Hurtigruten reveals UK departures from Dover and other developments
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Expedition and environment were the two buzzwords at
Hurtigruten’s media launch in London this month with the promise of greener
expedition cruise ships and an exciting new programme of Dover departures.
The afternoon started in the atmospheric surroundings of the Royal Observatory at Greenwich, founded by Charles II in a bid to seal Britain’s supremacy of the seas.
Now part of Royal Museums
Greenwich, Greenwich was chosen from four European observatories in 1884 as
location for the world time standard, thanks to English being the principal
language for trading maps.
After marvelling at telescopes and astronomical clocks, and
– I think – just about understanding how scientists finally learned to
calculate longitude, it was time for a brisk walk downhill to river level,
soaking up the views of Canary Wharf and the O2 arena on the way, still
stupendous despite glowering skies.
Here a small band of travel press settled down in the
Queen’s House, home to an internationally renowned art collection, to find out
Hurtigruten’s own plans for supremacy as a specialist provider of unique cruise
Environmental concerns paramount
Big news for those of us concerned about the environment was
the announcement that Hurtigruten continues to move the boundaries for green
technology. Three of their vessels will
be transformed over the coming months to premium, hybrid-powered expedition
cruise ships. Equipped with battery
packs and other green technology, they will operate year-round expedition
cruises along the Norwegian coast from 2021 on itineraries yet to be announced.
So if you are already familiar with the Hurtigruten fleet,
expect to find MS Trollfjord transformed into MS Maud, MS Finnmarken into MS
Otto Sverdrup, and MS Midnatsol into MS Eirik Raude. Each ship will carry a maximum of 350 guests
and the artist’s impressions of the new cabins, restaurants and public areas
look sure to be a winner with clients old and new.
The public areas will feature natural Scandinavian materials
such as granite, oak, birch and wool, and each ship will have a choice of
places to eat. The main restaurant,
Restaurant Aune, will serve three Scandinavian-inspired meals a day, whilst
Restaurant Lindstrom, named after the favourite chef of the Norwegian polar
heroes, will offer fine dining that blends traditional Norwegian fare with
modern cuisine. Guests can also choose
the informal Fredheim eatery, named after a legendary 1920s hunting station in
Svalbard, or a new outdoor grill which will be added to the top decks.
A specially designed Expedition Launch will be added to all
three ships. And for those passengers
who like some extra background to their expedition, Hurtigruten’s signature
Science Centre will be added to the three ships. Expect touch screens, science equipment and
other interactive features.
The MS Otto Sverdrup (currently Finnmarken) takes its new
name from a Norwegian polar hero who skied across Greenland with Fridtjof
Nansen, whilst MS Erik Raude (currently Midnatsol) honours a famous Viking chief,
Eric the Red, who discovered Greenland. But
it’s fitting that Hurtigruten’s other big news story involved MS Maud
(currently Trollfjord). She takes her name from Roald Amundsen’s famous ship Maud,
which in turn was named after the first Queen of modern-day Norway, the granddaughter
of Queen Victoria.
Maud to make history in Dover
For anyone who hates flying or just loves the convenience of
a no-fly cruise, Hurtigruten is now coming to us. Whilst the classic daily coastal route out of
Bergen remains unchanged, a new programme of winter departures from the Port of
Dover will be part of their new Norway Expedition programme for 2021/2.
Passengers will travel on MS Maud across the North Sea to
Stavanger and along the coast of Norway with more time in familiar and new
ports, and with more Expedition team members on board to help them make the
most of the experience.
Guests will be offered a free activity each day to explore
the local history, culture and wildlife, plus a range of optional, paid-for
excursions such as fishing, hiking and a Northern Lights safari. The price of the cruise will also include
free hire of equipment for excursions, on-board lectures by the expedition
team, free WiFi, and all meals including house wine or beer.
For Hurtigruten, this new programme is an opportunity to
open Norwegian expedition cruising to one of its most receptive markets through
direct access to their ships. For the
Port of Dover, it offers the chance to operate their first winter cruise
programme as part of the harbour expansion. But don’t hold your breath for summer Expedition cruises from
Dover. With so many cruise operators
already offering fjord cruises during the long light days, Hurtigruten are
concentrating on a market sector in which they reign supreme.
Having already fallen in love with the classic Coastal Voyage, I can hardly wait to unleash my inner explorer from my home port. But that’s for next year. To whet our appetites, our lucky band finished the afternoon with a mini-expedition by RIB boat from Greenwich to the Thames Barrier and then back to the Tower of London.
There were thrills but no spills as we sped across the water
to a rocking musical soundtrack before gliding serenely beneath Tower Bridge. Not quite the fjords, but a very acceptable
alternative on a grey September afternoon!
Hurtigruten’s Norway Expeditions from Dover will run from October 2021 through to March 2022. Prices from £3,299 per person for 14 days.
Silver Travel Advisor recommends Hurtigruten.
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