Line’s UK general manager tells Lucy Huxley why sailing out of the UK will attract new agents and customers
It’s been quite a week for Hurtigruten.
First the cruise line announced that three of its older ships are to be transformed into premium, hybrid-powered expedition vessels, with battery packs. A day later, it drew the travel agent winner of a competition to win a £24,000 hybrid car, the culmination of a highly successful three-month sales incentive, promoting its sailings and sustainability credentials.
It then announced its 2021-22 Norway expedition programme, which includes 12 winter departures from Dover – the first time in Hurtigruten’s 126-year history
that it will operate expedition sailings from the UK. It means Brits will not have to fly to Europe to join one of its ships.
Between October 2021 and March 2022, they can take a 14-day voyage on board Maud, currently known as Trollfjord, one of the vessels undergoing the makeover.
The cruise will travel along the coast of Norway and offer more time in familiar and new ports, including an overnight in Tromso with a northern lights viewing guaranteed.
There will be more expedition team members on board, and Hurtigruten’s science centres will be added. The centres are “so advanced you could get a PhD if you studied in one for four years”, says UK general manager Anthony Daniels.
Daniels is buzzing about the Dover news, having fought his bosses hard to secure the UK departures. His case was strengthened having won the company’s highest market growth contest for the past two years – and is on track to make it three.
The UK is the third-largest market for coastal sailings behind Germany and the Nordic countries. It is second behind Germany for expedition cruising and the number-one market for coastal cruising in the winter, and for Antarctica and Alaska.
“Maud out of Dover carries 530 people and I know we have to fill it, for 12 rotations,” says Daniels.
But he’s confident that Hurtigruten sailing out of the UK will attract new agents and customers. “It is a big opportunity for cruise agents who don’t currently work with us. If their clients want something different, sailing from their doorstep, this is it.
“Hurtigruten is an attitude, not an age – and we need our agent partners to identify clients who would love our kind of small-ship, no-fly expedition cruising. We’re a small company so we need them to be our voice, to get the message out there.”
In 2015, Hurtigruten had 10 coastal ships and one expedition ship. By 2025 it will have seven coastal vessels and 14 expedition ships. It sails to Alaska, Antarctica, the Arctic, Central and South America and the Caribbean, and claims to be not only the world’s largest expedition cruise company but also a “world leader” in exploration travel.
Daniels describes the company as “the green pioneer”. “If shipping were a country, it would be the sixth-biggest contributor to global warming, so we have to take steps. The push for sustainable solutions is the core of everything we do.”
Hurtigruten introduced the world’s first hybrid battery-powered ship, the Roald Amundsen, this summer; it will be followed by Fridtjof Nansen in April 2020.
With the three ships having battery packs and low-emission engines, Hurtigruten claims it will operate the world’s greenest fleet of cruise ships. “This week’s news is just one step – there is a lot more coming,” promises Daniels.