PONANT has released details of three cruises early next year PONANT has released details of three cruises early next year

Optimism around NZ cruises

Optimism is growing around the resumption of New Zealand based cruising, with PONANT releasing details of three cruises early next year.

The company says it is ‘working with authorities for a potential restart and looks forward to a positive result.’ PONANT adds that the objective is to ‘provide locals with a fabulous luxury expedition programme at the same time as giving economic benefits to

communities, small businesses and our supportive travel agency network.’

In a release that details cruises starting from 12 January, Deb Corbett, PONANT general manager sales and marketing Asia Pacific, says ‘your client’s next trip isn’t as far away as you think.

‘We are opening three new coastal expeditions for pre-registration plus back to back expeditions, so our summer programme is ready for more guests to join.’

The NZ Cruise Association is obviously keen to see this happen, however chairperson Debbie Summers says the industry ideally needs as much advance official notice as possible and cannot simply wait doing nothing until the Government says ‘green light go’. 

‘Time is needed to advertise itineraries and actually sell them – there is a lot of preparation before a cruise itinerary actually happen.

‘It seems this is yet another key part of our business the authorities don’t seem to understand.’

For its part, PONANT plans to have Le Laperouse making an inaugural cruise to the outer islands of the Chatham archipelago early next year, as well as visiting ‘PONANT favourites’, such as the Antipodes, Stewart Island, The Snares and Fiordland, as well as Doubtful, Dusky and Milford Sounds.

Tony Smith, managing director of Francis Travel Marketing says he is feeling positive about the PONANT announcement.

‘It is only for New Zealanders as far as we are aware and that is a good start.’ He agrees with the cruise association that what the industry needs is quick approval from the authorities. ‘We need to know what the conditions are, what are the safety protocols, and what the deals are – then we can start planning.’

Smith says that with a crew taking 22 to 23 days to get here, then quarantining for four or five days if it is still felt to be necessary, along with a testing regime when they leave home base and in transit there is no reason why domestic cruising wouldn’t be safe.

‘If it is cruising around New Zealand for Kiwis I just can’t see what the problem is. We should be doing it now.’

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