The cruise ship, the Majestic Princess, gliding into the Port of Tauranga with 3560 passengers this morning, was a welcome sight for tourist operators across the country.
It's the first cruise ship to dock in Tauranga since the borders closed in 2020 and signals the start of the summer cruise season.
And it's hoped the travellers on board will give the industry a much-needed economic boost.
After two absent seasons, Tourism Bay of Plenty general manager, Oscar Nathan, said operators were eagerly anticipating the influx of international visitors.
The last full summer cruise season contributed $89 million to the local economy - the second-highest level of regional cruise spending behind Auckland.
"We're expecting [the economic value] to be around that or better, this year - it's really built up quickly as the government announced maritime borders opening again - it's been building up at a rate of knots, excuse the pun," Nathan said.
"The meaning of Tauranga ... is 'safe harbour or anchorage', so it's quite poignant that the first visit of the season starting is actually coming to us. So we're looking forward to it and the injection it's going to make to our operators and the economy."
There are 103 cruise ships set to dock at the Port of Tauranga this season.
The cruise industry injected $547 million into the New Zealand economy during the 2019/2020 cruise season.
Nexus Research showed that 76% of residents were happy to welcome cruise ships back because of the significant economic benefit, vibrancy, and cultural diversity the passengers and crew brought.
Mount Maunganui Business Association Destination marketing manager Claudia West said retailers were recruiting in expectation of a busy season.
"Like everyone, finding staff has been a challenge, so retailers are bringing on summer staff now, which will support the cruise ship season."
Additional reporting by rnz.co.nz