Havila Castor: Look Inside the New Coastal Cruise Ship

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There's a new name in town on the Norwegian coastal route. Come and take a look inside the new Havila Castor with this picture-packed tour.

Tourists travel from far and wide to join the Norwegian coastal voyage. A critical local transport service for 130 years, the coastal ferry is beloved by locals and tourists alike.

Havila Castor coastal cruise ferry arriving in Trondheim, Norway.
Havila Castor coastal cruise ferry arriving in Trondheim, Norway.

While Hurtigruten is the famous name on the route, Havila Voyages began operations in 2021. The Norwegian coastal route is now shared between Hurtigruten (7 of 11 departures) and Havila (4 of 11 departures).

I was super keen to see what Havila had to offer. So, earlier this year, I took an overnight trip from Ålesund to Trondheim on the Havila Capella. Recently, I took the opportunity to visit the Havila Castor while it was docked in Trondheim.

Introducing the Havila Castor

Built at Tersan Shipyard in Yalova, Turkey, the Havila Castor was the second Havila ship to enter service on the coastal route.

There is a total capacity of 680, which includes beds for 468 people. The 124-metre-long vessel has space for a maximum 9 cars. With a gross tonnage of 15,776t, it has a top speed of 16 knots.

People on deck watching the Havila Castor arrive in Trondheim.
People on deck watching the Havila Castor arrive in Trondheim.

Havila Castor–and all the Havila ships–are very different from the Hurtigruten coastal fleet, and not just in design. They run on LNG and have some of the world's largest battery packs at sea, enabling completely zero-emission sailing for up to four hours.

Each Havila ship is almost identical. So it doesn't really matter which of the four ships you pick, your experience will be similar. That being said, let's have a look inside the Havila Castor.

Inside the Havila Castor

This article isn't intended to be a complete ship tour, as I only visited the ship briefly while in port. So there are no pictures of cabins or dinner service , for example.

Lounge area on one of the cabin decks of the Havila Castor.
Lounge area on one of the cabin decks of the Havila Castor.

But I am hoping to give you a good impression of what to expect on board Havila Castor and from Havila Voyages in general. I know many of you are wondering about these things, so I hope this helps with your travel planning.

Before I dive into the photos, you may already be wondering where the people are. Good question! Trondheim is a relatively long stop on the coastal route, so most of the roundtrip passengers had already left the ship by the time I arrived.

Atrium and first impressions

It doesn't take you long to realise this ship is very different from the other coastal cruise ferries. You enter into this wonderful atrium with a skylight that floods the ship with natural light.

Havila Castor atrium.
Atrium of the Havila Castor.

Once you start to explore, you'll also notice the Scandinavian design aesthetic that dominates the furnishings. A friend of mine thought some of the design choices felt more like a modern office than a coastal ferry, but personally I love it.

The whole ship design feels optimised for cruising the Norwegian coastline. Large windows are used wherever possible with comfortable seating areas next to many of them, even outside of designated lounges.

Main Deck 6

Deck 6 is where much of the activity takes place on board, including all dining options. Havrand restaurant, the ship's main dining room is at the back of the deck. Check out those window tables!

Main dining room on Havila Castor cruise ferry.
Main dining room on Havila Castor.

Open for three meals per day, Havrand offers an all a la carte concept. Instead of a buffet, there is a menu of small dishes for breakfast and lunch, while a more standard a la carte menu is available for the evening meal.

Window seat at Havrand restaurant on Havila Castor.
Window seat at the main Havrand restaurant on Havila Castor.

Tucked away to one side of the deck is Hildring, a fine dining restaurant (at additional cost) that offers an Arctic-inspired menu and a private space. I didn't get to go inside, but I could at least see through the door!

Hildring fine dining restaurant on Havila Castor.
Hildring fine dining restaurant.

One example menu I spotted included cod from Lofoten, Norwegian farm duck, and reindeer from Finnmark. I look forward to giving this place a try on a future trip.

Port-to-port passengers (and port visitors like me!) will be interested in the Havly cafe. It's here you can buy coffee, beer, snacks and so on. As you've probably guessed by now, the cafe's layout is designed to maximise the use of the large windows.

Havly cafe on Havila Castor.
Havly cafe.

The cafe opens from 8.30am although the kitchen doesn't open for hot meals until later in the day. I stopped here for a quick coffee and spent longer than I had planned gazing out of the window, even though we were in port!

Onboard shop on the Havila Castor coastal cruise ship in Norway.
Onboard shop.

We're not quite done with deck 6 just yet. A small shop sells essential items, clothing, Havila-branded items, and souvenirs. Just behind the shop, a small conference room hosts information sessions and talks on various themes throughout the voyage.

Havila Castor conference room.
Havila Castor's conference room.

At the front of Deck 6, you'll find the Bow Lounge. This comfortable space is one of the few spots on board with smaller windows, so it does tend to be a little quieter than some of the other lounges.

