While most cruise lines have paused the embarkation of cruises until August, one cruise line is planning to gradually restart operations on select ships on June 16.
Hurtigruten, the world’s largest expedition cruise line, is planning a gradual phase-in of cruises starting in the middle of June.
In Norway – where Hurtigruten is headquartered and which is one of the most popular destination for Arctic cruises – schools, kindergartens, restaurants, cinemas and hairdressers are already open and travel restrictions are gradually lifted.
“We are two months into what is a truly extraordinary situation. In one way or another, the consequences of the pandemic impact us all,” Hurtigruten CEO Daniel Skjeldam says.
“Gradually restarting operations within Norwegian waters are natural first steps towards a normalization for us. The size and scale of our step-by-step restart is dependent on national and international travel restrictions, government support and other external factors outside of our control. But we are eager to welcome guests on board our ships again,” Skjeldam says.
Hurtigruten also plans to gradually restart Arctic expedition cruises this summer, according to Skjeldam “in areas where restrictions are lifted – where and when we believe it is safe”.
“Nothing is more important to us than the safety and well-being of our crew and guests. We are working closely with all relevant authorities, experts and agencies to ensure a safe and sensible restart of our expedition cruises,” Skjeldam says.
Even before the global outbreak, Hurtigruten imposed strict measures and protocols to combat the spread of the virus. Hurtigruten has not had any confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 on any ships. The lessons learned is the basis of our new, strict procedures that will be imposed before the restart of our operations.
“In total, we will implement hundreds of small and large measures to keep our guests and crew safe and healthy. Some of them are transitory, some will be permanent. But from even stricter hygiene protocols to reduced guest capacity to allow social distancing, this will give you a safer voyage without impacting the experience,” Skjeldam says.
Operations on the scheduled Bergen – Kirkenes – Bergen voyages will be suspended until June 15, 2020.
We are planning for a gradual restart of operations on the Norwegian coast. The first planned departure will be MS Finnmarken from Bergen on June 16.
Following June 16, they will make decisions for each and every voyage individually and will update all booked guests on any changes that will affect their voyage as soon as possible, and no later than three weeks (21 days) before the scheduled ship’s departure.
In agreement with the Norwegian Ministry of Transport, Hurtigruten has deployed two ships in an amended domestic schedule. The newly upgraded MS Richard With and MS Vesterålen is bringing critical supplies and goods to local Norwegian communities. This service will continue through June 15.
All Hurtigruten expedition cruises are temporarily suspended, with a number of voyages affected – including voyages with battery hybrid powered MS Fridtjof Nansen to Norway and MS Roald Amundsen to Alaska and the Northwest Passage, as well as some cruises to Svalbard and Iceland.