New Zealand is getting increasingly popular as a cruise destination, and Kiwis themselves are picking up on the trend. As the nation’s largest city, Auckland is a key port of call, hosting various cruise lines throughout the year and even offering sailings in winter. Find out more about Auckland cruises with our ‘Q&A’ guide below.
How many cruise ships visit Auckland each year?
Cruise ship numbers in Auckland have been steadily increasing, and there are about 123 ship visits expected this year. That adds up to about 259,000 passengers streaming into New Zealand. About 80% of them spend time in Auckland, the country’s most-visited port.
Where do cruise ships dock in Auckland?
Cruise ships dock in the heart of Auckland city, in the sparkling Waitemata Harbour. Most cruise ships use the terminal at Princes Wharf, while some will dock at Queens Wharf. The city is right there on the doorstep of these piers, so it’s easy to get out and enjoy it.
What is the best time of year to travel to Auckland?
It depends what you’re looking for! The busiest time is during the summer months from December to February, but there are plenty of visitors even between October and April. The shoulder seasons tend to feature fewer kids and slightly lower fares, but you can find cheap cruises throughout the year.
Which cruise lines depart from Auckland?
You’re spoilt for choice with cruise lines departing from Auckland as more and more lines homeport ships there to sail the South Pacific. P&O offers cruises from Auckland even in the wintertime, with a ship based there throughout the year. Princess also has a variety of Auckland cruises, including a World Cruise departure. Holland America Line, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian and Celebrity cruise relatively frequently out of the city, some of these offering return itineraries and others sailing one-way to finish up in Australia. Smaller luxury lines such as Silversea schedule the occasional itinerary from Auckland, and you will also find that many lines offer fly cruise deals, allowing you to fly from Auckland to a departure port as part of your cruise package.
Which cruise lines travel to Auckland?
Similarly, many different cruise lines travel to Auckland from abroad. Perhaps the most commonly sighted ships are members of the P&O, Princess, Holland America Line, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, and Celebrity Cruises fleets - but Auckland shipspotters will see a wide variety of vessels including those belonging to Seabourn, Azamara, Norwegian, Cunard and more. That means that whatever your preferred cruising style is, there’s an Auckland-bound line to suit you.
How long are cruises to and from Auckland - and where do they go?
Many Auckland cruises also travel to other parts of New Zealand, such as Tauranga, Napier, Picton, Akaroa, Milford Sound and Fiordland. The isles of New Caledonia, Vanuatu and Fiji are also common destinations for cruises out of the City of Sails. Itinerary lengths vary widely (right up to a three-month long World Cruise), but you will find plenty lasting between one and two weeks.
Many New Zealand cruises that visit Auckland leave from Australian ports like Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. They tend to last between 10 days and two weeks, but they can be up to a month in length if they sail all around New Zealand and Australia. Some cruises also visit the Pacific Islands.
What are the best shore excursions in Auckland?
There’s a shore excursion for everyone on an Auckland cruise. All the cruise lines that stop off in Auckland offer adventures taking in the city’s highlights, such as the Auckland War Memorial Museum, Sky Tower and harbour. If you want to get out of the central city, pick an excursion that explores nearby suburbs known for their culinary delights and shopping, such as Ponsonby and Mt Eden.
Want to see even more? Head out on an excursion that goes a little further afield: the North Shore is perfect for a walk in the sunshine, with charming beaches and cafes. Or, go west to experience the lush Waitakere mountain range and tour stunning west coast beaches like Piha and Muriwai.
If you like a tipple, a winery tour could be the perfect option - especially one that visits Waiheke Island, renowned for its food and wine.
Now you are familiar with cruises to and from Auckland, it’s time to get onboard. What are you most looking forward to on your cruise? Let us know in the comments.