Slow TV: boring or a relaxing escape?

Ever fancied watching the Guinness World Record’s longest TV interview? Or perhaps the beauty of a trans-Norwegian train journey from the comfort of your couch? Well, if you have a spare 6 to 140 hours up your sleeve, the Norwegian phenomenon of Slow TV makes these dreams a reality!

Watching hours upon hours of television with no narrative, no conflict, no climax and no development whatsoever may seem the most boring way to spend your time. So it’s surprising to hear that according to NRK, the national broadcaster of Norway, up to 45% of the Norwegian population has tuned in to one of their slow TV productions since they first started broadcasting in 2009.

As of this week, NRK is broadcasting the annual migration of reindeers across Norway and it is surprisingly compelling viewing!

What is slow TV?

It began with a 7 hour train journey and proceeded to a live broadcast of a Hurtigruten Coastal Voyage over 134 hours. In between the two, NRK have broadcast everything from a 30 hour interview to an 8 hour bonfire, which 20% of the population watched.

“Boring but boring in a very nice way.”

Perhaps the most yawn-inducing description of one of the programs  is the Evening of Knitting – split into a 4 hour discussion in one room about knitting, followed by 7.5 hours of knitting. Plus there has been an 18 hour live broadcast of salmon swimming upstream and 14 hours of birdwatching (actually 87 days on the web!). The list goes on.

So why do Norwegians watch slow TV?

Viewers of the programs, particularly of the Hurtigruten cruise, enjoyed the live nature of it. Many boats jetted out to meet the ship as it passed the coastline, while shore dwelling locals waved hands, banners and scarfs at the passing ship. One viewer reasons that watching slow TV is all about sitting back and watching nature come at you. It’s a way to ‘veg out’; there’s no need for engagement and you don’t miss anything if you leave the room.

In a TED talk, Thomas Hellum, the head of the project on Slow TV at NRK explains –

We take the viewer on a journey that happens right now in real time, and the viewer gets the feeling of actually being there, actually being on the train, on the boat, and knitting together with others, and the reason I think why they’re doing that is because we don’t edit the timeline. It’s important that we don’t edit the timeline, and it’s also important that what we make Slow TV about is something that we all can relate to, that the viewer can relate to, and that somehow has a root in our culture.”

Slow TV acts as a break from the world we live in today, a moment to sit back and imagine stories about the people and places appearing on the screen. Perhaps something as unique as this would only work in a country as unique as Norway.

That remains to be seen however, as Netflix (US) recently signed on for a number of the existing programs. Maybe it will be just as successful with international audiences.


If you’d like to experience the real deal aboard a Hurtigruten Coastal Voyage, contact Bentours today. And who knows? Perhaps you’ll feature on Norway’s next slow TV project!

The Midnight Sun

Scandinavia is famous for its polar night, the winter months of the year where the sun hardly makes an appearance and the Northern Lights flash across the sky. The less spoken of but no less exciting time of year is the opposite – the Midnight Sun over the summer months. Locals make the most of the extended daylight hours to spend more time outside and basking in the sun.

What is the Midnight Sun?

The Midnight Sun is the phenomenon that occurs in and around the Arctic Circle and the Antarctic Circle where the sun is still visible at midnight because of the tilt of the earth. This phenomenon can be experienced in Canada, Russia, Norway, Iceland, Finland, Greenland, Sweden and the USA (Alaska). The closer to the poles, the more sunlight there is – this means a quarter of Finland has 60 days of sun without setting, while Svalbard in Norway has no sunset from the 19th of April to 23rd of August.

Although the Midnight Sun only shines above and around the Arctic Circle, in truth the nights are ‘white’ throughout much of Scandinavia. During the summer solstice, the sun is visible for a full 24 hours but it is the days leading up to and following on from this mid June date, the white nights, where the sky is most fascinating, with sunset colours dominating as the sun briefly dips below the horizon then comes back up again. The line between night and day blurs and Scandinavians sleep less, spending their long days outside exploring.

It is at this time of year that much of the native flora and fauna of the Arctic begins to flourish. Having been dormant for the many winter months, wildflowers begin to bloom in the Arctic tundra and wildlife such as polar bears, elk, arctic foxes and migratory birds can be readily seen.

