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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Hurtigruten classic gets NRK send-off

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) is going back on board another Hurtigruten ship to document its voyage from Kirkenes south to Bergen. It won’t be another minute-by-minute television marathon, though, rather a fond farewell to the oldest vessel in the Hurtigruten fleet.

NRK will document the final scheduled voyage of Hurtiguten's oldest ship, the classic "MS Nordstjernen" this spring. PHOTO: Hurtigruten

The MS Nordstjernen, built in Hamburg in 1956, is being retired from service this spring. The vessel is the last of the type of small coastal ships that once made up the entire fleet, and NRK plans a 40-minute documentary of Nordstjernen’s final voyage.

The state broadcaster set all kinds of records with its wildly popular show last June that covered every minute of a voyage on board Hurtigruten’s much more modern MS Nord-Norge last summer. That trip went from Bergen north to Kirkenes, and millions of people both in Norway and abroad followed NRK’s continual live coverage that lasted for nearly six days, round the clock.

Now NRK will cover the reverse, southbound voyage when the Nordstjernen sails from Kirkenes on March 17. When the ship docks nearly a week later in Bergen, it will also have set a record, for being the Hurtigruten ship that sailed the longest of all the vessels in the fleet.

Long history
The ship was built at the Blohm & Voss shipyard in Hamburg in 1956, when Germany was still recovering and rebuilding after World War II. At that time, the vessel’s official owner was the shipping company Bergens Dampskibsselskap, and it was among the vessels owned by various companies that made up the venerable Hurtigruten line that still served as a vital transport link for communities all along Norway’s lengthy coastline. Many still had no road or bridge connections at that time, and there was no frequent air travel either, so the Hurtiguten line was actually “hurtig,” or fast, forming the quickest and most reliable route for transporting passengers and goods.

Today a trip on a Hurtigruten ship is mostly viewed as slow and relatively relaxing. The line now caters to the tourism market though Hurtigruten’s fleet renewal that ushered in cruise-like vessels. They still carry vehicles and cargo, but the line’s purpose and customers have changed dramatically over the years.

Hurtigruten officials have decided that the small, far-less luxurious Nordstjernen no longer fits in and has become too expensive to operate, hence its looming retirement from service on the scheduled coastal route, and likely sale. Many Hurtigruten fans hope Nordstjernen will still sail on special voyages. It’s been taken out of service before, only to make a comeback. One of its sister ships has served as a museum ship for several years.

Read an account of a recent voyage on board  the MS Nordstjernen here.

NRK’s team will chronicle the final voyage, which is already nearly sold out, and turn their footage into the documentary for broadcast laster this year. The goal, according to NRK, is “to draw a picture of the vessel’s history, of passengers who have traveled on Nordstjernen many times, and the vessel’s crew. NRK wrote on its website that it’s interested in collecting former passengers’ photos and stories from the vessel, especially in its early years. Those with photos to contribute can send an e-mail to Helge Lyngmoe at NRK, or call him at (+47) 75 50 57 00.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund

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