A passenger quarantined on board the Golden Princess has tested negative for Coronavirus, a shipping agent says.

The Golden Princess was due to dock in Wellington today, but has skipped the city and is heading back to Melbourne, said shipping agent Inchcape McKay's managing director Craig Harris.

The ship was yesterday being held off the coast of New Zealand with at least one suspected case of coronavirus on board, and three passengers under quarantine.

But the tests for the virus came back negative last night, Harris said.

Advertisement

A Ministry of Health spokesperson would not comment.

Cruise ships around the country are now dropping off customers who are concerned about getting home before their own countries' borders close.

The last cruise ship to dock in Wellington since the Government's ban on cruise ships was announced dropped its passengers in the capital this morning.

The small luxury ship, Le Laperouse, docked in Wellington, where a swarm of passengers were let off.

Harris said the passengers' options for getting home were "starting to diminish" as borders close and airlines reduce their flights, and the passengers made a collective decision to disembark early and make their way home.

Other cruise passengers around New Zealand are in the same boat, he said.

Some ships were dropping off passengers, while others were cutting their voyages short and heading back to Australia for disembarkation.

Harris said the cruise ship ban was "an unprecedented event", but believed it was the right decision.

Advertisement

"It's concerning for New Zealand," he said, adding cruise ship tourism directly contributed $600 million to the local economy.

Other ships abandoning their routes include the Bremen in Tauranga, and the Ruby Princess.

Coronavirus updates: Spain goes on lockdown, following Italy's example. Video / CBS

are concerned at the effect the cruise ship bans will have locally.

Hawke's Bay Tourism chief executive Hamish Saxton raised concerns over the ban, describing the tourism trade as "people business".

"This will be tough on our visitor economy, as it is for visitor economies elsewhere in the world," he said.

"We are a resilient industry, and we will recover - but it may take time and it will take additional investment that many of our businesses may not be able to afford."

Every year, more than 680 ships and over 5.1 million tonnes of cargo arrive and depart from Napier Port.

Napier Port Marine and General Cargo general manager Adam Harvey said the port has been working with the Hawke's Bay District Health Board since January to take additional precautions on checking the health of passengers and crew.

Harvey said they had handled 55 cruise ships during that time - including three cancellations due to weather - with no issues.

A Port of Tauranga spokeswoman said four Princess Cruise ships had been scheduled to arrive in the city by the end of the season, including the Ruby Princess, which was now heading back to Australia.

Ponant cruise ship Le Laperouse has dropped its remaining passengers in Wellington this morning. Photo / Melissa Nightingale
Ponant cruise ship Le Laperouse has dropped its remaining passengers in Wellington this morning. Photo / Melissa Nightingale

Tourism Bay of Plenty's Kath Low said three additional ships had berthed in Tauranga because of rerouting.

This included a ship that was diverted from Vanuatu earlier in the month as passengers on board were sick with influenza, and a cruise ship with no passengers will stay in Tauranga for five nights this week.

Tauranga Chamber of Commerce chief executive Matt Cowley said the silver lining to the Covid-19 fallout was that it had hit New Zealand at the end of the peak cruise season.

"While cutting our cruise season short is never a good thing, the situation could have been worse. All hopes are on things being back to normal by the next cruise season starting in October."

Wellington NZ general manager David Perks said the cruise ship industry brought about $60 million to the region in a season, and the season was about 90 per cent through.

"It's a challenging time, but this is just one part of a much bigger story," he said.

"It's always sad to wave the last cruise ship goodbye for the season, and particularly so this year."