TORONTO — One of the first ships to resume sailing amid the global pandemic has been forced to shut down following a significant outbreak of COVID-19.
Hurtigruten’s MS Roald Amundsen, which resumed operations in July on the heels of another Hurtigruten ship – the Fridtjof Nansen – restarting voyages in June, has reported 36 positive cases of COVID-19 among crew members and six confirmed cases among guests.
As a result, Hurtigruten has suspended 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,” says CEO Daniel Skjeldam.
All expedition cruises with MS Roald Amundsen, MS Fridtjof Nansen and MS Spitsbergen in August and September 2020 have been cancelled. Hurtigruten’s coastal Norway operations have not been impacted.
For a full list of cancelled cruises click here.
According to the company, four crew members were initially confirmed positive last Friday, with 32 additional members testing positive on Saturday following extensive testing. None of the 154 crew members still onboard the ship – including the 32 new confirmed positive cases – has shown signs of disease or symptoms of COVID-19.
The ship is currently docked in Tromsø, Norway with no guests onboard.
Hurtigruten is in contact with all guests who were onboard MS Roald Amundsen’s July 17 and 24 departures. A total of 209 guests from the first voyage and 178 guests from the second voyage will self-quarantine in line with Norwegian health authority regulations. The company is assisting guests with transport, accommodation, food and other needs.
Skjeldam also notes that the cruise line is working closely with the Norwegian National and Local Health Authorities for follow-up testing and infection tracking.
Hurtigrtuen’s VP Global Communications, Rune Thomse Ege, says that the company is focusing all available efforts in taking care of its guests and colleagues.
“The safety and well-being of our guests and crew is Hurtigruten’s number one priority. 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,” Ege says.
Hurtigruten is currently reaching out to all impacted guests. For all guests booked on a cancelled voyage, the company is offering rebooking, without any rebooking fee, to any future cruise – Expedition or Norwegian Coastal – with departures before Dec. 31, 2021.
A changed reservation will be credited as a Future Cruise Voucher in the amount of 125% of what clients paid; they will also receive a 10% discount on their future cruise. The voucher is combinable with all other Hurtigruten offers valid at time of rebooking.
This offer only applies to bookings that have been cancelled by Hurtigruten. The decision to cancel the sailing came into effect when the official cancellation letter was sent from the cruise line to clients and their travel agents. This offer does not apply to guests who have already accepted our previous offer to rebook to another sailing prior to this date/time.