A start-up rival to Hurtigruten on Norwegian coastal sailings has postponed its launch for a second time due to Covid-19 shipyard disruption.

Havila Voyages confirmed that the first two ships in its fleet have been delayed until the summer.

Havila Castor and Havila Capella are now expected to be delivered to Norway from the Tersan shipyard in Turkey at the end of May or early June. It will then take several weeks to prepare the 179-cabin vessels, due to use the world’s largest battery packs to cut emissions and noise, for operation.

The line announced in September that its first two ships would not be ready for the start of 2021 as originally planned as the coronavirus pandemic had affected the shipyard for six months.

Havila Voyages chief executive Arild Myrvoll, commenting on the latest set-back, said: “I’m deeply disappointed that the ships cannot sail sooner and would like to apologise to those guests and employees who were hoping to sail with us before then.

“Sadly, the on-going situation with coronavirus has delayed delivery of some fixtures and fittings and also led to fewer workers being able to work on-site at the Tersan shipyard.

“In any other year, a delay of any length would prove very challenging. However, with the current travel restrictions to and within Norway, we do not anticipate strong demand until the summer, by which time we expect to be sailing.

“It is, however, important to emphasise that the coronavirus pandemic is still ongoing, and the new delivery schedule is based on the current situation.

“We will of course continue to monitor the situation. We are incredibly excited about the launch of Havila Voyages and look forward to welcoming guests on-board later this summer.”

UK country manager Matthew Valentine added: “We know UK holidaymakers are keen to travel as soon as possible and have seen strong demand for our voyages. I’d like to thank our UK trade partners for their support and look forward to working with them more over the coming months.”

The family-owned Norwegian shipping company is contacting those with bookings who have been affected.