Hurtigruten provides a lifeline to the small fishing communities that dot Norway’s northern coast. They operate 11 ships as a crusieferry that brings tourists, commuters, cars, supplies and mail to 34 ports in Norway in as little as 6 days. The routes start in Bergen on the west coast and reaches far above the Arctic Cricle, ending in Kirkenes which is 5 miles from the Russian border. The service dates back to the 1800’s and has been sailing ever since. The coastal operation is heavily subsidized by the Norwegian government.
Due to that government involvement, the service has been operating on a contractual basis. This year it was announced that they would not auto-renew with Hurtigruten and instead go out for tender. It was just announced that that Hurtigruten has lost some share of their current contract. Starting in 2021 Hurtigruten will only have 7 contractually operated ships and newcommer Havila Kystruten will operate 4 newbuilds.
Havila does have a lot of maritime experience. They own and operate 20 PSV’s and offshore vessels. Now that they have the contract and partial funding, they will begin negotiating with shipyards, most likely in Norway, to start construction of these 4 vessels.
They way Havila pitched it is that their 4 newbuilds will be guaranteed to be more efficient and environmental friendly than Hurtigruten’s 4 oldest vessels.
I hope due diligence was done to ensure that Hurtigruten can financially stand on its cruise ops while loosing these routes. They’ve always had shaky financials and this could be devastating. Because we’re seeing shipyards with few to no projects and nothing on the horizon aside from a select few small cruise ships, I wonder if this is a way for the government to indirectly help out those struggling yards.