The Unsung Heroes

They are the hardworking people who make sure your trip exceeds all expectations. Introducing four of Hurtigruten Expeditions’ unsung heroes.


5 min read


Around a third of the staff and crew on tour with Hurtigruten Expeditions are rarely seen. They squirrel away behind the scenes to keep everything shipshape. Now it’s time to shine a light on their experiences, achievements and thoughts on life at sea.

Frank's role as chief engineer with Hurtigruten Expeditions has taken him to many incredible locations.

Frank's role as chief engineer with Hurtigruten Expeditions has taken him to many incredible locations.

Frank Hermansen - Chief Engineer

From a switch needing a tweak in a cabin to a maintenance overhaul in the engine room, Frank is in charge of all things technical. However, he’s the first to acknowledge that creating a great team is the most important part of his job.

“Each role on a ship depends on the cooperation of everyone working together,” says Frank, who started work with Hurtigruten Expeditions in 2002 as a first engineer.

“A lot of our work is in remote areas where you have to problem solve and keep on top of the maintenance. There are 16 people in the engine room working on shifts 24/7.”

Frank was part of the first expedition to Antarctica in 2002, and has since had input in the building of new vessels, especially the MS Roald Amundsen.

“Back in 2002 we had six tender boats, so we took six spare propellers. All six were broken during the first cruise,” reflects Frank. “One of the biggest challenges is to know the things that are likely to break down and what’s needed to fix them.”

Born into a Norwegian seafaring family, the ocean is in Frank’s blood. His strong interest in sustainability drew him to Hurtigruten Expeditions, and he’s proud to be part of an innovative company blazing the environmentally friendly trail.

Ariane with one of her culinary creations.

Ariane with one of her culinary creations.

Ariane Roselle Abiada - First Cook

Ariane has only worked for Hurtigruten Expeditions for a year, but in that time she’s been promoted from second cook to first cook, met hundreds of penguins and tasted food she had previously never heard of.

“I come from a province in the Philippines around 12 hours from Manila where everything is spicy, everything has coconut milk and everything has rice,” says Ariane, who is the only female in the galley onboard the MS Fridtjof Nansen.

Inspired by her grandmother, Ariane enrolled in a cooking course before applying to an agency in the Philippines to try for a job on a cruise ship. “I wanted to make a career and see the world,” she says.

“One of the things I love about working for Hurtigruten Expeditions is they don’t have barriers. I’m totally accepted.”

As first cook, Ariane is in charge of the cold station and enjoys plating up the food artistically. “For every dish we prepare, there’s a story behind it,” she says. “The ingredients reflect the place we’re sailing in, which makes it very special.”

Ariane’s role has also opened her eyes to sustainability. “Every day we weigh the food waste, log and track it,” she explains. “We’re also using a lot more plant-based foods to reduce the food footprint.”

Thor joined Hurtigruten Expeditions in 2017.

Thor joined Hurtigruten Expeditions in 2017.

Thor Christian Jacobsen - Chief Officer

Regardless of whether a pod of orcas is chasing a seal on the starboard side, the northern lights are dancing above the deck or a polar bear has just appeared on the horizon, Thor’s complete focus is on the safety of the ship and everyone onboard. “Finding the least inconvenient time to conduct drills is one of the most challenging parts of my job,” says Thor, who joined Hurtigruten Expeditions in 2017 after working on container ships.

“We are providing the platform for the guest experience. A lot of people are not familiar with shipping, so it’s hard to grasp that there are certain risks involved. They know they can trust that the behind-the-scenes work is happening.”

Coordinating departments across the entire ship, Thor oversees all operations and drills that practise the ship’s response to various scenarios like running aground, fire, environmental emergencies and person overboard. “Everything we do prepares us to manage unexpected situations,” says Thor.

Reporting directly to the captain, part of Thor’s role is also navigation and voyage planning. Like many Norwegians, maritime history is in his family. “I love the sea but I also respect it,” he says. “You need to understand what the sea is capable of.”

Thor feels the recent initiative to reduce emissions through hybrid power is of great significance. “It generates a positive feeling among everyone onboard.”

Roy loves being able to share his passion for wildlife with guests.

Roy loves being able to share his passion for wildlife with guests.

Roy Malabarbas — Bosun

If someone had whispered in Roy’s ear when he was a lad watching ships sail past his home in the Philippines, that one day he’d drive Zodiacs through ice in the polar regions, he would’ve thought they were joking. Fast forward to now and Roy not only drives Zodiacs, he’s a bosun. “Hurtigruten Expeditions have given me the chance to have a career,” says Roy, who has a passion for wildlife.

“It’s the people – the officers are like family, they treat me so well.”

Roy joined Hurtigruten Expeditions in 2010 and started to learn how to drive tender boats on the MS Fram. “I loved it straight away,” he says. “It’s the freedom to take guests off the ship to be in nature and see the wildlife. Walruses are my favourite in the Arctic, and penguins in Antarctica.”

As bosun on MS Fridtjof Nansen, Roy oversees the maintenance and safety of the ship’s fifteen Zodiacs, supervises the other drivers and prepares the boats for guest activities.

“The maintenance is a challenge,” he says. “Everything has to be ready and working each day because when we’re in places like Antarctica or the Arctic everyone wants to get out and explore.”