Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 16 January 2011





Marriage Proposals
Government Gazette

A cruise from the North Pole to sunny Sri Lanka, any takers?

With no more bombs, suicide killings and destruction, the deadly image about Sri Lanka in his mind faded away when he travelled to Dambulla, Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa,

Kandy and Galle. Having seen plenty of wonderful places around the globe, he got to know more about the country and its people.

Espen Fjermeros

He, who takes people to either end of the globe to spend a moment of their lives in the freezing North Pole or in an amazing wild hideout with killer whales, elephant seals, polar bears, has decided to explore the humble but rich wildlife, archeological and historic treasures in Sri Lanka.

Espen Fjermeros, the owner of one of the leading cruise services in the world, is amazed by the beauty of Sri Lanka and wants to introduce his business - CruiseNorway - here.

Visiting Sri Lanka for the first time as a guest of Permanent Representative to the UN Dr. Palitha Kohona, Espen has 'fallen in love' with the beautiful country which he thought was a 'risky destination' some years ago.

With no more bombs, suicide killings and destruction, the deadly image about Sri Lanka in his mind faded away when he travelled to Dambulla, Sigiriya, Polonnaruwa, Kandy and Galle. Having seen plenty of wonderful places around the globe, he got to know more about the country and its people.

Whether he was in Kandalama or Kandy or at the top of Sigiriya or at the Galle Fort, it took his breath away. At last he asked himself : " Why not start a cruise expedition to this land"?

"Sri Lanka is truly a beautiful place. My personal message to potential customers is that Sri Lanka offers unique natural beauty and historical treasures that will enrich one's life", he said.

Espen said he never thought he would travel to Sri Lanka due to uncertainty created during the conflict. " I had to think about my safety as it was a risk travelling to a country which had frequent suicide bomb explosions and an on-going battle. But, the present peaceful environment after decades influenced me to come to Sri Lanka", he said.

It's not only the scenic beauty and nature that glued him to Sri Lanka but also the people whom he said were friendly. Their smiling faces reminded him they were lead peaceful lives and enjoying the hard earned peace after many decades.

"Compared to Indians, Sri Lankans are very calm", said Espen who started his multi million dollar business from scratch.

Born and bred in Norway he started CrusieNorway 10-years ago. " We sold the cruises along the beaches of Fjords that run over 1,250 miles.

He expanded the business by launching new voyages, from the Northern coasts to the Poles. It was further expanded by taking expedition voyages to the Arctic where the polar bears live", he spelled out how his business grew.

Espen who thought of offering novel and exciting experiences that become lifetime memories had decided to turn his CruiseNorway to the other side of the globe - the Arctic - for Polar voyages. " We did the propaganda through the internet and there was a good response from round the world. Our cruise liners travel to the far North to experience Norway, the North Cape, Greenland, Spitsbergen, or even the North Pole", he said.

As CruiseNorway was getting more inquiries from the Asian Region, particularly from India, it expanded the business by opening branches in India in Chennai, Kolcata, New Delhi and Mumbai.

Espen said he decided to have a branch in Sri Lanka with the peaceful situation in Sri Lanka as there was a demand in the West for travel to Sri Lanka.

"As the war is over, many like to explore the beauty of Sri Lanka and I hope that your country can offer its natural beauty and historical treasures to promote tourism", he said adding that Sri Lanka is promoted as part of voyages typically sailing the region originating from Dubai and Singapore.

He said the cruise business will continue to expand to new destinations particularly in the far East and Sri Lanka as demand was strong in this region.

Espen who intends to work with Sri Lankan travel companies wants to promote the expedition products of CruiseNorway which offers breathtaking cruises up Norwegian fjords and to Greenland and Spitsbergen, where turquoise icebergs glimmer in the Northern light and polar bears hunt in the midnight sun."These cruises will take people all the way to Antarctica to enjoy a moment with penguins, whales, seals and sea birds.

Those who are interested to a cruise to Spitsbergen can see over 5,000 polar bears in Spitsbergen. Not only Polar bears but wild reindeer, Arctic foxes, walrus, whales, seals and many species of migratory birds are encountered in this wonderland", he said.The Silverseacruise India which explores the amazing natural wonders from Africa to the Indian Ocean, North America to Alaska to the Antarctic to the Mediterranean and to the Amazon is popular among explorers who want to enjoy nerve racking experiences in the highly cold environs.

Espen said the voyages last from seven days to even 100 days exploring the world. The experienced cruise businessman who began by advertising his business through Google said the obstacles regarding expanding expedition voyages to the polar regions was the efficiency in communicating well with his clients to attract them to explore nature in the Arctic and Antarctica.

"We publish true pictures of amazing encounters of our clients during previous voyages on our websites. I believe that pictures speak more than a thousand words", he said.

Espen who had cruised to Antarctica and the Arctic several times said safety was the top priority in the cruise business. "We have the world's best ships which comply with all international safety regulations", he said.He said the wildlife was spectacular in the Polar regions and the demand for such expeditions would continue to be strong in the future.

But the main challenge for CruiseNorway is convincing new clients in Asia to explain to them the uniqueness of the places that their cruises are sailing.

" We currently have large groups going to the Polar regions from China and India. We want more clients from Sri Lanka.

We also have our Silversea client base sailing in Asia, including Sri Lanka. We want to promote Sri Lanka and the Asian Region as our latest destinations as these countries have so much to offer in terms of scenery, wildlife and historic treasures", he said.


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