Otago Daily Times

Cruise ship, Russian crew ready to sail


WELLINGTON: The Government should look at the effect on the tourism sector, not just the marine industry, when granting border exemptions, a New Zealand cruise company says.

Heritage Expedition­s is the first company to be granted exemption to bring a passenger vessel into New Zealand waters.

The Spirit of Enderby, which is an old research vessel, arrived at Lyttelton Harbour this week from Russia after getting permission from the Government to enter.

The 22 Russian crew completed mandatory quarantine on the way to New Zealand and were tested this week before being allowed to come ashore.

Heritage Expedition­s director Aaron Russ said the ship would do nine trips this summer, three around Fiordland and Stewart Island and the rest to the Subantarct­ic Islands.

‘‘It’s pretty much the same as a regular season. We have adapted things a little bit as we are only carrying New Zealanders . . .

‘‘We carry 50 people on each cruise and we are at over 80% full already,’’ he said.

Mr Russ said they had to jump through a few hoops to get an exemption, which was mostly focused on providing business to the marine industry.

He said it was surprising none of the exemption decisions took account of the huge effect the cruises would have on the tourism sector.

The Spirit of Enderby will leave for Bluff next week, where it will depart on its first cruise. — RNZ

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