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Calls for unity in Stavanger to combat negative press

The group on a rib boat, before setting out for Pulpit Rock (Preikestolen) which towers 604 mtr above the Lysefjord
Line Murphy, cruise manager at Stavanger Visitors & Convention Bureau, today urged cruise lines to support initiatives to counteract negative publicity.

‘Media in Stavanger are very negative and write a lot of things that aren’t true,’ said Murphy. She went on to tell several cruise line representatives, ‘Give us a hand, that’s my main message here, and I will do anything to help you…. There’s a lot of people working really hard for you… local people only get to see the facade.’

The comments were shared in Stavanger on April 21, on the first day of Cruise Norway’s 2024 familiarisation trip to southwest Norway led by Monica Berstad, the network's MD. The journey will encompass Haugesund, Eidfjord, Flam, Nordfjordeid and Hareid, before drawing to a close on April 27.  

‘A lot of companies depend on cruise for income,’ Murphy explained. ‘For some shops, 40% of the income comes from cruise.’

Stavanger has now formed a network so far made up of 31 companies locally who are working together to put the record straight when it comes to the mainstream media narrative, while also working together on product development and marketing, since ‘we’re facing a lot of the same challenges,’ according to Murphy. 

Fam trip participants

Ambassador Cruise Line’s head of itinerary management, Giovanna Dipasquale, and destination experience product executive, Michelle McDermott are among the fam trip attendees.

They are joined by Abigail Crossley, senior manager, global sourcing shore excursions, Carnival Corporation; Catrina Megahey, shore experience product executive, Carnival UK; Maria Cristina Roggero, land experience plan & operation manager, Costa Cruises; Anita Sletbak, senior consultant, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines. 

Sylviane de Tracy, director, cruise research & development, Ponant; Tracy Diaz, director, shore excursion operations, Princess Cruises; Neil Cron, destination experience manager, Saga Cruises; Andrea Leonetti, itinerary designer, Silversea Cruises; Susan Parker, freelance journalist also join the trip.  

Port developments and shore power 

Shore power at Stavanger will be available from January 1, 2027. There will be three outlets for cruise ships (24 MW) with one outlet at Strandkaien to mark the first stage of construction. Financial support comes from ENOVA in the form of 20m NOK. 

The Port of Stavanger aims to receive cruise calls year-round; however, rules introduced this year limit cruise tourism to a maximum number of cruise passengers per day, with an upper limit of 8,000 passengers, two cruise calls per day at the most, and a limit of seven cruise calls per week. 

One smaller vessel of up to 600 passengers may also call daily. 

A lack of boats is Stavanger’s biggest challenge, Murphy said, but there’s ‘great capacity’ when it comes to rib boats, which can accommodate up to 12 passengers. 

In 2023, Stavanger received 203 cruise calls and 570,587 cruise passengers, and the leading source market was the UK, followed by the US, Germany, France, Spain and Italy. 

In 2022, the destination recorded 227 calls and 450,000 passengers. 

Supporting crew 

One of the destination’s initiatives aims to support cruise ship crew through free dedicated tours; for example, a city experience lasting two hours led by Murphy. Costa Cruises and AIDA Cruises are among the lines whose crew members participate in the programme, with discussions underway with other lines on rolling out the scheme to their crew. 

Free to crew members in Stavanger on presentation of their crew ID is: entrance to all museums; a ticket to all hop on hop off buses; refreshments and WIFI at Seaman’s Mission, next to the main pier; a virtual reality experience at Viking House. 

And when it comes to discounts, crew get 25% off at Stavanger Camping minigolf and karaoke, Fjordbuda souvenir shop on the main cruise pier, and at Chilli Chocolate. They will receive 20% off coffee and food at Starbucks, food at Peppes Pizza and at the ice cream stand at the Swords in Rock monument. 

‘It’s the small things, but the small things mean a lot,’ Murphy observed. 

Shore excursions 

In total there are 70 shore excursions to choose from in Stavanger. ‘We have tours no cruise passengers have done before…. If you don’t want mass tourism,’ Murphy told the cruise line representatives present. They were given a glimpse of the tours available over the course of an action-packed afternoon, starting with a rib boat tour along the Lysefjorden to observe the 604-metre-high Pulpit Rock cliff - a location for filming, ‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout.’ Alternatively, it is a 4 km hike up the cliff to reach the thrilling viewpoint. 

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The towering Pulpit Rock

Striking scenery, including picturesque wooden houses at the water’s edge, soaring cliffs, rich greenery and more could be seen along the way. The two-hour experience also incorporated the ‘whisky falls’ - a waterfall where illegal whisky production took place in the 1800s, with commentary on the legends surrounding sites on the way provided by vessels’ pilots from Stavanger Rib and FjordEvents. 

The length of the fjord is 44 km and can be traversed by smaller vessels, like Ponant. It is also where the Flørlitrappene (Flørli stairs) can be found - the world’s longest wooden staircase comprising 4,444 steps leading 740 mtr above the fjord. 

Swords in Rock

The trip then moved to the monument marking the battle of Hafrsfjord which took place sometime between 872 and 900 AD, and united Norway under one kingdom. It takes the form of three towering swords on a rocky outcrop over water. 


Swords in Rock (Sverd i fjell) monument

Iron Age Farm 

The day’s activities concluded with a brisk tour of Stavanger’s Iron Age Farm and a meal in the museum’s restaurant with a chance to sample Nordic Stone Age bread. 

Located at Ullandhau, the reconstructed farmstead - the only one of its kind in Norway - is 3 km from the city centre and its origins date to the Migration Period (350-550 AD.) The longhouse has been built on the original archaeological site with various features installed at the same location as in the original building. Inside the longhouse, the cruise line representatives had a chance to see how a quern stone was used to make flour and try their hand at making sparks for fire, using tools that would have been available 1,500 years ago. They also found out how the period is believed by historians to have come to an end; from illness, plague and more, before the emergence of the Vikings.

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Iron Age Farm