As Hurtigruten begins sailing domestic services along the Norwegian coast once more, Hurtigruten Asia Pacific MD Damian Perry and CEO Daniel Skjeldam share their views on where the industry is heading post-COVID-19 and where the Australian market needs to focus its energy, ready for the bounce.
While here in Australia we are slowly progressing with domestic travel and it may feel like the current policies are crippling for international outbound businesses.
However, in Norway, at Hurtigruten, we are seeing a real-life rebound model in play with the domestic market travelling and an increased interest in bookings for international sailings. We are confident that Australia and New Zealand will follow the same pattern.
Today I have received a message of solidarity that I’d like to share, as it provides a peek into the future from Daniel Skjeldam our CEO based in Oslo.
“With MS Midnatsol departing Bergen with guests tomorrow tonight and in the wake of recent sailings with MS Finnmarken, MS Richard With and MS Trollfjord; we now have four ships on the water offering guests round trips on the Norwegian coast. And, at present, we have had no cases or suspected cases of COVID-19 infection on board any of our ships. This is pioneering! I take great pride in knowing that Hurtigruten is currently operating and safely sailing the Norwegian fjords in this special time of history which is a salute to our enduring legacy.“
“With the pandemic as a backdrop, we are again navigating uncharted waters – only in a new meaning of the term – just as we have done since 1893 when we started delivering the mail from Trondheim to Hammerfest. I would like to express my sincere appreciation and gratitude to all crew members and support roles for all the hard work and expertise that you have invested in this superior achievement.“
“We are serving meals and refreshments; we are giving lectures; we are offering shore excursions; we arrange onboard activities. In summary, we produce abnormal normality! And the guests love it.“
“I have spoken to many of them, I have received reports from others – and social media is overflowing with photos, videos, and positively charged comments.“
“The feedback I seem to receive most often is that life aboard is experienced as “differently magnificent”. Differently, because our infection control measures are ever-present as they should be – Magnificent, because a virus cannot change the fact that this is the world’s most beautiful sea voyage – and that we have the very best people available to showcase it.“
Daniel Skjeldam, Hurtigruten CEO
“Our guests are, just like me, impressed in what our four front-running ships are delivering. I find it especially rewarding to observe how we conduct our COVID-19 protocols, which it turns out, has been highlighted as a value-added part of the experience offering security and comfort to our guests.”
At Hurtigruten, we remain committed to the concept of “dugnad” a centuries-old Norwegian philosophy of duty to the community above oneself, with both crew and guests taking responsibility for the health and safety of everyone on board. We remain disciplined, working together to do everything we can, constantly following our guidelines, and continually improving ourselves through sharing knowledge, experiences, and expertise.
We would like to encourage the Australian and New Zealand travel industry to be strong, be customer-focused. This pattern of local, then regional sailings, followed by international bookings that Hurtigruten is experiencing in Norway should give comfort that the industry’s rebound strategies will work.
The rebound will not happen overnight. As we have seen in Norway, the process must be a measured, cleverly planned phased rollout, with the health and safety of your guests, staff, and crew to be your top priority.
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