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Best New Zealand cruises

5 amazing adventures to Dunedin, Wellington, Christchurch and other NZ cities.

Big things come in small packages in the Land of the Long White Cloud. Known for glistening glaciers, towering snow-capped mountains, tranquil lakes and friendly locals, New Zealand will fill you with awe and serenity all at once.

Book a budget cruise to New Zealand with Carnival or Norwegian Cruise Line. If you’re looking for luxury, go with Viking or Celebrity Cruises. And if it’s a unique, off-the-beaten path experience you’re after, we recommend Ponant, an expedition company that’ll bring you face-to-face with the wild wonders of the island.

Ports with cruises to New Zealand

Most cruises to New Zealand start in Australia or Southeast Asia, purely due to proximity. It’s rare to see cruises from the US to New Zealand, unless it’s a world cruise itinerary that lasts longer than 100 days.

Here’s where cruises to New Zealand typically start:

  • Adelaide, Australia
  • Brisbane, Australia
  • Fremantle (Perth), Australia
  • Dunedin, New Zealand
  • Melbourne, Australia
  • Sydney, Australia

Traveling during COVID-19
The CDC continues to advise caution when traveling within or outside the US, However, it no longer requires self-quarantine or a COVID-19 test for fully vaccinated domestic travelers as of April 2021. International travelers need to get tested three days prior to flying out of the US and within three days after returning, even if you are fully vaccinated. It recommends that you delay travel if you’re not fully vaccinated to protect yourself and your family from getting or spreading the virus.

If you’re planning a trip outside the US, bear in mind that many countries have placed restrictions on US tourists. Check the US embassy website for updates before booking international travel.

Our favorite cruises to New Zealand

Cruise lineCruiseItineraryPriceBook
Norwegian Cruise LineAustralia & New Zealand — 12 days
  • Sydney, AU
  • Eden, AU
  • Melbourne, AU
  • Burnie (Tasmania), AU
  • Dunedin (Port Chalmers), NZ
  • Akaroa, NZ
  • Marlborough, NZ
  • Napier, NZ
  • Tauranga, NZ
  • Auckland, NZ
From $1,476 per personBook now
Princess CruisesAustralia & New Zealand — 6 days
  • Sydney, AU
  • New Plymouth, NZ
  • Picton, NZ
  • Auckland, NZ
From $639 per personBook now
Celebrity CruisesNew Zealand Cruise — 10 nights
  • Sydney, AU
  • Picton, NZ
  • Napier, NZ
  • Wellington, NZ
  • Dunedin, NZ
  • Milfod Sound, NZ
  • Sydney, AU
From $1,299 per personBook now
CarnivalNew Zealand from Sydney — 10 days
  • Sydney, AU
  • Wellington, NZ
  • Christchurch, NZ
  • Dunedin, NZ
  • Fiordland Park, NZ
  • Sydney, AU
From $919 per personBook now
PonantNatural Treasures of New Zealand — 11 nights
  • Dunedin, NZ
  • Ulva Island, NZ
  • Dusky Sound, NZ
  • Doubtful Sound, NZ
  • Milford Sound, NZ
  • Christchurch, NZ
  • Picton, NZ
  • Wellington, NZ
  • Gisborne, NZ
  • Tauranga, NZ
  • Auckland, NZ
From $6,730 per person

Best cruise lines sailing to New Zealand

Whether you choose to fly in and cruise the region or include New Zealand as a stop on a longer itinerary, we offer our top cruise company picks that show you the best of the nation.

Best for your buck: Celebrity

Set sail for as little as $42 a night with Celebrity. You'll get all the bells and whistles you'd expect from a floating city coupled with a surprising level of intimacy and service. Even better if you manage to catch one of Celebrity's regular cruise sales.
  • Room service included
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, Mastercard, American Express
Price ($-$$$):
Book now

Best for honeymooners: Princess

Make the most of your newlywed bliss with the Princess Cruises Honeymoon Wishes Registry. It allows your nearest and dearest to purchase onboard and offshore experiences for you and your spouse. Honeymoon packages can include Champagne, long-stemmed roses and spa treatments.
  • Room service included
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Diners, Discover Card, JCB
Price ($-$$$):

Best for luxury travelers: Regent

Regent ups the ante when it comes to luxury, starting with a low staff-to-guest ratio, butler service in penthouses, complimentary shore excursions and onboard enrichment programs.

End each day with exquisitely prepared cuisine and a perfectly paired glass of wine, or relax in the comfort of your suite with 24-hour room service — all included in your fare.


  • No free room service
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, American Express, Discover Card
Price ($-$$$):
Book now

Best for all-inclusive cruises: Crystal Ocean Cruises

Got a minute? It might take longer than that to detail what's included on a cruise with Crystal. Highlights include Michelin-inspired cuisine, specialty dining, wines and spirits, 24-hour room service, engaging enrichment programs, voluntourism program, unlimited Wi-Fi, prepaid gratuities and even round-trip airfare, if you choose.
  • Room service included
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, Mastercard, American Express
Price ($-$$$):
Book now

Best for foodies: Costa

If you're looking to get away from the madding cruising crowd, Costa's Italian fleet is just the ticket. You'll find a diverse mix of European and American passengers, casual ambiance, nonstop entertainment and one of the best spas at sea, according to Cruise Critic.
  • Room service included
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, Mastercard, American Express
Price ($-$$$):
Book now

Best for seniors: Azamara

Immerse yourself in your destination with Azamara's port-intensive philosophy. Azamara itineraries are often longer than your typical cruise, allowing you to spend more time at each port without the need to rush.

