Christchurch-based small ship expedition cruise company Heritage Expeditions flagship Spirit of Enderby / Professor Khromov arrived in the Port of Lyttelton this week in preparation of the company’s upcoming Kiwis-only summer season.
The 50-guest expedition ship is the first passenger vessel to be granted an exemption by the New Zealand Government with its arrival triggering a series of firsts. As well as being the first passenger vessel to arrive in New Zealand this summer, Spirit of Enderby is also the first ship to utilise Lyttelton’s new $67 million cruise ship berth ahead of its official opening on 25 November and was docked by New Zealand’s first female marine pilot – Captain Joanne Laing.
All 22 Russian crew aboard flagship Spirit of Enderby/Professor Khromov returned negative COVID tests and were cleared by the New Zealand Ministry of Health.
Heritage Expeditions’ Directors Aaron and Nathan Russ were elated their iconic vessel had once again returned to New Zealand waters.
“The arrival of Spirit of Enderby is a huge win not only for us, but also for the country’s economy and travel industry, ongoing scientific research and COVID-bound New Zealanders looking for an overseas-style holiday experience without having to leave the country,” said Aaron.
The ship’s arrival into Lyttelton, and opportunity to christen Lyttelton Port Company’s new cruise berth, was the perfect way to start the new season for the Christchurch-based company which pioneered expedition cruising in 1985, said Nathan.
“We have a long association with Lyttelton Port Company and feel privileged to mark and celebrate this auspicious occasion with them.”
It was also fitting Captain Joanne Laing brought the vessel in, said Aaron.
“Joanne, like Heritage Expeditions, is a true pioneer and we are delighted she will be our guest on our Galapagos of the Southern Ocean voyage later this month,” he said.
Heritage Expeditions has spent the last 6 months working alongside the Ministry of Health and other government authorities to ensure best practice in the protection of New Zealand. This has included closely monitoring and testing its 22 Russian crew who spent 14 days in quarantine aboard Spirit of Enderby while it was anchored out in Vladivostok Harbour. All crew then passed two COVID tests before the ship departed and and spent 29 days in isolation at sea, with all 22 returning negative tests on arrival in New Zealand.
Heritage Expeditions had, Aaron said, exceeded the Ministry of Health’s requirements in bringing its expedition vessel to New Zealand and a sound strategy had prevailed.
“It’s been a long road, but going the extra mile to ensure the safety, wellbeing and protection of our guests, crew and the citizens at the destinations we visit has always been our highest priority, and this process has been no different,” he said.
“We are incredibly grateful to the Ministry of Health for all their assistance in helping make this happen.”
Prior to crew embarking, Spirit of Enderby was deep cleaned and treated with Zoono anti-bacterial/viral fogging on arrival, there will also be further treatments between voyages.
Heritage Expeditions Southern Ocean season is expected to generate around $5 million for the New Zealand economy and help protect jobs, support local businesses including the struggling travel industry, as well as continuing ongoing research the company is involved in with crown research institute GNS Science and the World Meterological Organisation. It will also continue the company’s long association and support of the Department of Conservation providing vital links for its ongoing conservation and research at some of the country’s most remote locations.
Heritage Expeditions Southern Ocean season includes 7-day expeditions to Fiordland and Stewart Island and 8 – 13 day voyages to New Zealand’s Subantarctic Islands. The company is also looking forward to the opportunity to return to the heart of Antarctica, the Ross Dependency, in January and February.