Meet

Generations at Sea

Meet the families who have worked for Hurtigruten for generations – going all the way back to when the company was founded.

WORDS TIM McGLONE

Meet

Generations at Sea

Meet the families who have worked for Hurtigruten for generations – going all the way back to when the company was founded.

WORDS TIM McGLONE

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Norway’s coast and its people are intertwined – and given the beauty of their shores, it's no surprise that a life at sea is attractive. Just like occupations often run in the family – we all know a family-run shop, or a farm handed down from generation to generation – so too can working on passenger ships. For people like Isak Hals, working for Hurtigruten is more than just a job, it runs in his family’s blood.

Isak first joined Hurtigruten in 2017 as a Deck Trainee aboard MS Midnatsol (now MS Maud). He is now an Able Seaman and substitute Second Officer. When we spoke to Isak, he was aboard MS Nordkapp, working alongside older brother Daniel Hals – also an Able Seaman and Second Officer. The family is from Stokmarknes, an idyllic settlement of around 3,000 people in the very north of the country, and one of the stops on the Coastal Express route. It is also the site of the Hurtigruten Museum, being the location where Captain Richard With founded the company almost 130 years ago.

Isak Hals as second officer onboard MS Vesterålen.

Captain Fredrik Hals, Isak's Grandfather, onboard the MS Vesterålen.

To say Isak’s family are steeped in Norwegian maritime history would be an understatement. His father Eivind Eliassen, as well as his uncle Bjarne, worked aboard MS Lofoten in the 1970s and 1990s respectively. Before them, grandfather Fredrik Sandborg Hals spent an incredible 40 years at sea, and 34 with Hurtigruten, starting on MS Vesterålen in the 1960s and finishing on MS Richard With in the 1990s.

Even further back, great-great-grandfather Fredrik was a ship clerk. His brother Paul Emil Hals (pictured) was on the 1893 maiden voyage of DS Vesteraalen before later becoming a captain, and their brother Christian was Chairman of the Board. Even more extraordinary is the fact that his great-great-great grandfather William Dahl Hals was one of those who helped Captain Richard With found the company that pioneered the Coastal Express in the late 19th Century.

Continuing this extraordinary rollcall could conceivably feel like a duty, but it seems Isak has always been excited to do so, citing his grandfather as a significant role model.

Captain Paul Emil Hals was on the 1893 maiden voyage of DS Vesteraalen.

“Another thing I find cool about working for Hurtigruten is that I still meet people that worked together with my grandfather and uncle, even though it's been many years since they worked here.”

— Isak Hals

Isak and older brother Daniel, both as Able Seaman onboard MS Nordkapp.

“I listened a lot to the stories my grandfather told me,” he says. “He probably influenced me quite a bit, he and also my brother, and my uncle who works at sea. They have all made an impression on me, and of course the crew I work with.

“I like the combination of cargo and passengers, but also the coastline, which is very beautiful. Working on some of the same ships as my grandfather and seeing why he enjoyed the job so much is also fun. “I have talked about working onboard Hurtigruten since I was a little kid drawing ships, so it's fun to have accomplished the dream I had.” With such an esteemed family history, surely it is difficult to talk about anything else at family birthdays or around the dinner table? “We do often end up talking about ships and work for some time,” Isak admits. “Another thing I find cool about working for Hurtigruten is that I still meet people that worked together with my grandfather and uncle, even though it's been many years since they worked here.”

Isak was born and raised in Stokmarknes a settlement in northern Norway and the site of the Hurtigruten museum.

Like Isak and Daniel, Amalie Abrahamsen and Charlotte Larsen were working together on the same ship when Hurtigruten Magazine got in touch. The cousins – Amalie a chef, and Charlotte a 'Restaurasjon'– described how a passion for adventure runs through the family, leading them to a career at sea. “Hurtigruten has always meant something to us,” says Amalie.

Amalie Abrahamsen (left) and Charlotte Larsen.

“The story is that our grandad started working for Hurtigruten very young because he loved to travel and see new places. He started sailing in 1974 as a steward and then a hotel manager, and he was there for many years. “Then my grandma started in 1985 as a waitress, and then came my dad and (he) worked for some years. I have always loved that story which we were told as young kids.” In total, seven of the family have worked at Hurtigruten. Amalie followed suit, joining as a trainee in 2015, before Charlotte joined shortly after as a Restaurasjon. "It always be special to me because it feels like my second home. Growing up I travelled so much with my father in summer times when he had to work ... I have so many good memories from my childhood because of Hurtigruten," says Charlotte. "When I traveled as a child, I usually helped the crew on easy tasks, like peeling potatoes, making sandwiches for the cafe, helping the cleaning ladies, the sink and the restaurant. "I love to travel to new places to see new environments ... and try new food!"

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