Blocked By Ice

Our goal : 100% reimbursement of the price paid IN ADDITION TO compensation for thwarted dreams

The Hurtigruten Offer

Hurtigruten has started to make a revised offer to a number of passengers.  It is to reimburse passengers 60% of the money paid to Hurtigruten only.  In other words, if you paid separately for your flights to Montteal,  and from Copenhagen back to your home country, you will receive no contribution towards the cost of those flights.

That is the current offer.  It is in full and final settlement.

However, in North America, they are offering something different, namely 60% refund of the money paid to Hurtigruten, IN ADDITION TO a 50% discount on a Hurtigruten cruise to Antarctica.  If you add 60% and 50% together, the offer could be valued at 110%, as the price of a cruise to Antarctica is about the same as a cruise to the North West Passage.  That is CLOSER to our objective of 100% plus compensation for other losses, but it applies only in North America, and not as far as we know in Europe.

We do NOT think that is an acceptable settlement.  We all booked to visit the North West Passage; the Hurtigruten brochure or website did not mention any risks about cancellation due to ice.  Hurtigruten could have cancelled the cruise before we left Montreal as they already knew without any doubt that :

1.     Six cruise ships had already cancelled – Vavilov, Akademik Ioffe, the Bremer, the Boreal, the Soléal and the Ocean Adventurer

2.     The Westbound cruise by the Fram through the North West Passage had already been abandoned

3.     No cruise ships had traversed the North West Passage in 2018

4.     Only 9 cruise ships have ever navigated the North West Passage in history

5.     In 2016 and 2017, the ships which did navigate the North West Passage were all escorted by an Ice Breaker.  In the case of the Serenity, TWO ice Breakers were required, one the RRS Ernest Shackleton and the other a Canadian Coast Guard Ice Breaker

6.     After the navigation by the Crystal Serenity in 2017, the company announced that no further cruises would be undertaken by the Serenity in future due to the ice conditions.

7.     The Ice Charts from the Canadian Coast Guard all indicated from the end of July that the North West passage could not be navigated

8.     Even if the ice had started to break up, no responsible Captain would have risked taking his ship through the North West Passage when Cambridge was already closed.   If the ice had closed again behind Fram after entering the North West Passage, there would have been no escape.  The Fram would have been iced up until next summer.  She would not have been able to complete her journey from Greenland down the coast of Canada and the USA to Argentina to take up duty on the Antarctica service in December.  Remember, Sir John Franklin spent four years trapped in the ice, and eventually died there.

9.     The question of the ice breaking up is not relevant.  Cambridge Bay was closed due to the wind and currents bringing pack ice down from the Northern Arctic, where it piled up against the shoreline.  If it had broken up to create a passage along the shore, it would have just left room for more pack ice to replace it.  Hurtigruten would never have taken the risk of being BLOCKED BY ICE !

Hurtigruten have never sailed the North West Passage before.  They were undertaking a huge risk, but they never warned their customers that they were risking their life savings.

From a legal perspective, Hurtigruten have no defence against the EU Directive on Package Holidays which was introduced as long ago as 1992.  Hurtigruten knew what their legal responsibilities were.  They cannot plead exceptional weather conditions, because ice in the North West Passage is normal throughout the year.  That is the natural state of those waters.  They cannot plead that the failure of the ice to break up was not foreseeable – it did not break up last year.  It was a foreseeable event because it was not uncharacteristic.

There are many legal arguments and a wealth of evidence gathered by Blocked By Ice which demonstrates that Hurtigruten knew before we left Montreal that the Fram could not navigate the North West Passage.  That is why they cancelled the visit to Cambridge Bay on 24th August, as was confirmed on the Cambridge Bay website.

Blocked By Ice has sufficient insurance cover already in principle to fund Group litigation against Hurtigruten for the recovery of 100% of all money paid plus compensation for other losses.  That remains our objective.  We cannot advise you what to do if you receive the 60% offer; that has to be your decision.  But we are confident that we will win and that we will secure 100% reimbursement plus compensation.

Lawyers have already been instructed to prepare a formal legal opinion. That will take two to three weeks.  What you might consider doing is to wait until that formal legal position is available, which we will share with everyone, and on the basis of that, decide what to do for the future.