Behind the Brand – Hurtigruten is an attitude, not an age

Anthony Daniels, General Manager UK & EMEA from the iconic cruise line Hurtigruten looks forward to an even greener future. He talked to Jennie Carr.

Listen to Anthony’s full interview here.

Hurtigruten, which translates into English as express route, has its 130 years anniversary in 2023.  It was initially set up to support the Norwegian government’s postal service with stops at 34 hard to reach ports along the coast. Amazingly those ports are still visited today, with cruise guests on board.

Describe Hurtigruten as it is today, things have surely changed since 1893.

The heritage coastal route is still very much at the heart of the company, leaving daily from Bergen, or more recently Oslo. We’re proud to offer this as a regular service and guests from across the world join us year-round.  

We also now have an Antarctica and High Arctic expedition programme. We’ve referred to our ships as ‘base camps’, however in no way is life onboard basic. The concept is that the ship is a platform from which to explore, whether on a coastal journey or an expedition voyage. Guests leave to see what is outside the ship, and then return to rest, refresh and learn before heading out to see another exciting destination the next day.  The ships are very comfortable with great food and great service taking you to places that are difficult to reach any other way.

Is there a great enthusiasm for exploration within the travelling public?

Yes, there certainly is and Hurtigruten wants to be the market leader for expeditions globally. We are careful when describing ourselves as offering cruises, we’re very different to what people might expect: no Captain’s parties, cocktail evenings or casinos.  Our point is to go to amazing places: we’re seeing a new trend, namely great interest in special ’instagrammable’ locations. Our cruises are not just about the ships, rather what we offer outside them.  So we’re this broadening our expedition programme, perhaps taking people to Machu Pichu, then the Galapagos, then onto a South American voyage. This is a full expedition whether you’re a traditional cruiser or not.

Environmental issues and the response to them are now vital for travel’s vision of the future. How is Hurtigruten embracing this?

These issues are central to all our decision making, our programmes, our itinerary planning and the ships we’re building.  It’s been part of Hurtigruten’s thinking for a long time. Pre covid, we set out to be single use plastic free in the March and we’d achieved it by May.  So when we say we’re going to do something, we do it! We also extend our green concepts to companies provide services, supplies and excursions. If they can’t achieve these, we can’t work with them. We have very serious intent.

And our guests are buying into our environmental agenda in their decision making.  When you’re on board you can opt to ‘travel green’ by hanging out a leather door tag, meaning don’t clean our room, don’t change the towels and so on. Every day a guest does that, Hurtigruten donates money to the Hurtigruten Foundation to support local communities and environmental causes.

We also undertake beach clean ups on every voyage with guests joining us on our environmental journey. And we’re looking to do more activities like this, even here in the UK with the likes of RSPB who’s one of our partners.

So it’s not just the fact that we have two of the world’s only hybrid ships and we’re putting money into improving the coastal ships so they’ll be greener than they currently are, very importantly by 2030 we’re planning to be net zero carbon, or C zero as we call it.  

Is Hurtigruten really powering ships with dead fish?

We are, yes! It’s a derivative from biofuel, which is already used in Scandinavia by buses and coaches. It’s not really new news, we just adapted the fuel for ships. Food waste from fisheries in Scandinavia is made into oil. There’s no smell by the way, I’m always asked that.

Hurtigruten is always looking at the best way to travel, rather than focusing on carbon offsetting, we are constantly searching for technologies to support our green aims. We also always take government research scientists on board, supporting environmental improvements in a different way.

What are Hurtigruten’s plans for new destinations?

These are under wraps for now, expect announcements soon. Clearly with the coastal voyages the potential for change is limited. Although from June 2023 Ms Trollfjord will offer ten and 16 day sailings from Bergen to Svalbard, engaging with local communities. And we’re offering Oslo now as an embarkation port for the heritage voyages. 

With expeditions, MS Santa Cruz II is excitingly based year-round in Ecuador for the Galapagos. We’re also taking expeditions to Cape Verde and West Africa, which is really unique.

And certainly for now, MS Maud will continue to depart from Dover, as will MS Spitsbergen from Glasgow at certain times of the year.

Next steps

Speak to a Hurtigruten advisor for advice on where to go, what to do and how to choose your perfect holiday, call 0203 733 5953.

What’s so fantastic about cruising in Cape Verde and West Africa with Hurtigruten? Listen here

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