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Hurtigruten Delays Maiden Voyage of New Expedition Cruise Ship Roald Amundsen
Hurtigruten Delays Maiden Voyage of New Expedition Cruise Ship Roald Amundsen
Hurtigruten Crew Members Test Positive for COVID-19
Exterior shot of MS Roald Amundsen (Photo: Brittany Chrusciel/Cruise Critic)

Hurtigruten Crew Members Test Positive for COVID-19

Hurtigruten Crew Members Test Positive for COVID-19
Exterior shot of MS Roald Amundsen (Photo: Brittany Chrusciel/Cruise Critic)

August 01, 2020

Aaron Saunders
Senior Editor, News and Features
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(Updated 5:45 p.m. EDT) -- Thirty-six crewmembers aboard Hurtigruten's Roald Amundsen have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the line.

The Norwegian small-ship expedition cruise and coastal ferry operator had initially confirmed four cases of COVID-19 aboard Roald Amundsen on Friday. By Saturday morning, that number had risen to 33 following the testing of all 158 crew aboard the expedition ship. On Saturday afternoon, Hurtigruten revised the numbers of COVID-positive crew to 36. The remaining 122 crewmembers have tested negative.

Roald Amundsen is docked in Tromso, Norway. No passengers are onboard. The line states it is in contact with passengers who were onboard the vessel's July 17 and July 24 sailings.

"We are now focusing all available efforts in taking care of our guests and colleagues," Hurtigruten's Vice President of Global Communications, Rune Thomas Ege, said. "We work closely with the Norwegian national and local health authorities for follow-up, information, further testing, and infection tracking."

Hurtigruten notes the initial four crewmembers confirmed positive for COVID-19 were isolated several days ago after showing other disease symptoms. All four previously showed no symptoms of COVID-19 and were routinely tested before being admitted Friday morning to hospital in Tromso.

Of particular note are the additional 32 crewmembers who tested positive for COVID-19 on August 1. All were asymptomatic. None of the additional crewmembers tested showed any signs of infection, according to the cruise line.

A total of 209 passengers were onboard the ship's July 17 sailing, with 178 passengers on the July 24 departure. In keeping with Norwegian health regulations, these individuals will now have to self-quarantine. Hurtigruten states it will assist passengers with transport, accommodation, food and other needs.

"The safety and well-being of our guests and crew is Hurtigruten's No. 1 priority," Ege said. "All crew members are closely monitored and screened daily. Non-Norwegian crew members are quarantined before boarding the ship, and non-European crew need to undergo two negative COVID-19 tests before even leaving their home country."

Hurtigruten was the first ocean cruise line to resume sailings in June following the voluntary suspension of sailings in March. The line has continued to offer essential cruise-ferry services along the Norwegian coast since the pandemic began, without incident.

Roald Amundsen was originally slated to sail to the remote archipelago of Svalbard, in Norway's far Arctic, on Friday. That voyage has now been canceled. The ship's next voyage is not scheduled until September.

The news is a setback for the cruise industry, which has tentatively been trying to restart in Europe since June. In July, German operators TUI and Hapag-Lloyd Cruises restarted select voyages while following all European Union health guidelines proposed for the cruise industry. German leisure line AIDA, a member of the Carnival Corporation family of cruise lines, plans to restart voyages later this month.

While an unfortunate setback, the outbreak aboard Roald Amundsen is traceable and detectable due to the nature of cruising. Despite health protocols in place, similar outbreaks of COVID-19 have occurred across the globe on airlines, and on land at restaurants, fitness centers, and other large gatherings of people including churches, which the New York Times reports are linked to over 650 cases in the United States.

Cruise Critic will update this story with additional information as it becomes available.

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