Norwegian Seaways serious about new UK-Norway ferry

A new ferry route from Newcastle to Bergen and Stavanger in western Norway puts the Atlantic Road and the Laerdal Tunnel in easy reach of the annual fortnight.

Update 1 MAY 2014: IMPORTANT, NEW DEVELOPMENTS IN THIS STORY

Update 30 July 2014: see the latest on Norwegian Seaways.

Update: on 21 January 2015 Norwegian Seaways announced it will launch a UK-Norway ferry service in March 2016. See more here.

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Bergen harbour. Photo courtesy of Bergen Tourist Board/Per Nybo. For more see www.visitBergen.com

Bergen harbour, Norway. Photo courtesy of Bergen Tourist Board/Per Nybo. For more see www.visitBergen.com

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New route announcements are not uncommon in the ferry industry. Far rarer are services that actually get off the ground (or rather into the water).

Who can forget the eco-ferry due to set sail – literally – from Totnes to St Malo in 2010? Or the high speed Euroferries boat we were supposed to watch via GPS on its voyage from Australia this year before it took up the route between Ramsgate and Boulogne? Both sank without trace.

Yesterday’s reports of a new service between Newcastle and Bergen and Stavanger in Norway, set to start on 14 April 2014 despite the lack of firm financial backing or a boat to show off, looked initially like more empty promises.

But there are several reasons why this new service should be taken seriously.

Crucially, it turns out that the company behind the service, UK-based Norwegian Seaways, has not in fact set a firm start date.

Chief Operating Officer Paul Woodbury told DriveEurope yesterday via email, ‘At this stage we are not in a position to announce a commencement of service. The reports in the Norwegian press are inaccurate and in no way reflect an official statement from Norwegian Seaways.’

Also, a direct Norway ferry link was defined in the recent North East Independent Economic Review by Lord Adonis as an ‘immediate priority‘.

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership confirmed to DriveEurope yesterday that Norwegian Seaways had applied for funding, described negotiations as ‘positive’ and said a decision was due ‘within the next month or two’.

The two are also working together on funding from other bodies.

Finally – if press reports are to be believed in this respect – there was a fair degree of enthusiasm in Norway when plans were revealed on Thursday.

Chief Commercial Officer Peter Iles told local TV afterwards – in English – that Norwegian Seaways will work with tourism organisations to extend the season and, ‘look to develop Norway as a skiing destination for British people’.

Since DFDS withdrew from the Norway route in 2008 there has been only one direct ferry service between the UK and Scandinavia, DFDS Harwich to Esbjerg, Denmark.

Limited passenger places are available on DFDS Freight ships between Tilbury/Immingham-Gothenburg/Brevik but otherwise, to reach Norway, drivers have to catch another ferry from northern Denmark, or cross into Sweden via the Oresund Link.

update 16.01.14: Norwegian Seaways has announced the ferry route will not start in time for Summer 2014. Click here for the full story.

update 01.05.14: Norwegian Seaways is still working on its UK-Norway ferry plan.

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89 thoughts on “Norwegian Seaways serious about new UK-Norway ferry

    • They’re playing their cards quite close to their chest at the moment – we asked a long line of questions but only got a reply to the one about the start date. Probably the next news will be about the loan from the North East LEP ‘in a month or two’. Fingers crossed.

      • Bergens Tidende replied to say they can’t get involved which is understandable. Could DR possibly collect signatures?

      • Apologies. I meant Drive Europe, although you’re doing plenty already. Any use forwarding Norwegian Seaways this link so they can view some of the comments?

      • OK – I just left a very long answer phone message with the man at North East LEP to make sure he’s well aware of the keen interest + to make sure we get any news as soon as it’s available. I have previously told NE LEP and Norwegian Seaways about the level of interest. Hopefully he’ll phone me back later and I can update you then, cheers

      • Hi Debra – sorry but it’s bad news I’m afraid. Paul Woodbury emailed me last night to say the ferry won’t be ready for the summer. Not sure what the prospects are longer term. We’re disappointed too. I can reassure you though that all parties are well aware that many people want to see the ferry come back – Paul and the North East LEP. It seems a bit lame to say at the moment but fingers crossed for better news in the future.

      • That is unsettling news. However, you could not have done anymore and I am sure that by making them aware as you have, it must make a difference in the long run. Thank you.

