Blocked Ponant cruise ship Le Laperouse calls off New Zealand season

   February 4, 2021 ,   Accidents

A French, luxury cruise ship stopped at the New Zealand border cancelled her summer season.

After 61 crew were refused work visas on route to Auckland NZ, on Monday, February 1, the Le Laperouse ship was forced to sail 1800 km to New Caledonia to refuel.

The shipowner Ponant Cruises decided to cancel the planned New Zealand season, which it was given special Economic Exemption to operate in 2020. The company said in a statement:

"Ponant regretfully advises that our small expedition ship Le Lapérouse has been forced to cancel her season of seven fully booked expedition voyages in New Zealand for New Zealanders." 

On January 29, Ponant's Le Laperouse was stopped outside of NZ exclusive economic zone, with visa applications being refused for a total of 61 of the 90 crew members onboard.

Following the impasse, and having sailed 8500+ km and undergone isolation and testing, Ponant announced its decision to cancel the 2021 summer season.

~700 New Zealanders were booked onto 7x NZ itineraries.

Le Laperouse cruise ship

According to Sarina Bratton, Chair for Ponant Asia Pacific, guests are being contacted by their travel agents, and individual arrangements are being discussed "with options of a cruise credit plus additional commercial gesture or a complete refund."

Staff for the aborted NZ cruise season will continue their contracts for voyages in Australia in April.

The expeditions cruise company said it had invested millions of dollars promoting New Zealand internationally and operating in the country seasonally for the past 7 years.

For the next summer season, Ponant intends to bring a couple of expedition ships to New Zealand.