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New Zealand Welcomes Back First Cruise Ship Since COVID Hit

The Pacific Explorer arrives in Auckland Harbour in Auckland, on Aug. 12. 

The Pacific Explorer arrives in Auckland Harbour in Auckland, on Aug. 12. 

Photographer: Fiona Goodall/Getty Images  

Updated on

Wellington, New Zealand (AP) -- New Zealand on Friday welcomed the first cruise ship to return since the coronavirus pandemic began, signaling a long-sought return to normalcy for the nation's tourism industry.

New Zealand closed its borders in early 2020 as it sought at first to eliminate COVID-19 entirely and then later to control its spread. Although the country reopened its borders to most tourists arriving by plane in May, it wasn't until two weeks ago that it lifted all remaining restrictions, including those on maritime arrivals.