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Norway-based exploration cruise line Hurtigruten has announced the winning name in its “Name our Newest Ship” Facebook contest: MS Spitsbergen. The name was chosen from more than 15,000 suggestions submitted from around the world since July. The contest winner is Erlend Baldersheim, from the village of Baldersheim, close to Bergen, Norway. He and a friend will be guests of the captain on a special sailing onboard the ship.
“We had many great name suggestions, but we found MS Spitsbergen to be especially appropriate, as it ties together our long history of polar exploration with our vision for a modern-day Hurtigruten,” said Daniel Skjeldam, CEO of the company. “As early as 1896, Hurtigruten founder and tourism entrepreneur Richard With built a hotel in Spitsbergen and established sailings there from Hammerfest. Having built on this heritage of exploration, today we are proud to be a world leader in nature-based experiences and expedition travel along the Norwegian coast, in the waters around Antarctica and in the Arctic.”
Spitsbergen will sail on Hurtigruten’s Coastal Voyage, the route along Norway’s western coast, replacing Midnatsol, which will join Fram in Antarctica in the 2016-2017 season. After its first season in Norway, Spitsbergen will alternate between the coast and polar expeditions. The ship has 180 berths, with a total capacity for 320 guests (day passengers sail, as well), and is highly maneuverable, making it ideal for Hurtigruten’s sailings into fjords and the polar regions.
With a fleet of 13 ships, 123-year-old Hurtigruten is continuing to expand its marketing and sales efforts in North America as it invests in its future. Over the next few years, the company is gearing up to offer new itineraries, new soft- and hard-adventure excursions and expansion of its highly regarded expedition leader teams. A trailblazer in sustainable travel for a century, Hurtigruten has established a foundation to enhance awareness and contribute its monies, knowledge and years of experience to protect the vulnerable polar areas. The foundation has named its first ambassador: ocean advocate, pioneer swimmer and environmental campaigner Lewis Pugh, who was appointed “Patron of the Oceans” by United Nations Environment Programme in 2013.
“We want to offer travel with meaning,” Skjeldam said. “By having guests, staff, partners and Hurtigruten friends from around the world join forces, we aim to ensure that future guests can have the same unique experiences in these areas as guests of today.”