Norwegian explorer cruise line, Hurtigruten, announced that its new vessel will be named after the biggest island in Svalbard Archipelago, Spitsbergen. This northernmost part of Norway is the spot where, in 1896, company’s founder Richard With started Arctic explorer tourism for the first time.
The name of ms Spitsbergen was chosen following a Facebook competition in which over 15,000 suggestions were received from all over the world. CEO Daniel Skjeldam described as overwhelming the reception of ship's naming contest. He shared they had been flooded with suggestions as in addition to web posts, received letters and postcards, e-mails, text messages and telephones. Most proposals came from Norway and continental Europe (especially from the UK and Germany). Suggestions also came from the US, Asia, Australia and New Zealand.
The winner of the contest is Erlend Baldersheim (33-yo) from the village of Baldersheim, near Bergen. The happy young man will be captain’s guest on a special sailing of Hurtigruten's newest ship.
MS Spitsbergen was built in 2009 by Estaleiro Navais de Viana do Castelo (ENVC), shipyard in Portugal. With a gross tonnage of 7.025 and a length of 97.53 m, the ship can accommodate up to 320 passengers. The guest area will boast modern common areas and stylish cabins, making it possible to admire the amazing polar landscape in comfortable surroundings.
Initially, ms Spitsbergen will replace ms Midnatsol on the traditional coastal route of Hurtigruten, when in Autumn 2016 she sails down to Antarctica. In future the new ship will alternate between polar expeditions and the coastal route.
Explorer tourism is between the fast growing industries. MS Spitsbergen will add greater flexibility to the global operations of Hurtigruten, as the company now operates 2 vessels offering unique nature experiences around the poles and 11 ships along the coast of Norway. In the extreme South, the line sails guests from South America to Antarctica waters. In the high North, Hurtigruten currently offers voyages around Iceland and Greenland, as well as around Spitsbergen.