Skip to content

Norway just became the first place in the world to allow ocean cruises to resume. Will others follow?

June 17, 2020
6 min read
Norway just became the first place in the world to allow ocean cruises to resume. Will others follow?
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Ocean cruising is back, baby!

Well, sort of.

Norwegian cruise and ferry company Hurtigruten on Tuesday restarted its famed ferry service along the coast of Norway, which often draws traditional cruisers as well as locals traveling between Norwegian towns.

The company's 919-passenger Finnmarken, which is a hybrid between a ferry and a cruise ship, departed from Bergen in the southern part of Norway on an 11-night voyage up the coast to Kirkenes and back -- the traditional Hurtigruten ferry route.

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Three more Hurtigruten vessels will start on the route in the coming days.

While one small German river ship has resumed operations in Germany, and several more river ships are scheduled to start sailing again in Europe in the coming days, Hurtigruten is the first passenger line to resume ocean trips with tourists since coronavirus lockdowns began.

While not cruises in the traditional sense, Hurtigruten's coastal sailings are popular with vacationers who ride the ships up and down the coast of Norway to see the country's majestic fjords, mountains and historic towns.

Finnmarken and other Hurtigruten vessels that traditionally operate on the route resemble cruise ships with cabins, multiple restaurants, observation lounges, pools and fitness rooms.

Sign up for our daily newsletter
The Hurtigruten ship Finnmarken sails along Norway's coast. (Photo courtesy of Hurtigruten).
The 919-passenger Finnmarken is part-ferry, part-cruise ship and has cabins, restaurants, an observation deck and even a pool. (Photo courtesy of Hurtigruten).

Hurtigruten usually operates 11 ships on the route -- one departing from Bergen every day. They stop at 34 towns as they head northward and 33 as they return southward. Port stops often are brief, but passengers can disembark for a tour at one port and rejoin the ship at its next port.

For now, Hurtigruten's coastal voyages essentially only are open to tourists from Norway and a few neighboring countries. They launched just a day after Norway opened its borders to tourists from Denmark, Finland, Iceland and the Swedish island of Gotland. Until further notice, travelers from other countries arriving in Norway must undergo a home quarantine lasting 10 days.

About 200 people, mostly tourists, boarded Finnmarken in Bergen on Tuesday for its first sailing, a spokesperson told TPG. The line has instituted several protective measures to halt the spread of coronavirus onboard including social distancing requirements. It also has eliminated self-service buffet dining. Ship capacity is being capped at 50% of what is normal to reduce crowding.

Related: How to book a cruise with points and miles

Hurtigruten's return to service comes as another Norway-based company, SeaDream Yacht Club, prepares to start cruises along the Norway coast on Saturday. The small cruise company operates two small, yacht-like vessels that can carry up to 112 passengers.

While SeaDream is an international line that normally draws Americans, its new coastal sailings in Norway initially are aimed at a local Norwegian crowd that can reach the ships relatively easily.

SeaDream Yacht Club operates two 112-passenger vessels that have a yacht-like feel. (Photo courtesy of SeaDream Yacht Club).
SeaDream Yacht Club operates two 112-passenger vessels that have a yacht-like feel. (Photo courtesy of SeaDream Yacht Club).

Several other small ocean lines are planning to restart cruising in various parts of the world in the coming weeks. Two small cruise sellers that offer trips in French Polynesia, for instance, are about to restart operations. Still, for the most part, major cruise lines that operate ocean sailings have canceled voyages well into the summer and even the fall.

Just Tuesday, Norwegian Cruise Line and its sister brands, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Oceania Cruises, canceled nearly all sailings into early October. The move came just a week after Cunard Line canceled sailings into November. Silversea, Seabourn, Holland America, Princess Cruises and Windstar Cruises also already have announced they won't be resuming sailings with most ships until the fall at the earliest.

With travel restrictions still widespread across the world and many ports closed to cruise ships, the lines that do resume some sailings in the coming months are expected to stick to voyages aimed at local travelers who, in many cases, can reach ships by car or train without crossing borders.

In addition to resuming coastal voyages on its traditional ferry route, Hurtigruten plans to start scenic cruises to Norway out of Hamburg, Germany, on June 26 that are aimed specifically at the German market.

Scheduled to take place on the line's 530-passenger Fridtjof Nansen, an expedition-style ship, the new Hamburg-based trips will feature travel up the Norwegian coast without landings to North Cape -- known as the northernmost point in Europe that can be accessed by car. Passengers will be able to kayak and sightsee from small boats during the trip.

Another expedition-style Hurtigruten vessel, the 530-passenger Roald Amundsen, will sail seven- to 12-day voyages from Tromsø, Norway, to Norway-owned Svalbard in the Arctic starting in July.

Norway's outbreak of COVID-19 cases peaked in March and then came down sharply as the country implemented lockdown measures. The daily count of new cases of COVID-19 in the country has generally been below 100 since early April.

Additional resources for cruisers during the coronavirus outbreak:

Featured image by Oscar Farrera

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers

TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023