After significant financial losses due to the pandemic, the cruise ship industry is making a comeback and in New Zealand, it’s stronger than ever.

This cruise season is shaping up to be the biggest ever, with 360,000 passengers expected to spend $600 million locally.

New Zealand Cruise Association boss Jacqui Lloyd told 1News it’s been “really positive” to see growth.

“I mean we knew we were expecting the largest season that New Zealand has ever had, so 360,000 passengers and about 149,000 crew but it’s actually just held really, really well.

“Contrary to popular belief, after the pandemic, there was a number of detractors that thought the cruise industry would fold.

“It’s been New Zealand’s star performer in the economic recovery for tourism and it’s still stronger than the airlines that are still trying to reach that pre-pandemic capacity,” she said.

Passengers of the Majestic Princess, docked in Wellington today, told 1News they’re out spending in local shops when the ship docks.

“I go looking for the bargains in the shops, Boxing Day sales, so we definitely bring some tourist dollars into the city,” Loretta Kocovski said.

A retail worker at a Wellington wool shop said it’s good to see passengers out spending.

“They definitely want gifts to bring home to their families and I’ve heard them say wool is quite a bit more expensive in Europe so it’s good to buy it here.”

Fifty-five cruise ships are due to visit Aotearoa this season. They’ll be cruising from Whangārei to Bluff, making more than 1000 stops.