Immigration New Zealand has denied entry for some crew who they have deemed to be non-essential aboard Ponant’s Le Laperouse, which was set to offer a New Zealand program in February.
The New Zealand Cruise Association (NZCA) meanwhile said in a statement it believes that all the ship’s crew are essential to its operation and they cannot be replaced by New Zealanders in such a short time.
“It is a case of one Ministry giving and another taking away. Government departments must begin to talk to each other, not take separate action which once again greatly harms the tourism industry,” said NZCA Chief Executive Officer Kevin O’Sullivan.
“The Minister of Immigration has tried to paint the decision as the fault of Ponant for not following procedure, but it is not so. As soon as the exemption was granted Ponant provided information to Immigration NZ on visa requirements for the ship’s crew, giving ample time for a response and following up with an application when they had assembled the information requested more than three weeks ago,” O’Sullivan continued. “They did everything that was requested by the New Zealand Government in order to offer safe domestic cruising in New Zealand.”
To comply with COVID-19 requirements to isolate crew, the ship has been slow steaming from its last port, testing everyone onboard regularly.
Le Laperouse was due in Auckland on Saturday for maintenance work and New Zealand COVID-19 testing, with the first voyage beginning February 8.