Hurtigruten halts all expedition cruises after coronavirus outbreak

Norway’s expedition cruise operator Hurtigruten temporarily suspended expedition sailings for all of its ships after 36 crew members and several guests tested positive for COVID-19 on board the cruise ship MS Roald Amundsen.

Image courtesy: Hurtigruten

The company said that all 158 crew members on MS Roald Amundsen have now been tested for possible Coronavirus infection.

36 have tested positive for COVID-19, while 122 are confirmed as negative. Nine guests have tested positive.

32 of the 34 confirmed cases are from the Philippines. The three others are Norwegian, French and German nationalities.

The battery-hybrid powered ship MS Roald Amundsen was scheduled to sail to Svalbard on Friday afternoon. That voyage is now canceled.

The ship is currently docked in Tromsø, Norway with no guests on board.

None of the 154 crew members still on board the ship has shown any signs of disease or symptoms of COVID-19, the company added.

The initial four crew members that were infected were isolated several days ago because of other disease symptoms, showing no symptoms of COVID-19. They were routinely tested before being admitted to hospital in Tromsø, Norway Friday morning.

“Hurtigruten is in contact with all guests that were on board MS Roald Amundsen’s July 17 and 24 departures,” the company said.

“209 guests from the first voyage and 178 guests from the July 24 departure will self-quarantine in line with Norwegian health authority regulations.”

“All crew members are closely monitored and screened daily. Non-Norwegian crew members are quarantined before boarding the ship, and non-European crew need to undergo two negative Covid-19 tests before even leaving their home country,” said Hurtigruten VP Global Communications Rune Thomas Ege.

“We are now focusing all available efforts in taking care of our guests and colleagues. We are working closely with the Norwegian National and Local Health Authorities for follow-up, information, further testing, and infection tracking,” says CEO in Hurtigruten, Daniel Skjeldam.

“In light of the recent increase in new cases of COVID-19 globally, the only responsible choice is to suspend all expedition sailings until we are absolutely confident, we can carry out our operations in line with all requirements from the Authorities and with the even stricter requirements we have set for ourselves.”

As informed, the decision has no impact on Hurtigruten’s coastal Norway operations.