The introduction of new suites* aboard Hurtigruten Norway’s fleet of ships operating on the Original Norwegian Coastal Express in recent years has emphasised an opportunity for the brand to tap further into the premium market.
In August last year, Hurtigruten extended a five-year-old association with Virtuoso in the United States to encompass Australia and New Zealand, thereby lifting its local profile with the luxury travel network.
Hedda Felin, Chief Executive Officer of Hurtigruten Norway says the retrofitted upper deck suites aboard ships including MS Nordlys have proven “very popular” to date. The luxe-offering was created by removing the wall between adjacent cabins, virtually doubling the size of the accommodation to 15 to 20 square metres. Six suites on three ships also feature a Grand Suite with a Bay window.
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For MS Nordlys, a refurbishment in 2019 saw all cabins refitted and new cabin grades added, including spacious mini-suites with a sofa bed, full view windows, and the aforementioned bay windows. The number of suites available on the coastal fleet varies by vessel, with MS Nordlys having 20. A new fine-dining experience focused on ultra-fresh seafood was also pioneered on this ship.
“We want to cater for those guests that really want to do as much luxury as possible on our ships. And they love it,” Felin said of the upmarket product.
“It’s not long dresses and butlers coming to you with champagne, but they will be treated in a very special way, such as canapes delivered to their suite to enjoy as the sunrises and sets.”
At the Bistro/Kysten Fine Dining venue – an elegant standalone section separated from the ship’s Activity Center by a glass wine display cabinet – Felin says the cuisine is “absolutely amazing” and of the highest standard.
“Guests have been surprised by the quality of the locally sourced food, such as scallops, ham and reindeer, and the small touches. The venue is focused on the food experience for the guests that want to experience something more, and it is delivering the ‘wow’ moment,” Felin remarked.
“I also believe another trend is people have not travelled for many years and now when they do, they want to do something a bit extra. They realise life is passing them by and it’s three years since they could travel, and maybe spend a little extra to be more comfortable.”
LATTE also questioned Felin if all-inclusive pricing was a consideration for Hurtigruten Norway, given the popularity of the paid-up-front pricing structure for an ever-increasing number of cruise operators. Currently, guests are offered drink packages on boarding, or provided the option to purchase beverages with their meal by the bottle or glass.
“Yes, we would consider it. We thought that this is one way we can differentiate ourselves from the traditional experiences.
“We sell a lot more packages on your side of the world, where they want everything sorted – flights, Norwegian in a Nutshell, the train, Follow the Lights – and we see that it could be an opportunity to give them that,” Felin said.
For more information on Hurtigruten Norway, see hurtigruten.com.au/destinations/norway/?_hrgb=2
Note: * – All Hurtigruten Norway coastal ships (except MS Vesteralen) have ‘Q’ Mini-Suites and ‘M’ Expedition Suites, while the ‘MG’ Grand Suites with bay windows are only available on MS Nordlys, MS Richard With and MS Trollfjord.