Hurtigruten Expeditions has confirmed it will resume operations to Antarctica in November and December 2021, with two ships – MS Roald Amundsen and MS Fram – now set to sail from Punta Arenas, Chile.
MS Roald Amundsen will sail her first Antarctica expedition cruise out of Punta Arenas on 25 November and MS Fram, originally scheduled to depart from Ushuaia, Argentina, will launch her 2021/22 Antarctica season also from Punta Arenas, on 14 December.
Plans to operate a third ship to the White Continent – MS Fridtjof Nansen – this season have been thwarted by travel restrictions. Instead, Nansen will now offer expedition cruises to the coast of Norway from Hamburg, Germany, joining recently refurbished MS Otto Sverdrup, capitalising on booming demand for the new product.
“Preparing for a two-ship Antarctica season this fall marks a remarkable turning point for us. With MS Roald Amundsen and MS Fram sailing out of Punta Arenas, and MS Fridtjof Nansen offering in-demand expedition cruises in Europe, we are back with all our planned expedition fleet activities at the start of the new year,” said Hurtigruten Group CEO Daniel Skjeldam.
“Knowing that also all Hurtigruten Norwegian Coastal Express ships are back in schedule, and that all hotels and on-land offers will be open to guests again, we look optimistically and enthusiastically at the adventure travel year of 2022.”
“Returning to Antarctica is something we’ve been dreaming of and preparing for a very long time now. We are thrilled to again offer our guests safe and sustainable, life-changing Antarctic adventures,” said Hurtigruten Expeditions CEO Asta Lassesen.
MS Roald Amundsen‘s first departure will be a Solar Eclipse sailing. As this region’s next solar eclipse phenomenon will not occur for about 400 years, it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Passengers and crew for all Antarctica expedition cruises will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Why Chile over Argentina?
While Argentina has recently confirmed it will enable cruise lines to depart from Ushuaia for Antarctic sailings, Hurtigruten is remaining loyal to Chile where it has operated expedition cruises from since the early 2000s.
“Twenty years of experience operating under the umbrella of Chilean authorities and with highly professional local partners gives us the confidence to lock in on a combination of Santiago de Chile and Punta Arenas as our gateway for Antarctica for the upcoming season,” said Lassesen.
Damian Perry, Hurtigruten Managing Director, VP Sales & Marketing, Asia-Pacific said: “We have had to remain nimble and even though there are now signals about Argentina gradually opening for tourists, the rules and procedures applicable for cruises and cruise travellers are still uncertain and unclear.
“I guess it is a similar situation for those attempting to sail in Australia or alternatively choose to relocate when there are no absolutes or clarity from policymakers and authorities,” Perry added.
Hurtigruten Expeditions will fly guests arriving to Santiago de Chile to Punta Arenas by domestic charter flights.
Both on-land and at-sea logistics will follow strict, still guest-friendly, protocols.
“Already strong and solid infrastructures have been further improved – and the service level is upped to an impressive standard. This goes to prove our Chilean counterparts share our absolute commitment to safety and the safeguarding of the health of our guests, crew and partners,“ said Lassesen.
German Norway success
Recently, Hurtigruten Expeditions began offering cruises from Hamburg to Norway. The sailings aboard the hybrid-upgraded MS Finnmarken (now MS Otto Sverdrup) are the first year-round expedition cruises from Germany.
With all sailings for the first quarter of 2022 being sold out, Hurtigruten Expeditions has chosen to deploy the battery-hybrid MS Fridtjof Nansen on parallel sailings out of Hamburg from January next year.
“The booking numbers and the magnificent feedback we receive from the guests that have sailed with MS Otto Sverdrup thus far, proves this is a very attractive offering. We have therefore decided to offer even more homeporting from Hamburg for expedition cruises to Norway,” said Lassesen.
This month, MS Fridtjof Nansen was named at latitude 78˚ North in Longyearbyen, Svalbard in what was the world’s northernmost naming of a passenger ship ever.