      • We can hardly wait for the new ferry to start sailing between the North East and Bergen! The route has been sorely missed by great many travellers who could hardly believe it when it was decided to drop the crossing. Whenever we travelled from Newcastle to Bergen, the ship was fully booked months ahead and bursting at the seams! It is high time to reinstate it.

      • Terribly sorry but it looks like the route won’t start. We understand the Norwegian local authorities were not as enthusiastic as they could have been. Time to start pressuring your MPs!

      • We would like to see a link back for Norway, waiting to go with a a van and a trailer, as we are based in Aberdeen it seems insane to truck down to south England, when we can almost see the coast from here! Oil industry must still need to move pipe and equipment?

  1. Actually, the phrase “new route” is not quite correct. There has been a year-round passenger (and cars&cargo) connection from 1890 until 2008 between Newcastle and Stavanger&Bergen. And in western Norway people miss the connection and look forward to the route being re-estabilshed.

    • Thanks for your comment. Judging by the number of hits on this story – from the UK and Norway – there are a lot of people interested in this route re-starting. We’ll make sure Norwegian Seaways are aware. Cheers.

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  4. If this company is serious then why can’t I find their website? I wanted to ask them to send me details as soon as their plans were finalized. Larvik to denmark and the denmark to harwich takes far too long

  5. HI my wife oline and I have been coming to alesund on the west coast via.Newcastle/bergin ferry since the mid 1960 and have spent many happy holidays camping in western Norway and visiting here family in alesund area.we have missed this crossing so much.my wife does not like flying but had to in recent years hope our prayers are going to be answered soon[new ferry].keep pussing for this ferry opening.Tommy.

  6. Norway used to be a regular pilgrimage for many of use wanting to explore this stunning country but since the ferry stopped in 2008 it is just too far to drive. I know of many people that would be delighted if this route was re-opened.

  7. I have just returned fromvisiting family in Bergen, and do so three times a year. There is always a conversation about “The England Boat” and how much it is missed. Whenever there is a hint of a service starting up, it is big news, then we are let down again. They are all waiting for it in Bergen and are very excited! The Venus and Jupiter were just too big…just use a smaller boat!Tourism has been hit both sides due to the closure in 2008. We are waiting to buy a hytte but won’t unless we can transport things in our car! Come on Norwegian Seaways….we need The England Boat sailing again!

  8. Were on the last sailing Newcastle to Bergen – many people very unhappy about closure.
    We long to cross again direct from England to Norway – hope this is not another pipedream,

    • Longing, yes. A good word. Can we put our signatures to something do you think? Perhaps the strength of feeling is only hearsay to the Ferry companies. Maybe we need to show them and put our names to paper. Does anyone know who to contact? I tweeted a Paul Woodbury yesterday (a name found on here) but have had no reply. Anyone interested?

      • Hi Debra – we made Paul Woodbury aware early on that there had been a big response to this article (which he retweeted). We spoke to the North East LEP yesterday to ask if/when the grant/funding decision would be made – they couldn’t tell us anything apart from that we’re unlikely to hear anything before January now. Maybe i’ll draw Mr Woodbury’s attention to these latest comments! Thanks.

      • Hi. Many thanks for that. The Bergens Tidende is a great newspaper, and am wondering if it would get involved at all in collecting signatures. There are thousands of Norwegians who sailed across to do their shopping and everyone I have spoken to misses it so much. If the strength of feeling could be seen and not just felt, it may make a difference, one never knows I have a contact at BT; I could speak to him off the record. This seems to be the firmest possibilty yet, and we need to catch them whilst they’re simmering, not when they have come to the boil and all it comes to nothing!!

  9. A new (re-established) ferry route between Newcastle and western Norway…wooow. Used to go with Fred Olsen, later Color Line, Fjordline and latterly DFDS. Why did DFDS stop? To get people travelling across Denmark? Who knows, but the route is thouroughly missed. Our journeys to Norway have now been reduced to once every two years or so. Have spoken to may other “Northern Brits” who would love to go and travel (by car) in Norway to see its stunning beauty, but don’t want to cover 1000 miles to go via Holland or Denmark

  10. im living in bergen with my family and sick of travelling 4 to 5 times a year flying via gatwick, then have to hire a car and drive up to north east of england, this ferry will be a god send and alot of stress off my shoulders

  11. Hi everyone! I’m planning the road trip Moscow-Europe-England-Scotland-Scandinavia-Moscow and if Norvegial Seaways start this ferry line this year that would be awesome! Will keep fingers crossed for that happening too.Cheers!

