London might be No. 1 on the Trip Advisor 2016 Travelers’ Choice top 25 world destinations list, but a company is hoping some people prefer to take in the sites—offshore rig sites that is—in the North Sea and Norwegian Sea.

Edda Accommodation is perhaps better known in the oil and gas industry as a provider of floatels with living quarters and recreational areas for offshore workers.

But as the downturn reduces some offshore oil and gas activity, the company is venturing into tourism in hopes that some folks will ditch sunny beaches, swanky shops and other traditional top destinations in exchange for a rig-spotting cruise aboard its Edda Fides floatel.

“On these tours you will get to see some massive oil rigs, rigs that have made the Norwegian oil and gas business a success story and that has enabled the worlds most advanced welfare system,” Edda Adventures said on its website. “Never before have regular passengers been given the opportunity to live onboard such a vessel and to firsthand experience how offshore workers live and work.”

A rig spotting North Sea trip, scheduled to depart July 18, offered sightings at nine North Sea facilities—including Edvard Grieg, Johan Sverdrup, Balder and Ringhorn, Oseberg and Troll, ending with an annual Jazz festival in Molde.

Talk about making lemonade from lemons. Kudos to Edda Accommodation for finding a creative way to make money during tough market conditions and the tourists who are making it possible by showing up to learn about the oil and gas industry.

Reuters reported this week that 120 tourists, mostly Norwegian, paid between US$700 and $3,500 for four days on the vessel.

“I couldn’t believe that these big buildings could be made,” 86-year-old Kari Somme said in the news article. “It’s just wonderful, just wonderful. I was so excited because I didn't know much about it. So when I came here and we went from rig to rig, or platform to platform, I was amazed.”

She was among the passengers who saw Statoil’s Troll A platform that towers 650 ft above the surface of the sea. Statoil has described the platform, which is in the northern part of the North Sea, as the “tallest structure ever moved by humans over the surface of the Earth.”

Reuters noted the tourists were prohibited from boarding the rigs for security reasons. However, some offshore workers—for which visitors are not a common site—“ fired flares or used water cannons to welcome us,” Bjoern Erik Julseth, the hotel manager on board, told Reuters in a phone interview.

The company’s website also notes that the vessel is not suitable for wheelchairs, and tours are not recommended for children under 12.

Velda Addison can be reached at