Norway is a country which offers the visitor much more than just the Northern Lights, although it is somewhat of a tourist drawcard. One of the best ways to explore Norway and its natural beauty is to explore the country travelling on the outstanding “Hurtigruten” cruise. This route is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful in the world.
Translated it means “the fast route” and it dates back to 1893. The purpose was to enable faster transporting of goods between the southern and northern part of Norway. Today it is a relaxed and leisurely way of travelling, ensuring that the scenic beauty of the Norwegian coastline can be enjoyed.
If you really want to enjoy the beautiful scenery and views of Norway’s coastline this cruise is a must. The Hurtigruten route stretches from Bergen in the south to Kirkenes in the arctic north, just 10 kilometres from the Russian border. The coastline between Bergen and Kirkenes covers a distance of more than 1250 kilometres, littered with fjords, islands, mountains, towns and cities which offer breathtaking scenery, seabirds, marine life and the spectacle of the Northern Lights from September to March.
The cruise covers a distance of approximately 2500 Sea miles and the Classic voyage takes 12 days and 11 nights before you arrive back in Bergen from Kirkenes. The ships, which are working boats, docks on the route at thirty-four ports to load and unload goods, people and post.
There is also the option of shorter cruises and the special astronomy cruises offered during October to March, with astronomers on board. The cruise is geared towards the visitor who wants to experience the Northern Lights against the Arctic skies, with many of the ports visited north of the Arctic Circle, this might happen several times in various locations during the voyage.
A Classic or Astronomy cruise has the following itinerary:
The cruise starts when you board the ship in Bergen. This is the second largest city in Norway and the gateway to the Hurtigruten cruise. After all the procedures for checking in, you can relax and meet your fellow passengers.
On Day 2 the main attraction is the port of Alesund, where you can admire the Art Nouveau architecture of the town, the view from Mount Aksla and the aquarium. The route to Geirangerfjord provides spectacular scenery.
On Day 3 the main attraction is Trondheim, the royal city where the Norwegian Crown Jewels are kept and the Stiftsgarden Royal residence. From there you sail past thousands of small islands to Rorvik.
On Day 4 the ship visits seven ports, between Nesna and Ornes you encounter a small island with a globe on it, which indicates the Arctic Circle. When crossing the circle, tradition dictates that you be baptised with an ice cube down your back. In the evening you reach the Lofoten Islands where you can stroll between the traditional fisherman’s homes.
On Day 5 The ship pays visits to six ports with Tromso, the main attraction with its landmark, Arctic Cathedral. The city houses the world’s northernmost university and the Polar Institute, where Amundsen started his famous expedition. There are various restaurants and cafes to be visited and you can go on various excursions, which include dog sledging.
On Day 6 the visit to Honningsvag and North Cape is very special. When you stand at Cape Point, you have reached the end of Europe. The area offers great bird life with some species only observed on Gjesvaerstappan, which is home to more than 250,000 seabirds. Snowmobile trips can also be undertaken in the area.
On Day 7 the ship reaches Kirkenes where the “Hurtigruten” cruise turns around. There are various activities on offer which can be undertaken in the area.
On Day 8 the ship visits eight ports, docking in Hammerfest on its way to Tromso. In Hammerfest, the Meridian Column commemorate the first precise measurement of the globe. In Tromso, various excursions can be undertaken like a concert in the Arctic cathedral or the pubs to sample the local beer.
On Day 9 the ship visits several ports on its way to the Vesteralen and Lofoten islands passing through narrow channels and steep cliffs. At Stokmarknes everybody on board is welcomed at the Hurtigruten museum. In the evening the boat sets sail for the mainland.
Day 10 is the last day spent north of the Arctic Circle and several ports are visited before leaving the Arctic Circle. The Vega Archipelago and the Seven Sisters mountain peaks are visible at this part of the journey.
On Day 11 the ship visits Trondheim, with another opportunity to walk around in the city or to visit the Nidaros Cathedral, where several Kings and Queens were crowned. After Trondheim, the ship continues its cruise to Molde and Kristiansund.
Day 12 on route to Bergen the ship travels through amazing scenery like Jostesdalsbreen glacier and Sognefjord. After 11 nights and 12 days, the cruise ends where it all started in Bergen.
The accommodation on board is comfortable and relaxing. The scenery can be viewed in the outer cabins through large windows or portholes, and the suites offer a private viewing balcony for sightseeing. The decks are designed to offer the best opportunity to enjoy the voyage and the scenery.
The food offered on board are indicative of the culture of the Norwegian coastal islands and will provide the passenger with the opportunity to sample the best that Norway can offer. There are a great variety and passengers can enjoy three meals served as buffets.
The atmosphere on board is relaxed and geared towards enjoying the experience with fellow passengers. Along the cruise, passengers can enjoy a variety of activities under the guidance of trained staff to ensure their safety.
The dress code is informal, but clothing must be water and windproof. During winter, passengers must ensure that their clothing provides adequate protection, in particular when viewing the Northern Lights on the observation decks.
The Captain and his crew are competent and capable to traverse the difficult polar conditions and waters safely.
Travel to Norway during winter and combine two of the most outstanding Northern Hemisphere experiences; Sailing on the Hurtigruten cruise witnessing the Northern Lights in all its splendour.