‘Impressed and happy’ with Hurtigruten

By George Anderson
This item appears on page 23 of the January 2016 issue.
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In a letter about the Norwegian cruise line Hurtigruten (Bellevue, WA; 866/552-0371, www.hurtigruten.us), a reader complained about their policy of not permitting guests to take their own water to the dinner table (July ’15, pg. 26)

I agree that the policy of not allowing guests who pay full board to have free tap water with their evening meal is abhorrent, and I would encourage the cruise line to change that policy, which, at best, earns them a pittance at a high cost in hard-won customer goodwill.* In contrast, and as an example of a very positive impression being left by Hurtigruten, there is the experience my wife and I recently had.

We booked a cruise aboard the MS Finnmarken, departing Aug. 29, 2015, from Bergen and heading to Stamsund. Since we weren’t taking the full coastal cruise but were doing a hop-on, hop-off, we phoned Hurtigruten’s US office in order to reserve our cabin.**

The trip was to include a brief stop in Trondheim on Aug. 31 and arrive in Stamsund the evening of Sept. 2. Sometime on Aug. 30, the ship experienced a serious mechanical problem with a side thruster and became limited to half the normal speed, or 7 knots. Worse, it was determined that the ship would have to go into dry dock for the repair.

There were 600 passengers on board who would have to be dealt with, together with 200 additional passengers who were scheduled to board later on the route. In other words, it was a manager’s nightmare.

The response from Hurtigruten and the ship’s crew was brilliant. In less than 24 hours, passengers were booked on airplanes to take them north to board another Hurtigruten ship, were put in hotels, where they could wait to catch the next day’s ship, or were booked on flights to other Norwegian cities, if that was their choice.

In our case, we were booked on a flight to Stamsund that actually arrived a few hours earlier than the ship would have arrived. All costs were covered, even the taxi ride from the pier to the airport.

It also was immediately announced that passengers who had booked the full cruise would receive a 100% refund and a 20% credit with Hurtigruten for future use.

The ship’s crew were saints, working through the night with the home office to make hundreds of arrangements. Prior to this event, we had gotten to know Mona Salamonsen, whose title is Restaurant Manager. That must be a higher-level position than it sounds, because Mona was clearly a member of the executive team during this event, issuing orders and dealing with situations as they came flying at her.

As we were getting into the taxi, my wife asked Mona how long it had been since she had slept. It had been 27 hours, and she was still cheerful!

We got to Stamsund on schedule, at no additional cost, and the force majeure situation was handled well. We both were impressed and happy. Sure, it was an inconvenience, but no one was to blame. 

End of story? No.

On my September Visa statement, I found a credit of $1,848 from Hurtigruten — the entire cost of our cruise fare from Bergen to Stamsund! 

GEORGE ANDERSON

Minneapolis, MN

ITN’s editor sent a copy of Mr. Anderson’s letter to Hurtigruten’s public relations firm, also asking, “Is Mr. Anderson correct in his assessment that someone who is not booking a full coastal cruise should make their booking by telephone with Hurtigruten because a partial cruise cannot be booked on the website?” The following reply was received.

We really appreciate the effort you go to in providing fair and honest information to your readers. I don’t think anyone else does that with nearly as much care as you show. And I am not just buttering the bread, so to speak. 

*Beginning in 2016, filtered tap water will be available for free upon request during all meals in all Hurtigruten ships’ dining rooms. Premium bottled water will also be available as before for an additional charge.

**As for booking port to port, that can be done online as well. The company recently launched a new website design, and it is much easier to book a port-to-port [segment] online now. Choose the embarkation and disembarkation ports and the dates and, voilà!, all set!

ELLIOT GILLIES, President, Gillies & Zaiser Public Relations

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

In a letter about the Norwegian cruise line Hurtigruten (Bellevue, WA; 866/552-0371, www.hurtigruten.us), a reader complained about their policy of not permitting guests to take their own water to the dinner table (July ’15, pg. 26)

I agree that the policy of not allowing guests who pay full board to have free tap water with their evening meal is abhorrent, and I would encourage the cruise line to change that policy, which, at best, earns them a pittance at a high cost in hard-won customer goodwill.* In contrast, and as an example of a very positive impression being left by Hurtigruten, there is the experience my wife and I recently had.

We booked a cruise aboard the MS Finnmarken, departing Aug. 29, 2015, from Bergen and heading to Stamsund. Since we weren’t taking the full coastal cruise but were doing a hop-on, hop-off, we phoned Hurtigruten’s US office in order to reserve our cabin.**

The trip was to include a brief stop in Trondheim on Aug. 31 and arrive in Stamsund the evening of Sept. 2. Sometime on Aug. 30, the ship experienced a serious mechanical problem with a side thruster and became limited to half the normal speed, or 7 knots. Worse, it was determined that the ship would have to go into dry dock for the repair.

There were 600 passengers on board who would have to be dealt with, together with 200 additional passengers who were scheduled to board later on the route. In other words, it was a manager’s nightmare.

The response from Hurtigruten and the ship’s crew was brilliant. In less than 24 hours, passengers were booked on airplanes to take them north to board another Hurtigruten ship, were put in hotels, where they could wait to catch the next day’s ship, or were booked on flights to other Norwegian cities, if that was their choice.

In our case, we were booked on a flight to Stamsund that actually arrived a few hours earlier than the ship would have arrived. All costs were covered, even the taxi ride from the pier to the airport.

It also was immediately announced that passengers who had booked the full cruise would receive a 100% refund and a 20% credit with Hurtigruten for future use.

The ship’s crew were saints, working through the night with the home office to make hundreds of arrangements. Prior to this event, we had gotten to know Mona Salamonsen, whose title is Restaurant Manager. That must be a higher-level position than it sounds, because Mona was clearly a member of the executive team during this event, issuing orders and dealing with situations as they came flying at her.

As we were getting into the taxi, my wife asked Mona how long it had been since she had slept. It had been 27 hours, and she was still cheerful!

We got to Stamsund on schedule, at no additional cost, and the force majeure situation was handled well. We both were impressed and happy. Sure, it was an inconvenience, but no one was to blame. 

End of story? No.

On my September Visa statement, I found a credit of $1,848 from Hurtigruten — the entire cost of our cruise fare from Bergen to Stamsund! 

GEORGE ANDERSON

Minneapolis, MN

ITN’s editor sent a copy of Mr. Anderson’s letter to Hurtigruten’s public relations firm, also asking, “Is Mr. Anderson correct in his assessment that someone who is not booking a full coastal cruise should make their booking by telephone with Hurtigruten because a partial cruise cannot be booked on the website?” The following reply was received.

We really appreciate the effort you go to in providing fair and honest information to your readers. I don’t think anyone else does that with nearly as much care as you show. And I am not just buttering the bread, so to speak. 

*Beginning in 2016, filtered tap water will be available for free upon request during all meals in all Hurtigruten ships’ dining rooms. Premium bottled water will also be available as before for an additional charge.

**As for booking port to port, that can be done online as well. The company recently launched a new website design, and it is much easier to book a port-to-port [segment] online now. Choose the embarkation and disembarkation ports and the dates and, voilà!, all set!

ELLIOT GILLIES, President, Gillies & Zaiser Public Relations