Ponant has unveiled a range of ‘Bubble Expeditions’ for Kiwis after receiving conditional approval for Le Laperouse to sail in New Zealand waters from February 2021.
The luxury cruise line’s excitement about the new expeditions is two-fold, according to Asia-Pacific chair Sarina Bratton.
“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,” she said.
“And secondly, to support our partners and deliver economic benefit to New Zealand.
“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.
“Whilst presently in Australia we cannot travel internationally, I am so pleased that Ponant is once again able to offer Kiwis local expeditions to visit remote and often difficult-to-get-to parts of New Zealand.
“This is an important step forward and it takes us closer to the time when borders re-open and cruising resumes in Australia, and to when we will be able to confirm the return of our luxury expedition small ships.”
Joel Katz, managing director of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) for Australasia, said the domestic operations Ponant have planned in New Zealand were an example of the carefully controlled regional approach CLIA has proposed for the resumption of restricted cruise operations in New Zealand and Australia.
“Cruise lines have developed extensive new health protocols in response to COVID-19 that go well beyond the measures of almost any other area of the travel industry,” Katz said.
“By creating bubble itineraries for New Zealanders only, operating exclusively within New Zealand, we see an opportunity to help revive the tourism economy, while at the same time offering protective protocols against outside infection.”
CLIA has outlined extensive new health protocols to governments in New Zealand and Australia as part of a global response to COVID-19 by the cruise industry.
“Such measures have already allowed limited cruise operations to resume in other regions including Europe and Asia,” Katz said.
“CLIA will continue to work closely with governments in Australasia to establish a responsible pathway towards resumption that will uphold safety while also helping to revive an industry worth more than $5 billion a year our region’s economy.”
The news follows Ponant’s release of nine new close-to-home Australia and New Zealand 2021 itineraries.
Agents can register their client’s interest in the close to home trips obligation-free so they can get in early and avoid any risk.
The nine new small-ship itineraries have been developed by Ponant’s Australian and Kiwi expedition specialists to show your clients more of the region’s outstanding yet often rarely visited regions, from Western Australia to Tasmania, Australia’s south and east coastlines, New Zealand and her Subantarctic Islands.
Ponant and its sister company, Paul Gauguin Cruises, have collectively operated 60 expeditions and cruises over the last six months, with eight of their 11 small ships sailing in France, Iceland, the Arctic, Russia, Corsica, Sardinia, and French Polynesia.