As a response to the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, Hurtigruten announced it will extend its temporary suspension of worldwide sailings to mid-June; the company aims to then gradually restart operations from June 16.
The first planned departure will be MS Finnmarken from Bergen on June 16. Following June 16, Hurtigruten will make decisions for each voyage individually; it will update all booked guests of any changes that will affect their voyage no later than three weeks before the scheduled ship’s departure.
“There is still a lot of uncertainty in what the next weeks and months will bring. However, we do see international restrictions gradually being lifted,” Hurtigruten CEO Daniel Skjeldam said in a statement. “Step by step, the pandemic is being brought under control. Businesses are re-opening and everyday life is slowly getting back to a degree of normality.”
Note: Hurtigruten is based in Norway, where there have been 8,122 confirmed cases and 224 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University & Medicine. In Norway, schools, kindergartens, restaurants, cinemas and hairdressers are already open and travel restrictions are gradually lifted.
“Gradually restarting operations within Norwegian waters are natural first steps towards a normalization for us,” Skjeldam adds. “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.”
Hurtigruten also plans to gradually restart Arctic expedition cruises this summer.
In addition, the cruise line will “implement hundreds of small and larger measures” to keep guests and crew safe and healthy. Some will be transitory, while others will be permanent. Measures include “even stricter hygiene protocols” and reduced guest capacity to allow social distancing.
As there still is a lot of uncertainty surrounding international travel restrictions in the following weeks and months, Hurtigruten has introduced a flexible rebooking policy. The cruise line will allow free rebooking for all guests on all voyages departing before September 30. The guests are offered rebooking and a future discount of 10 percent to any future Hurtigruten cruise in 2020 or 2021.