Launched in 2022, Havila Castor is the sister ship to Havila Capella which debuted the previous year. They are operated by Havila Voyages, which is part of the long-standing Norwegian family-owned investment company Havila Holding. The line was set up when the Norwegian government invited other companies to bid for contracts to operate year-round cruise and foot passenger sailings on the coastal route that had previously only been served by Hurtigruten.
Havila Castor and Capella will be joined by two more new-build ships, Havila Polaris and Havila Pollux with launch dates yet to be announced.
The second new ship on the Norwegian coast route in 18 years -- sibling Havila Capella was the first -- the contemporary vessel showcases an interior design inspired by nature with an understated Scandinavian vibe. Aside from different artwork and the colors of some of the soft furnishings, it is identical to Havila Capella.
Havila Castor has four cabin categories -- interior, exterior, deluxe with panoramic views and suites -- with staterooms located across four of the six passenger decks. Accommodations start at 151 square feet and the largest on the ship are the pair of Lighthouse Suites, situated in a prime sightseeing position on Deck 8, which measure 484 square feet with a 161-square-foot balcony. These cabins are true suites, with separate living and bedroom areas, and have a hot tub on the veranda.
A novel feature in all cabins is a button on the telephone where you can indicate if you wish to be woken up at night if the northern lights make an appearance. Cabins can accommodate up to four people and all have tea and coffee making facilities, USB ports and free Wi-Fi. There are several accessible cabins.
The ship has panoramic windows throughout the public areas to make the most of passing scenery. The top deck observation lounge has reclining chairs and a glass roof to watch the stars at night or the midnight sun during the summer months.
The color scheme and artwork throughout the ship is inspired by the sea, sky, mountains and glaciers, and in the main lounge there are cozy faux fireplaces that make a realistic crackling sound.
The airy main restaurant features a large number of tables for two, something of a rarity on cruise ships, and passengers are allocated tables at the beginning of the cruise and sit as couples or in the groups they are travelling with. The menu changes every three days, aside from always available dishes, and features a range of small tasting plates which are freshly cooked and served to the table. Passengers can order as many dishes as they want and there is also a vegetarian menu. At dinner, larger main course entrees are also available.
Havila Castor has a 32-seat specialty restaurant which serves a five-course tasting menu. This venue carries a supplementary fee, apart from suite passengers where it is one of the complimentary perks.
The ship also has an all-day cafe and a bar.
Constructed at the Tersan Shipyard in Turkey, Havila Voyages says it operates the newest and most eco-friendly ships in the region and Havila Castor and sister ship Havila Capella are fitted with what it describes as the world's largest maritime battery packs. This battery power enables the ship to sail for up to four hours emission-free. The rest of the time Havila Castor uses liquefied natural gas (LNG) which is currently the greenest marine fuel and it can be converted to use even cleaner fuels when these become available.
The vessel also has an energy efficient hull design, uses shore power when in port and recycles surplus heat from the engine room to provide onboard heating and hot water. Cabin keycards are made from biodegradable paper and seasonal, regional and sustainable food is served in the restaurants. Additionally, all meals are served by waitstaff -- there are no buffets -- and the line estimates this cuts annual food waste by more than 60 tons.
The ship sails on the classic Norwegian coastal voyage from Bergen to Kirkenes and back. Year-round itineraries are available for the full 11-night round-trip stopping at 34 ports along the way or can be taken as a six-night northbound or five-night southbound sailing. One- and two-night taster voyages are also available.
The ship is 15,519 gross tons and carries 468 passengers at full occupancy in cabins, 172 foot passengers and 78 crew.