About This Line
Originally intended as a communications and travel link between the villages on Norway's western coast, Hurtigruten (formerly known in the U.S. as Norwegian Coastal Voyage) provides an up-close look at the fascinatingly intricate fjords, mountains, and villages that not too long ago were isolated and difficult to navigate. The Hurtigruten itineraries are often described as "the world's most beautiful voyage," as they provide access to some of the most stunning scenery and the unique cultures of Norway, many of them above the Arctic Circle.
Nine modern Hurtigruten ships are committed year-round to Norwegian coastal itineraries, known in Norway as "Hurtigruten," the word from which the cruise line's name is derived. Options include 6-night northbound, 5-night southbound, or 12-night round-trip sailings, calling at 34 ports in each one-way segment. In summer, the Millennium, Contemporary, and Mid-Generation ships follow this route; in winter, Nordnorge and Nordkapp reposition, joining the company's newest ship, MSFram, in the southern hemisphere to sail Antarctic and Chilean Fjord itineraries, replaced in Norway by Lofoten and Nordstjernen. The Polar Star and Nordstjernen make summer voyages to Spitsbergen, an island midway between Norway and the North Pole. The MSFram makes summer expeditions to Greenland as well as a 67-day longitudinal world cruise in the fall.
Although they are working ships transferring cargo as well as passenger vessels, most of the Hurtigruten ships look and feel like traditional cruise ships, and are outfitted with spacious, art-filled public areas, exercise rooms, saunas, elevators, and stabilizers. Unlike on a traditional cruise, however, there is no organized entertainment on board. Mother Nature is the star of this show. However, a Tour Leader is on board all voyages to assist with practical, cruise-planning details.You should think of Hurtigruten as an alternative to the traditional cruise.
Timing is key when planning a Norwegian coastal cruise. From late May to late July the sun never completely descends beneath the horizon in areas north of the Arctic Circle; hence, Norway is known as the "Land of the Midnight Sun." In the northernmost parts of Norway the sun remains visible the whole night in summer months, with the number of days per year with potential Midnight Sun increasing the farther north one goes. For instance, in Svalbard, the northernmost inhabited region of Europe, there is no sunset from approximately April 19 to August 23. The opposite phenomenon of the Midnight Sun is Polar Night, which occurs in winter when the sun stays below the horizon throughout the day. The Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, is most often seen during the winter months. Unlike the Midnight Sun, which is visible as long as the weather is fair, the Northern Lights can be seen only when the right atmospheric conditions prevail.
Theme cruises are offered throughout the year, including an Astronomy Voyage and a Winter Digital Photography Voyage. Other themes focus on wildlife, the history and culture of Norway, and holiday celebrations. 405 Park Ave., Suite 904, New York, NY, 10022. 800/323-7436. www.hurtigruten.us. Cruise Style: Small-ship.
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