Norway’s Hurtigruten Halts Cruises After COVID-19 Outbreak

August 3, 2020 Updated: August 3, 2020

OSLO—Norwegian cruise line Hurtigruten is halting all its so-called expedition cruises until further notice following an outbreak of COVID-19 on one of its vessels last week, the company said on Monday.

At least 40 passengers and crew from the MS Roald Amundsen cruise liner have so far tested positive for the coronavirus, with hundreds more awaiting test results, public health officials said on Sunday.

“A preliminary evaluation shows a breakdown in several of our internal procedures,” Chief Executive Daniel Skjeldam said in a statement.

“Our own failure, as well as the recent rise in infections internationally, has led us to halt all expedition cruises in Norwegian and international waters,” he said.

Four crew members on the MS Roald Amundsen were hospitalised on Friday when the ship arrived at the port of Tromsoe, and later diagnosed with the respiratory illness. Tests showed another 32 of the 158 staff were also infected.

Among the infected crew, 32 were from the Philippines while the rest were of Norwegian, French and German nationality.

While foreign crew members were tested for the coronavirus before leaving their home countries, they were not tested in Norway and did not quarantine before starting work on the ship, the company said.

So far, four of the combined 387 passengers travelling on the ship on two separate cruises since July 17 have been found to carry the virus, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (FHI) and the Tromsoe municipality said.

The MS Roald Amundsen had been scheduled to sail around the British Isles in September, docking at ports in England and Scotland.

Hurtigruten’s separate business of ferrying goods and people between ports in Norway will continue, the company added.

By Terje Solsvik