New Zealand’s government will fully reopen its borders to international cruise ships at the end of July. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Wednesday the decision provides “good preparation time for airlines and cruise ship companies planning a return to New Zealand in the peak spring and summer seasons.” 

The development comes weeks after nearby Australia lifted its own ban for cruise ships on April 17.

The news was celebrated by cruise and travel associations, including by New Zealand Cruise Association chairwoman Debbie Summers.

“New Zealand is an important destination for cruise lines, and with worldwide demand for cruising strong again, combined with excellent regional dispersal, this sector ticks every box for value,” she said. 

CLIA Australasia managing director Joel Katz called the development a “huge breakthrough.” 

“The suspension of international cruising over the past two years has had a huge impact on the New Zealand travel industry, and we now have an opportunity to work on a revival,” he said.

The Majestic Princess is expected to be the first ship to return to New Zealand, arriving in Auckland on Oct 16, reported Seatrade Cruise News. 

Princess president John Padgett said the return to New Zealand is an “iconic opening” for the industry. “I think it does signal a major shift in the overall opening of cruise.”

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