Laid-Up Hurtigruten Cruise Ships Hired for Mission Impossible 7
In a bid to avoid delays due to COVID-19, the production company Truenorth has chartered the use of the Hurtigruten cruise ships Fridtjof Nansen and Versteralen in order to house the cast and crew of the new movie Mission Impossible 7. Actor Tom Cruise is believed to be contributing to the cost.
The new Mission Impossible movie is filming in Norway's rugged Møre og Romsdal district through September, and the hundreds of people involved in the process will be staying on board. The team is eager to resume work after filming was halted due to the pandemic in February, an inside source told UK tabloid The Sun, and the cruise ship housing is intended to facilitate a safe return to work.
The arrangement has received a green light despite one former Fritdjof Nansen crewmember recently testing positive for COVID-19 after returning to the Philippines. Norwegian health authorities have been informed, and no one on board the vessel has reported symptoms or tested positive, according to Hurtigruten. Another round of tests will be conducted for the other crew on board.
The plan may have an additional problem: two Norwegian service sector unions argue that the two ships are now acting as hotels, which would make their foreign crewmembers not seafarers but staff - and therefore working in Norway illegally. "It is completely unsustainable that it should be possible to only dock a boat with a wage level down to [$3.30] per hour," union leader Johnny Hansen said in a statement carried by Newsweek.
Hurtigruten has been no stranger to controversy in recent months. Shortly after resuming service in July, the line's cruise ship Roald Amundsen was sidelined due to a COVID-19 outbreak on board. Her passengers were not informed of the first known infection, and they were permitted to disembark two days later in the Norwegian city of Tromso. Many had already reached the airport and were on their way home by the time that word got out, and a contact tracing effort was launched across Norway. 70 positive cases were ultimately identified.
The firm's chief operating officer has been suspended, and multiple investigations into the company policies and circumstances leading up to the incident are under way. All of Hurtigruten's non-coastal passenger operations have been halted.