Tag Archives: Cruising

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 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.

Explore More: Walking Excursions in Norway

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 walking excursions, as chosen by Hurtigruten guests.

Hurtigruten is a unique cruise company that encourages all of their guests to have an active holiday, where they can thoroughly explore their destination. On the port stops along the Classic Coastal Voyage, Hurtigruten offer a number of active guided walks and hikes.

Although some of these areas are accessible without guides, their added knowledge of history, wildlife and the cultural significance of certain walks make a guided excursion valuable and well worth your time.

Winter Hike Bodø

Bodø is often considered to be the gateway to the true North of Norway. It is the end of the railway line and home to the world’s strongest tidal current, plus it has plenty of personality. One of it’s most charming aspects is its proximity to nature – the beautiful woodlands of Bodøsjøen are just outside the city centre. Surrounded by the sea on all three sides, from Bodøsjøen guests can admire a magnificent view of the breathtaking Børvasstindan Mountains towards the south.

Bodøsjøen has many paths following the small streams and often locals will wander through on a weekend hike. On the guided walk, guests will explore Viking graves, a sombre labour camp for Russian prisoners used in WWII and an outdoor coastal museum.

Bodø was almost completely destroyed when it was firebombed by German fighter jets in May 1940.  It was then invaded by an occupation force of Germans – on bicycles! Today, it has an interesting history and there are many stories about life under occupation.

Walking sticks and spikes are provided, while comfortable walking shoes and warm, waterproof clothes are recommended. A moderate level of fitness is required.

Fishing Village Walk

EXCURS_fishingvillageVisit the fishing village of Svinøya in Svolvær for a guided tour through the quaint streets. This postcard-perfect village has been
doing a vibrant fishing trade since 1828. The walk will take guests amongst the rorbuer (fishermen’s huts), to the fish processing plant, the iconic fish drying racks and a famous fish restaurant where you can taste the locally caught stockfish.

Svinøya is made up of many small islands with small bridges connecting each one and since the 1930s it has developed into something of an art hub of Norway’s Northern and Arctic artists. The tour also encompasses a visit to Gunnar Berg’s small art gallery within the North Norwegian Art Centre, with works that reflect the importance of fisheries and in particular, cod fisheries in Lofoten.

This walk is suitable for most people and all ages.

Trondheim City Walk

Trondheim is now a cosmopolitan city, albeit small, but was once the capital of the Norse Viking Kingdom. This guided walk takes guests to the city’s main attractions including the Royal Residence, the old town bridge and Nidaros Cathedral. The old town bridge was first built in 1681 and is nicknamed ‘the portal of happiness’ because it was an important link between two areas of Trondheim. Here you will see lines of brightly painted houses propped up on stilts.  This is the perfect spot for photo opportunities!

Nidaros Cathedral is the national sanctuary of Norway. Works began there in 1070, built over the grave of Saint Olav, the once King Olav Haraldsson who was killed in the battle of Stilkestad in 1030.

 


There are many other walks around port towns available – such as the Polar History Walk or the Art Noveau Walk. For more information, visit our Shore Excursions page or call your agent for a full listing.

Community is at the heart of Hurtigruten

 

Ever since their founder, Richard With, sailed his very first journey up the coast of Norway, Hurtigruten has been an essential part of life for many of Hurtigruten’s coastal communities.

Over 120 years later, their purpose has changed but there is still an intrinsic link between them and the communities that they visit.

Hurtigruten was established in 1893 by Captain Richard With, as the Norwegian Express Line, with a government contract to supply poorly connected Nordic coastal communities. The waters were badly charted and it was a difficult journey that few other ships were undertaking. Hurtigruten’s successful first journey saw it quickly become essential to many communities as a supply, passage and post ship. Where mail from central Norway to Hammerfest used to take three weeks in the summer or up to five months in the winter, with the Hurtigruten ships, it took a mere seven days.

Although Hurtigruten now focuses on tourism, the ships still act as an important means of passage to the local people along the coastline. In fact, they operate uninterrupted every day of the year.

Working with Hurtigruten – more than a job

Generations of families work for Hurtigruten and their support and employment acts as the backbone of many remote communities. The company is proud of their community involvement and it is not unusual for young Norwegians to aspire to join the Hurtigruten family. Carina Hansen decided when she was 13 years old that she wanted to work for Hurtigruten and she later pursued this, completing an apprenticeship on board the MS Nordstjernen. She loved her experience saying that “the ship and the crew became like a family and my second home”.

Local produce from local communities

Even with the changing emphasis towards a tourist market, Hurtigruten has not left the community behind. Stopping at 34 ports along the way, Hurtigruten relies on local communities to stock up with fresh food everyday so that they can provide their guests with the best local flavours in their Coastal Kitchen.

