Category Archives: Hurtigruten

Wild Norway: magnificent marine life

Norway is known for its sweeping landscapes, glittering fjords and breathtaking glaciers but beneath the surface there is much to see too – the Arctic Ocean is home to some of the most magnificent animals on the planet. Plus, the Northern Atlantic boasts many species of plankton, and where there’s plankton, there’s whales.

In summer and spring, Hurtigruten run Explorer Voyages up to Svalbard and as well as disembarking to explore the fascinating landscapes, you can spot local interesting marine life from the outer decks and comfort of the onboard panorama lounges.

The Walrus

The Norwegian walrus is a unique animal that is the largest seal species in the Arctic and second largest in the world – only the Elephant seal is bigger. With distinctive tusks that can reach up to one metre long, male bulls can weigh 1,500kg – a newly born walrus pup alone weighs 60–85kg!Walrus Explore More

In late Spring, leading into the Summer, walruses can occasionally be seen at the shorelines of the fjords around the capital of Svalbard, Longyearbyen. Walruses are very social animals and it is highly unusual to see one by itself. They are normally seen in groups of up to 20.

Most of the walrus population in Svalbard is female with their cubs, while male walruses are found closer to Spitsbergen. This is largely due to the walrus hunting by Europeans around Spitsbergen that almost led to their extinction in the 1950s – nowadays though, there has been evidence of walrus cows returning to Spitsbergen.

Another great way to see these unique animals is on a Shore Excursion up to the colony on the Southern tip of Moffen, in Svalbard.

The Ringed Seal

Ringed Seals are a lot smaller than walruses and can also be spotted up in the Svalbard archipelago. They are named after the ring-like Seal EXPLORE MOREmarkings all along their coats, which is a silver-grey to brown colour.

They grow between 110cm and 160cm and will weigh from 50 to 100kg. These lithe creatures are the prey of polar bears, killer whales and sometimes walruses. They are the only northern seal that can create and maintain breathing holes in the thick sea ice and they breed on land-fast ice in the fjords of Svalbard.

To make a quick getaway, the pups are able to hold their breath under water for over 10 minutes and can dive down to about 90m. They can be seen from aboard the Hurtigruten voyage up to Svalbard or on one of the smaller boat safari excursions.

The Harbour Seal

All along the coast of Norway one can see the harbour seal. From Seal EXPLORE MOREonboard a Hurtigruten Coastal Cruise voyage, these seals can be seen in groups of 10 to 20 seals on beaches, intertidal areas and rocky outcrops.

They feed on a variety of fish and are generally quite playful in the water as they hunt. The pups can swim as soon as they are born and they are about 150cm in length and weigh around 100kg.

The Beluga Whale

Beluga whales, or white whales, are found in the Northern reaches of Norway up near Svalbard. They can grow up to 5m long and weigh around 1,500kg. Usually they can be seen from the ship in pods ranging from 2 to 20 whales, although astounding numbers of up to 100 have been recorded.

Whale WatchingThe actual number of white whales in Svalbard is not known but they are the most commonly observed whale in the area. The best time to see these whales is outside of winter months, as although little is known about their migratory behaviour, pods have been documented moving further into the Arctic circle leading into winter months, where 90% of the land is ice floes.

In other Beluga populations, the whales are very vocal – so much so, that they have earned the moniker canaries of the sea. The whales around Svalbard however, are remarkably quiet, a mystery to locals. The crew onboard the Hurtigruten ships have a wealth of knowledge about the marine life in the Arctic waters, so maybe they will have some theories to share with you as to why!

The Killer Whale

Killer Whale Explore MoreThe famous killer whale, the King of the Ocean, grows up to 9.9m in length, weighing in at up to 5.5 tonnes! They often work together to catch prey, herding fish into tight balls and then pouncing. They also feed on seals and other larger marine animals.

There are thought to be 3,000 killer whales living around Svalbard but you’ll be lucky to see one from on deck!

The Sperm Whale

Sperm whales are a common sighting on the Classic Coastal Route during the Summer. Sperm whales feed mostly on squid, of both the colossal and giant kind, but will eat various other fish too.
A sperm whale’s huge blunt head takes up a third of it’s body – that can be over 5m (they grow up to 16m)! They also have the largest brain on earth and can hold their breath for up to 90 minutes at very deep levels.

