Hurtigruten Sells 1964-built Lofoten
By Ted Scull
Aficionados, do not despair!
With almost any ship, aged 56, one would expect the next destination would be the last — a scrapyard where ships die.
Nothing doing for this workhorse, having held down a proud place in a large fleet of passenger and freight carriers. Together they provide a daily service from coastal Norway’s Bergen to remote Kirkenes well above the Arctic Circle.
Some 35 intermediate stops are made along the way at all hours of the day and night.
Southbound, the same stops but at different times.
The service is a lifeline for Norwegians, traveling between coastal cities and towns, and a cruise on a working ship for visitors, one-way or an 11-day round trip. Cargo shipments provide a vital service as do space for cars and their occupants.
The 1964-built Lofoten (named after a cluster of islands) will from next August serve as a training ship for Norwegian seafarers as have previous Hurtigruten ships.
Older ships require a lot of attention, providing a challenge for the sea students.
It’s most recent crews tend to be men and women who have chosen the Lofoten after acquiring an affection for its traditional charms, small size and loyal passengers, many who return to the ship time and again. The crew maintains their workplace with a lot of TLC.
Lofoten, still powered by her original Burmeister & Wain diesel engines, and with over 330,000 running hours, is the longest running marine diesel main engine in the world. Now that’s saying something about the quality of the engines and the extraordinary attention to maintenance by the engineers. The deck officers can take a lot of credit as most choose to work aboard her, and they too have looked after the ship.
I have sailed aboard the Lofoten twice, plus a half dozen other Hurtigruten ships since I made my first trip in October 1965 aboard the Erling Jarl, a ship built way back in 1947.
It’s the 1964-built Lofoten I took to most, with its charm of a country inn at sea, just 151 passenger beds, two forward facing lounges, an aft bar and café and handsome restaurant with reserved seating at dinner and large windows to watch Norway’s coastal beauty slide by.
The ship does have limited cabins with private facilities, and most are small to tiny, but that does not detract for Lofoten lovers and followers.
The coronavirus pandemic saw the planned last voyages cancelled, and it is hoped that the ship might make a couple of farewell trips in the spring of 2021.
Even more heartening, the terms of the sale allow Hurtigruten to charter the ship during the seafarers’ holidays.
That should open even more opportunities to sail.
I hope to be aboard, and when the dates are announced, I will have to move quickly to secure a desired cabin.
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