The cultural importance of the Midnight Sun

The Midnight Sun is culturally significant in old Norse legends, although how exactly it was understood is unclear. The Icelandic Snorri Sturluson attempted to compile Norse legends about the 12th century and although his compilation has been shown to be far from reliable, the legends about the sun and moon seem to be reasonably accurate of what the Norse people believed, coupled with many early artworks and artifacts.

The story goes that Sol (old Norse for Sun) and Mani (old Norse for Moon) were two beautiful siblings, a sister and a brother. The gods were so outraged that their parents had called them such powerful names that they condemned them to drive one chariot each across the skies, one pulling the moon and one pulling the sun, one after the other. These chariots were pursued by wolves and every once in a while the wolves would catch up with the brother or sister and devour them – thus there would be no sun (polar night) or no moon (midnight sun) until Sol or Mani were reborn.

Another classic Norse legend is that young women looking for love should collect seven flowers on Midsummer’s Eve and place them under their pillow that night. Then, in her dreams of the next few months, her future fiance will appear.

In more contemporary history, the famous Norwegian painter Edvard Munch depicted the golden lit Midnight Sun in his famous (and influential) work, ‘The Sun’ (1909). This wall mural occupied the University of Oslo’s Assembly Hall and was a symbol of the creativity and productivity of the Norwegian people under their golden Midnight Sun.

The best ways to experience the Midnight Sun

Norway

Known as the land of the midnight sun, there are some wonderful ways to experience the extended daylight hours of the summer in Norway. Consider a coastal cruise or some outdoor adventures to make the most of your long days.

  • Commonly mistaken as the most Northern point on the European Mainland, the North Cape is technically situated on an island. It is however a wonderful place to feel rejuvenated by the Midnight Sun with only the sea and Svalbard between you and the North Pole.
  • Take a cable car ride up 656metres in Narvik where you can behold stunning views of the fjord, the town, the islands and surrounding mountains including the famous Sleeping Queen. You can even hire a mountain bike to go back down into town!
  • Alternatively, take a cable car ride in the northern town of Tromso – although only 421 metres above sea level, the attraction affords amazing views of the peaks of Ringvassoya Island where the Midnight Sun hovers. Open well after midnight in the summer, this is the perfect way to make the most of the eternal summer days.
  • Visit Trollstigen National Tourist Route and admire the UNESCO listed Geirangerfjord from the  Flydalsjuvet rest stop.
  • Longyearben, Svalbard opens up in the summer time and is a wonderful place to visit. The most Northern Norwegian settlement, Svalbard enjoys the longest period of the Midnight Sun from 22nd April to 20 August.

Sweden

Visit Kiruna, in the Swedish Lapland to experience the Midnight Sun at it’s best along with famous Swedish hospitality. The Midnight Sun phenomenon lasts in Sweden from late May to mid July but the further North you go, the longer the season.

  • Play well passed midnight at the famous Bjorkliden Arctic Golf Course. 250km north of the Arctic Circle, this is one of the most scenic golf courses in the world and is open 24hours a day.
  • Indulge your inner artists in an Ice-Sculpting course at the ICEHOTEL, or ski into Midsummer’s Eve high up in the mountains.

Finland

A quarter of Finland is within the Arctic Circle and so the Finnish Lapland experiences about 70 consecutive days of constant sunlight.

  • The Midnight Sun film festival occurs every year in Sodankylä, located approximately two hours northeast from Lapland’s capital, Rovaniemi. The five day festival was founded in 1986 and has gone from strength to strength in each year since, with an international mix of filmmakers and film-lovers. Screenings run 24hours a day from 15 to 19 June and the highlight is the silent film concerts, always packed out.
  • Jutajaiset Folklore Festival in Rovaniemi is a celebration of the coming together of Lappish, Sami and Finnish culture in music, dance and performance. The program is both fun and educational, with the opportunity for anyone to participate in the National Course for Accordionists and an art camp designed specifically for children.

Iceland

Although outside the Arctic Circle, Iceland experiences the ‘Bright Nights’ due to refraction of the sunlight.

  • Explore the Land of Ice and Fire from inside a magma chamber at Thrihnjukagigur volcano. This amazing place is only open for May to September and is an unforgettable experience!
  • Make the most of the bright night and enjoy a late night dip in one of Iceland’s many hot springs.
  • Tackle a guided glacier hike in stunning surrounds during the afternoon and there is no need to hurry back for sunset as the days draw out.

