The Norway-based cruise line that boasted last month about being the first to return to international cruising, has halted operations after 41 people tested positive for coronavirus on one of its ships.
In a statement Monday, a spokesperson for Hurtigruten, the company that owns the cruise line, said 36 crew members and five passengers on the M.S. Roald Amundsen have tested positive for the coronavirus. Those people have been admitted to a hospital in the Norwegian city of Tromsø, where the ship is docked, but health officials worry that others could have been infected during the ship’s first two excursions.
The ship embarked on two weeklong trips starting July 17 and July 25, carrying nearly 400 passengers across both trips. As the AP notes, though, the ship “acts like a local ferry, traveling from port to port along Norway’s western coast,” with passengers joining or departing along the way. This has led to concerns about the virus spreading further in a country where just over 250 have died from COVID-19.
“We expect that more infections will be found in connection to this outbreak,” an official with the Norwegian Institute of Public Health said over the weekend.
It’s little surprise that a cruise ship would become a hot spot for coronavirus infection. Early in the pandemic, the vessels were often in the news for the major outbreaks that happened onboard, leading to an industry-wide shutdown. In the U.S., the CDC currently has a “no-sail order” in place for waters under U.S. jurisdiction. It expires at the end of September.
But that hasn’t stopped all on-water activity. Over the weekend, the owners and captain of a party boat that took more than 170 guests onto the East River were arrested for violating New York City and State social-distancing rules.