Hurtigruten Ship to be Renamed MS Spitsbergen
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MS Spitsbergen

Many ships tend to have a vast history and a new member that has been added to the Hurtigruten Cruise Company’s fleet is no exception.

Constructed in 2009 at the Estaleiro Navais de Viana do Castelo in Portugal, the 7,025 gross ton vessel MS Spitsbergen is now being renovated for Hurtigruten after being purchased in June of this year. The vessel started its life as a ferry service under the name MS Atlantida and will begin service in May 2016.

At first, it was called the MS Norway Explorer by Hurtigruten, but recently it was announced that its name is being changed to MS Spitsbergen as a result of a facebook competition.

Both names conjure up thoughts of exploration and that is what it promises to do. The new name choice is derived from the largest island in the Svalbard Archipelago which is as close to the Arctic as you can get!

Spitsbergen

MS Spitsbergen will hold 320 passengers and promises to be environmentally friendly as well as having all the usual passenger comforts. The ship runs on diesel and has been specifically designed to handle polar waters, making an Arctic trip possible.

“We invest in our fleet to ensure that Hurtigruten remains a world leader in sustainable explorer travels along the Norwegian coast and in polar waters”, stated Daniel Skjeldam, the CEO of Hurtigruten.

There will be considerable upgrades in the cabins, suites and other public areas, decorated in an attractive nautical style with plenty of heavy blues to create a soothing atmosphere.

THE NORWEGIAN COASTAL VOYAGE ROUTE

The MS Spitsbergen plans on following the Norwegian Coastal Voyage route which will get right into the heart of the great north of Norway.

These 12-night voyages are nothing short of a really interesting and educational adventure.

From Bergen the ports of call and scenic sites through the Norwegian fjords whilst heading north will be Alesund, Geirangerfjord/Hjørundfjord and the Medieval Capital of Norway, Trondheim.

Geirangerfjord

On day four, passengers will participate in the Arctic Circle ceremony on deck to celebrate the summer’s ‘Midnight Sun’ and winter’s ‘Northern Lights’. Tromsø is visited next before travelling further towards the North Cape Plateau at the 71st Parallel.

By day 7, at only a few miles from the Russian border, the ship makes it way to Kirkenes. There are several exciting excursions available. Even though passengers are physically on the European continent, the position of the ship is actually further east than Istanbul.

This is the point that the ship begins to descend south towards Bergen, stopping in Lyngenfjord and Tromsø and a full day in Lofoten. As the ship continues and reaches the Arctic Circle at the 66° Parallel, an on the deck festivity is held. If anything was missed seeing whilst in Trondheim for the first visit, passengers will have a chance to play catch up on day 11 before departing in Bergen the next day.

Trondheim

Besides enjoying this exclusive itinerary that offers the best of Norway and the Arctic, lectures onboard by a member of a professional expedition team will give you a true learning experience.

Subjects will mostly be on the history and geology of each region, although there will be other topics available. The team will also serve as guides on any expedition hikes to make it the most informative way to get the most out of this unique cruise experience.

Including the MS Spitsbergen, there are 13 ships in Hurtigruten’s fleet. Each ship offers the same quality that will be found on the Spitsbergen. Take advantage starting next May with the Norwegian Coastal Voyage. Once you do, you’ll want to look into the Antarctica or Greenland sailing aboard the Spitsbergen in 2017.

Images courtesy of Hurtigruten

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In search of the Northern Lights with Hurtigruten
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Northern Lights

When you think of cruises, huge cruise ships basking in the glow of the Caribbean sun often come to mind. But if you fancy something a little different, then a cruise along the Norwegian coast is a perfect idea. It may be a bit cooler, but it’s not just a barren land of snow it is a stunning coastline with mile upon mile of spectacular scenery benefiting from the glow of the midnight sun in summer and the elusive Northern Lights in winter.

The History of Hurtigruten

The seas could be perilous, the maps unreliable and the transport infrequent, but the Norwegian Government decided to create a safe, reliable and fast way to connect Norway’s northern and southern regions. In 1893, a ship DS Vesteraalen and its’ Captain Richard With took on the challenge, and Hurtigruten was born.

history

120 years later, the Norwegian cruise ship company is still going strong. They offer a whole range of different types of cruises, but by far the most popular and exciting is the voyage in search of the Northern Lights.

Cross Off The Bucket List

Seeing the Northern Lights is on the bucket list of most people with an interest in space, nature or those who just want to see something magical and amazing. Hurtigruten offer a cruise that stays within the Arctic Circle, giving you the best chance of seeing the lights. But it’s not all about floating around staring at the sky, hoping for the lights to appear.

There’s a wide range of different excursions and calls at ports along the coast to get a real insight into Norwegian life, so even if you don’t see the lights, you’ll have a once in a lifetime experience regardless.

The Itinerary

The itinerary is jam packed with a whole range of activities that can cater to a range of different interests. The North Cape excursion is one of the most popular and is one that shouldn’t be missed. Travel to the most northern point on the European continent, and take in the plateau itself and the icy Arctic Ocean.

You will also see a 180 panoramic film about Finnmark and the North Cape, and you can buy souvenirs, send postcards and get something warming to eat and drink.

Kirkenes Snow Hotel

Another excursion you could take is to the Kirkenes Snow Hotel. The hotel is set near the Gabba Reindeer Park and contains Norway’s largest ice bar. You’ll get a guided tour around the hotel itself and you’ll get a chance to take a look at the snow and ice art that has made it famous.

Cabins

Like most cruise ships, the cabins vary in size. At the high end, suites offer plenty of extra space, with a seating area, a TV and most have a double bed too. For a lower cost, a cabin includes separate beds with a wash basin but still offer a cosy place to retire to at night.

Outside cabin

Food

The Hurtigruten dining experience is really quite informal with no dressing up for dinner. The food is sourced locally as far as is possible and dictated by the part of the country that you’re in. Lunch is buffet style offering a wide range of hot and cold dishes including, fish, meats, pasta and salad, plus mouth watering desserts.

Dinner gives you the chance to catch up with other guests over a three course menu created skilfully in the kitchen using fresh local food. Full board and half board options are available on a choice of longer classic and short break voyages.

Offers

From time to time Hurtigruten have offers on. So if you’re thinking that a Norwegian cruise might be a bit on the pricey side, then you’ll be able to take a look and see if there’s anything that might save you some money.

A Norwegian cruise ship isn’t about cheesey cruise entertainment; it’s a way to get closer to and explore the majesty that the nature and the culture of Norway has to offer.

For more information please visit www.hurtigruten.co.uk