Luxury liner eases into Auckland, marking start of cruise season

Auckland's first luxury liner has arrived - marking the beginning of the cruise season.

The 317-metre long Celebrity Solstice, which is hosting more than 2800 people, eased into Auckland this morning.

A record number of vessels is set to come to New Zealand during this season, including the biggest to visit our shores.

The Celebrity Solstice has its own country club on board with a freshly manicured lawn, along with a spa, wine bar and selection of restaurants.

Described as "sexy, stylish spaces", the most expensive rooms on board come with a personal butler and private restaurant, with breath-taking views out to the sea.

There are boutique and jewellery shops on the boat, as well as swimming and spa pools.

A spot on the Celebrity Solstice doesn't come cheap. A 12-night sojourn around New Zealand and Australia, staying in one of the vessel's suites, is $4,337.

The 169,000-tonne Ovation of the Seas arrives in December and is the biggest ship ever to visit New Zealand.

It is too big to berth in Auckland and passengers will be taken to shore by smaller boats.

A record 33 ships will be cruising New Zealand waters until the end of next April - a significant increase on the 28 ships which visited during the same period last year.

Between them, the ships will make more than 600 calls to ports around the country.

The visits will include close to a dozen maiden port calls for cruise lines at destinations including Stewart Island, Wellington and Kaikoura, as well as more than 60 inaugural port calls for individual ships.

Last season cruise ship visits injected $484 million into the economy.

- NZ Herald

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