Norwegian explorer cruise company, Hurtigruten, has announced its newest ship will be named ‘MS Spitsbergen’ after the largest island in the Svalbard Archipelago.
This very northernmost part of Norway is also where, in 1896, Hurtigruten’s founder Richard With first started explorer tourism in the Arctic.
The name was chosen following a competition in which more than 15,000 suggestions were submitted from all over the world.
Chief executive Daniel Skjeldam commented: “We find MS Spitsbergen to be a very appropriate name as it ties together our history and present-day Hurtigruten.
“As early as in 1896, Hurtigruten founder and tourism entrepreneur Richard With built a hotel in Spitsbergen and established “The Sport route” with sailings from Hammerfest to Spitsbergen, operated by steamship DS Lofoten.
“Having built on this heritage, today we are world leading operator of nature-based experiences along the Norwegian coast, in the waters around Antarctica and in the Arctic.”
Explorer tourism is a fast growing industry.
MS Spitsbergen adds greater flexibility to Hurtigruten’s global operations as the company now operates two ships offering guests unique nature and culture experiences around the poles as well as 11 ships along the Norwegian coast.
In the high North, Hurtigruten now offer voyages around Greenland and Iceland, as well as around Spitsbergen.
In the extreme South, Hurtigruten sail guests from South America to the waters around Antarctica.
MS Spitsbergen will initially replace MS Midnatsol on Hurtigruten’s traditional coastal route when she sails down to Antarctica in autumn 2016.
In future it is expected that the new addition will alternate between the coastal route and polar expeditions.
Skjeldam describes the reception of the naming contest as overwhelming.