The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises citizens exercise caution when considering a cruise in the Arctic.
In a statement on the website, officials write, “you should be aware that search and rescue capabilities are limited due to the large distances between populated areas.”
Moreover, they warn search and rescue ships’ transport and medical care is only basic, and cannot offer advanced life-support.
“Air or medical evacuation could also take time. There are uncharted waters in some fjords, and water temperatures can be very low even during summer months. Emergency medical facilities may be limited in number, and in types of services offered,” reads the alert.
Tens of Arctic voyages, some using ships with passenger capacity into the thousands, are planned to Arctic region-located Svalbard and surrounding areas. Other travellers choose to make the journey in small craft, reports The Barents Observer.
British officials also advise their subjects to check the relevant experience and operational records of vessels’ captains and crews operating in the Arctic.
When asked, Norwegian transport and cruise company Hurtigruten representatives said safety comes first regarding their priorities.
“Operations in the waters we sail are regulated by international laws and regulations. We operate in compliance with all relevant IMO regulations (International Maritime Organisation), also the International Safety Management Code (ISM Code) issued by the IMO,” says communications advisor Stein Lillebo.
Commenting on the matter, he tells The Foreigner that, “Different nationalities have different opinions as to what is safe, but we have been running Arctic cruises since 1893, apart from during the First and Second World Wars.”
“We also find it to be quite general, as there is quite a big gap between the search and rescue capabilities of Tromsø and East Spitsbergen, say,” declares Mr Lillebo, stating the company expects the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s advice will be heard, he declares,
“We would not run operations in these waters if safety was not ensured. This goes both for on board safety and search and rescue capabilities in the waters we sail. Any form of travel involves some element of risk, but as a responsible operator we make substantial risk reducing efforts, such as itinerary planning, safety equipment, ship design, education and training, and navigational aids.”
He concludes, saying, “We are confident that we have adequate safety precautions and equipment on board in accordance with international rules and regulations.”
According to him, the number of British and American passengers is increasing rapidly.
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