Expedition cruise company Hurtigruten will not be able to sail its ship MS Spitsbergen into Russian waters above the Arctic Circle because of the denial of a sailing permit by Russian authorities.
The 250-guest Spitsbergen was scheduled to sail a 15-day voyage roundtrip from Tromsø to explore Franz Josef Land, a Russian territory, but was forced to cancel plans. According to Hurtigruten’s Anne Marit Bjørnflaten, the cruise company’s SVP sustainability and public affairs, Hurtigruten was told that a Russian exercise in the area prevented the sailing application from being approved.
“MS Spitsbergen meets the requirements of the Polar Code and has permission to operate in this part of the Arctic. Despite this fact, and at the last minute, the final remaining permits from Russian authorities have unexpectedly been denied and we have not been granted the necessary final sailing permission to Franz Josef Land,” Bjørnflaten said.
According to Hurtigruten, the decision was unexpected, and the cruise line will continue to talk to Russian authorities about future sailings to Franz Josef Land.
“Hurtigruten has engaged in a long-term dialogue with Russian authorities about the planned expedition cruises. 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,” Bjørnflaten added.
In the meantime, Hurtigruten is reaching out to all impacted guests, offering compensation and other options to sail with the line.