Bow Lounge on Havila Castor.
Bow Lounge on Havila Castor.

If you're looking for a quiet spot to curl up with a book, this is it. That being said, there is a small children's play area nearby!

Outdoor Deck 8

While most of the Havila Castor's indoor features are packed into Deck 6, it's up on decks 8 and 9 where the ship really shines. The outdoor decks are spacious and really well designed to maximise the enjoyment of scenic cruising.

Deck 8 on the Havila Castor.
Lots of outdoor space on Deck 8.

Deck 8 is the main outdoor deck featuring lots of space, chairs, deckchairs, an outdoor bar open for events, and two hot tubs.

Panorama Deck 9

Deck 9, known as the panorama deck, sits atop deck 8's outdoor space as a sort of mezzanine level, providing an even better view of your surroundings.

Decks 8 and 9 on Havila Castor.
The majority of deck 9 is outdoors. This section is at the back of the ship looking down on the deck 8 hot tubs.

This is the place if you want to get some fresh air as it will be the windiest spot on the ship when at sea. No matter how busy the ship, you're sure to find a spot up here for the sail-in or sailaway at ports.

Deck nine outdoor space on Havila Castor.
There's so much outdoor space on deck 9.

It's also possible to walk all the way around the front of the ship here, as there is a narrow walkway that wraps around the outside of the panoramic lounge.

Panorama deck at the front of the Havila Castor.
The panorama deck 9 wraps around the front of the ship.

At the front of deck 9, the observation lounge known as Havblikk is perhaps my favourite spot on the ship. The space has been exceptionally well designed, with a light, airy feel and windows that maximise the viewing potential.

Window seating in observation lounge on Havila Castor.
There's good views from most seats in the ‘Havblikk' observation lounge.

The centre of the lounge farthest away from the windows is raised, allowing people sitting here a better view. This is yet another example of the great physical design of these ships, regardless of your views on the decor.

Centre of observation lounge 'Havblikk' on Havila Castor.
Even the seats in the centre of the observation lounge are bathed in natural light.

A full bar is open from midday until late in the evening. If you're a night owl, this will be your spot on Havila Castor!

Other onboard facilities

While I cannot show you any passenger cabins on the Castor, I did to get to see a couple on the Havila Capella. These rooms are basically identical to what's on the Castor, so do check out that review if you are interested.

Other onboard facilities include two saunas, a gym split over two rooms, a small laundry for guest use, and a luggage room. Local passengers can also book a reclining seat in a port-to-port lounge on deck 4.

I hope you enjoyed this quick photo-based tour of the Havila Castor. Although I can't review thefull coastal cruise experience as I only stayed onboard for a short time, hopefully I've given you enough information to help you with your travel plans.

Have you taken a trip on the Havila Castor? I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

About David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a professional writer on all things Scandinavia.

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2 thoughts on “Havila Castor: Look Inside the New Coastal Cruise Ship”

  1. Hello,
    We have been visiting Norway every year for 40 years and owned a hytte in
    Lindesnes kommune from 2002-2012 so we are very familiar with the country.

    Last March we took a trip on the Havila Castor from Bergen to Kirkenes and back. We have been on many cruise ships before but were immediately impressed with the Castor. It does not look or feel like a cruise ship. It feels like a home at sea. The relatively small size, the friendly crew and the layout of the ship give a very comfortable atmosphere.

    There was no entertainment as such on the ship but we did not need it. The constantly chaging vistas and frequent stops meant that we were never bored.
    We took a number of excursions and they were all very good. These included A tram ride in the snow in Trondheim, Visiting a Sami camp in Tromso, The Nordkapp (we had previouslydriven there one summer), The ice hotel in Kirkenes, a snowshoe excursion in Lofoten and a visit to a marble mine near
    Kristiansund. We also made our own way to the aquarium in Alesund.

    In your cabin you can press a button on the phone to get a call when there is
    sighting of the Northern Lights. This is usually at an ungodly hour in the middle
    of the night. If you get up you will find many other people wandering around the snow covered decks seeking the best view.

    We tried the outdoor hot tubs which were surrounded by snow and were not that warm. I think that we were the only people that went in them and, for the latter part of the voyage they were not open.

    During the trip we got to know the excursion team in the onboard shop very well and also many of the waiting staff. The lady from Tromso who ran the
    cafe was also very pleasant.

    Because the ship does not carry that many passengers getting off and on at
    excursion stops was not a problem unlike big cruise ships where it can be a nightmare.

    The surprising thing was the lack of Norwegian passengers. The majority of
    people were German with some Americans, Australians and British.

    Our overall impression of the ship, staff and voyage was very good. We would rate it as the best cruise that we have taken and recommend it in preference to
    other Norwegian cruises that only call in at a few destinations.

    As for the destination, nothing beats Norway!

    • I was so pleased to read your review. We have booked a cruise on the Harvey la cast store for May 2024. Very excited to return to Norway for the second time you are right nothing beats Norway.


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