TORONTO — Hurtigruten Norway is making a big push into the North American market – and Canada is very much part of those plans.
The niche cruise company best known for its ‘Norwegian Coastal Express’ – that has more or less operated the exact same route and stops for the past 130 years – says it’s very committed to the Canadian market as it prepares to launch brand new premium sailings along the Norwegian coast in summer 2023.
The two new itineraries, sailing on the newly refurbished MS Trollfjord, are bound to make waves with Canadian travellers looking for something special for their next cruise.
The two new premium sailings also mark the biggest product evolution in the company’s 130-year history. Hurtigruten Norway’s team in Canada – now five people strong since hiring began pre-pandemic – want to make sure Canadian travel advisors, and their clients, know all about the new product offering.
With that in mind, Hurtigruten Norway’s CEO, Hedda Felin, was joined by Carly Biggart, VP Sales, North America (who is based in Toronto), for an industry dinner event last night at EPOCH restaurant at The Ritz Carlton, Toronto, for a look at all that’s new with Hurtigruten Norway.
SOMETHING SPECIAL ON NORWAY’S COAST
For some clients, an unforgettable cruise means decadence, opulence, crystal chandeliers and butler service.
For others, it means an authentic experience, dedication to the destination, and unique, off the beaten track ports of call.
Hurtigruten Norway puts itself firmly in the second camp.
The company built its legacy on regular scheduled service along the coast of Norway, bringing mail and provisions (and passengers) to the villages and towns dotting the shoreline.
While Hurtigruten Norway has come a long way in 130 years, it still carries mail and provisions to many of its 34 ports, just as it has since 1893. That access to so many ports of call gives passengers onboard Hurtigruten Norway’s seven ships an immersive Norway experience that can’t be found anywhere else.
“We don’t use the word luxury,” Felin told Travelweek. “It might be misinterpreted. What we offer is very authentic.”
On the newly refurbished 566-passenger MS Trollfjord this summer, passengers can sail both of Hurtigruten Norway’s two new premium itineraries: the 16-day Svalbard Express roundtrip from Bergen, and the 14-day North Cape Express from Oslo to Bergen or vice versa.
The Svalbard Express will debut in June, while the North Cape Express is timed specifically for the Northern Lights season (autumn, winter, and spring). The first sailing for the North Cape Express will be Sept. 26.
Both new routes are available as full roundtrip journeys, or shorter half journeys (both southbound and northbound), similar to the Norwegian Coastal Express.
“DRASTICALLY DIFFERENT” FROM NORWEGIAN COASTAL EXPRESS
Travel advisors familiar with Hurtigruten Norway’s Norwegian Coastal Express will find that the Svalbard Express and North Cape Express voyages are “drastically different”, according to the company.
Sailings on the beautifully renovated MS Trollfjord will offer …
- Half-or full-day port visits: The historic Norwegian Coastal Express route, for local travel and freight, visits up to seven ports a day, often for less than two hours. By contrast, the new Svalbard Express and North Cape Express itineraries will stop in only one port per day, allowing time for deeper exploration with 63 new, experience-rich excursions. Hurtigruten translates to ‘The Fast Route’, but on these premium sailings, passengers have much more time in port.
- Upgraded culinary program: First-ever culinary offerings include a food centre with cooking demonstrations/classes; picnics; afternoon tea; and wine, beer, champagne, and whisky tastings, as well as a cocktail bar. Hurtigruten Norway’s culinary offering is based on its ‘Norway’s Coastal Kitchen’ concept, emphasizing local produce and sustainability. MS Trollfjord will offer three gourmet restaurants, a show kitchen and premium food tastings.
- Premium service: A higher crew-to-passenger ratio on the upgraded MS Trollfjord. Accommodation options on the ship include Polar Exterior (or Interior) cabins, Arctic Superior cabins and Expedition Suites.
Hurtigruten Norway is also the only cruise line to offer its unique Northern Lights Promise. Applicable to both the Norwegian Coastal Express route, and North Cape Express sailings, it means that if a traveller sails during the auroral season and the Northern Lights do not occur, Hurtigruten Norway offers a free, second voyage.
And here’s another selling point: Hurtigruten Norway is working to create zero-emission ships by 2030. By the end of this year, Hurtigruten Norway will have completed one of the largest environmental upgrades in the history of European shipping, reducing CO2 and NOx emissions by 25 and 80%, respectively.
As part of the upgrade, Hurtigruten Norway launched its first battery-hybrid ship in September 2022, with two more conversions planned before year end.
All seven of Hurtigruten Norway’s ships have been refurbished over the past five years.
Meanwhile sister company Hurtigruten Expeditions launched the world’s first battery hybrid-powered cruise ship in 2019.
Felin says Hurtigruten Norway is a well-known brand in Europe, especially with German travellers who make up 40% of the company’s market. For the new premium sailings launching this summer, Felin is anticipating 20 – 40% North American passengers. In town this week for presentations in Montreal followed by last night’s Toronto event, Felin said “we’re growing this market so I’ll be here often.”
This 130th anniversary year will be a special one for Hurtigruten, she added. Looking forward to the new voyages, Felin said her goal “is to have more ships to do this.”
For more details on Hurtigruten Norway click here.