Snowbound Southbound, Part Three

Peter Knego’s latest Norwegian coastal trek continues aboard Hurtigruten’s completely revamped MV KONG HARALD, which crosses the Arctic Circle on her short southbound journey from Svolvaer to Trondheim.  This post includes a top-to-bottom Decked! of the 1992-built KONG HARALD and a day in the life aboard the first of Hurtigruten’s “new generation” ships.


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THE SANDS OF ALANG: The latest DVD about shipbreaking in Alang, India

All photos by and copyright Peter Knego 2016 unless otherwise noted.

Tuesday, February 26, 2016

One we learned my backpack with all the essential chargers, computer, etc. was not transferred to the ship in Tromso as planned, our host Oystein came up with an effective Plan B by reaching out to the KONG HARALD’s crew. Explorer Lounge Bartender Albin Musovic came to the rescue by loaning me his camera for the next two nights. Even better, as I soon discovered, his charger was compatible with my camera. So, I dedicate this post with huge thanks to Albin and the staff of KONG HARALD.

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KONG HARALD at Bergen on a sunny-ish day in 2015.

Although the ship was still in a state of limbo with fittings and some artwork yet to be installed, enough was in place to give a feel for what the KONG, her three fleetmates (POLARLYS, NORDKAPP, NORDNORGE) and the forthcoming MV SPITSBERGEN will look like after their respective transformations. The following Decked! images were taken at varying times during our short time aboard.

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KONG HARALD builder’s plate.

The KONG HARALD was built in 1992 at the Volkswerft shipyard at Stralsund, Germany and was followed by two identical sisters, the RICHARD WITH and the NORDLYS, both introduced in 1993. The KONG was the first of the “new generation” Hurtigruten ships commissioned in the early 1990s to replace the line’s beloved but aging fleet of classic ships built between 1951 and 1965.

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MV KONG HARALD Explorer Lounge, facing starboard.

Early this year, the KONG was given a full make-over that included mechanical upgrading and a complete restyling of all public areas and most cabins. Swedish-based Tillberg Design has given the ship its new Arctic Look, incorporating color schemes inspired by Norwegian nature. Measuring 11,204-gt, she can carry up to 622 guests (berthed in 203 cabins with 469 beds with an additional 153 deck passengers). She has six passenger decks, beginning at the top with Deck 7, which boasts the completely restyled Explorer Observation Lounge.

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MV KONG HARALD Explorer Lounge, facing aft from port.

The forward portion of the Explorer Lounge has full length windows offering great views from an above-the-bridge vantage. Extremely comfortable leather swivel chairs line the outer portion of the room, continuing aft along either side.

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MV KONG HARALD Panorama Bar, facing port.

With its dark wood tones and plush teal armchairs, the newly restyled Panorama Bar recalls seminal Midcentury Scandinavian ships like Kay Korbing’s MV WINSTON CHURCHILL.  Please note that a faux fireplace and some additional decorative elements had yet to be installed when these photos were taken.

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MV KONG HARALD Multe, facing aft.

The Multe, an entirely new venue, follows the Explorer Lounge. The forward portion of the L-shaped room has windows on either side and a long gallery lined with picture windows that continues aft on the port side. This is the place to purchase specialty coffees and teas, fresh pastries and locally made ice creams. In contrast with the sleek, edgy look of the Explorer Lounge, the Multe is warmer, with light wood tones and folky decorative elements.

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MV KONG HARALD Fitness Center.

A small fitness center is located on aft/starboard Deck 7, offering inspirational views from its line of cardio machines.

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MV KONG HARALD Starboard Deck 7, facing aft.

The outer portion of Deck 7 begins with sheltered spaces on either side of the funnel casing that now sport comfortable new furnishings.

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MV KONG HARALD, aft Deck 7, facing forward.

The aft portion of Deck 7 is a wide open space that in the summertime may be used as a sun deck. An al fresco bar was added in the recent refit.

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MV KONG HARALD aft Deck 6, facing starboard.

Deck 6 houses the wheelhouse and officers’ quarters as well as a block of cabin accommodation. At its aft end, there is another open terrace that is fitted with Jacuzzis during the summer season.

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MV KONG HARALD forward Deck 5, facing starboard.

Deck 5 features a full wrap-around promenade, the forward portion of which overlooks the bow.

