Spirit of Enderby arrives in New Zealand as South Sea tourism thaws


To travel

The Spirit of Enderby and Captain Alexandr Pruss arrive at Lyttelton. Photo / Maksim Serkalev, provided

The Spirit of Enderby arrived in Lyttelton Harbor on Tuesday ahead of summer and the restart of subantarctic tourism.

After a 30-day trip to New Zealand from Vladivostok in Russia, her crew completed Covid testing and protocols upon arrival.

It is one of the few cruise ships to have benefited from an exemption from the Maritime Borders Ordinance which has so far kept most ships at bay.

Next Tuesday, Spirit of Enderby, also known as Professor Khromov, will take fifty guests south, on a tour of Fiordland and the Auckland Islands and the Antipodes for a month’s sailing.

Directors Nathan and Aaron Russ hailed what they hope will be a successful summer season exploring New Zealand’s less-visited areas.

“Aaron and I grew up exploring the Southern Ocean and it is an incredible privilege to once again share these very special places with adventurous New Zealanders,” said Nathan.

Last year, Heritage was one of the few cruise lines able to sail to New Zealand’s South Sea Islands due to Covid travel restrictions. These have been tightened under the current framework, which means all crews and guests will need to be fully vaccinated to sail this season.

“Our proven health and safety protocols have enabled it to successfully and safely conduct expedition trips in the COVID environment since November 2020, including our recent incredible season in the Russian Far East,” Aaron said.

In February, the Enderby will return to the Ross Sea in Antarctica, as one of the few ships to return to the region since the start of the Covid pandemic.

On the other side of Antarctica, polar tourism has really resumed, after 20 months of frost. Since the beginning of November, ships have started sailing from Chile and Argentina to South Georgia, the Sandwich Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula.

After zero departures last summer, cruise lines worked to create South Sea itineraries avoiding the Falklands and Covid-related restrictions of the more populous islands.

There are plenty of factors that keep tourists coming back. Culminating in a total eclipse visible from the Antarctic Peninsula and the South Shetland Islands occurring on December 4.

Last week, South Georgia welcomed its first cruise ship since March 2020, Le Lyrial.

Operated by Ponant, Le Lyrial is the sister ship Le Laperouse which was refused entry to New Zealand in January due to visa processing issues.