Greenland

Experience the Midnight Sun in Greenland’s Northernmost towns – Qaanaaq, Upernavik and Uummannaq.

  • Take a boat ride among the ice flows and admire the awe-inspiring Ilulissat Glacier, above the Arctic Circle.
  • Even further south in Greenland, locals enjoy Bright Nights with nearly 20 hours between sunset and sunrise. In Qaqortoq and Nanoralik, nightlife and daytime activities merge and there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Discover the Midnight Sun on our small group tour Follow the Midnight Sun or contact an agent for more ideas to make the most of this amazing phenomenon.

World Mythology about the Aurorae

Aurorae have been seen the world over for millennia due to solar activity. Without an understanding of modern day science, how did early people interpret the aurorae?

As we discussed in our Arctic Legends behind the Northern Lights article, legends have not only come about because of Aurora Borealis, but also the less-viewed Southern Lights (Aurora Australis) that can be seen (sometimes) in southern Australia and New Zealand.

The Northern Lights – beyond Scandinavia

Ancient Greece

As hard as it is to believe, the Ancient Greeks recorded sightings of aurora borealis. Plutarch described the streams of light as fire in the sky, while there was a belief that Aurora (meaning sunrise) was the sister of Helios (the sun) and Seline (the moon) and that sometimes she needed to travel across the sky in a multicoloured chariot to alert her siblings of a new day.

Ancient Rome

Again the celestial activity must have been extreme for the Ancient Romans to have seen the aurora, but there is mention of Aurora as the goddess of dawn in her flaming chariot or alternatively, of flaming military spears being hurtled across the sky.

North America

Native American myths about the Lights tended to centre around death and destruction. One such example is the belief of the Wisconsin Fox Indians that they were their slain enemies, staring down at them and preparing for revenge. Another belief was that one should never wave, sing or whistle when the lights lit up the sky as it would attract the dead spirits – instead, one should clap to fend them off.

China

Although very rarely sighted in China, the lights were believed to be celestial battles between dragons that were good and evil. Some have suggested that this is where the idea of dragons originated. Can you make out dragons in the waving lines?

Japan

Even today, children conceived under the Northern Lights will be blessed by good looks, intellect and good fortune in Japanese culture.

Continental Europe

Again, the Lights are rarely seen this far from the poles, so there had to be huge solar activity for anything to show up in the sky. The result was extremely rare violent red streaks appearing across the sky. In France and Italy, these red streaks terrified communities and were thought to be harbingers of war, disease, famine, or anything else horrifying.

United Kingdom

In England, the same red streaks were seen as signs of destruction. Legend claims that a few weeks prior to the French Revolution, red light danced across the sky and was later interpreted as signalling the ruckus that was to start across the Channel. In Scotland, the Northern Lights were known as the ‘Merry Dancers’ who were engaged in a bloody battle.

Estonia

There are a number of myths in Estonian culture but the two most prominent are that of a pod of whales playing games above, or that of a magnificent horse drawn carriage carrying celestial guests to a heavenly wedding.

The Southern Lights

The Southern Lights are the same phenomenon as the Northern Lights but happen squarely over the uninhabited continent of Antarctica. As such, only when there is strong solar activity can they be seen in the nearest inhabited lands of New Zealand and Australia.

New Zealand

Some of the Maori of Aotearoa believed the Tahunui-a-rangi were the campfires of the ancestors who had rowed to the land of ice in the south. These lights reassured them that the ancestors would one day return to them.

Australia 

Indigenous Australians have many celestial traditions, including about the Aurora Australis. For those tribes in Victoria and Tasmania, sighting the Lights was not that unusual whereas further up in Central and Northern Australia they were rather frightening as they were so irregular. Unlike the tradition in Scandinavian cultures were the lights were seen as a cause for celebration, in Australia, they usually indicated war and death. For example the Gunditjmara of western Victoria, described them as fire of Puae buae (“ashes”). While to the Gunai of eastern Victoria they indicated a coming catastrophe being raging bushfires in the spirit world.

