Cruising Norway with Hurtigruten
This 7 day cruise with Hurtigruten is a one of a kind experience and one not to be missed. The cruise runs year round, however I chose to do it in winter for all the great shore excursions on offer.
Hurtigruten embarked on its first voyage in 1893 and was intended to bring regular service along the coast of Norway. The primary purpose of the ships, was to carry freight to the remote fishing villages along the coast. 120 years later, Hurtigruten still carry’s freight and now passengers. It is important to understand that Hurtigruten offers a very niesh type of experience. Unlike the larger cruise ships there is no scheduled entertainment, mostly everyone watches the constantly changing scenery from the observation decks and participates in educational activities.
Day 1: Embarkation in Bergen
The cruise begins in Bergen which is also known as “The Gateway to the Fjords of Norway” and is a well-established cruise port. The city is packed with history and tradition, it’s a big city with a quaint small town vibe. Bergen is well known for its Bryggen Hanseatic Wharf, the Fish Market, and surrounding mountains and fjords. Be sure to check out all Bergan has to offer before you board your ship.
Day 2: Ålesund
Your first stop will be Ålesund, a beautiful town known for its Art Nouveau architecture. You will want to visit the towns Mountain and viewpoint Aksla which offers panoramic views of the archipelago, town center, and Sunnmøre Alps. To reach the view point you will need to climb 418 steps up from the town park, or take the city train up to Fjellstua.
Day 3: The Royal City of Trondheim
Trondheim was Norway’s first capital city, sites to see include:
This cathedral is Scandinavia’s largest medieval building.
Trondheim Museum of Arts
This museum has Norway's third largest public art collection and consists mainly of Norwegian art from the last 150 years.
The storehouses along the river are built on wooden stilts and are a colorful contrast to the pure white snow that covers the city during winter.
Day 4: Arctic Circle and Lofoten Islands
On day 4 of the cruise you will cross over into the Arctic Circle, keep your eyes peeled for the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis)! The crossing is celebrated with an Arctic Circle baptism on the main deck by King Triton himself, the mythological Greek god of the sea. If the weather and ice conditions allow it the ship will sail into the entrance of the famous Trollfjord.
The ship offers a Viking Feast dining experience at the Lofotr Viking Museum, which is a recreation of one of the largest Viking Buildings ever found. The original Chieftain’s house was established around 500 AD and was inhabited until around 900 AD. You will dine in the banquet hall and feast on meats, vegetables and of course Mead (honey wine). The staff will entertain you with sacrifices to the gods, praying for the return of the sun to Ragnarok. On the way back to the ship I caught my first glimpse of the Northern Lights, certainly a sight to behold. This excursion is $163 USD per person.
Day 5: Tromsø, the gateway to the Arctic
The ship will first stop in Finnsnes and continue onto Tromsø which is the capital of the Arctic.
A trip to the arctic wouldn’t be complete without a dog sledding adventure. The ship offers an excursion that begins with a drive to Kvaløya where you will change into the appropriate clothing and footwear for the adventure. You will have time to meet the dogs and enjoy a warm drink inside a traditional Norwegian Sámi lavvo (hut) before the dogs pull you across the frozen landscape. The ride will offer wonderful views of the frozen landscape, mountains and surrounding areas. During the polar night the team will use headlamps to guide the way. I was fortunate enough to see the Northern Lights for a second time during my sled ride. The excursion is $242 USD per person. Note: the ride is quite jarring, I would not recommend it for anyone with a bad back.
Day 6: Honningsvåg and the North Cape
One of my favorite stops on this cruise was the North Cape, the northernmost point on in Europe. This excursion will put you at 71° 10’ 21” N, only 2,000 kilometers from the Geographical North Pole. The North Cape plateau rises 307 meters almost vertically from the Arctic Ocean and offers one of a kind views. The tour includes a visit to North Cape Hall where you can view a very impressive 180 degree panoramic film about Finnmark and the North Cape. This excursion is $190 USD per person.
Day 7: Kirkenes, the voyage turning
The last port of call on this journey is Kirkenes which is just 10km from the Russian border and the northern most town in Norway. Kirkenes has many fun activities to offer and is home to the Snow Hotel.
Highly Recommended: This tour is not offered by Hurtigruten but was one of the most memorable days of my life.
Arctic Adventure Resort
I spent a day with Arctic Adventure Resort and it was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. The day started with a 3 hour Snow Mobile adventure through the backcountry towards Norways end. Mount Jarfjordfjellet offers easy terrain, and deep powder. The staff serve tea, coffee and biscuits to keep you warm.
Next up was a King Crab Safari which involved a boat and a man in a wetsuit who jumped in the freezing arctic waters to catch us some king crab to eat (it doesn’t get any fresher than that ladies and gentlemen).
Finally it was time to bath in the icy waters of the Barents Sea. Wearing a survival suit, you will be dropped off on the ice and able to lower yourself into the icy waters which have a temperature between 0 and 6 degrees Celsius year-round. You float around in a “weightless” condition enjoying the peace and tranquility of the lapping of the waves. Be careful as the current can be strong, I started drifting over to Russia but luckily I was brought back before wondering off too far!
Recommended Snow Hotel
The Snow Hotel is constructed each year in the Gabba Reindeer Park and boasts Norways largest Ice Bar. Upon arrival you will be served an ice cold crowberry (a local berry) shot, locally known as “Rudolf’s Revenge” appropriately named for the location. The fun doesn’t stop there, you will be invited into the dining room where you will grill your own Reindeer sausage and feat on local fish. After dinner the staff will show you to your room and demonstrate how to get ready for bed, this involves many layers of clothing and jumping up and down in your sleeping bag to get warm. You will spend the night on a bed made out of ice, but not to worry the reindeer skins will keep you warm.
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