Cruise New Zealand figures show 12 new ships will visit next summer, including Ovation of the Seas which will be the largest liner to call at New Zealand ports.

Spending, or value added, by passengers, crew and shipping companies is set to top $540 million. About 259,000 passengers are expected next summer. While the number of ship visits stays at 135, the range of vessels increases markedly with 12 new ships coming here next summer on top of 34 that called at ports last summer.

Cruise line Royal Caribbean says it brought more than 73,500 tourists to New Zealand during the past summer season, up 70 per cent increase on the 2014/15 season.

"For the first time, we had our trifecta of three brands and six ships sailing in the region. All up, that represents 20 per cent of our worldwide fleet - a very significant number and a testament to the strength of the Kiwi cruising market," said Adam Armstrong, managing director, Australia and New Zealand.

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The upcoming 2016/17 summer season will include visits by Ovation - the region's very first new-build.

Demand has been such that the ship will now extend her maiden season with four extra cruises.

At 348m it will be the biggest cruise ship to visit here and too big to dock at wharves.
The ship will carry close to 5000 passengers and Royal Caribbean has said it will anchor the ship off the Hilton Hotel with guests and crew to be ferried to the Viaduct on tenders.

Ovation of the Seas is equal third largest cruise ship in the world - eclipsed only by Royal Caribbean's twin ships Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas, which weigh more than 225,000 tonnes.

Ovation is the third ship in the Quantum class which are built at German shipyard Meyer Werft, 36km from the North Sea up the River Ems. Docks, bridges and locks make the river voyage a delicate operation as there is only centimetres of clearance at some points.

Cruise New Zealand estimates that cruise passengers spend on average approximately $100 each during a day in port and cruise arrivals are now New Zealand's third largest holiday market behind Australia and China.