Like many Aboriginal stories, the Lights were used to regulate communities to uphold the sacred law. For example, near Uluru, when hunters killed a sacred emu and broke Pitjantjatjara law, the aurora was seen as poisonous flames that signalled divine punishment.


To see the mystical Northern Lights this year, call Bentours to organise an experience of the incredible natural phenomenon.

For the lesser seen Southern Lights, have a look at our Hurtigruten Expedition Voyages to Antarctica – you never know what you might see!

10 Interesting Facts about Greenland

How much do you know about the largest ice island in the world? Sparsely populated on the coast, while the interior is covered with ice, Greenland is emerging as one of the world’s best kept secrets as a holiday destination.

And with Hurtigruten running Expedition Voyages up the coast, there is no better time to see the incredible flora and fauna! Plus it is a great chance to have an in depth look at the fascinating culture and history of this land of ice.

Did you know that…

1. 80% of Greenland is covered by an ice sheet and glaciers, estimated by scientists to be 400,000 to 800,000 years old, with the edges about 10,000 years old, a remnant from the last ice age! Despite that, the ice-free area is still as large as Sweden.

2. The flag of Greenland is a polar bear on a blue shield – the polar bear represents the fauna of the nation while the blue represents the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans.

3. Technically, Greenland is part of the North American continent although it is geopolitically aligned with Europe and is part of the Kingdom of Denmark. In fact, in 1946, the US attempted to purchase Greenland but Denmark refused.

4. The Northeast Greenland Ice Sheet has lost more than 10 billion tons of ice per year since 2003 due to melting, according to a Nature Climate Change study.

5. While sealing, whaling, hunting and fishing are the primary source of income, there are large deposits of gemstones all throughout the country and it is predicted that mining could take over fishing as the largest industry.

6. ‘Kayak’ and ‘igloo’ are Greenlandic words that have been adopted without modification into English.

7. There are practically no roads in Greenland! Despite the fact the country is enormous, all travel is done by plane, boat, helicopter, snowmobile or dogsled. As a matter of fact, there are hardly any cars in Greenland – with a population of 57,000, there are estimated to be only 2,570 cars in the entire country, most of them in Nuuk, the capital.

8. The indigenous people of Greenland are called Kalaallit (which means Greenlander in Kalaallisut language) and originate from Central Asia. Parts of Greenland have been occupied for over 4,500 years, although the people today are not directly descended from those earliest settlers. They are rather largely descended from a group that arrived in Greenland some 1,000 years ago.

9. Greenland is home to some of the world’s most extreme versions of sport including the Arctic Circle Race and the Ice Golf World Championships. The Arctic Circle Race is the toughest cross country ski race in the world, spanning 160km out of Sisimiut with both locals and visitors competing. The Ice Golf Championships occur in March over two days and involve a golf course cut into the ice between icebergs and into the snow fields.

10. From May 25 to July 25, Greenland experiences the midnight sun – thanks to the angle of the Earth, the sun travels across the sky but does not actually set. July is also the only month of the year were the temperatures are above freezing point!

Did you learn something new about Greenland? For such a sparsely populated land, the culture and history is certainly very fascinating – and there’s a lot more facts where these came from!

Experience the wonders of Greenland, from picturesque Nuuk to the incredible Ilulissat Icefjords with the largest glacier outside of Antarctica on a Hurtigruten coastal expedition voyage.

Arctic Adventures in Sisimiut

40km north of the Arctic Circle, Sisimiut is Greenland’s second largest town and a gateway to Arctic adventure. Try hiking, skiing, fishing, hunting, kayaking or dog sledding – if you can think of any Arctic activity, it’s probably common place in Sisimiut!

Although only established as a town in 1756, the area has a rich history and has been inhabited for some 4 500 years. There are countless artifacts of the Inuits of the Saqqaq culture who occupied the area almost five centuries ago while the majority of the population is descended from the Thule people, who settled the area nearly one thousand years ago.

Hurtigruten Greenland Expedition

Aboard a Hurtigruten journey, you can explore the coast of Greenland, seeing incredible glaciers, fjords and oceanside towns. Some towns of the island are so isolated that they can only be accessed by boat and most aren’t connected to each other by roads. Sisimiut is one of the larger towns the voyage stops at – specifically chosen for its charm and the wealth of opportunities it presents to adventurous souls!

