Havila Polaris and Havila Pollux delivered

CEO Bent Martini raises the shipping company's flag on board Havila Polaris. To the right: Captain Kurt Harald Nærbø. (Photo: Martin Giskegjerde/Oclin) (Image at LateCruiseNews.com - August 2023)On Tuesday, August 1st, the coastal cruise ships Havila Polaris and Havila Pollux were finally delivered to Havila Voyages during an official ceremony at the Tersan shipyard in Turkey.

“A milestone for the shipping company,” says CEO Bent Martini.

On Tuesday afternoon Turkish time, the Norwegian flag and the shipping company flag of Havila Voyages were finally raised on the coastal cruise ships Havila Polaris and Havila Pollux, which are located at the Tersan shipyard outside Yalova in Turkey.

“We have now reached our goal following a process that required a lot of time, resources, and perseverance. In particular, it has demanded a lot of patience from the Norwegian authorities with whom we have an agreement to operate, our customers, coastal communities, our partners, and all employees,” says CEO Bent Martini.

“We remained confident we would reach this moment, even though we have encountered new challenges at every turn. Now that we finally possess our own beautiful and state-of-the-art coastal route ships with spacious cabins and a high level of comfort for everyone on board, it’s a milestone for the shipping company.”

Osman Nurettin Paksu, the chairman of the board of Tersan Shipyard, was also present at the ceremonies.

“It is a fantastic day for us celebrating the deliveries of the beautiful coastal passenger ships to Havila Voyages. Despite challenges for both us and Havila Voyages during the construction process of these impressive ships, we are very happy today to have delivered four marvelous ships . These are the most modern and environmentally friendly ships on the Norwegian coastal route, and we are proud that these four sister ships carry the name of Tersan Shipyard along the beautiful Norwegian coast. We also thank Havila Voyages and its cooperative representatives for their support and efforts who made these deliveries possible, it has been pleasure working with them.” says Paksu.

“It’s gratifying to hear about the positive feedback Havila Voyages receives from passengers traveling along the historic route with Havila Capella and Havila Castor. With four magnificent ships in operation, even more people will have the opportunity to experience these ships in their fantastic surroundings.”

In recent years, many employees of Havila Voyages have been involved in and contributed to the construction process in Turkey, and Martini emphasizes the importance of this.

“We want to thank Tersan Shipyard for their excellent cooperation and great understanding of our challenges over the last few years. They have built four fantastic ships, and without them, as well as other suppliers and partners, we would not be standing here today,” says Martini.

“In addition, we have had our own employees down here in Turkey throughout the entire process. Having our own people close by has been absolutely crucial for us, and I thank each and every one of them for their dedication and hard work.”

Busy days ahead
Havila Polaris is scheduled to start operations from Bergen on August 17th and will be the first to leave the Tersan Shipyard. Not long after, Havila Polaris is planned to follow the same route before she starts operating from Bergen on August 23rd.

“Our crews will shortly move on board, and we will now get the necessary equipment customs cleared before the final checks. Then Havila Polaris will depart and head towards Bergen. Depending on the weather conditions we encounter on our way home, it will take 10 to 12 days to bring the ships back to Norway. That means long, busy days ahead to prepare the ships and finish the final touches before we can welcome the first guests on board for the maiden voyages on Havila Polaris and Havila Pollux,” says Martini.

“The crew of Havila Pollux will assist on board Havila Polaris when they arrive in Bergen, and together with our onshore team, will work to ensure a successful launch. It will be a joint effort that I look forward to. I believe the days in Bergen will also strengthen us as one team, no matter where in the company one works. It is important for us to stand united, as we have done all along, and we are all eagerly looking forward to welcoming our first guests on board.”

Ownership of all ships
After Havila Voyages received the required licenses earlier this year to finance its coastal fleet and release the security the original financing partner had in the ships; they have been working hard to find the right financing partner for the shipping company.

“The four coastal route ships represent significant value, and we wanted to find a financing partner that would give us full ownership of our ships. We now own all our ships ourselves, and with that, we have succeeded in our goal in the refinancing process,” says Martini.

He describes a legal process regarding the sanction issues that has been exceptionally demanding.