  12. Hope they start the UK Stavanger or Bergen ferry soon. 3 of us planning motorbike tour to Norway, this ferry service would be key for us and save loads of time.

    • Sorry Mike, it definitely won’t happen this summer. There was an update at the bottom of the article but you weren’t the only one to see it, will write in bigger letters. Thanks

    • It looks like you’ll have to hold your horses for a while longer yet unfortunately. If you enjoy Jante Law have you considered Denmark? They say they invented it, and you can get the DFDS boat direct from Harwich 🙂

  13. I’ll be highly delighted if as and when this route reopens as I have been travelling since the days of the Venus, Leda and Jupiter in the mid 1960’s when I was a teenager and bought a house in Hordaland just before the route was closed by DFDS. My grandchildren have not yet been able to visit because most of their parent’s holiday would be taken by just travelling there through Denmark. This is potentially a generation of British youth to not know the glory of West Norway. Not everyone can have the whole summer to travel.Where are the Irish and Scottish people who used to use the route?

  14. Will there ever be a new link here…… will there…. will there? Really? Will there..?
    How hard can it be?

  15. Have just tweeted Richard Branson about it. A very, very long shot, but one never knows…….! Maybe an idea for others to do the same??

  16. I am moving to Oslo in 2 weeks to start a new job, I would love to be able to drive my car over with me. Does anything know how this is possible from North England (don’t mind Scotland or other UK port) to Oslo, Larvik, even Kristiansand ?
    Any pointers i the right direction would be amazing so I can hopefully book.

    • It’s not possible direct UK-Norway at the moment I’m afraid. Catch the DFDS boat from Harwich to Esbjerg in Denmark and drive to Norway via the Oresund Link and Sweden, or catch a Fjordline, Color Line, DFDS or Stena boat from Hirtshals, Frederikshavn or Copenhagen (all in Denmark) to the ports you named. Whichever way you go it will be a good journey just a bit longer than it could be. for more see directferries.co.uk or aferry.co.uk

  17. We go by car to fish in Norway every year. However, now that the Harwich Esjberg Ferry is ending we need the Newcastle Bergen route to start again urgently for 2015. Otherwise, we will have to look elsewhere, possibly Ireland for our salmon fishing.

  18. DFDS is stopping its service Harwich to Denmark in sep 2014 ..leaving not a single passenger ferry
    between UK and Scandinavia.

  19. We travelled a lot to sweden norway using harwich/ esbjerg route ..We need to keep this ferry route continued …Please please..

  20. A route to Scandinavia is a must. Personally I think Oslo would be a great destination – that way Sweden becomes that much more accessible. But Stavanger and Bergen would be great too.

    I used the North Shields – Gothenburg route many times, and really miss that direct ferry to Sweden. Now that DFDS are closing the Esbjerg ferry even southern Sweden is out of reach!

  21. We haven”t visited our relations in Stavanger since DFDS stopped sailing from Newcastle. We can”t afford to fly. We desperately want the service restored by whoever is able and willing to do it!

  22. The best thing would be for Norwegian Seaways and Regina Line to pool their resouces and run a route Bergen – Newcastle – Kristiansand – Harwich – Esbjerg and reverse with just one ship between them. Cut out Stavanger as it is unessessary. Norwegians from Northern and Western Norway could come to UK via Bergen – Newcastle; Norwegians from Oslo area and West Norway and Sørlandet could come via Kristiansand – Harwich.The Danes would have Harwich – Esbjerg re-instated, Brits from Southern England could choose Harwich to either Esbjerg or Kristiansand and the Northerners would have Newcastle – Bergen re-instated. Simples!
    Frank Daniels

  23. cant wait for this route to start again ,my family have had some cracking ski holidays in Norway and Sweden over the years

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  29. Planning Motor bike tour to Tromso/Nordkapp in June.2016 Any chance a ferry service to Norway from UK will commence before then.

  30. Pingback: How To Get From England To Norway By Ferry | Swaplove5

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