Sperm Whale EXPLORE MORE

Female whales are highly social and usually live together – it’s not unusual to see 10 or 12 out at sea in a pod. Sperm whales were historically highly prized for hunting and thousands were killed every year. Nowadays, they are protected in Svalbard and can be seen in pods during the Spring and Summer months.

It is unknown how long the whales can live for, but there are some who are believed to be up to 70 years old!


Whether on land or sea, Norway has an abundance of wildlife to spot. With Hurtigruten ships especially equipped with viewing areas and even photography centres to develop your snaps, there is no better way to embrace Wild Norway.

Wild Scandinavia: Spotting a Polar Bear

Once considered a great sporting trophy, the polar bear is the unofficial symbol of the Arctic, the cuddly-looking giant who could tear you to shreds in an instant.

Not many creatures have been so fascinating to us humans for the past centuries as the polar bear. Once hunted with guns, today the great white bear is hunted with cameras and binoculars for a different kind of shooting. Seeing a polar bear in its natural habitat is something that features on many a pioneering soul’s bucketlist, but what is it like when you are able to fulfil that wish?

“It’s almost like a dream – finally on my way to a place and a life that I’ve read so much about. Even a few years ago, I couldn’t have dreamed that I would have a chance to take a trip like this.”

– Polar bear hunter Knut Bjåen, 1946, from Birger Amundsens’ book Without Mercy, on hunting in the Arctic.

Svalbard sightings of Polar Bears

Imagine you are on an excursion at Gnålodden, Hornsund, southwest of Spitsbergen, Svalbard, famous for its population of sea birds and the almost legendary polar bears. Picture thousands of sea birds wheeling around in the sky above you, creating a cacophony of noise.

Wanny Wolstad, a polar bear hunter of old, would have looked out at this same sight from her small hut, sitting perched on the stones and surrounded by snow. It was in this tight space that she raised her two sons in the 1930s and began her thrill-seeking search for the polar bear, the great ‘trophy’ that it was considered. Inside the hut the beds still stand and it is not too difficult to imagine her sitting on her bed writing to a magazine in Tromsø about her hunting experiences. Rugged up against the cold, the wooden slats barely keeping out the harsh winds and with a chorus of bird shrieks as her soundtrack, she recounted this of her time in Svalbard:

“Wonderful! Despite the danger, tension and difficulty, it’s ideal. I wouldn’t trade it for anything…Svalbard is in my blood.”

In spite of the harshness of life on Svalbard, Wolstad was not alone in her enthusiasm. Now follow us east in your minds eye towards the fjord, scanning the ground for signs of the elusive giant. Suddenly you spot something in the snow, some disturbance – could they be animal tracks? Excitement builds as you easily fit your foot into the imprint and then look out to the east, following the line of the trail. The expedition team leader confirms what you already know – a polar bear was here not so long ago. And so the hunt begins.

The first glimpse

Imagine only hours earlier as the Hurtigruten ship slowly made its way into a fjord on the southwest side of Svalbard, there was a loud exclamation followed by the shutter of camera lenses that follows wildlife-hungry travellers everywhere. ‘There! A polar bear!’ It is then that you felt lucky to even spot one from afar, looking dwarfed against the large mountains.

You have just emerged from a storm across the Barents Sea, and feeling woozy after the ship’s rocking but like a true explorer, you revel in your first sighting of a wild polar bear. ‘Can it get better than this?’ you ask yourself.

The bubble is burst when Manuel Marin, ornithologist and Hurtigruten expert shakes his head ruefully. “I’m afraid you are looking at a stone!”

You can’t help but chuckle despite your disappointment. “The art of seeing has to do with the ability to identify unnatural shapes and colours against the background. That is much too dark against the white background.”

“Listen to Manuel! He was raised by eagles!” shouts one of his colleagues. You all try your hardest to engage in the art of seeing, fine tune whatever innate hunting sense you might have in your DNA, a throwback to times of survival of the fittest. Here, on the thin sea ice stretching 200 metres out from the land, there are seals and where there are seals, there is usually a polar bear nearby. With Arctic wind whipping against your hands and face, your senses are all alert, fingers gripping binoculars at the ready for a glimpse of yellow white movement.

