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Stay Curious—An Interview with Karin Strand

Godmother to the world’s first hybrid powered cruise ship, MS Roald Amundsen, and one of the world’s most experienced explorers and pioneers in expedition travel, Karin Strand has played a significant role in making Hurtigruten what it is today. We’re grateful she sat with us for a few minutes to share some thoughts and reflections.

4 mins read

1. How long have you been with the company and where are you based?

I’m based out of Norway and have been full time since 2001. But I started in 1998.

2. What drew you to Hurtigruten?

Here in Norway, Hurtigruten is an institution. Everybody knows about it. During my years when I was studying law in Bergen, I would sit in the library and look out the window. I saw the ships coming in and out every day. It was this sort of mythical mystical aura. Hurtigruten has a special status in Norway. So, I looked at them and had sea salt in my veins. I thought, “why don’t I try?” So I did. I started in the restaurant and cleaning the cabins, and it kind of grew on me. I was given more responsibility very quickly. The people before me, the ones who are now retired, saw something in me and gave me a chance.

3. What is your favorite part of your job? Least?

I think I have the best job in the company! I started when we were very young in expedition and I appreciate the freedom I had and still have to develop our program. I’ve been able to experiment, try new things, start a kayak program, start a snowshoe program, change landing sequences, the hiking program, the science program – it started with 2 small microscopes! I’m responsible for everything I do and the decisions I make, but I think my least favorite part is when it takes too long to move from concept to action. And I don’t like hearing “no, we cannot do it.” At least not without trying.

4. What do you love about the company?

There’s a reason why I’ve stuck with it. We’re genuine. We’re real. What I like more and more is that there is a huge focus on inclusion, being kind to each other, getting the best out of each other. That matters. There is a genuine way of interacting. There’s room for possibilities to be yourself. I think that’s something that’s one of the key things I love and always have.

5. What would you say to first time cruisers or folks who are new to Hurtigruten?

“Forget what you know about the traditional cruising concept.”

This is a different world. It’s adventure on a keel. You wouldn’t get more excitement going into the same areas even if you hired your own sailboat. There’s such a sense of adventure and every trip is custom made. We are in the arms of Mother Nature way more than other voyages. On our trips, you can be as much or as little a part of a group as you want. You connect on your own level.

6. What is your favorite destination?

Northeast Greenland National Park.

7. Most memorable or meaningful wildlife encounter?

So many to choose from. I once saw an orca in Antarctica training the calves to hunt seals off an ice floe. So many nice polar bear sightings. I think my favorite, though, is crossing the Drake Passage to see the Wandering Albatross. In my next life I want to be a Wandering Albatross.

8. Favorite book about travel? Or travel tale?

I really enjoy reading the diaries of the crew on Amundsen South Pole Expedition. So many interesting perspectives coming from the crew rather than Amundsen himself.

9. What excites you about expedition travel? How do you see it changing?

I love our position in the industry – we have become a platform for good. We’re not just showing guests the superficial side, but we dig deeper with our education and science program.

There’s a sense from some who want to see the world before it’s gone. We’ll be there. We’ll see the changes. We’re right in the middle of that and we can show people these places as responsibly as we can. More areas will be accessible for us in the Arctic. I think expedition cruising itself will have stricter regulations, but I think we’re ready to embrace change.

"We’re genuine. We’re real. What I like more and more is that there is a huge focus on inclusion, being kind to each other, getting the best out of each other. That matters. There is a genuine way of interacting..."


Click to watch the video about the usage of hybrid energy on MS Roald Amundsen:

Other stories

Penguins perched on the ice of Cuverville Island, Antarctica. Credit: Espen Mills / HX Hurtigruten Expeditions

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