The new arrivals in Norwegian cruising

Sam Ballard asks Arild Myrvoll about Havila Voyages, the new operator that is set to raise eyebrows when it starts service on the Norwegian coast

The new arrivals in Norwegian cruising
Havila will eventually operate a fleet of four vessels on the Norwegian coastal route

Havila might not be a name that you associate with the cruise industry. The company, which was founded in the 1950s, made its name in fishing and oil. However, from January 2021, the company is going to be taking on one of the most established itineraries in Northern Europe: the Norwegian Coastal route.

Havila Voyages will begin sailing between Bergen and Kirkenes, after winning a contract with the Norwegian Ministry of Transport that sees Hurtigruten’s monopoly on the route broken up. From January 2021, Havila will operate the 11-day route four times with Hurtigruten filling the remaining seven days, according to reports.

Passengers on a Havila cruise will be able to choose from a host of different itineraries – from the full 12-day cruise, which calls at 34 different ports, to shorter itineraries ranging from two to seven days. The company will soon launch a system to book between different ports too.

Havila will eventually operate a fleet of four vessels – all built by the Tersan shipyard in Turkey. The first two will be delivered in the beginning of January 2021, while the second two will be delivered a year later. The vessels – named Havila Castor, Havila Capella, Havila Polaris and Havila Pollux – will hold 640 passengers and, ccording to the line’s CEO, Arild Myrvoll, are the most environmentally friendly vessels to operate on the Norwegian coast.

“Our ships and company profile shall be in the lead when it comes to green technology,” he says. “We have prepared our vessels for hydrogen in the future, but the technology is not ready from the time we shall start sailing. The vessels will operate on LNG main engines and large battery packages. The vessels can operate for more than four hours on battery power, which we’ll do when inside the Norwegian fjords and in and out of most harbours in order to reduce noise and pollution. This will reduce the emissions by more than 40 per cent compared to today’s operations. It will also give the customers a different experience. There will not be any dark smoke, no vibration and complete silence.”

The claims upon Havila’s environmental credentials are significant – especially given that the line’s major competitor, Hurtigruten, promotes its own environmental credentials.

Onboard, Havila’s ships will be a celebration of Norwegian culture, according to Myrvoll, with local companies chosen to furnish both public spaces and cabins. There will be chairs and sofas from Brunstad, Fora Form and Ekornes of Norway, while passengers and crew will sleep on mattresses from the Norwegian company Recticel.

Myrvoll says that the choice of furniture is about more than just aesthetics. “This is quality furniture that provides a high degree of comfort for our passengers,” he explains. “It has also been important for us to use furniture from local suppliers, located within a short distance from the coastal route’s ports of call, to make it practical, easy and sustainable also when it comes to service and delivery.”

However, an obvious question for a company that is so rooted in Norwegian culture, is why not build the ships in Norway? The answer was primarily a lack of interest from Norwegian shipyards. “Nonetheless, it’s important to us that the building of these ships stimulates Norwegian value creation, and we have found a good alternative solution where Norwegian design, equipment and other Norwegian deliveries make up over one-third of the building costs,” says Myrvoll.

That philosophy is embodied in the partnership with Norwegian Marine Interior and the architects at Steen Friis Design, which have planned, designed, and will deliver and install the furniture and interior for the four new ships.

These ships might be being built in Turkey – but they’re Norwegian through and through.

This article was first published in the Autumn/Winter 2020 issue of Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

Subscribe to Cruise & Ferry Review for FREE here to get the next issue delivered directly to your inbox or your door.

Share this story

By Sam Ballard
18 November 2020

Theme picker