Among the local communities, supplying Hurtigruten guests with food as diverse as their coastal landscape is something to be proud of. Take Judith, who happily supplies the ships with local herbs hand-picked directly from her garden and the Nordic wilds in Kabelvag. Hurtigruten are an important customer to local food producers and their chefs love to combine local traditional flavours with a modern twist to create exceptional food for their guests. This is particularly true of the communities in the Svalbard archipelago – with a population of only 2600 people, Hurtigruten’s custom is essential to the survival of the region.

Nordic love affair with Hurtigruten

Hurtigruten is truly loved by the Norwegian people – but don’t worry, the feeling is mutual.

In fact in 2011, NRK, the national broadcasting station, broadcast an 134 hour Hurtigruten journey along the coast from Bergen to Kirkenes. The live stream event lasted for 8040 minutes and many tuned in to watch the beautiful coastline slowly roll by, minute by minute.

Although such a program was hardly economically feasible, NRK broadcast it because of their “responsibility towards Norwegian culture” and the coastal communities loved it, welcoming the ship to port with celebrations.

Hurtigruten’s ultimate mission is to welcome you to the beautiful country of Norway and what better way to do that than to meet the communities that makes Norway so unique.

Introducing Hurtiguten’s newest explorer vessels

We are excited to announce the release of further information on Hurtigruten’s revolutionary new adventure travel ships, sailing from 2019. The MS Roald Amundsen and MS Fridtjof Nansen will combine cutting-edge maritime construction with timeless Scandinavian interiors and environmentally-sound hybrid technology.

In the name of great explorers

In honour of the Norwegian pioneering tradition, these two ships are to be named after Roald Amundsen and Fridtjof Nansen, the first man to make it to the South Pole, and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who skied the length of Greenland in 1888, respectively. It seems only fitting that these men, innovators of their time, should lend their names to two of the most trailblazing ships of our time. These new vessels will have a huge impact on sustainable travel solutions well into the future.

“I am so thrilled that Bentours and Hurtigruten are in a strategic alliance with shared values and a shared purpose to deliver extraordinary travel experiences,” says Damian Perry, CEO of Cox and Kings, specialist operator of Bentours and GSA of Hurtigruten. “This will truly revolutionise the way people explore.”

Environmentally-friendly innovation

Front runners in sustainable adventure travel, Hurtigruten is using a design created in collaboration between Rolls-Royce and the famous Norwegian yacht designer Espen Øino. The result is interiors with an emphasis on comfort and quality of materials and, as to the ship as a whole, a huge reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

Through the use of hybrid electric propulsion technology, the vessels will be able to glide alongside glaciers almost silently. This technology results in a 20% reduction in fuel consumption compared to traditional ships. In total the ships will have a 6400 metric tons reduction in emissions – this is the equivalent to the yearly emissions of over 5500 modern cars!

The natural world – inside and out

The interior of the new vessel takes inspiration from the breathtaking surrounds that the ships will be sailing through, with an emphasis on natural materials mostly sourced from Norway. The simple, clean design is classically Scandinavian and allows the beauty of nature to take centre stage.

“The new vessels will enhance the experience of our customers. Bentours and Hurtigruten together are 100% customer focused and understand travelling to such mesmerising and unique destinations requires that special and tailor-made touch,” says Perry.

Adventure cruises in style

This new class of ships will feature large observation decks, infinity pools and Jacuzzis where guests will be able to relax and embrace the beauty of the nature around them. Six of the ten cabins will be equipped with balconies for those who want to be as close to nature at all times, while two of the cabins will be superior suites.

With a strengthened hull specifically designed for breaching ice, we’re sure the yet to be revealed expedition features will promise the ultimate adventure for guests.

There will be three restaurants with diverse menus reflecting local flavours and a number of bars where guests can relax.

Aboard the MS Roald Amundsen and MS Fridtjof Nansen, guests will enjoy comfort, discover their inner adventurer and keep their conscience clean with the sustainable innovations. And it’s not just us who are excited about these new ships – just last week, the new vessels were listed by GQ as one of the ‘Coolest things in the World’.

At Bentours, we are excited for these Hurtigruten ships to begin sailing in 2019 so that we can help you plan the ultimate holiday adventure!

BOOK NOW

 

Friluftsliv: an ancient way of life

 

Friluftsliv (n.) direct translation ‘open-air-life’; a Scandinavian philosophy of outdoor life.

As the midnight sun casts a soft glow on the fir trees around us, we lean in close to the warmth of the camp fire. Warmed to our core with a cup of coffee in our hands, it is impossible not to be overcome by a sense of serenity, a feeling of symbiosis with our natural surrounds. As the evening draws close, we lie down in the heather and sigh, ‘This is the life!’.

