Passengers on a luxury cruise ship which docked in Auckland this morning will be allowed to disembark, despite cruises being banned from New Zealand for months.
Concerned Aucklanders spotted the Silver Muse at the port this morning. The Silversea Cruises vessel is on a two-week journey from Sydney to Auckland, ending early today.
Journeys on the 600-passenger, 400-crew luxury cruise Silver Muse ship can cost around $1000 a day. The ship has already visited Melbourne, Burnie, Hobart, Dunedin's Port Chalmers, Lyttelton and Picton.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced on Saturday tough new travel restrictions, including asking all cruise ships not to visit from New Zealand until June 30.
However PoAL has clarified that ships already in New Zealand waters at the time of the announcement would not be banned.
The Silver Muse and another four ships that had been in NZ territorial waters at the time of the ban would be allowed to berth, ports spokesman Matthew Ball said.
All the Silver Muse's passengers would be disembarking this morning, and would go through the normal Customs and Ministry for Primary Industries processing, he said.
As they had entered New Zealand waters before the cut-off date was announced, they were not required to self-isolate, he said. Most passengers would be heading home.
Ball said the MS Bremen would disembark its passengers at Auckland at 4pm this afternoon, and tomorrow the Azamara Journey would drop all passengers off in Auckland. On March 19 the MS Noordam, sitting empty in Tauranga, would arrive in Auckland for provisioning. It had only a skeleton crew on board.
As well as passengers, crew from Silver Muse, Bremen and Azamara Journey would all disembark in Auckland, Ball said.
"Crew will go straight to the airport and return to their homes. Silver Muse, for example, has chartered a flight to take crew home."
Other ships such as the Ruby Princess and the Golden Princess had cut short their New Zealand journeys and returned to Australia, while on Monday morning the small luxury ship Le Laperouse docked in Wellington, letting off its passengers instead of taking them to Auckland.
Le Laperouse would be in Auckland on March 23 and 24, Ball said. It had no passengers and would be taking on supplies.
"These are the only five cruise ships which will call in Auckland during the ban. At this stage we know that we will have one or two of these cruise ships in Auckland until the middle of next week. If we are asked to provide a layby berth, we will consider it," he said.
A further 30 ships due before June 30 - the end of the financial year - had cancelled their visits. Ball said it wasn't clear what would happen after that date.
Silversea has cancelled a number of cruises for 30 days, following the lead of other cruise lines including Royal Caribbean and Princess Cruises.