The New Zealand cruise sector is expecting its contribution to the economy to grow massively, from $447 million in 2016/17 to $640m in the 2018/19 season.

The New Zealand Cruise Association - the industry body which represents more than 80 members in the sector - today released a report on cruise tourism's contribution to the economy.

That report forecast that the number of days that cruise ships spend in NZ ports would increase by 31 per cent, from 747 in 2016/17 to more than 980 in the 2018/19 season.

Passenger growth was projected to rise 46 per cent over the same period from roughly 236,000 to more than 344,000. The report said passengers mainly came from Australia, North America and Europe.

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The level of employment supported by cruise tourism activity was about 8,000 in the 2016/17 season.

Association chief executive Kevin O'Sullivan said the massive growth predicted for 2018/19 was driven by more visits from six cruise ships - Ovation of the Seas, Celebrity Solstice, Radiance of the Seas, Majestic Princess, Golden Princess and Norwegian Jade.

However, O'Sullivan warned that port infrastructure was critically important to maintain visits by the large cruise ships and the greater number of passengers.

"These ships are getting larger, and in some ports such as Auckland we currently lack the infrastructure for some of these ships to berth - they have to use tenders to transfer passengers to shore, which impacts on the visitor experience."