New Zealand Cruise Economy Benchmark

The first, and biggest, cruise ship to dock in the Port of Lyttelton this season arrived this week. Lyttelton? It’s in New Zealand, in the region known as Canterbury, which means there must be an archbishop there somewhere. It’s just 10 minutes from Christchurch, 35 from Kaiapoi, 44 from Rangiora. It has 3,100 people, a maritime museum and seven places where you can get a room for the night.

Enough geography, already. The story of cruise ships and Lyttelton isn’t geographic, it’s symptomatic.

Here’s why:

When the Sapphire Princess ropes went onto the bollards in Lyttelton this week, it was the start of an annual (and growing) windfall for New Zealand. Studies Down Under have calculated that each cruis-ship passenger injects $1,700 into the country’s economy. Think about that for a minute. Whether those are U.S. dollars or New Zealand dollars (about 75 cents US), they are BIG dollars.

There will be 71 cruise ships following the Sapphire’s maiden landing at Lyttleton this year, up 11% from last year. One of them will be the Queen Mary 2, so the dollars-per-passenger left behind might be even higher. In total, 200,000 passengers will arrive on those 72 ships,  an economic impact large enough to create 5,600 jobs. The bottom line is almost $350 million.

And that’s why port cities are so anxious to have cruisers like us as visitors. Even if they don’t have an archbishop.

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