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MV KONG HARALD port Deck 5, facing aft.

The Deck 5 promenade widens on either side, allowing space for deck chairs as well as promenading. Another open terrace is located at the stern.

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MV KONG HARALD port Lecture Hall, facing aft.

Deck 4, which has been completely reconfigured, is devoted to public rooms, beginning with a combination lecture hall/conference center and the Kompass shopping arcade, tour desk and reception area. The lecture halls are located forward on either side.

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MV KONG HARALD Kompass boutique area, facing aft/starboard.

Open space continues aft of the conference areas with the Kompass boutique, which offers books, clothing and souvenirs.

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MV KONG HARALD Reception, facing aft.

On the port side of this new venue is the 24-hour Kompass reception area, post office and tour desk.

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MV KONG HARALD Kysten Arctic Fine Dining, facing port.

On the port side, the Kysten Arctic Fine Dining is a premium a la carte restaurant offering up Norwegian specialties that are prepared in an open galley, just aft.

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MV KONG HARALD Kysten Arctic Kitchen, facing forward.

A screen will separate the Kysten from the Brygga Bistro on the starboard side and there will be a live lobster tank fronting the galley area.

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MV KONG HARALD Brygga Bistro, facing port.

The Brygga Bistro is the ship’s new 24-hour cafe where guests can purchase a quick snack, coffee or sandwich.

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MV KONG HARALD Brygga Bistro, facing aft.

Overflow seating for the Brygga continues aft along the starboard side.

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MV KONG HARALD, starboard Deck 4 passage, facing aft.

A passage with picture windows links the Brygga Bistro with the Torget Dining Room aft.

MV KONG HARALD Torget Dining Room, facing aft from port.

While still under renovation, the Torget’s new modern Scandinavian look was still evident. Moments after these images were taken, the ceiling panels came down for additional behind-the-scenes work.

MV KONG HARALD, Torget Dining Room, facing port.

The Torget has intimate alcoves on both its port and starboard sides.

MV KONG HARALD Torget Dining Room, facing aft.

A large buffet station and open chef’s galley is in the center of the Torget. Breakfast and lunch are offered buffet style although wait staff are on hand to serve a three course dinner.

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MV KONG HARALD aft section of Torget, facing port.

The aft portion of the Torget spans the width of the ship and has picture windows with a view over the ship’s wake.

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MV KONG HARALD Deck 3 vestibule, facing aft.

Deck 3 is devoted to staterooms, the laundry and the vestibule, where guests enter the ship. Even this space has been given a full “Arctic” renovation. Deck 2 is devoted to crew accommodation, the hospital, sauna, car deck and more staterooms.

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MV KONG HARALD Arctic Superior Outside cabin 540, facing port.

The KONG HARALD has two Expedition Suites on forward Deck 5 with separate bedroom and sitting area that were unfortunately not available for inspection during our short time aboard. Next up would be the Arctic Superior staterooms on the ship’s upper and mid decks. They feature a large picture window, a sofa that converts to a lower berth, a folding lower berth and a flatscreen television.

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MV KONG HARALD Cabin detailing.

The new Arctic styling features warm wood tones with deep blue soft fittings and large black and white images of Norway.

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MV KONG HARALD Polar Outside 605 triple, facing starboard.

Polar Outside staterooms are located on the middle and lower decks and feature a picture window or a pair of portholes with an unfolding sofa and a pair of upper/lower berths.

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Both Outside and Interior staterooms have modular bathrooms with a curtained shower recess, a large sink, toilet and plenty of storage space for toiletries.

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MV KONG HARALD Polar Inside cabin.

Polar Inside cabins are located on all decks and have the same features as the Arctic Exterior staterooms except, of course, the view.

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MV KONG HARALD Original Exterior Cabin.
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MV KONG HARALD original interior cabin.

A handful of outside and interior staterooms have been left in their original colors.

Wednesday, February 27, 2016

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Departing Ornes.

I was up early, taking advantage of a full day to document the KONG and to enjoy her passage through the spectacular, snow-covered scenery on what would typically be Day 10 of a round trip Hurtigruten voyage. Slightly delayed by a large cargo delivery in Bodo during the wee hours, we barely paused at the port of Ornes before I headed outside at 8:15 for our scheduled rendezvous with the northbound POLARLYS but because of the delay, it never happened.

