Norway's Hurtigruten has given a new lease of life to a cruiseship that has been sailing around the coast for nearly 60 years.
With many unwanted cruiseships being recycled during the pandemic, the shipowner has struck a deal for the 171-berth Lofoten (built 1964) to have a second career as a training vessel.
The company said it had agreed to sell the ship to Norway-based educational foundation Sorlandet Maritime High School to educate future generations of seafarers.
The small expedition vessel will welcome the first students on board in August 2021.
VesselsValue assesses the ship as worth just $690,000.
Lofoten is still powered by the original Burmeister & Wain diesel engine. With over 330,000 running hours, the engine is known as the longest running marine diesel main engine in the world.
A new chapter
The deal leaves the owner with 14 other ships, the next oldest having been built in 1983.
"This opens a new chapter in Lofoten’s rich and proud history. She has been a part of everyday life along the Norwegian coast for generations. Now, she will train the next generation of seafarers," Hurtigruten chief executive Daniel Skjeldam said.
The maritime college has trained young mariners since 1927. Lofoten is the fifth training ship to be used.
"There is a growing demand for skilled seafarers, especially those with a background from training ships," said school director Tor Helge Egeland.
"The acquisition of Lofoten is an important step forward for us. She is a true gem that deserves to be well looked after."
And the sale may not mean the end of cruising for Lofoten just yet.
The contract allows Hurtigruten to charter the vessel during periods outside the school year.
Hurtigruten is looking into launching one or more farewell voyages around the Norwegian coast in spring 2021, if the Covid-19 situation allows.
Several former Hurtigruten ships serve or have served as maritime training ships.
The company has been forced to cancel all its cruises into 2021 due to Covid-19. Only two ferries are still in operation, serving coastal routes.
Meanwhile, police in Norway are investigating whether Covid-19 protocol was breached on one of Hurtigruten's vessels, causing an outbreak of the illness in July on board the 21,800-gt expedition vessel Roald Amundsen (built 2019).
A total of 36 crew members on the cruiseship tested positive for Covid-19, despite strict preventative protocols being in place.
Hurtigruten is also looking at raising funds from selling property interests.