Cruise season gets underway
April 30, 2010
The first cruiseships of the summer season have started turning up in Oslo, and many more will be following. Not all of them will simply be passing through: Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines is now basing one of its vessels in the Norwegian capital.
Royal Caribbean has strong Norwegian roots, founded by three Norwegian shipowners and still partially owned by Anders and Gjert Wilhelmsen. It started running its relatively new Vision of the Seas on short cruises from Oslo a few years ago, and now it’s expanded its offering.
The vessel sailed in for the first cruise of the season and will cater to Norwegians keen on testing the cruise waters to such destinations as Copenhagen, Amsterdam and ports like Tallinn in the Baltic. It’s an expanded program, with some cruises from Oslo lasting as long as nine days instead of the usual three or four days of recent years.
That will give some competition to the cruise ferries that already run year-round from Oslo to Denmark and Germany, but they’re on the brink of the traditionally busy summer season so don’t seem to fear excess capacity.
“Competition is healthy,” Helge Otto Mathiesen of Color Line told newspaper Aftenposten. “It’s exciting if this (Royal Caribbean’s offering) will open up peoples’ eyes to cruising, and then travel with us.”
Color Line, which offers cruise-like cabins, gourmet restaurants and even spa treatments on board its Color Fantasy and Color Magic, also carries cars and trucks and reported strong earnings for last year. Both it and the cruise ferries serving Denmark, DFDS and Stena Line, also played an important role recently when volcanic clouds grounded the airlines and the vessels provided a needed transport link to the European continent.
Also turning up in Oslo last week was one of the Hurtigruten ships, which normally sail along Norway’s western and northern coast, between Kirkenes and Bergen. During the summer, there can be as many as three major cruiseships from all major lines in Oslo on any given day.