Alta to build new harbour for cruise ships

Thursday, August 31, 2023


Alta has plans to build a brand-new harbour at least 400mtr in length that will be able to handle the largest cruise ships.

‘It’s in the budget to start planning in 2024 and building it in 2025,’ said Hans Chrisiansen, harbour master at the Port of Alta.

Estimated to cost 200m NOK, it will be able to handle the largest cruise ships, be equipped with shore power and have capacity for 20-25 buses simultaneously.

Cruise ships currently use a 169mtr quay.

This year the port will receive 82 calls, and has 78 calls booked for 2024, 20 of those taking place during summer.

The existing berth used by cruise ships will be utilised only on occasions when two vessels call simultaneously.

Ambassador Cruise Line’s Giovanna Dipasquale, head of itinerary management, visited the port with other cruise line representatives as part of a fam trip hosted by Cruise Norway to the areas in the country’s north.

She strongly recommended facilities for crew, such as a dedicated area to relax, contact friends and relatives or purchase essentials.

‘We are 100% aware of that,’ responded Chrisiansen regarding the need for a crew area. But the port will first prioritize the transit of passengers and therefore has no plans for a terminal at this time.

Dipasquale described the news as welcome. ‘What the port have is really a container terminal. If the plan is to be a cruise terminal, the port needs to be nicer for guests.’

Ambassador Cruise Line is set to make seven calls to Alta this winter.

Rock art and huskies

Alta put its best foot forward during the August 24-September 1 fam trip to Northern Norway, visiting Alta Museum to see some of Norway’s UNESCO World Heritage rock art.

It followed interaction with huskies at Trasti & Trine whose owner has 30 years’ experience as a musher and has competed in Finnmarkslopet and Iditarod races.

Passengers can meet the dogs, learn about equipment used in dogsledding, and hear stories about competing with the dogs, with lectures held outdoors in summer and inside a building reminiscent of a Sami lavvu (traditional Sami dwelling) in winter.

Tours take place from June 15 – September 15 and last two hours.

The minimum number of passengers is 20 and the maximum, 50. A further excursion includes dogsledding in the forest for groups of between six and 28 passengers.

These take place every day from December 1-March 31 and last three hours. Trasti & Trine can also host up to eight passengers at once for a luxury dining experience.

Sami culture

A lavvu filled with traditional Sami clothing was a highlight at Sami Siida, a further stop on the fam trip programme. It has just launched a brand-new shore excursion dedicated to Sami handicrafts.

Passengers are shown the Sami clothing before getting to work piecing together a bag make of reindeer skin, which they can take away as a souvenir.

The activity lasts for three hours, is suitable for groups of between four and 12 passengers, and will take place year-round.

Other experiences at Sami Siida include an evening of Sami joik (a traditional Sami musical expression) and storytelling, reindeer herding, reindeer sledding in search of the northern lights, a reindeer meet and feed, and a tour that merges joik and reindeer sledding with an in-depth Sami cultural experience held in the lavvu on site.

Alta River and winter sports

Sorrisniva is most frequently recognised for its Igloo Hotel – accommodation built entirely of snow and ice each winter – but also specializes in riverboat experiences to Alta Canyon, Europe’s largest river canyon.

Cruise line representatives were given a flavour of the latter during a 90-minute boat ride along the Alta River.

The sailing, going as far as the first rapid at Pathagoski, focused on salmon fishing and local history. Tea, coffee and a waffle awaits passengers on their return.

The tour runs from May 25-September 15, lasts two hours and is suitable for a minimum of 10 passengers and a maximum of 30 passengers.

Various other excursions are available including snowmobiling.

Lines in a boat on the Alta River

Gargia Lodge, too, offers snowmobiling. Cruise line representatives visited the site, dating back to the 18th century, to hear about its ‘Snowmobile Adventure on Finnmark Mountain Plateau,’ ‘Snowmobile Adventure under the Northern Lights,’ ‘Chase of the Northern Lights at Magical Garcia Lodge,’ ‘Feel of the Arctic, storytelling and tasting in Gargia’ and ‘Gallery Visit and Storytelling at Gargia Lodge’ tours.

They each last around three hours and come with various activities on top of snowmobiling, including storytelling, Arctic delicacies, history or the chance to meet a musher and their huskies.

The maximum number of passengers for each tour ranges from 30 up to 60, with most taking place during the winter cruise season.

Glød, offering activities, accommodation and dining, has four different northern lights camps and in the 2021-22 winter cruise season, was successful in ensuring 80% of customers joining a tour were successful in seeing the aurora borealis.

The camps are equipped with hot drinks, snacks and limited shelter, and guides can be on hand to advise the best camera settings to capture the phenomenon.

A member of the Sami community may join the passengers to talk about the Sami way of life, welcome passengers to feed reindeer, and teach lassoing.

Other experiences available from Glød include snowshoeing, ice fishing, fat biking, mountain biking, e-mountain biking, hiking, canoeing, and the chance to interact with a husky.

Paeskatun offers multiple options for cruise passengers.

It’s northern lights camp over the Alta valley affords chances to settle around a campfire in a Sami-style lavvu, see northern lights movies, and watch a presentation on history and myths associated with the phenomena.

Passengers can also do cross country skiing, hiking or take an aurora borealis photo shoot safari.

Paeskatun additionally has a quartzite slate workshop that demonstrates the cutting and grinding of the stone, and passengers are invited to shape their own for a personalized souvenir.

The company’s tours range between two and four hours; the addition of a new wooden cabin in October with capacity for 50 people means it can handle a total of 350 people overall at its camp, situated near the top of mount Paeska.

It has heated wooden cabins, sauna, museum and a gift shop selling multiple products cut from the local slate where passenger can wait with a slice of cake and hot drink until the northern lights appear.

The visit to Alta ended with stops at Alta Cathedral and Sjokolade Camilla; the latter involved tasting some of the chocolatier’s delicacies, handmade using traditional techniques and ingredients found in the region, including cloudberries.

Its ‘Local chocolate and storytelling’ experience runs January 1-December 31, lasts for two hours and is designed for 8-16 participants.

Renovation work means that from mid-September, it will have capacity for more individuals.

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