NAVTOR seals place on board iconic Hurtigruten fleet

E-navigation specialist NAVTOR has secured arguably one of its most high-profile customers to date, with the news that the entire Hurtigruten fleet has signed up to use its innovative ENC Service. The agreement has been reached ahead of the July 2014 deadline for existing passenger vessels to conform with IMO’s ECDIS Carriage Requirement (ECDIS Mandate).

Hurtigruten, translating as ‘the express route’, is Norway’s most iconic shipping brand. Established 120 years ago, the fleet serves the country’s west and northern coastline, travelling from Bergen to Kirkenes in a 12 day round-trip, 365 days a year. Although also carrying freight, the company is best known for transporting passengers on what has been described as ‘the world’s most beautiful sea voyage’.

“Hurtigruten is a national treasure,” comments NAVTOR Business and Communications Manager Willy Zeiler, “and, more than that, a global cruise brand. As the ECDIS Mandate for passenger vessels draws closer we’re expecting to make real in-roads into this market with our cutting edge and simple to use digital ENC package. Getting Hurtigruten on board is a fantastic way to give us real momentum in what is a key sector for the business.”

NAVTOR’s ENC service, launched in 2011 and compatible with all makes of ECDIS, is distributed on the pre-loaded USB-based NavStick, allowing navigators to instantly download global charts and licences. An online synchronisation feature ensures that the latest updates are available on demand, ensuring minimal administration duties and, as Zeiler stresses, “allowing navigators to get on with the task of navigation.” This ease of use was apparently decisive in Hurtigruten’s move to sign up with NAVTOR.

“Our system simplifies complicated tasks and cuts down on laborious paperwork, increasing onboard efficiency. Hurtigruten appreciated that fact,” states Zeiler. “Furthermore, they chose to combine our two subscription models – Pay As You Sail (PAYS) and standard subscription. As the ships largely sail set routes the standard model is most efficient, but with PAYS any chart is instantly available for planning and only charged when actually used. This means the vessels have the ability to go anywhere, anytime, should they need to. This flexibility was another key selling point.”

Speaking of the move to NAVTOR, Hurtigruten Director of Maritime Operations Tor Geir Engebretsen comments: “Hurtigruten is a company with a 120 year history, but we’re focused on the future and how technology can enhance our delivery of high-quality services. NAVTOR share that vision and we’re looking forward to building a lasting partnership together.”

Prior to confirming the agreement with NAVTOR, Kai Albrigtsen, Master of MS Finnmarken, and his crew put the firm’s ENC Service through a rigorous three-month trial. The results, as he explains, were compelling: “The feedback then, as it is now, was overwhelmingly positive. The simplicity of use, ease of chart update and feeling of ‘complete control’ the service delivers has made it a real hit with the team on the bridge. Together with the on-going support that is on offer to us, alongside their commitment to further innovations in the future, we’re delighted to have NAVTOR on board.”

NAVTOR’s ENC Service is now in operation on the vessels Nordkapp, Finnmarken and Fram, the latter of which is Hurtigruten’s cruise ‘expedition’ vessel, travelling to locations such as Greenland, Spitsbergen and Antarctica. The system will roll out across the rest of the fleet as their existing ENC provider subscriptions come to an end.

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