Hurtigruten has not ruled out sailing year-round from the UK, although general manager Anthony Daniels caveated that this would be dependent on the winter seasons’ success.
The line announced two weeks ago it would sail ex-UK expedition cruises for the first time.
As part of its new Norway Expedition programme, Hurtigruten will operate 14-day voyages from Dover onboard its ship, Maud, between October 2021 and March 2022.
Daniels revealed Hurtigruten has booked more than 350 people since the programme’s soft launch.
Asked whether Hurtigruten would extend its winter sailings to the summer as well, making them year-round, Daniels said: “That’s certainly something we’d consider, but the journey that’s operating massively for the UK is the northern lights.
“It’s a different conversation when it comes to the summer months as you’ve got a lot more competition and it’s a different type of mind-set.
“I certainly wouldn’t say no, but I would want to make sure that the winter sells well and we can prove that it’s sustainable before we go back to head office and have those extended conversations.”
Hurtigruten also announced in August it will convert three of its ships into hybrid-powered expedition vessels.
“Up until now the ratio of expedition to coastal sailing has been 70:30 and within the next few years you’re going to see that change to 50:50,” revealed Daniels.
“Further down the line this will maybe switch to 70:30 in favour of expedition.
“You can already see that with the ship deployment and the itineraries we’re working on.”
Asked by TTG whether further sales team changes were in the pipeline following Hurtigruten’s announcement this was a wholesale restructure of its UK sales team, Daniels said: “With restructuring, you have to work with the here and now and consider what the future’s going to be like for your demands.
“We’ve announced changes and that’s the short-term plan.
“The long-term plan depends on what budgets and extra investment we get from head office, but until we know what that is we can’t make those plans.
“The changes we’ve made are bearing in mind the changes we’ve got coming to the UK.
“We need to execute this many sailings out of the UK and hit those targets.
“This is step one. Step two is investment. We’ve just got to keep proving ourselves to get the investment.
“The structure we had we felt wasn’t going to get us down that road in future years – we’ve had to get these [new] structures in early to set the foundations.
“Hopefully we can prove the case for investment and if we can upweight the sales team, then great. But we can’t guarantee that.”
Daniels added: “This wasn’t to do with Brexit or anything like that. It was about how we need to work better with the trade.”