You’ve dreamed about this moment since you booked in your Arctic exploration – heck, this was one of the reasons you booked the Arctic exploration! And then, just as the tension is building to bursting point, there is a cry from someone on the lower deck and a loudspeaker crackles into action.

“Ladies and gentlemen, on the portside, at 11 o’clock, we have…a polar bear. Right to the left of the small island in the ice, you can see blocks of ice. One meter to the right, a polar bear is lying and sleeping. He just moved!”

Now that you have seen it, you hardly know what to do! Everyone stares, bustles on decks with camera in hands, the contagious excitement coursing through the crowd. When you lay eyes on the bear you forget your camera and just watch him, sleeping rather peacefully. A streak of gold amongst the white. The majestic, ferocious predator looks like a friendly pet, a big version of a child’s prized teddy. The only thing that reveals his hunting instincts is a smear of red on his muzzle.

Now imagine that this is not a daydream at all: you’re not staring at your screen in the comfort of your home or on your commute from work, but you are onboard your Hurtigruten cruise, in the Arctic Circle, a polar bear laying on the ice right in front of you.


Make your dream a reality and contact us today about booking your Hurtigruten adventure!

All Aboard: MS Lofoten

Like any venerable individual of the older generation, MS Lofoten floats along with a stateliness and grace not seen in the more modern, luxurious cruise ships. MS Lofoten is still the oldest ship still in operation, joining the Hurtigruten fleet. Refurbished three times in her lifetime, most recently in 2015, she has retained a timeless elegance and an incomparable old-world grace.

Hurtigruten heritage

During World War Two, many of Norway’s coastal passenger and cargo ships were destroyed. MS Lofoten was the 12th ship to be built during the post war reconstruction but one of the few still in operation. As such, her interiors hark back to a different time upon the seas and modern day guests can’t help but get caught up in the romance of nostalgia. Fifty years since her maiden journey from Bergen, in 2014 MS Lofoten had travelled almost 3 million nautical miles, transported 1.25 million guests, and docked over 75,000 times in Hurtigruten ports.

Ms Lofoten was one of the last ships designed for Hurtigruten with the traditional loading system with an on board crane. Maritime enthusiasts will be enchanted by the heritage of the ways freight used to be handled and the slow process of loading and unloading cargo. In 2001, the Norwegian Director General of Historic Monuments declared her worthy of preservation for Norway’s rich cultural heritage. For her 50th year in operation, the birthday celebrations spanned the entire year on board and in various ports.

MSLofoten_fjord_600x450A unique namesake for a unique ship

Lofoten is an archipelago in Nordland, Norway which is famous for some of the most dramatic and breathtaking scenery the world over. Known as Norway’s untamed islands, Lofoten is a truly unique place and just like her namesake, MS Lofoten is a distinctive ship. Today, this stately old lady continues to cruise the coast of Norway and offers a true working ship experience that can only really be found on European waters.

Onboard menus, retro uniforms and interiors are designed to recreate a 60s cruise experience. The 32 crew member staff are all Norwegian and ready to welcome guests with the world famous Norwegian hospitality. Where her cabins are rather small and cosy and she lacks the luxury of her younger sister ships, passengers are charmed by the Hurtigruten history during a trip aboard MS Lofoten.

The ambience onboard is laid back, the pace slow, with plenty of spots to sit, relax and watch the beautiful coast line roll by. A trip aboard this old dame revisits the picturesque passage of an old coastal cruiser and it is truly an unforgettable experience.

All Aboard: MS Fram

The MS Fram was purpose built in 2007 to be one of Hurtigruten’s leading explorer vessels. Following in the wake of the original pioneering Norwegian explorer ship and its namesake, the MS Fram takes guests as close to the natural wonders of the world as possible.

Designed specifically to take on the polar waters, her itinerary is based on the Greenland and Arctic cruises during the European Summer months and then down to the Southern Hemisphere for round trips from Argentina through Antarctica in the European Winter.

Explore in comfort

Christened by Norway’s Crown Princess HRH Mette-Marit in 2007, MS Fram offers guests the chance to explore without sacrificing comfort. Interiors reflect the polar colours and landscapes, with photos from the original Fram and there are a number of cabin options to choose from. The artworks commissioned for the ship are by local Arctic-region artists and there is a heavy emphasis on the beautiful landscapes that dominate these far reaches of the world.

