Expedition cruise specialist Hurtigruten has pulled the pin on its 2020 Antarctica program, shelving its planned operation to the White Continent in October, November and December.
Hurtigruten’s late-2020 Antarctica season involved deployments of its two hybrid battery-powered sister ships, MS Roald Amundsen and the MS Fridtjof Nansen, along with the retrofitted MS Fram.
CEO Daniel Skjeldam revealed the decision in a message to customers, saying his team had been working tirelessly to adapt its operation due to the “challenging environment the global pandemic is causing for the entire travel industry”.
Skjeldam said international travel restrictions and port closures are changing rapidly, often from day-to-day.
“There is currently a ban of cruise ship operations in many waters and most flights to our departure ports in Argentina and Chile are cancelled. The situation is still fluid and developments are unpredictable. There are still major hurdles to overcome. As of now, they do not show much promise to be resolved in time to explore Antarctica under our strict health and safety standards in the coming months,” he explained.
Skjeldam said the health and safety of Hurtigruten’s guests, crew and staff was the top priority.
“Given the widespread consequences this has for your long-awaited expedition cruise, for our crew and staff, our partners, and the local communities we have been working with for decades, this has not been an easy decision to make. But to us, it is the only responsible one.”
The CEO said the 2020 Antarctica cancellation was a “temporary setback”, offering those passengers impacted by the decision to postpone their planned expedition to the 2021/22 season under Hurtigruten’s flexible rebooking policy.
He concluded saying it remains Hurtigruten’s intention to restart its expedition cruises from January 2021 “with even stricter COVID-19 measures in place. This will include testing for all guests.”
Lead image: Landing on the ice in Antarctica | credit: Andrea Klaussner/Hurtigruten