Life in Norway Show Episode #68: Lasse Vangstein of Havila Voyages joins the show to talk about the Norwegian Coastal Voyage and the new Havila vessels introduced over the past year.
The Norwegian coastal voyage has grown in popularity over the last decade. While still providing a vital transport service for cargo and local passengers, travellers from all over the world to come to Norway to experience the full coastal voyage.
For many years Hurtigruten has been the only operator along the route. Now, Havila Voyages are putting brand new ships into service and travellers have a choice.
Lasse Vangstein of Havila Voyages joins the show to talk about the history of the coastal service, what makes the trip so special and attractive to international tourists, and what Havila's new ships have to offer.
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The Norwegian coastal voyage
Since 1893, various cargo and passenger vessels have operated a scheduled service along the Norwegian coastline.
To this day, scheduled ships still carry both cargo and local passengers. But they are best known globally for their roundtrip cruise-like experience.
The classic Norway coastal cruise from Bergen to Kirkenes and back to Bergen takes 12 days with departures available on most days throughout the year. But while the word “cruise” is often used, there are may differences from traditional cruises.
While the vessels are well fitted out, the ships don't offer a lot of the entertainments you’ll find on more traditional cruise lines. The ever-changing Norwegian coastline is the star attraction.
Another important difference is the port calls. As working ships, they call at many of the 34 ports for less than an hour. Passengers do get a few hours to wander around bigger ports like Ålesund, Trondheim and Tromsø. Organised excursions are available to help you make the most of the limited time.
Hurtigruten is a famous name on the route, but the line now has competition for the first time in many years.
With its brand new eco-friendly ships including the Havila Capella, Havila points towards the future of the coastal voyage and is well worth consideration.
Havila's vessels offer a very similar experience with the added advantage of being capable of sailing on battery power for hours at a time.
Lasse talks in detail about the environmental advantages of the new ships: “They are by far the most environmentally-friendly ships that operate the route. We run on a plug-in hybrid system combining LNG and batteries.”
“The battery packs are the biggest installed in a passenger ship anywhere in the world, and they allow us to sail up to four hours emission-free. This hybrid function reduces our CO2 emissions by up to 40% in perfect conditions,” he added.
Lasse also explained that Havila's vessels offer slightly larger standard cabins than the competition and an all a la carte dining concept.
This is a big advantage for your waistline as rather than pile up your plate at a lunchtime buffet, you simply order smaller dishes from the menu. If you're still hungry, you can order more. It also reduces food waste by a surprising amount.