The famous “Hurtigruten” service which operates in Norway from Bergen to Kirkenes and return, will be familiar to many readers of Sea Breezes. It has been described as an unforgettable experience covering a distance of around 2,500 nautical miles.
“Hurtigruten” literally means ‘fast route’ whilst other phrases which include ‘Coastal Express’ and ‘Norwegian Coastal Voyage ‘ have also been employed by marketing people to identify what has also been described as the ‘World’s most beautiful voyage’.
The voyage runs along the stunning Norwegian coastline which, one could argue has few equals, with over half of the journey north of the Arctic Circle. Since it’s inception in 1893 this service has been operated by distinctive and well constructed vessels many of which have, when ultimately retired from the service to be replaced by newer vessels, been well sought after by new owners.
This item, in fact, is not solely about the Hurtigruten Service, but rather about one of it’s former vessels, the Narvik, which was acquired in December of 2006 by the Young Christian Seafarers Association (Rogaland Secondary Sjoaspirantskole) of Stavanger. Upon delivery in 2007, the ship was renamed the MS Gann replacing the previous ship of that name which was also originally a former Hurtigruten ship, the Ragnvald Jarl.
The present Gann was in the news in late April 2010 during the disruption caused by the erupting Iceland volcano which caused havoc to flight schedules fairly extensively throughout Europe. During that time, the Gann ferried stranded tourists from Stavanger to Newcastle. Today, the Gann, for ten months of the year, is a ‘College Campus’ and attracts young people from all over Norway keen to pursue a career within the maritime industry.
Since the school is privately funded, with partial support from the authorities, it is necessary to boost income by arranging cruises during the school’s summer holidays. Accordingly, they have a long tradition of organising these cruises, sailing along the Norwegian coast up to the North Cape as well as venturing south to some UK and European ports. One of the destinations this year will be a five day stay at the Isle of Man to attend the Festival of Motorcycling in late August, early September. On this occasion the Gann has been chartered by Holy Riders which is a Christian Motorcycle Club. It was founded in 1981 and today has 18 local branches in Norway, in addition to three branches in Sweden and one in Germany.
The publication Hurtigruten 120: The Complete Story by John Bryant (Ferry Publications) was most useful in compiling this item. It contains a wealth of information and would be a useful edition to the library of persons keen to know more about this fascinating service.