Relief and excitement is the mood on board the first cruise ship to start sailing again in New Zealand waters.
Cruise ships were barred from coming to New Zealand following the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Heritage Expedition’s Spirit of Enderby left Bluff this week, bound for Stewart Island and Fiordland.
The voyage has been given the green light after months of negotiations with the Government.
It's great to be able to work with the Government to prove and to work through systems to show that the maritime industry can function as long as we take the precautionary steps,” Heritage Expedition’s Nathan Russ says.
Twenty-two Russian crew members had been stuck offshore on the vessel.
The ship was granted an exemption from the Ministry of Health after they isolated on board for more than 40 days.
They're relieved to be back.
“This is my life,” captain Aleksandr Pruss says laughing.
The cruise is being seen as a trial run for future of the industry in the Covid-19 world.
The New Zealand Cruise Association says it’s the big step towards normality.
“It’s a very important piece of the puzzle to start cruising around New Zealand again,” says the association’s Kevin O’Sullivan.
1 NEWS reporter Jared McCulloch went along for the ride in the video above.