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Expedition cruise line Hurtigruten has announced the suspension of its cruise operations due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The operations along the coast of Norway will be suspended until 19 April, while the Expedition cruises will be suspended until 28 April.

The company said that the ships will be removed from service in a phased manner for a safe and smooth stop in operations.

Hurtigruten CEO Daniel Skjeldam said: “The choice to temporarily suspend operations was a difficult decision to make, and it is an emotional moment for me and the entire Hurtigruten team. This decision will affect all of us – our guests, our colleagues onboard, our offices around the world, the small and large communities we visit, and the hundreds of small and large vendors, suppliers, friends and partners who live by and with us.

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“At the same time, I firmly believe it is the only responsible decision in the extraordinary crisis the world is currently facing.”

The company has also offered two ships to the Norwegian Government to provide necessary supplies and goods to the communities that Hurtigruten provides.

Last week, the company suspended its operations in the US for 30 days and offered free of charge change of bookings for passengers.

Skjeldam added: “After more than 127 years of operation, we have learned from our past experiences weathering storms such as wars, recessions and outbreaks. While this is a temporary setback for us, for the local communities and you as our valued explorers, I am confident in two things.

“That this decision is both right and responsible, and that Hurtigruten and you fellow explorers will hit the ground running as soon as we resume operations, offering you the journey of a lifetime with all the Hurtigruten difference.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has so far killed more than 8,800 and infected over 218,000 people around the world.