Tourism students cruise through course

Tourism students cruise through course

CPIT’s travel and tourism students have gained invaluable hands-on experience on one of New Zealand’s biggest cruise liners.

For the first time, 18 CPIT students who are completing a one year travel course were able to experience an onboard visit on the Dawn Princess superliner.


The students boarded the Australian-based Princess Cruise Liner at Auckland on its first trip to New Zealand for the summer season and received a familiarisation tour lead by the cruise director and had a question and answer session about working on board. They were also hosted to a ‘high tea’ style lunch.

CPIT travel co-ordinator and tutor Tracey Coulthard says the hands on experience was invaluable to the students. “It was a ‘wow’ experience; one that you cannot put a price on. It was great seeing the students eyes light up firstly with the environment and then with the cruise director’s personality which captured them from the minute they meet.”

Since the Christchurch earthquakes it has been harder for students to gain industry experience on cruising, as no ships have entered Lyttelton Port since the quake. “Ships have come into Akaroa. However, the students haven’t been able to go on board and gain that hands on experience due to it being a tender port,” Coulthard says. “We have taken students out in jet boats to get up close to the cruise ships but it’s not the same as going on board. Since we were up in Auckland on the annual educational trip, which is part of the programme of study, this was a fantastic opportunity for them to pursue”.

CPIT’s travel and tourism course includes a cruise component and many students become travel agents, selling cruises. Coulthard says since cruise ship holidays is one of the fastest growing markets it was important for students to experience the product first-hand before going to work in the industry.

Students told her the experience let them know how hard staff worked behind the scenes and inspired them to work in the industry even more. “Now we are back the students are looking at a broader array of jobs and likewise some have applied for positions advertised working for cruising specialists,” Coulthard says. “They really enjoyed themselves and learnt a lot about what staff do on a cruise ship.”

While this was the first time the Australian-based Princess Cruises had taken students onboard for training purposes, Coulthard hoped this new industry relationship would allow the experience to become a regular thing. “We’d love to make this a regular occurrence for our students,” she says.