Cruise liner Hurtigruten cuts short Antarctic voyage after COVID outbreak

The polar cruise operator previously suffered a COVID outbreak on an Arctic cruise in 2020.

By Victoria Klesty, Reuters - January 6, 2022
The Hurtigruten cruise liner MS Roald Amundsen is seen moored in Tromsø, Norway in August 2020 due to a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak on board. (Terje Pedersen / NTB Scanpix via Reuters)

OSLO — Norwegian cruise and travel operator Hurtigruten Group will cut short a voyage in the Antarctica region following an outbreak of the coronavirus, the company said on Thursday.

Ten people on board the MS Roald Amundsen cruise vessel had tested positive for COVID-19, and the ship will return to port in Chile two days ahead of schedule, said a spokesperson for Hurtigruten Expeditions, a subsidiary of Hurtigruten Group.

The ship, carrying some 362 passengers and crew, had set out for an 18-day cruise from Punta Arenas in southern Chile and will now return to the same port.

The MS Roald Amundsen was also hit by a coronavirus outbreak in the Norwegian Arctic in August 2020, when dozens of passengers and crew tested positive, public health officials in Norway said at the time.

Hurtigruten Expeditions operates a fleet of seven ships offering voyages in over 30 countries, and is a key player in the Arctic cruise industry.

[Eyeing a post-pandemic future, Hurtigruten sells properties in Svalbard]

In Alaska, federal legislation cleared the way for cruises during the 2021 season, and operators are hopeful for a rebound in 2022. However, rising fears of Omicron-related coronavirus infections that have dampened the nascent recovery of the pandemic-ravaged industry, with Cruise liners Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line on Wednesday cancelled sailings

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last week people should avoid traveling on cruise ships regardless of their vaccination status.

With additions by ArcticToday.