Plain sailing - Issue 101 - Magazine | Monocle

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Company: Hurtigruten
Founded: 1893
Staff: 2,600
Annual turnover: nok4bn (€451m)

For more than a century Hurtigruten has been navigating the rugged coastline and majestic fjords of Norway. The shipping company was founded in 1893 to transport passengers and goods as quickly as possible to the northern reaches of the country (hurtigruten is Norwegian for “the fast route”).

Today Hurtigruten is a thriving coastal and polar exploration cruise firm and CEO Daniel Skjeldam has been steering it since 2012. After co-founding Norwegian Air Shuttle, now a successful global low-cost airline, Skjeldam was tapped to head up Hurtigruten at the age of 36. He has since overseen the Tromsø-based company’s impressive expansion. In 2015 it claimed 1.5 per cent of the worldwide cruise market and the following year purchased two new ships to add to its fleet of 14 coastal and expedition vessels. Hurtigruten has also become a leader in adventure travel, with tours to the Arctic, Antarctica, Greenland and Iceland.

Yet Skjeldam knows that he wouldn’t have found success without his 2,600-strong staff, starting with the company’s on-deck crew. “Most of them grew up on the coast,” he says. “Collectively they represent thousands of years of knowledge and experience.”

Skjeldam points to Olav Orheim, the glaciologist and former director of the Norwegian Polar Institute who serves as Hurtigruten’s academic adviser. He has led several Antarctic expeditions and was instrumental in the establishment of Troll, Norway’s permanent research station in Antarctica. “I am very proud to have him on our expeditions,” says Skjeldam. “His knowledge of glaciers and wildlife is invaluable.”

A big part of Hurtigruten’s appeal lies in its focus on hospitality, especially food. So it makes sense that Liv Margrethe Hansen from Norwegian fish supplier Halvors, key provider of seafood for Hurtigruten’s onboard menus, is an essential part of the CEO’s team. In fact food is such a passion that Skjeldam includes Gunnar Jensen, head chef at his favourite restaurant Mathallen, in his inner circle as well. “I thrive on his grilled stock fish and reindeer roast.”

Daniel Skjeldam


Trondheim-born Skjeldam has a history of propelling Norwegian transport companies: as a fresh economics graduate he was part of the founding team of Norwegian Air Shuttle, eventually becoming the airline’s chief commercial officer. Since taking the helm at Hurtigruten he has focused on the company’s expansion. “Next year we’ll be travelling to more than 200 destinations in 28 countries,” he says.

Marit Finnanger SVP, people and organisational development

Anne Marit Bjørnflaten Director of communications

Gunnar Jensen Head chef at Mathallen in Tromsø
“Jensen has an uncompromising respect for Norwegian cuisine and the coastal kitchen,” says Skjeldam of his favourite chef.

Gunnar Jensen Head chef at Mathallen in Tromsø

Tor Simonsen Captain, MS Nordkapp

Robert Grefstad Chief information officer

Idar Arntsberg Chief engineer, MS Nordkapp

Liv Margrethe Hansen Marketing manager, Halvors
“She allows us to source local produce of exceptional quality along our routes,” says Skjeldam.

Olav Orheim Glaciologist and expert lecturer
“He is a natural-born storyteller and has taught me a lot about our Norwegian heritage,” says Skjeldam.

Robert Grefstad Chief information officer

Renate Røsten Head chef, MS Nordkapp

Viggo Karoliussen Bosun, MS Nordkapp

Hege Johansen Leader of internal services, Hurtigruten main office

Lilli Anne Göransson Waiter, MS Nordkapp

Thomas Westergaard SVP, hotel operation and product development

Ståle Andersen Chief officer, MS Nordkapp

Galina Nordby Expedition leader, MS Nordkapp

Karin Strand Field operations and expedition teams manager

Marie Strömbeck Assistant expedition leader, MS Nordkapp

Helga Bårdsdatter Biologist, MS Fram
A biologist and ardent climate advocate, Bårdsdatter is a key player in Skjeldam’s commitment to running a sustainable operation.

Erika Tomassen Housekeeper, MS Nordkapp

Julian Wystyrk Nature guide, MS Nordkapp

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