The lure of the Northern Lights and the chance to cruise along the dramatic Norwegian coast has propelled more Australians to head north to Norway.
“Australians are the biggest source market in our New Global Markets,” said Cyril Bricaud, Hurtigruten director of sales and marketing.
Mr Bricaud, here in Australia for the first time to attend the annual Cruise3sixty conference organised by Cruise Lines International Association Australasia, Mr Bricaud said that the number of Australians cruising along the rugged Norwegian costs has been steadily increasing by about 10 per cent a year.
Last year 2700, Australians discovered the Norwegian coast on Hurtigruten ships – a 10 per cent increase on 2013.
“Right now, we are on track with the number of Australians cruising on our ships,” he said.
The attraction of visiting Norway on Hurtigruten ships is that Australians get to travel with the locals who use the ships as ferries to commute for work or play.
“Our ships are not floating hotels on the sea,” Mr Bricaud said.
“We offer exploration, adventure and nature – and the bonus is that you get to meet and socialise with many locals on board.”
One of Hurtigruten’s most popular itineraries is the 11-day cruise from Bergen to Kirkenes in the far north. The journey is renowned for spotting eagles with wing span of more than 2 metres as well as puffins ad reindeers.
“Most of our Australian passengers are well travelled 50-year-olds who often go on a three-week holiday of Scandinavia, Finland and Norway and take in a cruise on a Hurtigruten ship,” he said.Norway’s coastline is pretty inaccessible and the only way to commute from one port to another is by Hurtigruten ships, which  also carry cargo.
Last year, about 150,000 local Norwegians travelled on its fleet of 12 ships.
Mr Bricaud said “We have smaller ships which can carry 300-900 passengers on board.”
The company, founded in 1893, will turn 122 this year.