Norway’s venerable coastal passenger and cargo shipping line Hurtigruten has won government approval to sail around Svalbard again this summer. Justice Minister Monica Mæland approved the sailings, as long as the smaller expedition ships used for the cruises only take half as many passengers as usual.
“Cruise is important for the tourism industry,” Mæland stated, after heavy pressure from the industry. Hurtigruten itself has been trying hard to get its vessels sailing again, with only two currently allowed to ply the coast of Northern Norway, where they get state funding to provide needed transport to remote coastal destinations.
Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported on Friday, meanwhile, that Hurtigruten has secured emergency financing in the international lending market, but at sky-high interest rates of 11 percent. Hurtigruten CEO Daniel Skeldam said the company felt forced to make up its own “crisis package” to offset lost revenues and liquidity challenges posed by the Corona virus crisis.
The leader of the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruises, Frigg Jørgensen, stated in a press release that he was “thrilled that the Norwegian government and local stakeholders are demonstrating determination, willingness and cooperation to open for expedition cruises in Svalbard again.” Residents of Norway and other Nordic countries are also able to travel to Svalbard again, the latter from June 15.