Summer – Hiking, Fishing and more

In the summertime, take advantage of the midnight sun and hike amongst the mountains any time of day. Crest the summit of the Palasip Qaqqaa – from the peak on a clear day you can see the long Greenland coast snaking off into the distance. With the stunning views of the ocean and Nasaasaaq mountain, it is well worth the climb.

The back country of Sisimiut is where the original people of this land have walked for centuries. Participate in an organised guided walk to see early Inuit artifacts and ruins along the trail or buy yourself a map and find your own way.

Fly fishing is also a popular summer past time, with Arctic Char abounding in the rivers. There are also opportunities for big game hunting, mountaineering and kayaking.

Winter – Skiing, Snow Shoeing and Sleds

In the wintertime, do as the locals do and ski! Back country skiing offers fresh powder off-piste almost daily. Each year the strenuous Arctic Circle Race takes place from Sisimiut. At 160km, this race is the toughest cross-country race in the world but unites locals and travellers alike, all challenging themselves to an ultimate test of endurance.

Dog sledding is a must do, heading off into the back country for the afternoon or perhaps for a longer three day adventure. Bunk down in log cabins each night, eat fresh Greenland produce and try some cross country snowshoeing.

All year – Cultural Experiences and Fresh Produce

Visit the fascinating Sisimiut museum, housed in historic 18th century colonial buildings, with an entrance gate decorated by an intricately carved whale jawbone. Here, you can learn of the history and traditions of the region, as well as examining artifacts from the Saqqaq settlements, an exhibition of modern and traditional dog sleds and hunting tools, plus explore a reconstructed traditional peat house.

A trip to the local handicraft market is fascinating, where art is made out of reindeer antlers, seal skins and walrus tusks. A popular souvenir is a tupilaq statute – a monster traditionally carved into an animal bone but now more often out of antler or tusk, that Inuits would use to take revenge on their enemies.

For those not keen on any strenuous outdoor activities, Hurtigruten also offers a leisurely boat excursion, where you can admire the mix of modern and traditional in the town, with its brightly coloured colonial houses and new cultural centre.

To try the local fare, you can’t go past the central fish and meat markets, where there is casual dining on the very freshest ingredients. Just be aware that most of the market (and the museum) will only accept cash, so have some with you.


Contact an agent today to book your Bentours adventure with Hurtigruten up the stunning coast of Greenland!

Antarctic vs. Arctic: where should you go?

Both the Antarctic and the Arctic offer incredible adventures & once in a lifetime experiences that you won’t find any where else in the world. Despite often being categorised alongside each other, the Arctic and Antarctica are very different places to visit – so which is right for you?

The polar regions of the world have drawn the most daring among us for years and today they are more accessible than ever. Bentours runs Expedition Cruises to both of these destinations offering many incredible and varied excursions so guests can truly discover these sparsely populated lands. But what are the key differences?

Culture and History

Antarctica was entirely uninhabited by humans until the establishment of research stations in recent years.

SamiThe Arctic on the other hand has been inhabited for many years and interesting history has played its way across Arctic lands. The Sami indigenous people of the Arctic region, still occupy the area and in spite of hardships faced at the hands of various governments, continue to live in a semi-traditional way. Sami culture is rich with nuances and individuality thanks to the Arctic environment, such as the long practice of reindeer husbandry and the construction of lavvos, Sami huts. Hurtigruten offer shore excursions to learn about this unique culture.

The Arctic region is also famous as the land of the first polar exploration. The Vikings of Scandinavia colonised Iceland and Greenland in the Middle Ages while Russian monks set out an outpost monastery on the Kola Peninsula in the same period. Then of course the Golden Age of exploration in the 19th century saw many pioneering expeditions through the area. You can take a  guided walk in Tromsø to the Polar Museum to discover more about this history of exploration.

In contrast, Antarctica was not explored in ernest until the early 20th century, with many of the expeditions leading to death and injuries. Norway’s own Roald Amundsen was the first to reach the South Pole, ending a dramatic race with the British Robert Falcon Scott. His ship, the Fram, was inspiration for Hurtigruten’s modern expedition ship, MS Fram.

Landscape and Wildlife

Another key difference between the two polar regions of the world is the landscape. The Arctic is made up of many islands, including land of Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, the United States (Alaska), Canada, Denmark (Greenland) and Iceland.

