Hurtigruten cancels Jan-March Antarctica cruises because of pandemic

OSLO, Oct 22 (Reuters) – Norway’s Hurtigruten has called off its remaining Antarctica cruises from January to March next year and will reduce capacity along the Norwegian coast because of a lack of international travellers, the company said on Thursday.

The cruise line announced in September that it had cancelled all remaining cruises this year because of the rise in COVID-19 cases in Europe and the Americas.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is still affecting large parts of the world and travel restrictions and quarantine requirements are widespread and changing rapidly,” the company said on Thursday.

Demand for its expedition cruises for the second half of 2021 and into 2022, however, is strong and many customers have chosen to postpone rather than cancel, it added.

In mid-June the company was the first cruise operator worldwide to return an oceangoing cruise ship to service after the coronavirus outbreak, touting reduced passenger capacity, social distancing and strict rules on hygiene.

However, dozens of crew and passengers on a Hurtigruten ship tested positive for the virus after an Arctic cruise in July, triggering a police investigation into the circumstances.

The company said that only two ships will operate a limited service between Bodoe and Kirkenes in northern Norway in November. (Reporting by Victoria Klesty Editing by David Goodman)

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