Hurtigruten Suspends Cruises After Dozens of Passengers, Crew Test Positive for Coronavirus
At least 40 people among passengers and crew contracted COVID-19.
A Norwegian cruise company that resumed sailings last month has now suspended most of its cruises until further notice after dozens of crew members and several passengers test positive for COVID-19.
Hurtigruten, which runs expedition cruises throughout the world as far away as Antarctica and the Northwest Passage, set sail on two itineraries on its MS Roald Amundsen ship on July 17 and July 24. It was later discovered that 36 crew members — most from the Philippines and the rest from Norway, France, and Germany — tested positive for the virus, the company said in a press release on Saturday.
At least five passengers have since become infected as well, The Associated Press reported. Hurtigruten said 387 guests from both voyages have been asked to self-quarantine.
On Monday, Hurtigruten’s CEO, Daniel Skjeldam, said the line would suspend all of its expedition cruises, but the decision would not impact the company’s coastal Norway operations.
“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,” Skjeldam said in a statement.
While passengers have been contacted, the AP noted it’s possible the outbreak could have spread beyond the voyage as the ship often acts as a local ferry with people disembarking along Norway’s western coast.
The ship is currently docked in Tromsø in Norway and no guests are on board.
“A preliminary evaluation shows that there has been a failure in several of our internal procedures,” Skjeldam told the AP in a statement, adding the company is “now in the process of a full review of all procedures, and all aspects of our own handling.”
Hurtigruten is not the only cruise line to resume sailings. Large ships in both Germany and Taiwan resumed operations last month with limited capacity and social distancing measures in place.