Tiit Pruuli, leader of the Antarctic Maritime Expedition, said that owners of the ship the Admiral Bellingshausen had decided the planned Arctic trip would be canceled and the ship would be returning home as soon as possible.
Pruuli said there is nothing else that can be done during the coronavirus crisis. "It is very difficult, if not impossible, to enter different country's port today and to plan big expeditions in difficult waters," Pruuli wrote on social media.
The Admiral Bellingshausen is currently situated off the Peruvian coast, about 4 degrees from the Equator, and is moving north due in gentle winds.
"We have been confirmed by the Panamanian authorities that in early April the channel [Panama canal] will be open to us. We have a hired an agent who will arrange the technical passage of the canal, provide the team with food, water, fuel and necessary medical equipment. The team itself will not be allowed to land," wrote Pruuli.
In February regional newspaper Saarte Hääl wrote that after reaching Antarctica the owners of the yacht had decided to sail to the Arctic. President Kersti Kaljulaid also met with the ship's crew, who are from Saaremaa, and spent time on the Admiral Bellingshausen during her visit to Antarctica in January.
Editor: Helen Wright