The ultimate adventurer

The most appealing thing about MS Fram is it’s small size – meaning not only are there less guests and more chance to get involved in shore excursions, but she is ideally sized for manoeuvring around icebergs and getting up close to ice floes. Guests reviews often comment on the approachability and knowledge of expedition staff who make an effort to engage everyone onboard in the discovery experience.

Daily lectures are offered in English and at least one other language (depending on the nationalities onboard but usually French, German or Norwegian) about all manner of topics and most days (depending on the route) different excursions are offered with the shore landings.

Discover your inner explorer

On the Iceland and Greenland itinerary, guests can enjoy a natural warm water spa ashore, or for the more adventurous, participate in guided hikes, sea kayaking or glacial boat rides. On the Antarctic itinerary, guests can hike in the footsteps of Ernest Shackleton across South Georgia and admire wildlife such as penguins, seals and Orcas.

The activities are always weather dependant but some guests have relished the chance to try their hand at something new even when the weather doesn’t allow landings – such as photography or watercolour painting lessons.

Hurtigruten’s goal is to offer you a true expedition experience onboard the MS Fram, no matter your age or experience level. With a cruise on the MS Fram, everyone discovers their inner explorer.

Thoughts on Geirangerfjord

Sailing the Norwegian coast is bit like navigating a big box of chocolates. There are tasty bites everywhere. But for many, the Geirangerfjord is the best of the lot.

Out on deck, way back on the stern of MS Finnmarken, Brendan Lacey from Australia, stands, serene and cool, along the railing. He sips a coffee that could’ve come from a hip cafe in Oslo´s Grünerløkka neighbourhood but Brendan says he’s never had a coffee in such a cool place before.

”These are the most incredible surroundings I have ever seen,” says the awed Aussie. He relates the story of how he ended up here.

”I’m backpacking in Scandinavia this summer, and a few days ago, at a hostel in Oslo, I mentioned that I wanted to see Geiranger, which I’d heard was the world´s most beautiful fjord. They said I should take Hurtigruten because it’s as close as you can get. I thanked them for the tip, boarded a bus for Ålesund, and here I am,” he says.

”Man, they were right about close as you can get. Are those waterfalls The Seven Sisters? One, two, three, four, five, six, seven. Yep, seven in a row. Indescribably beautiful!”

Brendan says the Australian coast has its own natural magic, but Norway surpasses it many times over.

“This is fresher and more spectacular. I mean, Wow! I called my girlfriend 15 minutes ago and said we have to come here together. This ship also visits the Lofoten Islands. I don’t know if they were kidding, but someone said the Lofotens are even more amazing than Geiranger. If that’s true, and I find it hard to believe, I’m moving there. For real.”

Also on board is Ylva, a ten year old Norwegian girl, excitedly clinging to the decks rail as she peers around her.

“I’m only 10 years old, but I feel like I´m already an explorer. That’s why I was so excited when Daddy told us we were sailing from Ålesund to Svolvær on Hurtigruten. I got extra butterflies when he said we would visit the world famous Geirangerfjord,” she chatters.

“I was so excited when Daddy told us we were sailing from Ålesund. I got extra butterflies when he said we would visit Geirangerfjord, because we talked about it at school,” she chatters.

“Right before we got here, I went up on deck with Daddy and my little sister.  It’s amazing! The view is like magic. The mountains, the shiny water reflecting the sun. You can see tiny farms on the mountainsides, way up from the water. I got goosebumps and my tummy even rumbled. I wonder who actually lives on farms way up there?”

She points towards the falls that Brendan had just been so amazed by.

“I knew they must be The Seven Sisters that Daddy told us about,” Ylva tells me rather smugly, then looks down to her sister. The younger child is following her sister’s gaze and staring up at the waterfalls. As I go to talk to other passangers, I see Ylva tightly grip her sister’s hand in the wind and the sudden gust blows her whispered words over to me.

“I won’t let you go.”


Are you interested in seeing Geirangerfjord for yourself? Hurtigruten’s coastal voyage is the perfect way to see Geiranger and many other incredible sights along the way. Contact us today for more information!

