Sustainable operations: Respecting and protecting wildlife and destinations

Our guests are explorers who innately understand the need for quality experiences, learning, and increased understanding as a viable path to year-round activity and sustainable growth. We know that protecting and adding long-term value to the waters we sail in, and to the destinations we visit is not just the right thing to do – it is necessary to prevent existential risk to our business. That's why we advocate for strict rules and regulations to impose on ourselves and other operatores in order to improve our industry overall.

Hurtigruten is the world’s largest expedition cruise line, operating from pole to pole and across the entire Arctic. We invite our guests to visit the most spectacular nature and wildlife on our planet and help them experience 28 UNESCO sites. This leading position comes with great responsibility. That is why we strive for sustainable operations and destinations through our daily operations, sourcing, and partners. The footprint we leave behind is one that we are proud of, because in addition to preserving these destinations, our existence contributes to positive changes, sustainable development.

Hurtigruten was  founded in 1893 to be a lifeline for communities and people along the harshest parts of the Norwegian coast. Since then, we have kept exploring the world’s most challenging waters. This heritage is important to us and we care deeply for the year-round prosperity and long-term sustainable development of all the places we visit. Hurtigruten still contributes to the livelihoods and welfare of small coastal societies by trading locally and employing local partners when possible. Strong local communities are a way to ensure responsible contact with vulnerable areas, and authentic experiences.

We strongly encourage all of our partners and supplierss to focus on sustainable operations, demanding that they operate in line with Hurtigruten’s code of conduct and key Sustainable Development Goals.

Fighting mass tourism

Hurtigruten is taking the lead in the fight against the exploitation and degradation of sites, nature, and local communities by unsustainable mass tourism. We advocate for stricter rules and regulations, and we impose them on ourselves to prove it can be done.

Operations where quantity wins over quality result in poor guest experiences in the short run - and damaged sites and destinations in the longer run. Exploration travel is not about volume, it’s about unique experiences for active guests. We have proven that explorers want quality experiences, learning, understanding and a broadening of their horizons. We need to stop measuring success in more tourists, more ships or more hotel beds. We need to instead measure it in the quality of the guests’ experience and the footprints they leave behind. 

Hurtigruten has called for a stop to mass tourism in pristine areas. We work for stricter regulations, such as size limitations on cruise ships and restricting number of guests allowed on shore. We are already following these guidelines ourselves. Our goal is to develop, encourage and maintain sustainable year-round activity, instead of flooding the valuable sites during peak season and leaving them quiet for the rest of the year. This is key to developing sustainable destinations, thriving communities and unique experiences. There is room to grow, but the growth has to be balanced and sustainable.

Enhancing local communities and culture

Hurtigruten respects and supports indigenous communities, values culture and traditions, and maintains very close cooperation with the communities that make an immense effort to welcome our guests—wherever we visit.

Trading locally and buying services like excursions and sourcing ingredients from local suppliers, Hurtigruten contributes to the livelihoods and welfare of small coastal societies, and we are by far the largest player in locally sourced food in the Norwegian travel industry.

Norway’s Coastal kitchen and reducing food waste

Around 80 percent of the food and drinks we serve come from Norwegian suppliers, and nearly half of this is delivered directly from farms, fisheries and producers – with as few food miles added as possible. By trading locally, we minimize  transportation emissions  and increase the knowledge and understanding of local food, customs and cultures among our guests. Knowing the source also ensures the well-being of animals and the safe origin of other ingredients.

Our concept Norway´s Coastal kitchen has changed our onboard food concept,moving away from industrial processed food and keepingg endangered species from our menus. Instead, our guests get to experience tasty and healthy food from local suppliers throughout the journey. We only serve species approved by WWF’s Seafood Guide and we became MSC-certified in 2018.

We have committed to reducing food waste by up to 30 percent by 2021. We have implemented a digital registration and real-time measurement scheme for all stages of our food production to collect the data we need to minimize food waste. Our early results show more than a 20  percent expected reduction.

Respecting nature and wildlife

Exploring some of the most spectacular wilderness on our planet - and observing its unique wildlife - is an important part of every Hurtigruten voyage. This comes with an obligation to explore respectfully.

Observing wild animals and birdlife is done at distance so as not to alter natural behavior and with the utmost respect for their welfare and habitat. Throughout every voyage – and prior to each landing - all guests are briefed and educated in local wildlife guidelines.

Hurtigruten Expedition Team members are hand-picked, trained and certified annually, ensuring that all preparations, landings and encounters with nature and wildlife happen in accordance with Hurtigruten’s strict policies and guidelines – which all surpass industry standards.

Conservation of the environment

In order to leave a footprint we are proud of, we need to understand and constantly improve our knowledge of the wildlife we encounter. That is why we promote and participatein science and research as part of our mission. We contribute to monitoring whale populations, log seawater temperature along the Norwegian coast and conduct oil spill surveillance and facilitate Antarctic research.

Hurtigruten is a founding member of Association of Artic Expedition Cruise Operators AECO , an organisation working for responsible, environmentally-friendly and safe tourism in the Arctic. We are also proud members of Interational Association of Antarctic Tour Operators IAATO, which advocates for and promotes safe and environmentally-responsible travel to the Antarctic. One main focus of these organisations is to promote public awareness and concern for the conservation of the environment and its associated ecosystems.

Providing a diversified and safe work environment

While we work to enhance the destinations we visit, we also strive to enhance our own organisation. We are absolutely sure that a diverse working environment is essential for Hurtigruten to succeed. We operate with zero tolerance for gender or other discrimination and 44 percent of our manager-level employees are women. Hurtigruten expects all partners and suppliers to respect equality and gives everyone the same opportunity to succeed.

Hurtigruten’s operations depend on a stable environment with democratic and effective governing institutions. We have implemented safeguards and policies to prevent violations of anti-corruption laws. Our organisation has implemented a whistleblower policy. Hurtigruten employees are expected to abide by its internal code of ethics, and all suppliers are expected to comply with a Code of Conduct. All operations comply with the Modern Slavery Act.