“We have sought solutions from various authorities and institutions to find a legal solution to the challenges we faced on February 24th last year. Significant resources have been used for legal assistance, and with the outcome in hand, we can say that we have gone through and succeeded in a process that is entirely unique on a global scale. We are not aware of others having found a similar solution, so this has been pioneering work all the way,” says Martini.

“Now we choose to look ahead and do everything we can to make up for lost time.”

Each of Havila Voyage’ ships are valued at approximately 150 million euros, and the shipping company has financed the fleet by raising 305 million euros from the investment firm HPS Investment Partners LLC. Additionally, the largest owners and investors of the shipping company have raised 65 million euros in additional equity, and Havila Holding AS has contributed loan of 20 million euros.

“We are satisfied with the solutions we have reached, and they provide us with the necessary flexibility and leeway we need to deliver as expected with our mission along the Norwegian coast,” explains Martini.

Positive feedback
Havila Voyages’ two existing ships on the coastal route, Havila Capella and Havila Castor, have received positive feedback from their passengers. The company uses the Net Promoter Score (NPS) scale to measure customer satisfaction and is currently scoring nearly 80.

“These are very good numbers, as an NPS score above 70 is considered world-class. It shows that we are delivering a product that our guests are satisfied with. The positive feedback relates to good service, comfort, and a unique food concept that is well-liked. At the same time, we also receiving valuable feedback that will help us improve, so that future guests have an even better experience,”
says Martini.

“The experiences we have gained from Havila Capella, and Havila Castor are valuable, and a number of our employees who will be on board Havila Polaris and Havila Pollux have worked on these ships and become familiar with our systems and product. That makes me confident that we will also deliver from day one on our two new ships.”

State-of-the-art Ships – Built for the future
Like their sister ships, Havila Polaris and Havila Pollux have energy-efficient hull designs created to handle the varied conditions along the Norwegian coast. The ships are equipped with a battery pack of 6.1 megawatt-hours (MWh), allowing them to operate emission-free for up to 4 hours. This means they can visit the UNESCO World Heritage area of Geirangerfjorden silently and emission-free, three years before the authorities’ requirement for emission-free ferries and cruise ships in World Heritage fjords comes into effect.

The ships’ propulsion is a hybrid solution, with a combination of the 86-ton battery packs and liquefied natural gas (LNG) providing the power. The battery packs can be charged while the ships are docked, using clean Norwegian power. This reduces CO2 emissions by up to 35% and local emissions (NOx and SOx) by 90% compared to equivalent ships running on traditional fossil fuels. This makes Havila Voyage’ ships the most environmentally friendly ships to have ever operated the historic coastal route between Bergen and Kirkenes.

“For us, it is important to prove our commitment to climate, environment, and sustainability. This is not just a marketing stunt or empty words. From the very first day Havila Capella entered service, we have exceeded the requirements set out in our contract with the Ministry of Transport,” explains Martini.

The ships are also designed, built, and prepared for emission-free fuel alternatives such as hydrogen and ammonia. With current technology, a gradual addition of biogas will further reduce CO2 emissions.

“We have the capability to operate in a carbon-neutral way today by using biogas as fuel in combination with the battery packs. It’s a matter of access and cost, and now that we have finally completed a complicated refinancing, we can focus on finding a solution for transitioning to biogas,” says Martini.

In addition to reduced emissions, some of the ships’ features include heat recovery from sea and cooling water to warm up the ships and the water on board, as well as a food concept that includes ingredients from locally sourced producers. The onboard menu changes during the voyage to reflect the regions the coastal route ships sail through.

“We had an ambitious goal to reduce food waste to only 75 grams per person per day on board. With four ships in operation, that means a reduction of more than 60 tons of food waste per year. In 2022, we achieved 71 grams of food waste on Havila Capella and Havila Castor, which is a fantastic achievement by everyone involved in developing, producing, and serving our guests’ food. We don’t have a buffet, and we believe that our food concept is the way to go to make the dining experience on board flavorful, nutritious, and above all, sustainable, economically, and environmentally,” concludes Martini.

(Havila Polaris and Havila Pollux delivered – Havila Voyages)