(8:15 a.m. GMT) -- Hurtigruten has announced that MS Finnmarken will be transformed into a premium expedition cruise ship in what will be the most extensive upgrade in the Norwegian line's 125-year history.
The 628-passenger vessel, launched in 2002, will undergo a keel-to-mast refurbishment that will be completed in 2021. From next year passengers on Hurtigruten's "Original Coastal Voyage" will be able to experience some of the new features following the start of the renovation programme in the first quarter of 2020.
The upgrade will bring several new features to the ship, including four new restaurants, a high-tech science centre, new panoramic suites and enhanced low-emission engines.
Restaurant Lindstrom will be an upper premium fine dining restaurant with strong roots in traditional Norwegian cooking and Fredheim will be an informal eatery. Restaurant Aune will become the new main dining room and there will also be an outdoor grill on Deck 8.
All cabins will be fully refurbished using natural Scandinavian materials, such as granite, oak, birch and wool, and five suites with panoramic windows and spectacular views will be added in the current gym and sauna area. A new larger wellness area will feature a lounge, treatment rooms, gym and panoramic sauna, and the outdoor pool area will be fully refurbished, the shop expanded, and the current car deck will be replaced by a launching area for Hurtigruten explorer boats and other expedition equipment.
Hurtigruten's signature Science Center will be added on Deck 4. Packed with state-of-the-art technology and high-tech gadgets such as touch screens, science equipment and other interactive features, the "edutainment" area will also be the onboard base for the ship's expedition team. MS Finnmarken's extensive art collection will be preserved during the refurbishment.
Daniel Skjeldam, Hurtigruten CEO, said: "We will transform her into a full-fledged premium expedition cruise ship, with all the comforts, facilities and expertise you need for creating a perfect adventure. Imagine standing on the deck watching the Aurora Borealis glimmer above in a star-riddled sky, sailing within nearly touching distance of a sheer 1,000-metre high mountainside, or experiencing small communities, perpetual daylight and a never-setting sun north of the Arctic Circle. This is what you get when booking your Norwegian adventure with Hurtigruten."
Hurtigruten started its 11-day round trip voyage from Bergen to Kirkenes more than 125 years ago. Visiting 34 ports along the coast, the line's coastal ships source fresh produce from local suppliers, interact with local communities, and offers more than 90 different excursions, including hikes, boat trips, dogsledding and other outdoor activities.