All Aboard: MS Polarlys

MS Polarlys was constructed in 1996 as one of the cruise and working ships along the coast of Norway. Today, she still functions as both a working cargo and passenger ship, while also catering to the tourist trade with recently refurbished stylish interiors.

MS Polarlys is one of the four 1990s ships that was the focus of a recent update of decor and interior design, designed by Tillberg Design of Sweden, a world leading maritime architecture and interior design firm.  This design scheme is called the New Arctic Interior and aims to blend traditional maritime materials with modern and fresh finishes, to encourage a relaxed ambience.

The result is maritime timelessness with wooden panelling, finishes in leather, slate and featured fireplaces, kept fresh and young with a selection of modern Norwegian art. The breathtaking coastal landscape of Norway is reflected in the colour scheme throughout the ship, ranging from blue-greens to earthier, woody shades.

Polarlys is the Norwegian word for Polar Light, the name given to the amazing Arctic light phenomenon that occurs in the winter. One effect of this updated decor has been to really open up the space to make the most of the beautiful natural surrounds that the ship sails through. With a large outdoor explorer observation deck and an indoor observation deck equipped with comfortable couches and a bar, there are many opportunities for guests to admire this phenomenon in the right season.

Jacuzzis, restaurants and a range of cabin options ensure that everyone will enjoy their trip aboard the MS Polarlys – whether it is from just one port to another or the length of the Norwegian coastline.

Explore More: Thrilling Adventure Excursions

Hurtigruten offer Classic Coastal Voyages with so many excursions it can be hard to pick which ones will make your experience all the more unforgettable. So to help you out, here are some of the most popular thrilling excursions as chosen by Hurtigruten guests.

Push yourself outside of your comfort zone by partaking in one of these fabulous adventure excursions. Awaken your inner explorer in a thrilling environment while learning more about Norway’s wildlife and culture. But don’t worry, aboard a Hurtigruten ship there is always space to relax in comfort after an action-packed day and watch the scenery glide by (you could even try out one of the Jacuzzis!).

The best excursions for thrill-seekers and adventurous souls

Make the most of the Norwegian winter on your Classic Coastal Voyage by participating in an exciting snowmobile trip!

Snowmobile Trip in the Polar Night (Southbound)

Leaving from Mehamn, be mesmerised by the beautiful sunset colours that dominate the sky during the Polar Night. Taking you deep into the heart of the Arctic wilderness, you’ll feel as though you are the last people on Earth, and have a chance to see the Northern Lights in the clear starry sky. Dressed in cosy snowsuits, and gliding softly through the night, this magical adventure will leave you spellbound.

Snowmobile trip in Lapland (Northbound)

Experience Europe’s most extreme and exciting natural area – Lapland – from a snowmobile, as you race across frozen fjords. Magnificent snow-clad mountains surround guests and there is always a chance to see the Northern lights! This unforgettable trip  is one of Bentours most popular,  and is suitable for any level of fitness or agility. Glide smoothly through this winter landscape and be awestruck by its beauty.

Snowmobile Safari (Northbound)

Combining culture and adventure, on this safari out of Kirkenes guests will traverse ice-covered fjords and learn from the knowledgeable guides about the fascinating history of the indigenous Sami people. After their epic adventure ride, guests will be served welcome refreshments in a lavvo (traditional Sami hut) and have the chance to try reindeer jerky.


Kayaking

Kayaking near Tromsø is a very popular past-time for locals in the summer months. This excursion offers guests the chance to experience kayaking themselves, with an experienced guide paddling with you to discuss the history of the area and to point out the varied marine wildlife.

Views of the mountains as a backdrop are unrivalled.

In Håkøya, where you will be paddling, the views of the mountains as a backdrop are truly unrivalled. The kayaks used are stable, double sea-kayaks, equipped to deal with any waves through the fjord. No experience with paddling is required as the guide will be there to assist and support you along the way. Children must be at least 12 years old and accompanied by a parent.

 


There are many more Adventure Shore Excursions to participate in and we recommend you book with Bentours before your voyage as these popular excursions tend to fill up quickly. Contact our agents for full listings.

