Hurtigruten gets new owner, eyes Solovki cruises

The monastery rises like a fairytale castle in between the water and the sky and is a remote, but famous destination for tourists in the Russian north.

Norway’s most famous coastal cruise liner has agreed to a takeover offer from a British group of investors. The company now plans for expedition cruising to Russia’s White Sea region.


Hurtigruten announced on Wednesday it recommends a takeover bid from the London based Silk Bidco AS. With headquarters in Tromsø, Hurtigruten operates daily voyages along Norway’s scenic coast from Kirkenes in the northeast to Bergen in the southwest.

The red, white and black painted vessels sailing year-around have become a symbol of Norway’s successful coastal tourism cruises. In addition, the company operates a dedicated expedition cruise vessel, the “Fram” that sails both the Arctic and Antarctica.

Hurtigruten sails daily voyages along the coast of Norway. Here from Tromsø.

Next destination on the list for expedition cruising is likely to be Russia’s White Sea region with the Solovetsky archipelago, often entitled the secret pearl of the Barents Region

 “We have agreed on starting developing the cruise itinerary from Tromsø via Kirkenes, Murmansk, Solovetsky Archipelago to Arkhangelsk,” says Olga Gorelova to BarentsObserver.

She is Deputy Head of the Agency for Tourism and International Cooperation of the Arkhangelsk Region.

The itinerary was discussed at a meeting between Russian and Norwegian tourism actors in Arkhangelsk in October.  

Olga Gorelova tells they are looking into the opportunities of Hurtigruten’s operation in the White Sea in 2017-2018. The vessel in question is “Fram” – Hurtigruten’s only vessel purposely built for expedition cruising. 

Arkhangelsk is the largest city in the Barents Region with more than 300,000 inhabitants.

Like other cruise liners sailing the White Sea, the idea is to sail from Tromsø, via North Cape and Kirkenes, into Russian waters with a port call to Murmansk, before sailing around the Kola Peninsula, into the White Sea with Solovetsky as the highlight before Arkhangelsk. In Arkhangelsk, passangers will be changed by charter plane and another group of tourists will sail on the return trip back to Tromsø.

“Before next summer there should be developed the cruise product and its marketing plan to start sales in 2015 for implementing a pilot cruise in 2017,” says Olga Gorelova.

Hurtigruten has not retured calls from BarentsObserver on commenting the plans for White Sea cruises.

Arkhangelsk region has over the last few years invested in better infrastructure on Solovki to facilitate for more tourists. A new pier allows smaller cruise vessel to go portside near the famous Monastery, once infamous for its Gulag camp, today considered to be one of the most holy places for the Russian Orthodox Church. 

The monastery was listed on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1992. Walking around the monastery, in the water front area, in the village or to the different churches on the island is truly a walk in history.

After the takeover bid was announced on Wednesday, Hurtigruten officials said the company would get a better financial stand to possible build more new vessels, including vessels for expedition cruises.