Preparing for post-Covid-19 expansion, Hurtigruten is to reorganise its growing cruise operations by establishing a separate expedition cruise entity.
The two different entities to be formed are – Hurtigruten Expeditions and Hurtigruten Norway.
As the rest of the global travel industry, Hurtigruten is currently experiencing the challenges of the global Covid-19 pandemic, despite claiming increased interest in its sailings for next year.
“2020 is a tough year for everyone in the travel industry. But the set back is only temporary. For second half of 2021 and beyond, we are seeing a strong demand across all markets and all destinations, including the Norwegian coast, the Arctic and Antarctica,” said CEO, Daniel Skjeldam (pictured).
“The demand reflects our predictions that expedition cruises, with all our advantages such as smaller ships, more flexibility and fewer guests, will prove even more popular post-COVID-19,” he added.
Hurtigruten recently launched selected 2022/2023 voyages – including Antarctica and the Arctic – and reported a strong global demand.
“We have only seen the beginning of what’s to come. Hurtigruten see great demand and equally great opportunities in the expedition cruise segment from 2021 and beyond. This is the growth we are preparing for,” Skjeldam said.
Hurtigruten’s expedition cruises will include more than 250 destinations from pole to pole, ranging from the Northwest Passage, Greenland, Norway, Svalbard, British Isles to Caribbean, South America and Antarctica.
To consolidate its position as the world’s largest expedition cruise line, Asta Lassesen was appointed CEO of Hurtigruten’s global expedition cruise operations.
“As Hurtigruten continue to grow our expedition cruise offering, we will keep doing what we do best: Combining almost 130 years of exploration with cutting-edge innovation and our unparalleled commitment to sustainability to deliver unique experiences in some of the world’s most awe-inspiring destinations,” Lassesen said.
Hurtigruten’s expedition cruise entity will operate eight small, custom built and greener expedition cruise ships. Starting in 2021, Hurtigruten will offer several new itineraries – including new year-round departures from the UK and Germany, as well as a full Alaska season.
“We go where the big ships can’t, taking you far beyond the ordinary and closer to communities and nature, while exploring the true beauty of our planet in a more sustainable way,” Lassesen explained.
From 2021, Hurtigruten’s coastal operation will consist of seven custom built ships, and operate under a separate entity with a yet to be named CEO.
“The Norwegian coast is our home. No one knows Norway like Hurtigruten, and from northern lights, the midnight sun, wildlife and local communities, there is no better way to experience authentic Norway than with Hurtigruten. We’ve pioneered the Norwegian coast for more than a century. But the best is yet to come,” Skjeldam said.
In another move, on 12th October, Norway’s Ministry of Transport and Communications, which contracts the Coastal Express service along Norway’s west coast, asked Hurtigruten to limit its sailings to between Bodo and Kirkenes.
While recognising the importance to the local communities of this service, the ministry said that it was a challenging situation that necessitates changes to the route. “We have chosen to prioritise the areas with limited alternatives for the transport of goods and long-distance passengers,” said Norwegian Minister of Transport, Knut Arild Hareide.
“With the escalating uncertainties, very low number of national and international travellers, and the impact the pandemic has on our operations, we are sorry to inform you that we must reduce capacity on our coastal service,” Hurtigruten announced last month.
The service was reduced to only two ships and as a result, some of the 34 harbours that the ships stop at during their voyage to and from Bergen and Kirkenes were only going to receive a ship once every five to seven days instead of the usual daily service. Layoffs were also planned.