Stornoway’s cruise season has come to an effective end, with news yesterday (Monday 3 August) that the only newly-booked vessel confirmed for this summer is locked down with an outbreak of Covid-19 aboard.

The Norwegian expedition vessel MS Roald Amundsen, announced on 14 July as a new visitor for Stornoway in September, yesterday confirmed a significant outbreak of the virus among its crew.

Now all vessels in Hurtigruten’s fleet have been tied up and the Norwegian government has declared a 14-day ban on cruising, while all UK cruises by the company  – including the visit to Stornoway – have been cancelled.

Cruise visits to Stornoway are now unlikely to resume for the rest of the 2020 season, with almost all of the 19 remaining calls in the schedule for the port cancelled by their operators.

Even where not officially cancelled, experience from earlier in the season shows that some ships will simply not show up for a booked call.

Hurtigruten said yesterday: “36 crew members and several guests have tested positive for COVID-19 in the outbreak on board the expedition cruise ship MS Roald Amundsen.

“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.”

All 158 crew members on board the vessel were tested, after four crew members displayed symptoms of Coronavirus. Hurtigruten said today (Tuesday) that 36 have tested positive for COVID-19, while 122 are confirmed as negative. Six guests have tested positive.

The ship, which is currently docked in Tromsø, Norway with no guests on board, had recently completed two back-to-back tours into the Arctic. 400 passengers have now entered self-isolation in line with Norwegian health regulations.

As welovestornoway.com reported in July (https://www.welovestornoway.com/index.php/articles-auto-3/17493-cruise-visit-confirmed) Hurtigruten has gained a reputation within the travel industry for their robust ‘accelerated return’ to cruising. They had planned to have 14 of their fleet of 16 ships cruising by the end of September.

The only vessel now remaining in the schedule for Stornoway is the German luxury yacht Hanse Explorer, due to call in to Stornoway on 30 August with 12 charter guests and their service crew aboard.

Pictures show MS Roald Amundsen tied up in Tromso and the season’s only possible cruise visitor, the 12-passenger luxury yacht Hanse Explorer.