The New Zealand travel trade is gaining confidence in selling expedition cruising, in large part due to being able to get on and experience some of the new vessels now on offer, says Aaron Russ, commercial director of Heritage Expeditions.
New Zealand-based expedition cruise company Heritage Expeditions is setting sail for Australia’s Kimberley Coast with two new itineraries in its 2023 schedule aboard expedition flagship Heritage Adventurer with an early bird booking discount of 20% across all cabins.
The average value of a booking has doubled for Wild Earth Travel since New Zealanders started moving again this year, says general manager Aaron Russ.
‘There are people that are going to spend money, and they have the money to spend.’
Heritage Expeditions has added the islands of Japan to its 2023 schedule, announcing three new voyages aboard expedition flagship Heritage Adventurer.
Commercial director and expedition leader, Aaron Russ says Japan’s combination of history, culture and wilderness and wildlife make it ideal for expedition cruising.
Heritage Expeditions and Wild Earth Travel owner/director Aaron Russ and BDM Sarah Porter welcomed over 40 agents and brokers onboard Heritage Explorer for an inspection, followed by a long overdue catch up with canapes and bubbles.
The 30m expedition yacht is currently in the middle of a successful summer season exploring islands between Auckland and the Bay of Islands. The 18 passenger vessel is equipped with zodiacs and kayaks.
Heritage Expeditions is confident its new flagship, Heritage Adventurer, will be sailing New Zealand waters late next year.
Heritage Expeditions commercial director and expedition leader, Aaron Russ has been in Europe this month checking on progress with the ship and is now back in Christchurch self isolating.
Heritage Expeditions is offering an exclusive 10-day stay on Wrangel Island in the Arctic Circle. Up to five guests will be able to stay on this remote island during The Ultimate High Arctic Expedition in July 2022.
They will be guests of the rangers who man the Wrangel Island Nature Reserve, best-known as the polar bear denning capital of the world, as well as for having the largest population of Pacific walrus and a rich natural history.
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.