Norwegian Coast Service To Be Revised – Other Cruise News: Symphony of the Seas Delivered – Voyage of the Week
by Kevin Griffin
The Norwegian Government has announced that effective January 2021 it will reorganise its subsidised coastal voyages by dividing contracts between two operators, the exisiting company, Hurtigruten, and newcomer Havila, who will build four new ships. Elsewhere, the world’s largest cruise ship, the 228,081-ton Symphony of the Seas, left Malaga on a sampler voyage on Saturday before setting out on her maiden voyage from Barcelona this Friday. Finally, for our special voyage this week we have chosen One Ocean Expeditions’ newest addition, their RCGS Resolute, which has been chartered by UK-based Exodus Travels for a special Antarctica voyage in November.
THIS WEEK’S STORY
Norwegian Coast Service To Be Revised
The Norwegian Ministry of Transportation is planning to split the award for subsidised Norwegian coast voyages into two contracts, to be effective from 2021 through 2030.
The business will now be divided between the established Hurtigruten, operating seven ships, and newcomer Havila, which will build four new ships for the route.
As now, the eleven ships will sail year-round between Bergen and Kirkenes, with daily departures, and call at thirty-four ports. In addition, the Government will buy cargo space between Tromsø and Kirkenes to ensure the ability to move freight along tthe northern part of the route.
The idea behind the government’s plan to split the subsidised contract between two privately-owned companies is to encourage more competition. The government subsidies will amount to about $100 million per year.
Havila is supplier of services to the international offshore industry and operates twenty-three vessels. It is said to be considering hybrid power solutions, including LNG and batteries for its new design of ships. Hurtigruten, meanwhile, has said that it will modernize existing ships to comply with the new contract.
In addition to its seven subsidised ships, Hurtigruten will continue to sail its three largest vessels, the 628-berth Finnmarken and the 645-berth Midnatsol and Trollfjord, in commercial service between Bergen and Kirkenes.
On days when Hurtigruten has no contracted sailing it will thus operate a cruise service for international passengers. This effectively means that sixteen overnight passenger ships, rather than eleven as now, will be operating along the Norwegian coast.
This is essentially a return to the system used until fifteen years ago. Prior to March 2006, two different Hurtigruten companies, Ofotens (OVDS) and Troms (TFDS) shared the coastal service before they merged into one organisation operating eleven ships.
OTHER CRUISE NEWS
Symphony of the Seas Delivered
STX France handed over the new world record holder for the title of largest cruise ship in the world when it delivered the 228,081-ton Symphony of the Seas to to Royal Caribbean International earlier this month.
The new ship takes the title from the two-year-old 226,963-ton Harmony of the Seas. These two are sister ships except that Symphony’s lower berth capacity is 5,518 compared to 5.479 on the Harmony. Both are 1,188 feet long.
Construction of the Symphony took 36 months and involved 4,700 shipbuilders and crew.
The Symphony of the Seas welcomed her first passengers on Saturday March 31 for a 5-night preview sailing from Malaga, calling at Naples and Civitavecchia. She departs on her 7-night maiden voyage on Friday April 7 from Barcelona, her base for the summer.
Her spring and summer season will consist of 7-night Mediterranean cruises departing Barcelona for Palma de Mallorca, Marseilles, La Spezia, Civitavecchia and Naples.
Beginning on November 10, Symphony of the Seas will offer Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises from her year round base at Miami, where she will work from Royal Caribbean’s new Terminal A.
Another Oasis-class vessel is due from STX France in 2021.
Voyage of the Week
In its tenth year of operation, One Ocean Expeditions will expand its expedition cruising fleet to three ships with the addition in November of the purpose-built polar expedition vessel RCGS Resolute.
Designed for comfort, the 8,378-ton 146-berth RCGS Resolute is a modern, well-appointed, safe and ice-classed vessel.
On November 28, UK-based Exodus Travels will operate a dedicated 14-night photographic expedition voyage, including flights from the UK, at fares from £9,999 per person. Featured on this voyage will be Chris Packham, Paul Goldstein and Mark Carwadine plus a very qualified expedition staff. The destination will be the heart of the Antarctica Peninsula.
BBC presenter, naturalist and nature photographer Chris Packham is, in the words of the Times “the heir to David Attenborough,” a “national treasure” according to Metro, and has garnered many other choice epithets on countless news media.
Early December is probably Antarctica’s most beautiful time for photography. Plentiful daylight shows icebergs at their best and there is a bounteous harvest of penguins, some hatching.
The RCGS Resolute rated as best in class, with superb cabins and public areas and with a flexible itinerary, will explore both the Western Peninsula and, ice permitting, the remarkable Eastern one through the Weddell Sea.
There, a “super colony” of Adélie penguins has recently been discovered on the Danger Islands. With 1.5 million Adélies inhabiting these islands, venturing here will be a top priority on this voyage.
The RCGS Resolute is presently finishing her last season for Hapag-Llpyd Cruises, where as the Hanseatic she has been named as the top-rated expedition ship in the world by Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships.
Resolute’s 12-night maiden voyage will take place Novermber 16-28, with fares from $13,295 per person, before she delivers to Exodus for this photographic cruise, after which One Ocean will operate her on nine more expedition voyages to Antarctica. These will be followed by special cruises in the Chilean Fjords and, working her way north, Costa Rica and Panama. With the addition of a third ship, One Ocean is expected to add further destinations in future.
(Kevin Griffin is managing director of specialist cruise agency The Cruise People Ltd in London, England. For further information concerning cruises mentioned in this article readers can visit his blog)