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article imageMore Comfort On Norway's ''Beautiful Voyage'' To The Midnight Sun

By Pauline Bugler     May 8, 2002 in Lifestyle
OSLO (dpa) - The Norwegian coastal voyage that has been described as one of the most beautiful scenic trips in the world is set to become more comfortable for passengers with the introduction on the route of two brand new ships.
Gone is the era of spartan interiors and a marked lack of creature comforts on the Hurtigruten or coastal express and both ships offer a range of upgraded facilities, including luxurious teak-lined cabins complete with jacuzzi.
Bernd Stolzenberg, NSA spokesman says the new offers are in keeping with passengers' higher demands. The product, however, has remained the same.
Stolzenberg says the Hurtigruten are the oldest, 24-hour a day shipping routes still operating in the world. The Norwegians take pride in their coastline and market the trip as "the world's most beautiful voyage".
The passenger travels through some of Norway's most majestic fjords, past breathtaking landscape and a host of wildlife. Weather permitting, guests can catch a glimpse of the flickering Northern Lights that have given rise to many legends and myths. This is also the land of the Midnight Sun. (One of the older ships is actually named MS Midnatsol.)
A total of 14 ships travel the return 11-day journey from Bergen to Kirkenes in the Polar circle on the Russian border. There are 17 types of voyage available and they can be booked in their entirety or from port to port. Norwegians often book the latter since roads here make driving a distance of more than 300 kilometres an arduous affair.
The Hurtigruten trip can prove addictive and some passengers travel up to ten times a year and are on first-name terms with crew members.
Older people prefer older boats and often do the full round- trip. One Swede did the coastal trip 99 times and died shortly before he was due to embark on his 100th trip. Younger people prefer the more comfortable newer boats and short distances.
The two new vessels, the MS Finnmark and MS Trollfjord, are set to embark on their maiden voyages at the end of April.
The MS Finnmark will sail on a return journey from Bergen in southwest Norway along the west coast as from April 20 to May 2. The MS Trollfjord will sail from May 7 to May 19.
The new ships vary in style. The MS Finnmark belongs to the Norwegian shipping company Ofotens and Vesteraalens Dampskibsselskabs ASA (OVDS) and has a rounded stern, all-round deck access and an elegant Norwegian art nouveau interior with Viking motifs.
The uppermost deck has a salon with a 360 degree panoramic view of the coast and a port deck running all the way to the tip of the bow.
The MS Finnmark is 138.75 metres in length and has a beam of 21.5 metres. The ship is modelled on the original Finnmark vessel from 1912 and is said to continue the classic tradition of the Norwegian Coastal Voyage.
Both ships can accommodate approximately 1,000 passengers and have 650 berths. There is room for 50 cars on board. The ships weigh 15,000 tonnes and have a cruising speed of 13 knots.
The new ships are larger than the mid-generation and traditional Hurtigruten boats some of which like the older MS Vesteraalen did not even have stabilizers.
According to the Norwegian Shipping Agency (NSA), new propeller systems will also reduce the noise and vibration level on the trips.
Suites vary in size, shape and location. Some are up to 35 square metres large. Standard suites have a double bed, shower/WC, sofa, chairs and TV. The most exclusive have a bathroom with a bathtub, balcony, bay windows and jacuzzi and are lined with teak.
The MS Finnmark also has a heated swimming pool on board along with an outer jacuzzi, a fitness room and a sauna.
The trip on the new boats' maiden voyages cost upwards of 2,155 euros. The price of trips on the other ships varies from season to season, but start in this price category.
More about Norway, Ships, Sailing
 
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