Hurtigruten has seen a tremendous increase in interest for its Norwegian Coastal Voyage and remote destination Expedition Cruises from the North American market for the 2011 season. Advance bookings have grown by an amazing 127% from its 2009 pre-booking season, comparison based on end-of-September figures. Passenger counts also increased substantially during the same year-to-year comparison. Ongoing growth is expected as Hurtigruten continues to develop strong sales opportunities for the travel agents.
"We are not surprised that we have such heightened interest and bookings in the US market. It stands to reason,” offers Rolf Logan, Hurtigruten’s director of sales. “They see an emerging opportunity to sell our product to the experienced traveler and we are supporting the trade with all of the necessary tools, such as our new online booking engine for agents."
Hurtigruten’s original claim to fame has been its near 120-year history of sailing along Norway’s west coast year round on a route named the “world’s most beautiful voyage” by Lonely Planet’s “Bluelist.” Taking in 34 ports of call on six-, seven- and 12-day sailings, the 11 modern cruise ships offer guests a wonderful base of operations in which to explore everything from small fishing villages in the rugged Lofoten Islands to the ancient Viking capital of Trondheim to Tromso, Norway's "Paris of the North.”
Its foray into Expedition Cruising a number of years ago has proven equally popular with guests wishing to see some of the world’s most remote destinations – Greenland, Spitsbergen and Antarctica. Always accompanied by experts from a variety of fields, these seasonal sailings have grown to become a substantial part of Hurtigruten’s ongoing success. Designed for active, experienced travelers, they feature naturalist guides, noted guest lecturers and PolarCirkel boat landings, and explore the pristine polar regions of glaciers, huge icebergs, pack ice and abundant wildlife ranging from penguins to polar bears to killer whales. Hurtigruten built a deluxe expedition ship, MS Fram, in 2007 that accommodates 318 guests in suites and staterooms and features a restaurant, two bars, panoramic lounges library, and Internet café and conference rooms.
Three years ago, Hurtigruten introduced several European itinerary departures, taking in Western Europe, Norwegian fjords, the cities along the Baltic Sea, and Northern Britain and Ireland, during the Spring when the culturally-wealthy continent is enjoying great weather and abundant colors.