three Odyssey-class sisters; it will have an extra deck, all-balcony suites, an aft watersports marina and new restaurants.
Essentials: Seabourn Encore's first Australian season includes 15-night cruises to New Zealand and the Pacific. It will debut in Milford Sound on February 9, followed by Oban on February 10. See seabourn.com.
OTHER SHIPS MAKING THEIR MAIDEN CALL TO NZ
Azamara Cruises - Azamara Journey. Arrives in Milford Sound on February 28 and Dunedin on March 1, the first of 10 maiden calls.
Hapag-Lloyd Cruises - Europa 2. Debuts in Auckland on December 20 and will make eight inaugural calls around the country.
Holland America Line - Maasdam. Debuts in Tauranga on November 20.
NCL - Norwegian Star. Debuts in Dunedin on February 13, the first of seven maiden NZ calls.
Oceania Cruises - Sirena. Arrives in Dunedin on April 17 and will make six maiden calls to local ports.
P&O Cruises Australia - Pacific Aria. Arrives in Auckland on November 20.
Princess Cruises - Emerald Princess. Sails into Miford Sound on November 20.