Hurtigruten’s MS Spitsbergen Denied Access to the Arctic by Russia

Author: Isabella Sullivan

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Updated on:

The ship was scheduled to cruise around the Arctic archipelago, with two cruises now cancelled

In a surprising turn of events, Russian authorities have blocked Hurtigruten‘s MS Spitsbergen from entering part of the Arctic, denying the cruise line the necessary permit to land.

Consequently, the cruise line has been forced to cancel two of its scheduled cruises around the stunning Franz Josef Land area, working to try and resolve the problem with the Russian authorities.

Discussing the block in an official statement, the expedition cruise line argued it did meet the requirements of the Polar Code, the international code for ships operating in Polar waters, and has previously been given permission to sail this part of the Arctic’s waters.

Hurtigruten Arctic
The ship has been denied access to part of the Arctic by Russian authorities

“Hurtigruten has engaged in a long-term dialogue with Russian authorities about the planned expedition cruises,” read the statement.

“Their last-minute decision comes as a surprise, further highlighted by the very vocal strategy from Russian authorities to attract more cruise traffic and new operators in general – and Hurtigruten in particular – to Russian Arctic waters.

“Hurtigruten apologises for the inconvenience this decision creates for our guests on these two voyages. We are currently in the process of reaching out to guests, offering compensations and alternative Hurtigruten expedition cruises.”

Hurtigruten’s fleet of expedition vessels sail around the Arctic

As a result of the block, Hurtigruten has had to cancel two round-trip voyages from Tromsø, sailing to Franz Josef Land. The first cancelled was to take place on 29 August, and the second to set sail on 9th September.

However, the line revealed it will “continue the dialogue with Russian authorities with regards to future voyages to Franz Josef Land.”

To try and compensate disappointed customers, Hurtigruten will be adding an extra sailing with MS Spitsbergen to Svalbard on the scheduled dates, with all booked own guests offered this sailing, along with compensation.

Those looking to explore Franz Josef Land with Hurtigruten will still be able to next year, with the next scheduled sailing in September 2020.

Helping to protect the fragile and striking landscapes it sails, Hurtigruten recently launched its new hybrid expedition cruise ship, MS Roald Amundsen.

Allowing guests to embark on expeditions in luxury, the swanky new ship is fuelled by both battery power and fuel, reducing harmful emissions and helping to make the cruise industry more sustainable.