Norwegian Coastal Liner Celebrates 50 Years of Service
Shawn J. Dake
The LOFOTEN ready to sail from Bergen on March 28, 1992 for another trip along the Norwegian Coast. Photo by Shawn J. Dake © 1992.
Hurtigruten is celebrating the 50th anniversary of their oldest ship, the m.s. LOFOTEN. The ship made its maiden voyage from Bergen, up the Norwegian coast on March 5, 1964 and has been in continuous service, under its original name ever since. Over the past 50 years the LOFOTEN has traveled almost three million nautical miles, transported 1.25 million passengers and docked over 75,000 times in the ports serviced by Hurtigruten vessels. At 287 feet in length and 2,661 gross tons the ship is the smallest and oldest member of the Hurtigruten fleet. In a country that has a fondness for classic ships, the LOFOTEN has been protected by a preservation order since 2011, remaining popular with passengers and competitive with her much younger and larger fleet mates.
The LOFOTEN was built by Akers M/V in Oslo, Norway for Det Vesteraalske Dampskipsselskab as a replacement for an earlier vessel of the same name. Although the new ship had no identical sister, it shared dimensions and a very similar arrangement to the HARALD JARL of 1960. In fact four ships of the Hurtigruten, beginning with the German-built FINNMARKEN from 1956 had exterior profiles that were often mistaken for one another. In contrast to the earlier coastal ships, these motorships had rather squat funnels positioned three-quarters of the way aft, most with a tall mast positioned midship. The black-painted hull extending aft from the bow changed to white at the superstructure adding to the low, sleek appearance. As originally built, the LOFOTEN had accommodations for 53 first class and 180 second class passengers. Later in her career she would offer 223 berths in a single class. The exact dimensions of the ship in feet, are 286.8 in overall length, 43.6 in beam and 22 depth. The vessel is powered by 7-cylinder Burmeister & Wain diesels generating 3,325 bhp.
The forward Panorama Saloon of the LOFOTEN situated on the Boat Deck. Photo by Shawn J. Dake. © 1992.
The commemorative anniversary voyage, set out from Bergen on March 2, 2014, and is the prelude to a year’s worth of festivities. Numerous well-wishers and visitors are expected to turn out in the ports of call on the Hurtigruten route. Traditional Norwegian dancing and music will be among the welcomes offered along the way. A whole host of other activities will also be available on-board during the anniversary voyage and throughout 2014.
LOFOTEN at sea in the colors of FFR, Finnmark Fylkesrederi og Ruteselskap. Postcard from the collection of Shawn J. Dake.
The dining room of the ship will feature fresh food and local specialties while serving an anniversary menu reminiscent of the 1960s one evening on each of the Classic Roundtrip Voyages. There will also be a feast for the eyes as the crew and officers will be dressed in uniforms from the era. Passengers will be able to send postcards with an MS LOFOTEN anniversary stamp that is being issued by the Norwegian post office especially to mark the occasion. An exhibition of photos of the ship taken over the past 50 years will be shown on board and passengers will learn fascinating facts about this vintage vessel and the history of Hurtigruten in onboard lectures.
Hurtigruten literally means “Rapid Route” and has come to represent the famous Norwegian Coastal Voyage which calls at up to 35 ports during 12-day round voyages from the Southern terminus at Bergen, Norway. The demanding conditions and the picturesque route have been serviced by sturdy vessels for well over 100 years. The LOFOTEN is the sole operating survivor of a fleet of similar ships that were built for several independent companies in the 1950’s and 1960’s. A fleet modernization campaign took place from 1993 to 2003 when a total of eight new vessels were built for the route, eventually retiring nearly all of the older ships. For a classic seagoing experience the Hurtigruten voyage must be experienced and for those that truly love the sea and ships, there is no better vessel to embark upon than the wonderful old LOFOTEN.
The LOFOTEN as she appears today in the fleetwide colors of Hurtigruten. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Official website: www.hurtigruten.co.uk/
Shawn J. Dake, freelance travel writer and regular contributor to MaritimeMatters, worked in tourism and cruise industry for over 35 years. A native of Southern California, his first job was as a tour guide aboard the Queen Mary. A frequent lecturer on ship-related topics he has appeared on TV programs. Owner of Oceans Away Cruises & Travel agency, he served as President of the local Chapter of Steamship Historical Society of America. With a love of the sea, he is a veteran of 115 cruises.
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