Explore More: Excursions for Nature Lovers

Hurtigruten offer Classic Coastal Voyages with so many excursions it can be hard to pick which ones will make your experience all the more unforgettable. So to help you out, we are featuring some of the most popular excursions according to what you love best!

Discover wild Norway on one of our nature and wildlife Shore Excursions on your Classic Norwegian Coastal Voyage. Norway is rich with fauna with amazing evolutionary quirks to allow it to survive the freezing Arctic conditions. Although there are opportunities to see this wildlife from the Observation Decks onboard your voyage, there is nothing quite like getting up close to animals in their natural environment.

The best excursions for Wildlife Enthusiasts

Whale Watching Safari

There are three types of whales that can be seen off the coast of Norway – the Beluga (or White) Whale, the Killer (or Orca) Whale and the Sperm Whale. This whale watching safari takes guests to a couple of local whale hot spots and out to the continental shelf where guests can spot sperm whales as they feed.

The tour also encompasses the Senja Troll where guides will tell guests old Norse legends of the area. In Norway, legend has trolls lurking at the base of every mountain, beside many a stream and within every cave. The Senja Troll is located in the middle of Senja Island in a troll park and is the largest troll in the world, so can be clearly seen from afar.

The whale watching safari includes breakfast and all the relevant transportation between bus, boat and ferry.

Bird Watching Safari

Norway’s coast is a wonderful place for both experienced and budding bird-watchers, with many different breeds to see. The bird watching safari takes guests of all ages – right down to the Young Explorers – across from Mageroya Island to the tiny fishing village of Gjesvaer.

From Gjesvaer, guests suit up in weather proof gear so no matter the conditions, they will be comfortable. They then take a boat trip to the Gjesvaerstappan Nature Reserve, an archipelago that has more than three million nesting birds.

More than a bird safari, this experience is majestic.

This Reserve is home to about 400 000 pairs of puffins as well species of Kittiwake, Common Guillemot, Razorbill and Gannet. Experienced guides are at your side to answer any questions and to point out unique species of the area. In addition to thousands of birds, you can catch a glimpse of seals, dolphins and perhaps even the King and Queen of Norway’s ship which anchors in this area!

Even if you’re not an avid bird-watcher, this is more than just a bird safari, this experience is majestic. Binoculars available onboard throughout the journey ensure you’ll see even the shiest of creatures. The boat will also manoeuvre close enough to the islands to clearly make out the different species.

Sea Eagle Safari

The Sea Eagle Safari takes guests across the dramatic Trollfjord in the realm of the mighty sea eagle. With a wingspan measuring 1.8m to 2.5m, these magnificent creatures are a marvel to see soaring above. On the Sea Eagle Safari in open water, your guide will throw fish into the air and sea eagles will swoop down close to catch it. With these amazing animals so close, this is an animal lovers dream.

The safari also gives you a chance to observe Trollfjord from amongst the mist, right down near the surface of the water. Trollfjord is a very narrow fjord in the Lofoten archipelago and is known as the site of the Battle of Trollfjord in the 19th Century – a trade war between local fisherman and the larger industry-based trawlers. There is a beautiful painting of this scene by Gunnar Berg located in Svinoya in Svolvaer.

This excursion is suitable for all ages and abilities.


These are just a selection of the Nature and Wildlife excursions on offer. Visit our Shore Excursions page for more or contact an agent for full listings.

All Aboard: MS Finnmarken

MS Finnmarken follows in the wake of some of the most loved Hurtigruten ships and is the third ship of its name. DS Finmarken (with only one ‘n’) was built in 1912 and MS Finnmarken followed in 1956. This original MS Finnmarken was radical at its time for the way in which the engines were fitted – she caused quite a splash and many negative comments.

After 37 years of service, she was retired but she continues to draw attention, as she is now an integral part of the Hurtigruten Museum at Stokmarknes. MS Finnmarken (1956) is the largest land-based museum exhibit in Norway and many visitors enjoy exploring her unique interiors when they visit the museum.

The Millennium generation cruise ships

The newest MS Finnmarken was launched in 2002 as the first of the new ‘Millennium’ ships to come into operation. She is the longest of the Coastal Express fleet in operation with 40% more deck space than any other previous ship.

