Two rescue flights returned to Australia this morning carrying 245 passengers from Hurtigruten’s Roald Amundsen and the luxury Scenic Eclipse. 

The final flight for Hurtigruten’s Roald Amundsen departed the Falkland Islands Thursday afternoon local time, bringing more than 100 Australian doctors and dentists home.

The line managed to redirect the ship to Port Stanley in the Falkland Islands after the Chilean authorities closed their borders. Hurtigruten was unable to disembark guests at the planned port of Punta Arenas, Chile last week.

This also applied to the Scenic Eclipse which was unable to disembark passengers in South America.

A total of 245 people arrived back on Australian soil this morning.

A statement from NSW Health said: ” All passengers are subject to the requirement for 14 day isolation under Ministerial direction. This includes those who were able to safety return to their place of residence as well as around 150 people who are in quarantine in two Sydney hotels.

“The passengers were from the Roald Amundsen and Scenic Eclipse cruises which were unable to berth in South America.

“NSW Health will assist should there be any further need for COVID-19 testing or medical care requiring transport to hospital.”

According to Hurtigruten, 122 passengers departed the Falklands for Australia yesterday, March 26.

The guests were on board for a 17-day Antarctic expedition cruise as part of a medical conference by Unconventional Conventions, including leading Australian medical professionals.

“On Thursday – 10 days after the original disembarkation plan – 378 guests of MS Roald Amundsen are now safely on their way back to their home countries,” said the line in a statement.

“A week after Hurtigruten temporarily suspended operations, the last guests are now on their way home.

“There have not been any confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 on any Hurtigruten ships, including MS Roald Amundsen. The ship, her guests and crew had been on an Antarctica cruise since the end of February – probably as far away as possible from any possible source of infection.”

The line also commended the ‘resilience, good humour and unwavering spirit’ that the guests on board have shown as the team worked round-the-clock to get them home.

“We would like to thank our wonderful guests for maintaining a great explorer’s attitude as we have had to change our disembarkation plans. We appreciate many have been keen to get home to loved ones. Our guests’ resilience, good humour and unwavering spirit has been a great support for our crew and to all of us at Hurtigruten,“ says Damian Perry, Managing Director Hurtigruten Asia Pacific.

“As the global effects of the pandemic hit the entire travel industry, we made a firm promise to our guests: We will do everything in our power to get you safely home. As the guests of MS Roald Amundsen have disembarked and are on their way home, we have fulfilled this promise,” says Hurtigruten CEO Daniel Skjeldam.

Hurtigruten has been cooperating with several authorities and embassies in order to secure a safe journey home for the group of guests that included more than 20 nationalities, says the line.

“We are very thankful to our long-time partners and friends on the Falkland Islands, especially the Falkland Islands Government, for their professionalism and support in developing a coordinated disembarkation plan. This has been a truly global cooperation. There were guests of more than 20 nationalities on board MS Roald Amundsen alone,” says Skjeldam.

“We have been exploring the Falkland Islands for close to 20 years, taking our guests to one of the most spectacular places on our planet. We are really looking forward to returning, as we will explore again,” says Skjeldam.

MS Roald Amundsen was the last Hurtigruten ship with guests on board at sea. Hurtigruten’s fleet of small custom-built expedition ships will now be berthed at ports until the temporary suspension of operations is lifted.