Hurigruten has returned MS Vesterålen back into operation on the Norwegian Coastal Express following a recent refurbishment. The enhancement project, revealed in late December, includes the original blue chimney that ties in with the same colour used on Hurtigruten’s very first ship to sail in 1893.
The classic ship enters its 40th year on the coast in Hurtigruten’s 130th the anniversary year. On this occasion, 32 cabins have been upgraded, and two new mini-suites have been built. The cafeteria, restaurant and Trollfjord lounge on board have also received a major facelift.
“MS Vesterålen carries with it a proud tradition and a 130-year heritage. Therefore, it is very proud that we enter both Hurtigruten’s and the ship’s jubilee year with a newly refurbished ship,” said Hedda Felin, Managing Director of Hurtigruten Norway.
In 1983, MS Vesterålen became the last fast-route ship built for Vesteraalens Dampskibsselskabs (VDS). Today, the ship – with its intimate atmosphere and many historical details – is very popular with many Hurtigruten enthusiasts.
Almost all common areas on board have been upgraded in two rounds in 2019 and in 2022. At the same time, the ship has retained its original character.
“Traveling with MS Vesterålen is a completely unique experience. The ship is smaller, more intimate, and it gives a feeling of really getting close to Hurtigruten’s history and the spectacular nature we sail through,” said Felin.
In 2019, the ship also received brand new Norwegian-made engines from Bergen Engines, new bridge equipment and other modern systems that enable the ship to sail along the coast for a long time to come.
“The blue ships” are back
In connection with Hurtigruten’s 130th anniversary, the ship has also regained its original blue chimney, with the same colours that DS Vesteraalen had during the very first Hurtigruten departure on 2 July 1893. The colour of the chimney gave the ships of VDS the ringing nickname “the blue ships”.
“It is great to showcase our rich traditions by carrying on the legacy of VDS. And we can now offer guests an even better experience on board,” remarked Captain Trond Jenssen on MS Vesterålen.
VDS’ blue and white chimney mark was seen in Hurtigruten shipping from 1893 to 1988, and again in the period 2015 to 2020 with the returned MS Lofoten. MS Vesterålen is the third Hurtigruten ship named after Vesterålen, where Hurtigruten’s birthplace Stokmarknes and the Hurtigruten Museum are located.