Brekke wins “Global Best Partners Award”

Hurtigruten recognizes North Dakota travel agent

Photo courtesy of Brekke Tours Char with Hurtigruten General Manager Gordon Dirker at the awards ceremony.

Photo courtesy of Brekke Tours
Char with Hurtigruten General Manager Gordon Dirker at the awards ceremony.

Larrie Wanberg
Features Editor

The Norwegian Coastal Voyage ship Trollfjord docked in the quiet waters of the Oslofjord for a special “Open House” in early January, to invite Norwegian citizens to tour the ship and to host a seminar for 45 tour operators from around the world.

Brekke Tours of Grand Forks, N.D., participated in the seminar and was awarded Hurtigruten’s “Inspiring Partner of the Year Award for North America.”

U.S. General Manager Gordon Dirker of Hurtigruten Coastal Voyages (HCV) said in a phone interview, “Brekke Tours was recognized for their significant sales.”

Char Brekke, managing partner of Brekke Tours, commented, “The management team of Hurtigruten invited us to an engaging seminar to thank the tour operators for their support and to share their ideas as they look at new ways of promoting and selling their exciting product, which consists of the Norwegian Coastal Voyage, and cruises to Greenland, Iceland, Antarctica, and Svalbard.”

“Brekke Tours was very honored to receive Hurtigruten’s “Inspiring Partner Award for North America,” she said.

Agency founder and partner Arne Brekke added, “For 60 years, we’ve been promoting Scandinavian travel, helping people discover the roots of their heritage. In recent years, we’ve added adventure to our program of heritage tourism with worldwide cruises, especially the coastal voyages.”

Char emphasized, “Several of our staff members have participated in the coastal voyage so they can share personal experiences and better serve our clients.

Amanda Hancock, the marketing specialist for Brekke Tours, described her cruise experience: “Of course the main reason to travel on board Hurtigruten—the scenery! We got to experience dogsledding through a snowy landscape; the Snow Hotel in Kirkenes; a sea-eagle safari, which was simply amazing (if a bit cold!), driving the Atlantic Ocean Road, and the breathtaking Lofoten Islands. It might have been the end of winter, but the beauty in Norway is evident in any season.

“The future holds new adventures,” concluded Dirker in his interview. “With our ship Fram, we are venturing into “Cold Water” destinations, including Antarctica and Arctic Islands for rare expeditions of adventures. It’s in our DNA.”

Personally, as an American Fulbright student studying in Norway in the mid 1950s I once took a coastal excursion from Bergen to Molde in Nordfjord to first visit the farm in the interior fjord where our family name originated many generations ago, and I reconnected with distant relatives.

Arriving by ship added to this experience by the cheering and waving from the dock by a crowd of people unknown to me, and the sounds of the ship’s horn accenting my heritage experience. It put me in touch with how my ancestors must have felt as they departed their homeland 125 years ago.

One can now preview the whole trip of Hurtigruten in their armchair on social media, called “Slow TV.” In 2012, Norwegian Television Web-streamed the entire voyage of the Hurtigruten route from Bergen to Kirkenes. It won the Guinness Book of Records for the longest documentary during the 8,040 minutes that 3.2 million Norwegians (of the 5 million population) tuned in to this new kind of “reality show.” (If interested, see the TEDx talk of this documentary story at

If you have the spirit of exploring in your DNA, you may want to book an exciting expedition and explore your heritage in one adventure of a lifetime.

This article originally appeared in the Jan. 23, 2014, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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Larrie Wanberg

Larrie Wanberg, 1920–2021, contributed features to The Norwegian American for many years, drawing on eight decades of life experience highlighted by three career recognitions: as a researcher through a Fulbright Scholarship to Norway in 1957; as a health care provider in behavioral science through a 27-year military career and awarded upon retirement in 1981 the highest non-combat medal, the Legion of Merit medal; as an educator, through a 50-year career in college education, culminating in the 2010 Public Scholar award at the UND Center for Community Engagement. Wanberg passed away in May, 2021.