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.
The plan is to operate the first cruise on 24 November. The cruises would initially be around the New Zealand coast, including trips to the New Zealand Subantarctic and Fiordland and would be for New Zealanders only.
Heritage Expeditions' Southern Ocean season is expected to generate around $5 million for the New Zealand economy and help protect jobs and support local businesses (including in the struggling travel industry).
The season includes seven-day expeditions to Fiordland and Stewart Island and eight to 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.
The Spirit of Enderby crew is already quarantining on the ship off Russia for two weeks, having all tested negative for Covid-19. They will then sail here over 29 days and be tested on arrival.