Our excitement is two-fold,’ Ponant Asia Pacific Chairman Sarina Bratton said. ‘Firstly, to have the opportunity and privilege to offer "bubble" expeditions for Kiwis, enabling exploration of some of the most remote and inaccessible parts of that country, so rich in natural beauty and extraordinary wildlife.
‘Secondly, to support our partners and deliver economic benefit to New Zealand,’ Bratton said.
‘Kiwi travel agents, tour operators, ground operators, airlines, port authorities, food and beverage suppliers, technical suppliers, fuel suppliers, service and waste suppliers all benefit from our small ship operation.
‘This is an important step forward and it takes us closer to the time when borders reopen and cruising resumes in Australia.’
Kiwi cruises for Kiwis
The news supports the New Zealand Cruise Association’s call for ‘Kiwi cruising for Kiwis’ and is a wonderful Christmas present, CEO Kevin O’Sullivan said.
‘Even in a limited way we are looking forward to once again seeing a lovely cruise ship in our ports, paving the way for many more some time in the future,’ O”Sullivan said.
‘The arrival of Le Lapérouse highlights the tenacity of the cruise industry in working with government to make things happen.’
CLIA welcomes news
Cruise Lines International Association Australasia MD Joel Katz welcomed news of Ponant’s conditional approval to operate in New Zealand and said it is ‘an example of the carefully controlled regional approach CLIA has proposed for the resumption of restricted cruise operations in New Zealand and Australia.’
Ponant’s first departure is scheduled for February 8 for a fortnight’s cruise to Chatham and sub-Antarctic islands.
Bratton earlier told Seatrade Cruise News that a foreign company may operate domestically in New Zealand for 28 days before going to an international port.
‘Our sub-Antarctic expeditions normally incorporate Macquarie Island which is Australian territory,’ she said.