Changes for cruise ships

Historically, cruise ships calling at Norwegian ports have not been allowed to be registered in the Norwegian International Ship Register. However, a recent change to the Norwegian International Ship Register Regulations has relaxed the trading limits and now allows such ships to be registered in the register if certain requirements are fulfilled.

Section 4 of the Norwegian International Ship Register Act prohibits passenger ships registered in the register from transporting passengers between Norwegian ports or engaging in regular routes with passengers between Norwegian and foreign ports. The main objective of this provision is to prevent ships registered in the Norwegian International Ship Register from competing with ships registered in the Norwegian Ordinary Ship Register.

Due to a restrictive interpretation of Section 4 of the act, Norwegian International Ship Register registered passenger ships were not allowed to call at more than one Norwegian port during a voyage. Consequently, cruise ships engaged in international routes involving more than one Norwegian port were previously not eligible for registration in the Norwegian International Ship Register.

However, the amended Norwegian International Ship Register Regulations (596/1993), which came into force on March 27 2015, removed some of the ambiguity concerning previous trading limits and now allow Norwegian International Ship Register-registered cruise ships to carry passengers between Norwegian ports.

Requirements for calling at Norwegian ports

The amended trading limits follow from the new Chapter 2 in the regulations, which applies only to 'cruise ships', as defined in Article 5. For these purposes, a cruise ship must have cabin capacity for all passengers and must sail in accordance with a specifically offered cruise programme that includes at least one night passage and have a total duration of no less than 24 hours.

Section 6 introduces additional requirements for a Norwegian International Ship Register-registered cruise ship to be entitled to carry passengers between Norwegian ports. First, the cruise ship must call at a minimum of two foreign ports before or after calling at one or more Norwegian ports. In addition, passengers must not be allowed to buy tickets exclusively between Norwegian ports. However, passengers may board or leave the ship in a Norwegian port if their ticket includes at least two calls at foreign ports.

The trading limits have been relaxed because international cruise ships adhering to these trading limits are not considered to compete with Norwegian Ordinary Ship Register-registered ships.

Milestone registration of Viking Star

Following the enactment of the new Norwegian International Ship Register Regulations, the newly built cruise ship Viking Star was registered in the Norwegian International Ship Register in March 2015, making it the first cruise ship to be registered in that register for 10 years.

This may mark the beginning of a new era for cruise ships flying the Norwegian flag.

For further information on this topic please contact Øystein Meland, Hågen Hansen or Matthias Grieg at Wikborg Rein by telephone (+47 55 21 52 00) or email (ome@wr.no, hag@wr.no or mgr@wr.no). The Wikborg Rein website can be accessed at www.wr.no.

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