TALLINN – Listed Estonian shipper Tallink Grupp on Thursday announced that it is forced to bring forward the suspension of its Tallinn-Helsinki route cruise vessel Silja Europa due to the rapid spread of the new omicron variant of COVID-19 and new travel restrictions imposed by the Finnish government announced this week.
The company was due to suspend the popular cruise vessel on Jan. 10, 2022 due to limited bookings during the company’s low season in January-February, which have taken a further plunge during the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the recent rapid increase in omicron variant infections and the Finnish government this week announcing plans to pull the emergency brake in the country to stem the increase of cases, the suspension has been pulled forward by nine days and the vessel will now be suspended from Jan. 1, 2022.
"We have no option in this situation with new restrictions but to bring the planned temporary suspension of the vessel forward as passengers are already getting in touch with us following the announcement from the Finnish authorities and cancelling bookings. Such decisions by our authorities, however minor they may seem, have immediate and far-reaching implications on our operations, so we must act quickly and decisively when the decisions are made with follow with our own course of action to avoid losses," Paavo Nogene, CEO of Tallink Grupp, said.
"It is not our preferred way of doing business and we regret disappointing our loyal customers who have booked their trips and have had them cancelled perhaps many times already, but we are in a difficult position and must continuously think of the bigger picture and long-term implications on our business when new restrictions are announced. We will work hard to look after the customers whose trips are impacted and to ensure every single one of them gets an alternative solution that is satisfactory for them," Nogene added.
Tallink’s customer contact teams are already getting in touch with customers affected by this decision to offer alternative options and solutions.
All passengers wishing to travel between Tallinn and Helsinki are welcome on board Tallink shuttle vessels Star and Megastar operating on this route during the period of suspension. Passengers on board Star and Megastar will also be able to take the opportunity and take COVID-19 antigen tests on board for 39 euros per test.
Silja Europa is scheduled to return to the Tallinn-Helsinki route and daily regular traffic on March 10, 2022, although some shorter operation periods and special cruises are currently scheduled also during the suspension period.