In a sign of some relaxation on the effective moratorium on cruises in the past three months, Norway has said that it would be allowing expedition cruise operations to the northern island of Svalbard, but with strict new regulations.
Ships will only be able to carry half of their maximum capacity. They will have to carry extra medical staff and will also require health certificates for passengers.
The reopening of the cruise service will take place within Norway’s existing national rules for entry and mandatory quarantine obligations. These state that during a phased approach residents in Norway – and from June 15th residents from Nordic countries (but not Sweden) – can travel to Svalbard. That will limit the number of potential passengers.
Each expedition cruise operator planning to offer a service will have to develop and apply individual plans, which then will be considered by the Governor of Svalbard, said the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO).
AECO executive director, Frigg Jørgensen said that “we are thrilled that the Norwegian Government and local stakeholders are demonstrating determination, willingness and cooperation to open for expedition cruises in Svalbard again, which is a vital contributor to local tourism economies”.