Technically the Arctic is a large frozen sea surrounded by continents, while the Antarctic is a massive ice covered continent surrounded by oceans. Not as cold as Antarctica, there is a great variety in the environment of the Arctic, with fjords, mountains, glaciers and green areas in the tundra replete with trees and plant life. Due to the more temperate climate, there are many land animals that can be seen including reindeers, arctic foxes, elks and, the Kings of the Arctic, polar bears.

Penguins AntarcticIn comparison, the Antarctic land mass appears quite barren but there is something undeniably beautiful in this barrenness. The continent is the most remote in the world and is covered in ice, punctuated by towering ice mountains and rock. The wildlife here is all water based, with penguins, whales, seals and many other marine animals to see. Given the isolation of Antarctica, the excursions available tend to be more limited but no less exhilarating – just imagine yourself kayaking surrounded by incredibly shaped ice formations!


Where ever you decide is right for you, you are guaranteed to create life-long memories on an incredible trip in one of the polar regions of the world. And who knows… you might like the Arctic so much that you feel you have to visit the Antarctic to compare (or vice versa)!

 

Iceland Quick Facts

Gearing up for your Iceland trip? Whether you are going on a tailor-made Self Drive itinerary,  a Hurtigruten Expedition Voyage or a ready-made Coach tour there are a few universal things you should know about the Land of Ice and Fire.

Iceland Essentials:

Money: the króna, or the kronur in the plural form. Prices may seem high as $1 is equal to about 85 kronur at the time of writing. Even if you are doing a tour where many of your expenses are paid for, exchange some cash before arriving so you have some money to hand if you’d like to take a side trip or purchase souvenirs.

Language:  Icelandic. Many people will speak a smattering of English, particularly young people, and Danish as both are compulsory in school.

Halló (Ha-low) = Hello

Gjörðu svo vel (Gyur-thuh svo vel) = Please

Takk (Tahk) = Thanks

Skál! = Cheers!

Government: constitutional republic – possibly one of the oldest parliamentary democracies in the world, with parliament established in the early 10th century in Thingvellir National Park.

Visas: Iceland is part of the Schengen Agreement but is not part of the European Union. The Schengen Agreement means that if you are arriving from another Schengen country there is no border control. Australians are generally allowed to spend 90 days within the Schengen area without a visa but double check your specific case.

Getting around: Flying is the most common form of transportation between different towns, although we can happily arrange car hire for you. Car is the best way to see the deserted but beautiful ‘Heart of Iceland’, the Highlands, and many of the natural wonders. Driving is on the right side of the road and is reasonably easy, as the roads are well maintained and there is little traffic. In winter months be aware of ice on the road.

The dramatic cliffs of Iceland are wonderfully seen by sea, and Hurtigruten’s Land of Ice and Fire itinerary takes you all around the coast.

Customs: folklore forms a part of Icelandic identity, particularly the sometimes held belief in huldufólk (hidden people, analogous to elves) and should be respected, not scoffed at. Tipping is not expected and when entering a private home, generally you remove your shoes. Icelanders are sometimes portrayed as gruff people by other Europeans, but are friendly and helpful once you make the effort to speak with them.

Avoid: if you would like to talk about the Global Financial Crisis, do so with care and tact as it hit Iceland hard and affected many individuals hugely so can be an upsetting topic. Whaling is still a large industry in Iceland, so although you can discuss any anti-whaling sentiments you may have, expect to be met with fierce opposition.


We hope these few facts will help you on your Icelandic adventure!

Hurtigruten: a vision for the future

 

Every time we take a trip somewhere, we leave a footprint. Not just that imprint left behind in the sand or where we sunk in the snow, but a carbon footprint on the environment.

Hurtigruten, running large ships that use thousands of litres of gas every year, know this too well. They travel to the far reaches of the world where icecaps are rapidly deteriorating because of our footprints. Instead of operating business as usual and avoiding responsibility for their impact, Hurtigruten have committed themselves to ensuring that their guests of tomorrow have the opportunity to experience the natural wonders of today.

