Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines' 1,350-guest Balmoral has made her inaugural call at Haugesund, Norway, as part of a ten-night L1303 'Norwegian Experience' cruise. The town of Haugesund celebrated the opening of its new Cruise Terminal with the arrival of Fred. Olsen’s flagship.

With its proud Norwegian heritage, Balmoral’s ‘Norwegian Experience’ itinerary has special resonance for Fred. Olsen, which was established in the small Norwegian town of Hvitsten in 1848 by the three Olsen brothers, Fredrik Christian, Petter and Andreas.
En route to Haugesund, Balmoral also celebrated Norway's 'National Day', with an overnight call into Oslo on 17th May 2013, so that guests could share in the city's annual festivities.

Martin Lister, Itinerary Planning Manager for Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, said:

“With our strong Norwegian background, it is always a pleasure to plan a cruise to our historical homeland. This call at Haugesund is particularly special, as it is Balmoral’s first, and we know that our guests are always looking for new experiences and destinations.

“We would like to thank the town and people of Haugesund for the support that they have shown to Fred. Olsen, and we very much appreciate the warm and enthusiastic welcome that they have given our guests.”       

Vigleik Dueland, Director of Cruise Development for the Port of Haugesund, said:

“Haugesund is an attractive cruise port, due to its very good access from the North Sea and the short pilotage required. It is only five nautical miles to go ashore. With three big cruise brands close to us – Stavanger, Hardangerfjord and Bergen – cruise visitors can see a lot of the south-western part of Norway in a short time.”

Whilst in Haugesund, guests were able to take in the town's historical past, with visits to the Viking farm, close to St. Olav's Church, which reconstructs the conditions of a Viking village, and also to the Nordvegen History Centre, providing a more detailed explanation of Haugesund's Viking background.

According to findings by the Passenger Shipping Association in 2012, Britons have developed a growing taste for the Norwegian fjords and Norway, which saw nearly 200,000 British cruise guests visiting the region last year, accounting for 44.5% of UK cruise bookings to Northern European destinations.

Haugesund is one of 12 maiden calls made by Fred. Olsen in its 2013/14 cruise season. Others include Yangon in Myanmar, Osaka and Hiroshima in Japan, and Nawiliwili in Hawaii.