Updated: Hurtigruten Crew Test Positive for COVID-19 on Norway Cruise
UPDATE: Hurtigruten provided an update on August 1: All 158 crew members on the Roald Amundsen have now been tested for possible coronavirus infection. 36 tested positive for COVID-19 (including the four on July 31), while 122 crew members tested negative. None of the crew members Hurtigruten says has shown any signs of the disease or symptoms of COVID-19. Hurtigruten reports it is also in contact with all the guests that were on board Roald Amundsen's July 17 and 24 cruises. The 209 guests from the first voyage and 178 guests from the July 24 departure will self-quarantine in line with Norwegian health authority regulations. Hurtigruten is assisting guests with transport, accommodation, food and other needs.
Crew members aboard a Hurtigruten cruise ship have tested positive for COVID-19 at the end of a week-long cruise to the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard. The still unfolding situation is being seen as the latest test for the cruise industry to resume operations. According to the cruise line, the situation is being managed with a pre-established series of protocols.
The expedition cruise ship Roald Amundsen sailed on a 7-day cruise from Tromsø, Norway on July 24 with 177 passengers and 160 crew. According to the company, at some point during the cruise, a number of crew members reported that they were not feeling well, and while they had no symptoms of COVID-19, under the company protocols, those crew members were immediately isolated.
When the cruise ship arrived in Tromso on July 31, the company says routine tests were administered under its protocols. Hurtigruten first reported that two crew members tested positive and in a later update increased the number to four crew members. The company says that they did not have symptoms, yet all four are reported to have been admitted to the University Hospital in Northern Norway (UNN).
“There was no reason to suspect COVID-19 when the ship docked in Tromsø based on the symptoms the four of the crew had,” said Hurtigruten communications manager Rune Thomas Ege in a prepared statement the company issued. “Fortunately, we received a quick response to the tests, so that both we and the Tromsø municipality were able to implement measures.”
All of the passengers that sailed on both the July 17 and July 24 cruises of the Roald Amundsen are being notified of the situation and under Norwegian regulations, they must self-isolate and will be tested for COVID-19. Hurtigruten stressed that as far as it was aware, no passengers had symptoms of COVID-19 or other illnesses while on board.
The Roald Amundsen, which had been scheduled to sail on another cruise on July 31 has canceled its cruise to the Arctic and remains in Tromso. No passengers are on board and the crew members have been quarantined and will also be tested for COVID-19.
Hurtigruten said that it is continuing to work closely with the Tromsø Municipality, the National Institute of Public Health (NIPH), UNN, and other national and local authorities to follow up with the crew and guests.
“The safety of our guests and employees is Hurtigruten's most important priority, and we have strict routines to prevent infection,” said Ege. “We have daily checks of everyone on board, both guests and crew. That these four cases were discovered and isolated early, without symptoms of COVID-19, shows that our measures and routines work.”
In June, Hurtigruten returned to service with its first cruises on the Norwegian coast and later added departures from Germany. Recently, they had highlighted that the return to service was proceeding and that by the end of September, 14 of the company’s 16 cruise ships are scheduled to be back in service. As part of the return to service, the Roald Amundsen is scheduled to begin on September 2 a series of cruises around the British Isles that would be the first cruises available to U.K. residents.