Hurtigruten Expands Cruising Including First Departures from Germany
In June, Hurtigruten became the first ocean-going cruise line to resume service with its coastal voyages from Bergen, Norway sailing north along the coast and crossing the Arctic Circle to the northern port of Kirkenes. While travel restrictions are still impacting the line’s service, they are continuing to expand including cruises departing from Germany.
When the first 12-day cruise departed on June 16 aboard the Finnmarken there were only 250 mostly Norwegian passengers aboard a ship that can accommodate 900 passengers. Food was only served at tables, temperature screening cameras are placed around the ship, and passengers are asked to maintain social distances, but the cruising had resumed. Three other ships, the Midnatsol, Richard With, and Trollfjord also returned to service on the Norwegian coast.
Hurtigruten also made a surprise move to restart cruising this week from Germany. Its cruise ship the Fridtjof Nansen sailed from Hamburg, Germany with approximately 150 passengers bound for the Norwegian coast. However, with the travel restrictions still in place passengers can only look and not land at the ports. During the 14-day cruise, Hurtigruten hopes to take advantage of the expedition nature of the ship, using the Zodiac boats and kayaks to provide opportunities to explore the natural landscape of the Norway coast without actually getting onshore.
While these cruises offer one of the more unique experiences, they again are providing vacationers the chance to travel and experience nature. Hurtigruten is hopeful that the travel restrictions might soon be relaxed so that it can make some actual port calls during the cruise.
Hurtigruten also plans to expand its summer cruise offerings announcing plans to return two more of its cruise ships to service. The Roald Amundsen will begin offering coastal voyages while the smaller Spitsbergen will launch cruises from Svalbard north into the Arctic. Currently, the travel restrictions will mostly limit the passengers to Norwegians while the company prepares to expand the marketing as Norway opens its borders.
“I take great pride in knowing that Hurtigruten is currently operating and safely sailing the Norwegian fjords in this special time of history which is a salute to our enduring legacy. With the pandemic as a backdrop, we are again navigating unchartered waters,” said Daniel Skjeldam, Hurtigruten CEO.
Hurtigruten recognizes that the resumption of cruising will come slowly with its first cruises limited mostly to a single nationality and later more regionally before the international market can resume. Seeking to build on its regional strategy, the company also announced that starting in 2021, they will be offering year-round cruises from Dover, Hamburg, and Bergen to explore the Norwegian coast
“We have seen an increasing demand for closer-to-home departures,” explained Skjeldam. “We expect this to further increase in the wake of COVID-19. To give our guests even more flexibility, we have decided to expand our offering with year-round expedition cruise programs from both the UK and Germany.”
Industry observers expect that more cruise lines will follow a similar model as people become more comfortable traveling and restrictions are relaxed.