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All about HX: Sustainable luxury expedition cruises with Hurtigruten

Hurtigruten (HX) hosted a partner event in Melbourne last week to share its 18-month plan to phase out the Hurtigruten Expeditions brand and share more details of the transformation to its new brand, HX.

Hurtigruten (HX) hosted a partner event in Melbourne last week to share its 18-month plan to phase out the Hurtigruten Expeditions brand and share more details of the transformation to its new brand, HX.

The gathering was held at Freyja restaurant in Melbourne, named after one of the most renowned Norse goddesses and revered today for its “New Nordic” culinary experience.

The lunch, however, was not solely about food. Before guests (including Karryon) sat down to their Arctic-inspired cuisine, we were treated to a Hurtigruten Expeditions (HX) brand update by its Melbourne-based leaders.

Managing Director, VP of Sales & Marketing, Asia-Pacific, Damian Perry, began the session with a compelling update on the 130-year-old Norwegian cruise company’s future strategy and emphasised the organisation’s deep commitment to sustainability.

Managing Director, VP of Sales & Marketing, Asia-Pacific, Damian Perry

He also outlined the company’s commercial plans for 2024, which include dividing their operations into two distinct brands: Hurtigruten Norway, focusing on non-expedition cruises, and the recently announced brand move from Hurtigruten Expeditions to HX, dedicated solely to luxury expeditionary experiences.

The new brand is “a nod to Hurtigruten Expeditions and its origins” after the cruise line set up the world’s first expedition cruise in 1896.

Accelerating through history to meet the demands of the modern and mindful traveller, the shift aims to enhance the luxury experience across their offerings, with Perry highlighting that Australians made up 25 per cent of their guest list in the most recent season, indicating HX’s appeal and future potential from travellers down under.

HX’s mission will remain the same: to provide its guests with an “immersive small-ship experience deeply rooted in exploration with scientific research, expert-led lectures, and community advocacy at the heart of the experience”.

Image Hurtigruten Expeditions & Ted Gatlin

“With the new expansion of the business, I think that we’ll be the major supplier of all Australian guests to the Antarctic for Hurtigruten (HX) within the next two years. It’s an incredible product and incredible experience.”

Describing the need for the support of the trade to enable sustainable growth for HX, Perry said, “We can’t do this by just separating the businesses. We need really strong partners, and we want to be your best partner.

“We want to make it easy to sell for you and your teams and profitable for you as a business,” he said.

Hurtigruten Sea Zero

Hurtigruten’s legendary sustainability efforts have been at the industry’s forefront for decades, with the pioneering company abandoning heavy fuel use over 15 years ago, long before the word sustainability was ever a thing.

Today, however, it’s still a practice used by others within the international cruise sector, with HX actively campaigning to educate others to follow suit in the Arctic and beyond.

HX was, remarkably, also the first cruise company to eliminate single-use plastics onboard in 2018, removing 32,000 tonnes to date, barring essential food-grade items.

In 2019, Hurtigruten launched the world’s first hybrid-powered cruise ship, The MS Roald Amundsen.

Named after the first man to cross Antarctica and reach the South Pole, MS Roald Amundsen, the electric-powered ship is specially constructed for voyages in polar waters.

Today, HX’s focus is continuing to reduce emissions, with substantial investments in hybrid battery power, shore power, and biofuels. Plans for the world’s pioneering zero-emission vessel were initially revealed in March 2022 under the name Project Sea Zero.

In August, global ESG research, ratings and data firm Morningstar Sustainalytics recognised Hurtigruten Travel Group as the lowest ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) risk rating for investment among cruise companies.

“There is no one in cruising that comes close to what we’re doing regarding sustainability,” concluded Perry.

The new HX logo in action.
The new HX brand look and feel

Hurtigruten Marketing Manager Joel Victoria spoke to HX’s luxe new branding rollout, beginning in December, which sees sales collateral, including websites and social channels, updated. The repainting of the fleet’s six ships will start over the following 18 months.

Victoria touched on HX’s storied history since 1932 and milestones such as introducing the first coastal hybrid ship in 2023. Victoria also mentioned Hurtigruten Norway’s role in the 2011 Slow TV event that captivated viewers worldwide.

Hurtigruten (HX) Sales Director, APAC Amber Wilson, gave an update from a sales perspective, reaffirming their commitment to prioritising information sharing with trade partners and expressing an eagerness to collaborate on events and cooperative marketing efforts.

Team Hurtigruten
Team Hurtigruten at Freyja in Melbourne

Furthermore, Ms Wilson highlighted HX’s impressive Net Promoter® Scores from its travellers: 80 per cent for expedition cruises and 70 per cent for all others.

There was also a mention of the unique Northern Lights Promise, guaranteeing guests another cruise if the lights are not visible during their journey or a free trip the year after.

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Last week, Hurtigruten Expeditions launched its Spring Sail Away agent incentive, in which 20 cabins on 2024 voyages are up for grabs.