Tag Archives: Hurtigruten

CHINA BUYING HURTIGRUTEN – LEGIT POSSIBILITY OR NOT? A columnist set off a media firestorm by declaring it a ‘realistic scenario,’ but is it just idle clickbait speculation?

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An analyst snagged national headlines Thursday by suggesting China might buy Hurtigruten in the wake of the company’s COVID-19 scandal in an effort to further the country’s goal of establishing a major presence in Svalbard. Such a presence, along with that of countries like Russia, has for years been among Norway’s top security worries – but is the columnist offering a legitimate scenario or merely clickbait?

On one hand, we’ve been here before with China and large purchases in recent years, and it ended up being it ended up being something of a joke. On the other, another author who’s a foremost expert on Svalbard and Arctic conflicts declares “Hurtigruten will be sold, sooner or later” – although he suggests Russia might be the country more ideally suited to make a Svalbard power play.

‘DEVASTATING’ INVESTIGATION: Roald Amundsen doctors treated sick crew who had COVID-19 on July 21 – ten days before Hurtigruten reported first ‘known’ cases to officials

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A formal investigation of the COVID-19 outbreak on Hurtigruten’s Roald Amundsen during two one-week voyages in Svalbard adds more findings described as “devastating” to an already long list of violations and questionable decisions, including crew members sick with COVID-19 who went unreported ten days before the outbreak was reported to authorities.

France and other countries added to Norway’s ‘red list’ as of Saturday, may affect only cruise to Svalbard now scheduled

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The map of “red list” Schengen area/EEA countries banned from sending travellers to Norway due to their COVID-19 situations will change on Saturday, with France and the Czech Republic joining others on the list, meaning a voyage by a French company that is the only one still operating expedition cruises in Svalbard may face serious difficulties with a trip scheduled later this month.

COVID-19 cases from Roald Amundsen rises to 53; French luxury ship continuing Svalbard cruises beginning this weekend; trade minister discusses tourism crisis during visit

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All cruise ships with more than 100 people may be banned, but a French company is still planning to dock a “luxury” ship in Longyearbyen this weekend and advertising a subsequent voyage later this month.

Compagnie du Ponant’s Le Boréal, with a capacity for 140 crew and 250 passengers, is the only expedition cruise ship now traveling in the archipelago and is scheduled to arrive at Longyearbyen Harbor on Saturday. Because the voyage started before the new nationwide limit was imposed Monday there are more than 100 people board, but the passengers are being allowed to disembark for their plane trip home because there are no diagnosed COVID-19 cases on the ship, according to The Governor of Svalbard.

Listicle: 14 reasons the COVID-19 outbreak aboard the Hurtigruten cruise ship Roald Amundsen is controversial

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(Illustration courtesy of Filter Nyheter)

Editor’s note: The following is inspired by, expands on and updates an article by NRK with our own reporting, plus other global media. It summarizes the growing list of controversies surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak aboard Hurtigruten’s Roald Amundsen during two week-long voyages in Svalbard in July. The outbreak was publicly announced when the ship docked in Tromsø on July 31, but company officials knew about the problem two days earlier and attempted to cover it up. Furthermore, nearly all aspects of the outbreak from ignoring crew concerns about safety precautions to lack of cooperation with health authorities to allowing infected passengers off the ship unmonitored have come to light. A week after the initial reports, at least 41 crew members and 21 passengers are infected with the virus.

1. Employees from the Philippines went straight to work instead of mandatory quarantine

Most of infected crew members infected are from the Philippines. Under Norwegian COVID-19 regulations they should have been quarantined for 10 days upon entering the country. Hurtigruten CEO Daniel Skjeldam said the workers were tested twice for the virus in their home country before departing and “international rules are such that they are quarantined on board the ship after arrival. That quarantine means that you can participate in working on board, but not go ashore.” But experts on laws and regulations at sea say Skjeldam’s interpretation is wrong.

‘COVER-UP’ OF COVID-19 OUTBREAK: E-mails show Hurtigruten ‘doesn’t want this to come out’; local tourism officials worry alarm about Svalbard resulting from incomplete media coverage

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An e-mail declaring ““Hurtigruten doesn’t want this to come out, they want to have control of this themselves,” regarding COVID-19 infections aboard the Roald Amundsen is among the evidence escalating accusations against the company about its handling of the situation to new levels, as authorities and Norwegian media pursue an increasing list of violations involving its employees.

The outbreak resulted in Norway cancelling all cruise ships carrying more than 100 people for two weeks and global alarm about cruise tourism resuming during the pandemic. It is also heightening the already immense concern about Svalbard’s tourism, with local leaders saying the vast international media coverage mentioning the archipelago is omitting the fact the area remains free of known cases and the infected ship did not making any port stops while here.

COVID-19 outbreak on Roald Amundsen revives global cruising fears; Hurtigurten stops all voyages due to ‘internal procedures’ failures, police and health officials investigating

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The COVID-19 outbreak aboard Hurtigruten’s Roald Amundsen voyaging in Svalbard the latter of half of  July that as of Monday has infected at least 40 crew and passengers, and put nearly 400 more under quarantine orders, is reviving fears of the virus locally – but spreading even more ill feeling globally about cruise liners resuming their voyages.

Hurtigruten, facing a barrage of hindsight criticism, announced Monday it is halting all expedition sailings until further notice due to “failure in several of our internal procedures.” Norwegian police and health agencies also announced they are investigating the company’s actions.

AT LEAST 35 CREW MEMBERS ABOARD HURTIGRUTEN SHIP NOW HAVE COVID-19 AFTER SVALBARD VOYAGE; QUARANTINE FOR ALL PASSENGERS FROM TRIP AND PREVIOUS ONE ORDERED AFTER ONE TESTS POSITIVE

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(This is a breaking story in progress and is being updated frequently as details are known.)

At least 35 crew members aboard Hurtigruten’s Roald Amundsen during a voyage to Svalbard that ended Friday have tested positive for COVID-19, one day after officials initially reported two employees tested positive shortly before the ship docked.

In addition, all passengers from the trip and one the previous week during voyages in Svalbard since July 17 must be quarantined at the order of  Norwegian health authorities. One passenger from the first voyage tested positive for the virus on Wednesday.

The initial reports of infects raised questions locally and globally – which are almost certain to intensify now – about whether cruises were allowed to resume too soon after a ban on them in Norway was enacted due to the pandemic.

AHOY! FREE NINE-DAY CRUISE-OF-THE-CENTURY NOW DEPARTING: NRK’s ‘Minute-By-Minute’ features non-stop TV/online virtual voyage around archipelago starting Friday

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It offers all of the scenery and none of the risk of being eaten by polar bears. Of course, it also offers none of the fresh air and thrill of actually being on a nine-day cruise ship trip around Svalbard … but it’s free and visitors can embark, disembark and even repeat favorite parts of the voyage as often as they like.

Svalbard Daily Planet for the week of Aug. 11-18, 2019

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More tensions with Russia as a key ocean research project and a much-anticipated Hurtigruten cruise east of Svalbard are in peril, weather delays the removal of the wrecked Northguider trawler from north Svalbard, Svalbard called “good practices” example as cruises to other small Arctic communities cause problems, start of annual whaling season brings annual protests, Store Norske coal to aid climate research before mines are dismantled, and more stories from media around the world you may have missed.