Norway’s Hurtigruten cruise and shipping line is keeping more than half its fleet berthed in the midst of the ongoing Corona crisis that’s hitting its business and passengers hard. It remains unclear whether planned “expedition” cruises around South America and to Antarctica will be able to sail.
Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported Friday that Hurtigruten was dropping plans to increase sailings along the Norwegian coast. Five of its remaining 11 coastal vessels will remain docked, because of ongoing travel restrictions and a rise in Corona infection levels. Only six will run along the coast, at least until the end of October.
Hurtigruten has had to acknowledge Corona infection on both its new MS Roald Amundsen and, as early as last March, on the Amundsen’s sistership, MS Fritdtjof Nansen, after which a passenger died. Both of those vessels are supposed to be used in the company’s much-promoted expedition cruises this autumn and winter, but passengers who have paid deposits are still waiting to hear whether the cruises will proceed.
Hurtigruten itself cited concerns over rising infection levels in Europe and operating conditions in South America, which has also been hit hard by Corona infection. New bookings have been slow, the company also admitted when releasing poor financial results on Friday that included large losses and negative capital of around EUR 18 million.
DN reported that the company claimed there had been no increase in cancellations compared to the same period last year, with Hurtigruten concluding that passengers hadn’t been scared off by the Corona outbreak on the Roald Amundsen. The lack of voluntary cancellations, however, may have more to do with passengers’ risk of losing sizeable deposits, according to online debate circulating among frequent cruisers.