Norwegian expedition cruise line Hurtigruten Cruises is reopening its Arctic routes a month after it became the first ocean cruise liner to resume sailing in June. In total Hurtigruten plans to bring back 14 of its 16 ships.
As well as its Arctic expeditions, Hurtigruten will bring back several Norwegian coastal voyages and cruises around Britain.
“With the safety and well-being of our guests and crew as our number one priority, the response to our successful return to sailing last month has been extremely positive from both the local communities, our guests and crew. As travel restrictions are lifted, we are now entering the next phase of our step by step return to full operation,” said Hurtigruten CEO Daniel Skjeldam in a press release.
Hurtigruten Cruises around the British Isles
Hurtigruten returns to the Arctic with its new hybrid propulsion MS Roald Amundsen, named after the first man to cross Antarctica and reach the South Pole, and the MS Spitsbergen which will set sail in mid-July on six- to 15-day voyages around the Norwegian Arctic Archipelago of Svalbard.
Seven additional ships will be introduced on the Bergen to Kirkenes voyage along the Norwegian coast in August and September. Four ships are currently sailing the route.
In September, the Roald Amundsen will sail on four cruises around Britain departing from Portsmouth, Liverpool, and Glasgow calling at some of the UK’s rugged offshore isles, including Scilly and Fowey off Cornwall in the South, Rathlin Island off the coast of Northern Ireland and up to Fort William on Loch Linnhe in the Scottish Highlands.
‘We wanted to make sure guests can enjoy the British Isles like never before, visiting remote isles, seeing rugged nature and amazing wildlife, and enjoying charming coastal cities, towns, and villages while avoiding the mass tourism crowds,’ Skjeldam said.
Hurtigruten became the first ocean cruise liner to resume sailing June 16, almost four months after the coronavirus pandemic led to a global shut down of the cruise industry.
The newly refurbished MS Finnmarken set sail from Bergen for a 12-day round trip journey along the Norwegian coastline to Kirkenes and back, sailing at only 50% of its 919-passenger capacity in line with guidelines issued by the Norwegian Institute of Public Health.
COVID-19 Health Protocols
In line with the Norwegian regulations, all passengers have their temperature screened before embarkation and must fill out a declaration form stating they have not been in contact with anyone who has had COVID-19 in the last 10 days. Several cabins are reserved for quarantine in the event that any of the guests develops COVID-19 symptoms. Passengers will be regularly reminded to keep 1-meter distance from others and to maintain hand hygiene.
All purchases are via touch-free card after passengers open a cruise account. A dedicated Health and Safety Officer is on board, to coordinate and ensure the quality of infection control.
Test case for cruise industry
With the majority of the world’s cruise lines still paralyzed by the coronavirus pandemic, all eyes will be on the success of Hurtigruten Cruises’ return to sailing and the efficiency of its health protocols.