Expedition cruise operator Hurtigruten is stopping its operations, from pole to pole, until the end of April, the company announced Wednesday (March 18th).
"To temporarily suspend operations was a difficult decision to make. And it’s an emotional moment for me and the entire Hurtigruten team. But I firmly believe it is the only responsible decision in the extraordinary crisis the world is currently facing," Hurtigruten CEO Daniel Skjeldam stated in a release.
Like the rest of the cruise industry, Hurtigruten last week committed to pause operations in US waters for 30 days. Over the past weeks, the company has encouraged guests to move their bookings free of charge and have been working around-the-clock to help guests return to their home countries.
Now, the company is pausing their global expedition cruise operations through April 28th and their Norwegian coastal cruises through April 19th.
"One of Hurtigruten's core values is 'We care.' We care about our staff, we care about our guests, we care about the local communities we visit, and not least: We care about our role in the global society. That is why we are now taking these monumental steps to follow up on our continued commitment to take all appropriate actions to combat the spread of COVID-19," Skjeldam stated.
Over the past week, Hurtigruten has helped thousands of guests return to their home countries, the company said.
Dedicated teams are working "around-the-clock" to assist the limited number of guests still on board Hurtigruten’s ships back home.
Hurtigruten will gradually take their small, custom-built expedition cruise ships out of operation, the company said.
At the same time, in cooperation with the Norwegian government, the company will deploy two of its ships in an amended domestic schedule, bringing critical supplies and goods to local communities on the Norwegian coast at this time of crisis, said Skjeldam.
No cases of COVID-19
Since the start of the outbreak, Hurtigruten introduced several targeted measures to combat the spread of COVID-19, "meeting or exceeding all regulatory and industry standards," the company stated.
There have been no confirmed or suspected cases of coronavirus on any Hurtigruten ships, the company said.
"This is made possible thanks to the small size of our ships, combined with the professionality, dedication and skills from teams of medical experts, industrial hygienists and other hard-working colleagues on board and on shore," said Skjeldam.
Flexible guest solutions
Hurtigruten is dedicated to welcome modern-day explorers back on board as soon as the company resumes operations, and have presented booked guests with a number of flexible rebooking options through a dedicated web page.
- Guests who have their voyages cancelled because of the temporary suspension of operations are offered a Hurtigruten Future Cruise Voucher in the amount of 125% of amounts paid (including fees). They will also get a 10 per cent discount on any future Hurtigruten cruise - Expedition or Norwegian Coastal - from July 1st, 2020, to December 31st, 2021, with a flexible rebooking date.
- Even though they are not affected by the temporary suspension of operations, guests booked on voyages through September 30th, 2020, are offered rebooking, without any rebooking fee, to any future Hurtigruten cruise - Expedition or Norwegian Coastal - for departures between Jult 1st, 2020, and December 31st, 2020.
For full policy and rebooking options, click here to visit Hurtigruten’s dedicated information page.
Unprecedented times, unprecedented experience
"After more than 125 years of operation, we’ve learned from our past experiences weathering storms such as wars, recessions and outbreaks. This is a setback for us, for the local communities and for our guests. But the setback is only temporarily," said Skjeldam.
"I am confident that this decision was both right and responsible. And I am confident that Hurtigruten and our explorers will hit the ground running as soon as we resume operations – embarking on life-changing adventures with all the Hurtigruten difference."
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