Hurtigruten’s sustainable vision

Hurtigruten are proud to be among the front runners in sustainable maritime travel. Through the work of their Foundation, investment in cutting-edge, environmentally friendly technology and the education programs they offer to their guests onboard, Hurtigruten work to ensure that their footprint is as gentle as possible.

Reducing fuel consumption

Given the amount of ships in the Hurtigruten fleet, reducing fuel consumption has been one of the most pressing environmental considerations for Hurtigruten. All of their ships on the Norwegian Coastal Cruises use low sulphur SDM (Special Distillate Marine) fuel. The explorer ship, MS Fram, that travels further up into the Arctic Circle, uses the even more eco-friendly Marine Gas Oil as fuel.

With the exciting announceMS Framments of the particulars of Hurtigruten’s two new ships, MS Roald Amundsen and MS Fridtjof Nansen, sailing from 2018, Hurtigruten has shown even more of a commitment towards transitioning towards an environmentally sound means of travel. Designed through a collaboration of Norwegian yacht designer Espen Øino and Rolls-Royce, the design will completely revolutionise sustainable travel, using hybrid electric propulsion technology. This will represent a significant reduction in fuel consumption (20% compared to traditional ships) and CO2 emissions. In fact, it will amount to eliminating 6, 400 metric tons worth, or the equivalent of the yearly emissions of over 5, 500 modern cars!

Hurtigruten have also managed to save energy by altering the types of propellers they use on their ships. Changing the propellers on the MS Richard With managed to reduce consumption by 10% annually, and as a result new propellers were fitted to the MS Nordnorge, MS Kong Harald and MS Nordkapp.

The Hurtigruten Foundation

Hurtigruten’s commitment to sustainable travel for future generations doesn’t just encompass their own ships, but also their charitable work. Hurtigruten established the Hurtigruten Foundation to combat the effects of climate change so that future guests can enjoy the same wonderful polar regions. The Norwegian coastline, the high north and Antarctica support some of the most unique cultures, ecosystems and wildlife in the world. The nature and environment in these areas is vulnerable, and for the past 120 years, Hurtigruten have seen firsthand the impact that human intervention has had on these environments.

The Foundation raises funds and supports grassroots environmental movements such as ‘Clean up Svalbard’ as well as campaigns for the Association of Greenlandic Children. They also partly fund several research centres in Antarctica.

Funds are raised through onboard auctions and have gone towards global habitat restoration projects, such as an environmental protection project in South Georgia and a project for the protection of the albatross.

Hurtigruten’s role in the greater scientific community

As well as funding research stations in Antarctica, with over 120 years of experience travelling up the coast of Norway, Hurtigruten is uniquely placed to notice changes in the environment. Sailing 365 days a year, together with Ocean Visuals, they contribute to real-time oil surveillance, with hyper spectral lasers installed aboard some of their fleet to detect even the smallest spill.

Hurtigruten also collaborate with scientists and research centres from all over the world, providing specialist knowledge and information about the Arctic and Antarctica. Hurtigruten’s thermographic data collections have been invaluable to the Institute of Marine Research (IMR), who now possess one of the longest climate related time series in the world.

Similarly, Hurtigruten also has a strong partnership with the Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIWR), who have a ‘Ferry-box’ system on the MS Trollfjord and MS Vesteralen. The Ferry-box system alerts to changes in the water environment, such as temperature increases, freshwater inflow and toxic algae blooms, and is also used to monitor the many fish farms facilities along the coastal stretch between Bergen and Kirkenes. This information forms an integral part of the EU Water Framework Directive as a part of the ocean acidification project.

You can be involved!

On many of their ships, particularly the Explorer fleet, Hurtigruten runs lectures and shore activities that revolve around educating their guests about the threats the polar regions of the world face.

Aboard the MS Midnatsol, which is specifically equipped for travelling into Antarctic waters, there are state of the art science facilities where guests can examine samples and specimens collected on field work trips ashore. Hurtigruten has been heavily involved in promoting and supporting the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO), whose aim it is to secure a sustainable and environmentally aware tourism industry in the fragile Antarctic region. All lectures aboard the MS Midnatsol, catering for the Young Explorers and right up to our more mature guests, are conducted according to the IAATO guidelines.


Hurtigruten is committed to sustainable travel of today to ensure the unique and fragile polar areas of the world exist tomorrow. Join them in their mission today through supporting the Foundation.