A leading proponent of expedition cruising says he is already hearing from cruise lines that the PONANT debacle this week may put them off visiting New Zealand in the future.
Aaron Russ, general manager Wild Earth Travel, says the PONANT cancellation had the feel of ‘pure politics’ and that contrary to some claims Immigration New Zealand was fully consulted while the cruise line went through the protracted and drawn out process of gaining health clearance and maritime exemption to operate here.
Heritage Expeditions is confident the 50-passenger ship Spirit of Enderby will be operating cruises for New Zealanders around New Zealand by late November.
The company's commercial director, Aaron Russ says all clearance and exemption requirements, including Ministry of Health clearance, have been received for the ship to be in New Zealand on the basis of the plan submitted by Heritage Expeditions.
A completely different option for travellers, while still being close to hand, is worth consideration by travel agents and their clients, says Sarah Porter, business development manager – Auckland for Wild Earth Travel.