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MV KONG HARALD Breakfast buffet spread.
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MV KONG HARALD Hot Breakfast items.

Since the Torget restaurant was still getting its finishing decorative touches, all of our meals would be served in the Brygga Bistro and adjoining Arctic Kitchen dining spaces. The typical Hurtigruten breakfast consists of hot choices (eggs, bacon, sausages, porridge, beans and perhaps waffles or crepes) and a wide variety of cold cuts, fruit, salads, breads, pastries, yogurt, muesli, cereal, herring and, of course, gjetost (Norwegian breakfast cheese that is actually a caramelized whey).

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Arctic Circle marker.

On my LOFOTEN summer southbound voyage in 2014, we passed the Arctic Circle (currently at 66°33′46.1″) marker in prime, temperate conditions. This morning would be more typically “arctic” with a positively icy wind and snow drifts piling up on deck.

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Crossing the Arctic Circle ceremony.

In proper tradition, to commemorate the crossing, guests lined up for a spoonful of delicious cod liver oil. Anything for the keepsake Hurtigruten souvenir spoon!

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Post Arctic passage. Photo by Ryazam Tristram.

After exchanging cameras with fellow guests for that once-in-a-lifetime photo op, we all headed into the warm comfort of the KONG.

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MV KONG HARALD Lunch veggies.

Lunch included (in addition to all sorts of warm appetizers and courses) an impressive spread of fresh and cooked veggies, which was especially surprising, considering the late winter season.

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Snow King at Sandnessjoen.

My first chance to step off the ship came at the port of Sandnessjoen, where the wind was driving the snow in diagonal gusts. Our view of the famed seven sisters mountain range beyond Sandnessjoen was obscured by clouds as KONG HARALD continued onward.

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MV KONG HARALD Molde ice cream.

In the Molde, they were giving out samples of the local, homemade ice cream. With the cod liver oil still lingering in the back of my throat, what more could I lose by sampling the dried cod flavor? Well, let’s just say the gjetost was much more to my liking and, yes, they had a nice assortment of “normal” flavors like vanilla, chocolate, caramel and more….

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Torghatten zoom.

In Bronnoysund, I went ashore again for more images of the ship. The weather was in constant flux with snow, hail and momentary sun bursts that would get swallowed up by the next system. We braved the elements on forward Deck 5 as the KONG sailed towards what promised to be a nice sunset with the dramatic (mountain with a hole in it) Torghatten off our starboard bow.

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Snowflakes and sunset.

And as suddenly as it appeared, it was all banished by yet another snow flurry and a gaggle of small waterspouts.

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MV KONG HARALD Duck and scalloped potatoes.
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Green tagged veggie option.

At dinner, the main course was a duck that was loved by all while I fawned over a spicy veggie option made of tomatoes, eggplant and zucchini.

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In the port of Rorvik, we had a generously long stay of 90 minutes during which I had planned on a visit to the northbound VESTERALEN, the only remaining member of the trio of Hurtigruten vessels built in the 1980s.

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Alas, VESTERALEN was running late, so I scrambled aboard for a frantic 20 minute top-to-bottom documentation before being the last to return to the KONG HARALD as she continued on her southbound journey.

Thursday, February 28, 2016

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KONG HARALD (left) and RICHARD WITH at Trondheim.

It all ended as suddenly as it began when the KONG HARALD spun into Trondheim harbor and berthed ahead of the identical RICHARD WITH. After breakfast, I walked ashore to the Scandic Hotel, where my backpack and a massive DHL air freight bill were waiting.

With my identity restored, I could journey onward to Amsterdam and a new adventure…

End of Snowbound Southbound

Special thanks: Lauren Frye, Elliot Gillies, Oystein Knoph, Albin Musovic, Ryazan Tristram, Runar

Peter Knego

Peter Knego

Having documented over 400 passenger ships and taken more than 200 cruises, MaritimeMatters’ co-editor Peter Knego is a leading freelance cruise writer, a respected ocean liner historian and frequent maritime lecturer both on land and at sea.  With his work regularly featured in cruise industry trades and consumer publications.  Knego also runs the website which offers MidCentury cruise ship furniture, artwork and fittings rescued from the shipbreaking yards of Alang, India.  He has produced several videos on the subject, including his latest, The Sands Of Alang and the best-selling On The Road To Alang."
Peter Knego

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