Guests with special needs are taken care of with wheelchair-accessible staterooms, and facilities for those with visual impairments are common onboard.


  • No free room service
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
Price ($-$$$):
Book now

Best for single travelers: Norwegian

Going solo? Norwegian's supplement-free studio cabins are a popular addition to the fleet and include access to a lounge just for studio guests. You can stretch out, have a drink and meet other single travelers at hosted predinner gatherings.
  • Room service included
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Diners, Discover Card
Price ($-$$$):
Book now

Best for traditional experience: Cunard

Offering old-world British cruising right down to 3:30 p.m. afternoon tea, Cunard knows how to make you feel like you've stepped back to the 1840s.

Spend your days playing quoits or learning to fence, and relive that romantic era of gala balls, West End–caliber shows and elegant dining in the evenings.


  • Room service included
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover Card
Price ($-$$$):
Book now

Best for couples: Viking River Cruises

Intimate ships, destination-rich itineraries and private balconies in all rooms are what makes Viking Ocean ideal for couples.

Throw in a Nordic-inspired spa, infinity pool and dinners for two in the Italian restaurant, and you've got yourself a romantic getaway. Did we mention all ships are adults only?


  • Room service included
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover Card, Cheque
Price ($-$$$):
Book now

Best for small ships: Ponant

If your travel style is less all-night disco and packed buffet rooms and more cozy sea voyages focused on culture and relaxation, then Ponant's five-star expeditions are ideal.

Ponant's French touch offers a fleet of mega- and midsize yachts, so you'll never feel like you're on a floating resort.


  • Room service included
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, Mastercard, American Express
Price ($-$$$):
Book now

Best for all-suite ships: Seabourn

Treat yourself to a luxury cruising experience complete with upscale dining options, personalized service and a relaxed, country-club vibe.

All cabins on Seabourn ships are oceanfront suites — just choose how much space you need. Suites come with a personal suite stewardess, a fully stocked bar with your preferences, walk-in closets and a spacious marble bath with double vanities.


  • Room service included
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, American Express, Discover Card
Price ($-$$$):
Book now

Best for active travelers: AIDA

If lounging poolside for days on end sounds to you like torture, then AIDA's German fleet is the ideal antidote to the classic cruise.

A fun, active atmosphere paired with casual service is this liner's calling card. A large fitness area with group classes, beach club, boulder wall and water slides are some of what you can expect onboard. And bicycles, e-bikes and e-scooters are available to rent for exploring off-ship.


  • No free room service
  • No free alcohol
  • Food included
  • No price matching
  • Visa, Mastercard

How we picked the best cruises

When choosing cruise lines for our list, we looked at price, ship size, features, activities and itineraries. We factored in our personal experience of New Zealand as well as third-party reviews and guides to home in on popular, high-quality cruise lines.

When is the best time to cruise to New Zealand?

New Zealand is best enjoyed from December to March. This peak summer period allows you to take in the country’s beautiful scenery during the warmest weather.

If you’re considering a visit during the rest of the year, factor in other considerations before determining your dates:

  • Summer break. Local school kids are off from mid-December to late January, when you can expect popular attractions to be more crowded than any other time of the year.
    Winter and off-peak. Lasting from June to August, this period is an interesting time to visit, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find much cruising activity.
  • Winter and off-peak.Lasting from June to August, this period is an interesting time to visit, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find much cruising activity.
  • A cold July. Temperatures in July can get down to 28°F easily in parts of the country. To top it off, you can expect the most rainfall this month as well. Definitely one to avoid.
  • The shoulder season.October, November and April are great for budget travelers hoping to find the best prices while the weather is still relatively warm.

What are must-do cruise excursions in New Zealand?

From wining and dining to swimming with wild dolphins, New Zealand’s ports are bursting with sights and activities:

    • Auckland. A maritime city with museums, galleries, shopping, glowworm caves and a wine-growing district not far
      from the center.
    • Akaroa. This quaint village with stunning scenery offers swimming with wild dolphins.
    • Bay of Islands. Spend the day exploring this string of 144 hidden bays and picturesque islands by Maori canoe
      or kayak.
    • Fiordland. A landscape of steep fjords over 100,000 years in the making. This World Heritage Site includes
      popular Milford, Dusky and Doubtful sounds.
    • Dunedin. Considered New Zealand’s architectural heritage capital, a city tour ensures you take in the best sites and attractions, including the world’s steepest street.
    • Wellington. New Zealand’s capital city is ideal for Lord of the Rings fans and those keen to get to know more about the country at the National Museum.

Bottom line

A world away, New Zealand is ripe for those ready to explore. Keep an eye on our top cruise deals to save on your next vacation.

Top deals for cruising couples

Deal

New Zealand cruises for couples from $399 per person

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