A strong connection
Fjord Line is a modern shipping company offering safe and comfortable transport between Norway and the rest of Europe. It operates the passenger ferry MS Bergensfjord, which sails between Bergen, Stavanger and Hirtshals, and the high speed catamaran HSC Fjord Cat on the express line between Kristiansund and Hirtshals in the summer season. As well as passenger traffic, Fjord Line carries commercial vehicles and goods handled by its cargo departments in Norway and Denmark.
The company was founded in 1993 and in June of the same year started operating MS Bergen between Norway and Denmark on the Bergen-Egersund-Hanstholm route. In 1998, Fjord Line acquired the England Line from Color Line along with a vessel that was renamed MS Jupiter. With this route calling at Bergen-Haugesund-Stavanger-Newcastle, Fjord Line became the only provider of international cruise and cargo transport from western Norway, which sparked strong growth for the company.
In 2003 a new vessel MS Fjord Norway was christened, increasing Fjord Line’s capacity significantly and therefore contributing to rising traveller numbers. However in 2005 the company faced major challenges due to stiff competition in the market, which led to the sale of the Jupiter and Fjord Norway vessels in 2006, along with the England Line.
A change in ownership in 2007 has since revived Fjord Line’s fortunes beginning with the company’s merger with Master Ferries in 2008, which saw the acquisition of the HSC Fjord Cat. In the same year the MS Bergen returned to the business and was renamed MS Bergensfjord. The company stopped calling in the ports of Egersund, Haugesund, and Hanstholm and instead focused its efforts on the Bergen-Stavanger-Hirtshals and Kristiansund- Hirtshals routes it operates today.
Looking toward the future, Fjord Line has ordered two brand new modern cruise ferries from Bergen Group Fosen. Once both have entered service the company will be able to offer daily departures throughout the year between Bergen, Stavanger and Hirtshals, and Hirtshals and Langesund.
The first of these vessels, the MS Stavangerfjord, has already been delivered and will begin operating shortly following successful sea trial tests. Fjord Line is now getting ready to receive the second, MS Bergenfjord, as Ingvald Farday, CEO of the Fjord Line Group, notes: “This ship is identical to MS Stavangerfjord and will sail the same route. The main extra preparation for this is the training of new staff. These vessels will usher in a new era for ferry traffic between Norway and continental Europe.”
Each of the two ships has a length of 170 metres, and is perfectly designed to withstand North Sea waves in order to provide passengers with a comfortable and stable voyage. This design was put together by Bergen Group Ship Design and Bergen Group Fosen, alongside architect Finn Falkum Hansen. Vessel capacity Lineconsists of 1500 passengers, with 306 cabins and space for 600 cars, trucks and general cargo. Furthermore, each ferry will be furnished with a variety of restaurants, cafes and bars, a large duty free shops, and well-equipped conference facilities.
Notably both vessels were commissioned to operate on liquefied natural gas (LNG) making them the first international LNG fuelled passenger vessels in operation. This is partly due to cost efficiencies and reduction of environmental impact, but also in anticipation of new emission regulations as of 2015.
“Whilst other shipping companies base their natural gas operations on ‘dual fuel engines’, Fjord Line is going one step further by using a single LNG engine to reduce emissions and protect the environment,” describes Ingvald.
“Installation of the motors and other technical equipment needed to power the ships with natural gas will extend the construction period,” he concedes. “However, going with natural gas from day one will mean that we can avoid taking the ships out of operation for three months when the new emission standards come into force in 2015. We will then achieve the regularity that we have been working toward without a long service interruption in 2014.”
The arrival of the two new vessels on the Bergen-Stavanger-Hirtshals route means that the existing MS Bergenfjord vessel will be taken out of service on this line as of 23rd December 2013. It will then undergo four months of conversion and upgrade work before it begins sailing on Fjord Line’s newly launched route between Sandefjord, Norway, and Strømstad, Sweden in May 2014.
They also form an important part of Fjord Line’s forward plans as Ingvald concludes: “The ferry market between Norway and the EU is dominated by one company that has a 72 per cent market share. Fjord Line’s new ships and plans will open up more competition and give travellers better choice. This will also assist us in our long-term strategy to become a strong number two ferry company operating between these markets.”
Modern ferry operator
New cruise ferries
Launching new route