Take an artistic coastal voyage with Havila

Four Norwegian artists featured on state-of-the art cruise ships


Photo:Havila Kystruten
A vibrant floral motif by Ingrid Haukelidsæther brightens the walls of Havila Pollux.

Tove Andersson

Beginning last August, you could not only see the well-known Hurtigruten calling at port on the Bergen-Kirkenes route, but also the new Havila Polaris and Havila Pollux. They have joined the Havila Capella and Havila Castor, which are also in traffic on the coastal route. 

Not only are these state-of-the-art Havila cruise ships environmentally friendly, but they are also decorated with Norwegian art.

When we get on board Polaris, it is obvious that the art slips into the background in a way that helps it to be in no way intrusive. Both the Norwegian flag and the postal pennant fly on deck because the ships also deliver the mail.

The art on the two new ships, like that on the sister ships Havila Capella and Havila Castor, has been created especially for these coastal cruise ships. Hege Sævik Rabben has been responsible for decoration and curation of the artworks on board the ships.

Artist Ingrid Haukelidsæther, who has decorated Havila Pollux, is concerned with creating space and movement in her pictures. In her work, dance and music are important elements, but also nature—especially the sea and mountains.

brunner art

Photo: Martin Giskegjerde / Oclin
One of the works of Frank Brunner that you can see on board Havila Polaris.

“We have displayed four different artists on our ships, each with different modes of expression and color choices. This gives each ship its own distinctive character. It has been nice to get to know the artists and get the stories behind the pictures.

“In addition, it turns out that all four artists are lovely people, and it has been a pleasure to work with them,” says Rabben.

She has followed several of the artists on Instagram and really liked the expression in their art. About Haukelidsæther, she points out that she has very appealing compositions with strong colors without being garish.

“They give a lot, but they are calm at the same time. I think that’s very, very nice,” says Rabben.

On board Havila Pollux, the form of expression is abstract and brightly colored. This stands in stark contrast to the otherwise calm atmosphere and the dark walls of the ship’s stairwells.

“We were actually surprised—positively—that the gray surfaces in the stairwells and the light wood on the walls were given color and movement, a contrast.

“Since I work non-figuratively and abstractly, I have a language without words, and with that I try to convey a will and positive force. I also try to take care of moments,” says Haukelidsæther.

Frank Brunner has provided the art on Polaris. Brunner has studios in Oslo and Kristiansand, and he has previously lived in New York.

It is said that the ephemeral is present again in his motifs, often depicted through light, shadows, and reflections. Notably, Brunner is the only artist on the Havila Kystruten ships who has created motifs of human figures.

“I tried to create a journey in the various image motifs I have used. At the same time, I like recognition, and that is probably the reason why I have a figurative idiom with mirrors and light. The element of water, be it waterfalls, reflections in the sea, or rain, is also important in my work, and I would probably say that I am looking for a recognition in experience, a moment, or something fleeting,” says Brunner.

Knudsen art

Photo: Havila Kystruten
Cathrine Knudsen’s artwork graces the walls of Havila Castor.

“Cathrine Knudsen put the finishing touches on board Havila Castor,” says Rabben,

Knudsen has delivered 36 works of art. Many of them employ soothing pastel colors in their depiction of nature.

Ørnulf Opdahl says it has been an honorable task to decorate on board Havila Capella, which he says is a magnificent ship. The oil paintings were painted especially for Havila Kystruten. On board the ship there are six paintings from 19.69 x 23.62 inches to the largest which is 5.58 x 5.58 feet.

“He is local, from Sunnmøre, as is the company Havila Kystrtuen (Havila Voyages), and at the same time, he is recognized both nationally and internationally. In addition, he has an expression that suits us well and there is no one who can describe the moods and changes in light and weather on the Norwegian coast like him,” says Rabben.

Ørnulf Opdahl’s art is also part of the overall idea for the ship, where the aim is to convey the Norwegian coast and coastal history through art, interior design, and food.

In addition to works of art, in the common areas, there are also wall boards with old photographs and text that depict the history of the Norwegian coast.

The largest suites on board have been given names and decorations inspired by lighthouses along the coast. Rabben says they wanted to highlight and pay tribute to hard-working women and men along the Norwegian coast with its rugged weather. Havila Capella is also home to many of his graphic works, both etchings and monotypes.

Photo: Havila Kystruten
Ørnulf Opdahl has created colorful ceramic plates for Havila Capella.

Rabben also points out that Opdahl’s art reaches a wide audience. She recommends that everyone spend a little extra time taking in the works of art on board the ships.

“I recommend everyone on board our ships take the time to enjoy the art in combination with the nature passing by outside through the large windows—it gives the trip an extra dimension,” says Rabben.

Havila Capella was supposed to be operational in 2022, but its launch was delayed because of a bankruptcy at the first shipyard, pandemic, and sanctions against Russia.

In August, the coastal liners Havila Polaris and Havila Pollux were finally handed over to Havila Kystruten during an official ceremony at the Tersan shipyard in Turkey.

Each Havila ship has room for 648 passengers.

“Together, we can show the world that Norway is taking the lead in the fight for a more sustainable shipping and future,” says Havila’s Managing Director Bent Martini in a press release.

To learn more or book a trip, visit: havilavoyages.com

This article originally appeared in the February 2024 issue of The Norwegian American.

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Tove Andersson

Tove Andersson is a freelance journalist who writes about travel and culture. She conducts interviews for the street magazine Oslo while writing poetry and fiction. Jeg heter Navnløs (My name is nameless) was published in 2020. Her website is www.frilanskatalogen.no/frilanstove, and she can be reached at tove.andersson@skrift.no.