A Norwegian start-up has announced plans to launch a regular ferry service for cars, passengers and freight between the UK and the west coast of Norway.
The news is sure to be greeted with joy by the thousands of campaigners who have been calling for the restoration of a direct ferry service across the North Sea since the last one closed in 2008.
Connecting England to the west coast of Norway
Tentatively scheduled for launch in 2026, the route will link Bergen and Stavanger on the west coast of Norway and Newcastle on the northeast coast of England. The company provides three weekly departures in high season and two weekly departures the rest of the year.
If launched as planned, the ferry will be the first direct cargo-free sealift between the two countries in 18 years.
A cruise ferry concept
According to the Bergen Cruise Line (BCL) announcement, the planned large cruise ferry will have a capacity of 2,380 passengers as well as a large car deck and space for cargo. It will be made up of 200 people.
The cruise ferry will include a shopping street, several restaurants, a casino, a theatre, a beauty salon, a fitness center and several bars, including English-style pubs. An observation deck is provided for those who prefer a more relaxing trip.
BCL says the ship will be heavily automated, which will reduce emissions and ship motion in high waves. When approaching ports, the vessel will be maneuvered on battery power, producing zero emissions.
Now comes the tricky part
Before travelers get too carried away, BCL still needs to raise the necessary funds to see the project become a reality. Work to raise shipbuilding costs by about 2.1 billion Norwegian kroner ($206 million) is starting soon.
The founding team includes marine service industry veteran Jan Harald Berg and technical marine expert Frithjof Hustig. Jan Petter Eilertsen, whose senior executive experience includes stints at Radisson SAS, Carlson Rezidor and Fjord Line, is the intended CEO.
The plans come just months after the successful launch of a direct ferry service between the northern Netherlands and southern Norway. The BCL management team will no doubt look to the launch of Holland Norway Lines as a model for their own success.