Hurtigruten, the Norwegian shipping line, has halted expedition cruises after 36 crew members and “several guests” aboard the Roald Amundsen tested positive for Covid-19.
They had arrived at the Arctic port of Tromso after a one-week voyage to the Svalbard archipelago, also known as Spitzbergen. There were 177 passengers on board.
The ship is not believed to have docked in the islands’ capital, Longyearbyen, or in any other settlements.
The firm’s chief executive, Daniel Skjeldam, said: “The safety and well-being of our guests and crew is Hurtigruten’s number one priority.
“We are now focusing all available efforts in taking care of our guests and colleagues. We are working closely with the Norwegian national and local health authorities for follow-up, information, further testing and infection-tracking.
“In light of the recent increase in new cases of Covid-19 globally, the only responsible choice is to suspend all expedition sailings until we are absolutely confident we can carry out our operations in line with all requirements from the authorities and with the even stricter requirements we have set for ourselves.”
Hurtigruten is continuing to operate its ferry link around the coast of Norway.
The firm’s move is the latest blow for cruising, which has suffered more than any other part of the travel industry from the coronavirus pandemic.
Very few cruise ships are sailing anywhere, and the Foreign Office warns UK citizens against cruising because of the risks to health.
In July, the Essex-based CMV line went into administration.