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Cruise ship biosecurity

Cruise ship biosecurity

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16 Jan 24 Biosecurity News

Cruise ship biosecurity

New Zealand’s bumper 2023/24 cruise season is well underway, with 57 cruise vessels from 20 major lines making journeys to our shores, an increase of nearly 30% from last season.

Two new lines – Disney and Virgin – have made debut visits the season, which runs October through to April.

With ports near growing regions, we often get questions from growers about Biosecurity New Zealand’s Recognised Cruise Line Programme (RCLP), which evaluates a range of cruise line processes for managing biosecurity risk, and the areas looked at via the programme. Here’s what’s covered:

  • Refuse management – e.g., use of steam sterilisation to clean bottles and containers used with food.
  • Pest and provision management – e.g., evidence of treatment for live plants, regular monitoring of pest traps and pest management processes in place for provisions.
  • Passenger management – e.g., restrictions on serving whole fruit and honey, and evidence that passengers start receiving biosecurity announcements two days prior to arrival.
  • Biosecurity awareness – e.g., evidence of crew training.

In the Bay of Plenty, we also have the Port of Tauranga Biosecurity Excellence programme, which involves the Port, KVH, Biosecurity New Zealand, and other local industry and council working together to raise awareness with frontline staff and ensure there are no biosecurity incursions through the Port.

Importantly, data shows that interventions to manage biosecurity risk in the cruise pathway work well. Performance surveys for the 2022/23 season showed that 99.7% of cruise passengers were compliant with biosecurity requirements before leaving control areas.

Some interesting cruise season facts:

  • Most cruise vessels arrive in the south and travel north.
  • Each vessel has an average of three to five port stops per voyage.
  • Cruise vessels arrive from Australia and the Pacific, carrying an average of 2000 passengers.
  • Passengers permanently leaving a vessel can receive infringement notices for failing to declare risk goods.
  • Some vessel operators choose to gain full biosecurity clearance at the first port of arrival, which allows them to move freely around New Zealand.
  • Compared with air travellers, intervention data shows cruise passengers are far less likely to carry food in their baggage.


KVH investigates reports of unusual symptoms to identify and manage any biosecurity risks.

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