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Cruise market ready for expansion

By Graeme Kennedy

Friday 30th May 2003

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Former P&O Princess Cruises International executive Todd Bolton is acquiring local competitor Creative Cruising as the relatively small New Zealand cruise market is poised for high growth.

Mr Bolton (pictured) has bought Lance Green's 12-year-old Auckland-based wholesale business with a travel industry investor and said the deal would be completed next week.

He said only 3000 New Zealanders bought cruises five years ago but 15,000 went cruising last year and he expected the number to at least double in the next two or three years due to the global industry's higher capacity, accessibility and lower prices because of competition among the bigger lines.

"There is so much capacity out there now," Mr Bolton said. "All the major cruise companies like Carnival, Holland-America, P&O, Royal Caribbean and NCL are building new ships.

"The biggest is Royal Caribbean's 142,000tonne Voyager of the Seas, which will carry 3000 passengers, and Cunard's Queen Mary 11, which will be launched next year is 150,000 tonnes.

"The lines will put all this new capacity where they see the highest demand and return on investment. Traditionally they have gone to Europe and the US but we might see major developments in South Pacific cruising close to New Zealanders.

"Alaska, Asia, the Caribbean and Mediterranean are all getting saturated but the Pacific hasn't been developed yet for cruising and infrastructure will be needed in the islands."

Mr Bolton said the cost of cruising, once seen as an expensive holiday, had dropped dramatically with seven nights in the Caribbean now being offered for $US599.

He said there was huge potential for growth in New Zealand and he aimed to increase Creative Cruising's sales and market share ­ P&O had 50% of the New Zealand cruise market while several other firms had the other half with his company in third place.

"We can generate numbers by selling more close-to-home cruises and encouraging people to do more cruises as add-ons to traditional holidays in the US, Europe and Asia," he said.

"New Zealand is a growing but immature market which got a big lift when P&O positioned Pacific Sky in Auckland in 2001 for five cruises to the islands. We fought hard to get that ship here because we knew it was they key to growing the market quickly."

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