Although MS Finnmarken has many cruising comforts, she is still a working ship and carries cargo, mail, cars and daytrippers between ports, stopping regularly along the route.

A little bit of luxury

Guests aboard the MS Finnmarken can enjoy comfortable accommodation with a splash of luxury all the way up the coast of Norway. She is the only ship to be fitted with both a swimming pool and jacuzzi on the outdoor deck, and guests can enjoy soaking in the tub while watching stunning landscapes float by.

The stand out feature of the MS Finnmarken is her revolutionary bow offering guests the ability to walk right out to the tip. A bar and lounge onboard are perfectly appointed, offering viewing areas to look out at the beautiful coastal surrounds. Every year, guests are treated to the magical Northern Lights as the ship crosses into the Arctic Circle in winter. There are also several excursions on offer, such as exhilarating dog-sledding near Tromsø and snowmobiling underneath the beauty of the Aurora Borealis.

The food onboard is outstanding – fresh produce picked up daily along the way and then transformed into delectable dishes as a part of the Norway Coastal Kitchen. Often the fish served for dinner was caught that very morning and delivered straight into the chef’s eager hands, while the cloudberries decorating your dessert have been handpicked in Finnmark.

Not just a cruise ship

Similar to the MS Midnatsol, MS Finnmarken has the capabilities to be adapted into an emergency hospital ship. With ten days notice, she can become totally self-sufficient and operational, accommodating up to 200 casualties. MS Finnmarken also acted as an accommodation ship off the coast of Western Australia from 2009 to 2011 in connection with the development of the Gorgon Oil and Gas Field.

MS Finnmarken is one of the best ways to see the beautiful coast of Norway and all the natural wonders that come with it.

Explore More: Adventurous Water Excursions

Hurtigruten offer Classic Coastal Voyages with so many excursions it can be hard to pick which ones will make your experience all the more unforgettable. So to help you out, we are featuring some of the most popular excursions according to what you love best!

Although once known as the Norway Coastal Express Service, Hurtigruten Coastal Voyages are anything but fast paced. If getting your heart rate up and your blood pumping on the water appeals to you, then our RIB (rigid inflatable boat) adventures will be a fantastic experience to add onto your Hurtigruten adventure.

The best water-based shore excursion adventures

RIB Adventure in Lofoten

Lofoten archipelago is world renowned for its stunning landscapes, where soaring mountains meet the sea. Make the most of this stunning part of the world aboard an RIB Safari across the sea from Svolvaer to the fishing village of Skrova. Past guests have raved about the experience with a highlight being the sea eagles that come down to pick up fish very close to the boat.

Intimate groups ensure there is no one between you and the amazing scenery.

As it can be quite cold on the water, warm jackets are provided to put over your winter wear as well as automatic life belts. With eight people per boat, these intimate groups ensure there is no one between you and all the amazing nature and scenery!

The seats on the RIB are similar to a motorcyle and allow you to half stand as you go to snap your best photos. As this is an archipelago there are many islands but the RIB ride is in a reasonably sheltered area and so the ride doesn’t often get too rough.

The village of Skrova is a quintessential fishing village, set with the beautiful Lofoten mountains as backdrop. The tour is suitable for all ages and abilities.

RIB Safari to Saltstraumen

Take an RIB out to the world’s strongest tidal current where several million cubic metres of water are pushed through an 150 metre narrow straight. This maelstrom occurs usually twice a day and forms amazing whirlpools. Get up close and personal to this sheer force of nature in an RIB – the best way to see the incredible sight.

You are almost guaranteed close encounters with majestic birds of prey.

Much like the Lofoten RIB trip, guests are first fitted out in warm winter jackets and life belts and are under the guidance of extremely experienced pilots. Bodø is often referred to as the Kingdom of the Sea Eagles and so you are almost guaranteed close encounters with these majestic birds of prey. With a wingspan of 1.8m to 2.54m, they skim the surface of the ocean to fish and bring back to their eyries along the coast.

The journey also takes guests into sight of the Caledonian Ford Belt, a range of mountains dating back over 250 million years with many interesting geological formations.


These are just two of the many fascinating and exciting shore adventures offered along the Hurtigruten Classic Coastal Voyage route. Read our Shore Excursions page for more or contact an agent for full listings.