After several delays, Havila Voyages has taken delivery on the first of its hybrid vessels which will be used to start a new service along the Norwegian coast next month. The new service is part of the Norwegian government’s efforts to encourage competition on the route which had been maintained for over 125 years by Hurtigruten.
Delivery of the Havila Capella was completed yesterday at Tersan Shipyards’ facility in Yalova, Turkey. The vessel is currently preparing for its voyage to Bergen, Norway where it will undergo final preparation before entering service. The ship will start sailing on the traditional coastal route from Bergen to Kirkenes on December 1.
Havlia won a contract early in 2018 from the Norwegian government for the service. For the first time, the Norwegian government decided to split the service between two competing companies. The plan called for Havlia to initiate its service in January 2021 in competition with Hurtigruten. Havlia, however, encountered numerous delays starting with a failed agreement with Spain’s Barreras Shipyard that resulted in the cancelation of the first construction contract. A new contract was awarded in September 2018 to Tersan calling for the delivery of two vessels late in 2020. The contract was later expanded with two additional sister ships due for delivery in late 2021.
"The four coastal cruise ships for Havila Voyages are a special assignment for us,” said Mehmet Gazio?lu, the general manager of Tersan. “We have faced various challenges, including the corona pandemic, which has led to delays, but we have learned a lot from the first ship and expect more efficient construction of the next ones.”
The construction delays initially caused Havlia to postpone the launch of their service till the spring of 2021 and later they announced it would be further delayed till the summer. After setting start dates for September, the service is now due to begin next month. In the interim, Hurtigruten has maintained the coastal service while it following its strategy to shift vessels from the route to expand its expedition cruise operations.
To meet Norwegian’s requirements for increasingly environmentally friendly operations that reduced emissions, Havlia elected to build hybrid vessels which it has called among the most technologically advanced cruise ships. Each of the vessels is 15,470 gross tons with a length of 407 feet and accommodations for 640 passengers. Their primary power is from liquified natural gas, although each ship is fitting with one of the largest marine battery installations yet developed by Corvus Energy. They will be able to operate for up to four hours on their batteries. In addition to an energy-efficient hull design, they also have systems for heat recovery from both sea and cooling water. They are also equipped to use shore power in port.
"We are many who have waited a long time for this, and now the first ship is finally in our hands and we will start preparing for setting sail towards Norway," said Bent Martini, the CEO of Havlia Voyages.
Once reaching Bergen, the crew will undergo additional training while preparing the ship for its first voyage. "Havila Capella is a large hotel with 179 cabins, several restaurants, and large common areas that will be made ready in a very short time in addition to crew and hotel employees to get to know the ship, systems, and each other. But we have got off to a good start already, and we are confident that this will go well," said Martini.
Work is proceeding on the sister ships, but no dates have been announced for their delivery.