Havila Forced to Cancel Norway Sailing due to Russian Sanctions
Havila Kystruten announced on Thursday, April 14, that it had canceled the next sailing of its Norwegian coastal cruise ship due to concerns that its insurance had been invalidated by the European Union’s sanctions against Russia after the invasion of Ukraine. News of the canceled cruise came after Havila said that it would refinance its operations after the sanctions were expanded to include Russian-owned leasing company GTLK which is financing the company’s four cruise ships.
“We are disappointed that there was no solution,” said Brent Martini, CEO of Havila Kystruten while the company’s cruise ship Havila Capella remained at the dock for nearly 48-hours after it was due to depart Bergen, Norway on its Easter cruise along the Norwegian coast. “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has concluded that our liability insurance is not compatible with the sanction provisions.”
The issue of the insurance coverage emerged on April 12 after a reported 232 passengers had boarded the cruise ship preparing for the round-trip voyage to Kirkenes and back to Bergen. The company said it was seeking clarification from Norway’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs related to its insurance coverage. Earlier in the day the company had reported that it was working to refinance because the leasing company that had financed Havila Capella, GTLK Asia, is Russian-owned and had been included in the latest round of EU sanctions.
The EU included GTLK in the sanctions reporting that the company in addition to having Russian ownership had direct ties to the Russian government. They reported that both Vladimir Putin and several influential Russian businessmen were on the board of the company and said the company could be directly contributing to financing the government and its war efforts.
Havila contends that the Capella is a Norwegian ship explaining that they operate the ship and that it meets all of Norway’s requirements. Previously they said that the only connection to Russia was that they were making lease payments on the first ship to GTLK and that Havila supported the sanctions while condemning the invasion of Ukraine.
Initially, they had indications from the Norwegian government that the sanction provisions did not preclude normal operations. The company noted that its hull insurance remains in place but that the liability insurance was the issue. They said that they are looking for a solution “to get Havila Capella back into operation as soon as possible.” The next cruise is scheduled to depart Bergen on April 23.
The second cruise ship, Havila Castor, is also due for delivery from the Tersan shipyard in Turkey with the ship’s maiden voyage scheduled for May 10 from Bergen. Havila noted that the ship remained owned by the shipyard until delivery but indicated that it expected to proceed with the delivery as planned while they were looking to refinance the operation. Two additional cruise ships are also due for delivery in the second half of 2022 and were also financed by agreements with GTLK.