Hurtigruten’s MS «Kong Harald» has suffered a million pound makeover. What was intended to be a transition from being a old and outdated cruise ship to a fresh new and exciting explorer sea voyage, with a strong Norwegian identity has ended up more like a plain, floating motorway cafe.
Hurtigruten has spent 550 million Norwegian kroner on renovating four of its cruise ships sailing the Norwegian coast. The cruise line announced its somewhat heavy and flashy nineties cruise interior and furnishings would be replaced with a modern Scandinavian look. Allegedly with inspiration drawn from the spectacular nature outside the windows and under the keels.
The first ship, MS Kong Harald was barely completed before critics were raging. At its best the new ‘Scandinavian look’ has certain similarities to a IKEA restaurant. Furthermore we don’t see much trace of Hurtigruten’s rich history, as a vital part of communication and transportation along the Norwegian coastline, since 1893.
Instead of emphasising on its origin as a post ship and perhaps draw inspiration from Norwegian fishing boats and coastal villages and ports, Hurtigruten seems to have chosen a simple 1950s Norwegian home as their interior inspiration.
You wouldn’t imagine anyone transferring this design style to a ship, would you!? Well, it just happened. Hurtigruten wants to offer something new and fresh. But whilst intetions are good critics are left feeling very upset and are taking to social media to express their views. Sadness and shock are among the feelings shared on Facebook’s Hurtigrutens Venner. Not only do they feel that the Norwegian cabin style is completely out of place at sea, but there is also a general concern about the chairs and its comfort. Would you be spending hours enjoying splendid coastal views, seated on a wooden chair? Perhaps the 90’s style was outdated but very few complained about its comfort.
When Norwegians have such a rich history of seafarers, why do we not see any trace of it in the new design? Instead the boat is now littered with Norwegian cliche design decor to enhance Hurtigruten’s ‘explorer’ concept. From old wooden skis to giant posters of husky dogs on the walls – neither supporting a maritime feel and look.
Moving on to the on board restaurants and the disappointment continues. The design lack style and comfort. And it does not at all look like a restaurant that would be serving local produce; freshly pressed apple cider from Hardanger, bread from Lom or cheese from Undredal. I wouldn’t expect to be offered anything interesting here, unless they serve IKEA meatballs with gräddsauce and lingon jam.
No fresh table linens, candles or fresh flowers. All in all there’s very little to give you that ‘orient express at sea’ feel. All glamour of a sea voyage has been removed and replaced with a cheap looking cafeteria.
The three other ships that will be updated includes MS Polarlys, MS Nordkapp and MS Nordnorge. In our opinion, ships to avoid when booking your Nordic dream cruise.
To update the interior was the right thing to do. But what happened to the unique once in lifetime, exclusive bucket list experience? Will wooden chairs, canteens and giant posters of racing huskies be the recipe for success?
If you’ve always wanted to go, perhaps look into booking with MS Lofoten, a Hurtigruten ship that has sailed the Norwegian Fjords since 1964. The ship’s classic style and informal atmosphere inspires genuine nostalgia, with 60s inspired menus and retro-style uniforms.
Below is a photo from Hurtigruten’s MS Lofoten, with all its nautical charm.
But regardless of the interior… Any cruise ship sailing along the coast of Norway will still be able to offer unparalleled views!