The Norwegian philosophy of outdoor living

It’s hard to capture in words the Norwegian connection to nature – so much so that the great playwright, Henrik Ibsen, coined a new term to describe this yearning to connect with Mother Nature on both a spiritual and physical level. That concept is “friluftsliv”, a deep ingrained association Scandinavian’s have with the natural world around them. In any Norwegian’s closet, you’ll find a backpack, a sleeping bag, a fishing rod and a tent ready to go at the drop of a hat. And during the holidays, they are more likely to meet their neighbours by a mountain stream than in the street they live in. Their urban shopping strips are quiet as they venture out into the great outdoors to live their best lives and take their best pictures.

This longing to be outside is an essential element of their very DNA – they are brought up to believe that they will be happier outdoors. Come every Friday afternoon and long queues of cars snake their way out of the cities, heading off to the family cabin or for a hike in the wilderness.

Although Norwegian in origin, Friluftsliv is not a feeling unique to Norwegians – it is that longing that has you looking back at a map and planning your next adventure, even just after the previous one has finished. At Hurtigruten, we share with you this experience of getting back to nature – after all, not so long ago, we were all hunter-gatherers. This philosophy really embodies the Hurtigruten vision to have every one of our guests connect with their inner explorer.

Cruise your way into the heart of nature

Norwegian national hero Fridtjof Nansen told King Haakon that the best way he could win a place in the hearts of our people was if he learnt to love skiing. Skiing, hiking, fishing – anything outdoors endears you to everyone of us.

Slowing down and embracing nature is an essential Norwegian trait and holds endless appeal. Nansen believed in it and so did Norwegian philosopher, Arne Naess – connecting friluftsliv to our origins, to our health and to our very sense of identity. We want you to embrace your inner sense of friluftsliv and directly experience the natural world; nature for nature’s sake. Hurtigruten wants to bring you along for a uniquely Norwegian experience with our coastal cruises; we want to satisfy that restlessness or longing we all experience at some point in our lives.

As more and more of us live in the comfort of city life, reviving our connection to nature takes on an even greater importance. Although we cannot guarantee clear skies and perfect weather, we can guarantee that with Hurtigruten you will be genuinely immersed in Norwegian outdoor activities. And we’re sure you’ll find that once you experience friluftsliv for the first time, you’ll be coming back for more.  

 

Hurtigruten’s new explorer vessels

Hurtigruten to take adventure travel to new frontiers with the announcement of new explorer vessels

Norwegian exploration travel company Hurtigruten has announced an order of up to four new explorer ships for 2018/19 sailings in a move to meet growing demand for adventure travel from holidaymakers across the globe.

The signing, which marks the largest investment Hurtigruten has made in its more than 120-years of exploring the Arctic and Antarctic waters, will open-up the polar waters and exciting new adventure opportunities.

Set to offer a host of activities for adventure seekers, from climbing and kayaking to rib-tours, whale and sea eagle safaris, the new vessels will embark on exploring some of the world’s most exceptionally beautiful and unspoilt natural surroundings. Adventure tourism is one of the fastest growing global tourist trends valued at $263 billion*, and has witnessed an increase of 195% over just two years.

The order includes the construction of two new state-of-the-art vessels, which will be designed and customised specifically for adventure-rich expedition voyages in the Arctic and Antarctic regions, as well as along the Norwegian coastline. Hurtigruten prioritises sustainability, and the new ships will be equipped with advanced environmentally-friendly technology to reduce emissions, underlining its vision of playing a lead role when it comes to green shipping.

Hurtigruten’s new ships will also offer lectures on topics relevant to the destinations they sail to from experts in areas such as history, zoology, botany, and environmental science. In addition, experienced expedition teams will accompany passengers on educational excursions to isolated places only accessible by ships or zodiac boats.

HRG New Ships

Daniel Skjeldam, Hurtigruten’s CEO says, “This is a milestone for us and an expression of our confidence in the growth of the global market for adventure tourism. We are to build the most formidable expedition ships the world has seen.”

“People no longer want to spend their holiday time being passive spectators. The new adventure traveller is looking for authentic experiences, which is why sedentary, standardized travel packages are becoming less popular and active adventure travel is booming” Skjeldam adds. “Our experience is that explorers travelling with Hurtigruten crave adventurous activities and mindfulness in combination, therefore Hurtigruten offers active voyages. We offer real experiences in local environments, just steps away from the wildlife.”

Magnus Zetterberg UK Managing Director of Hurtigruten explains further, “We offer our guests a truly unique experience on-board all of our ships. Every season we’ve seen an increase in demand from guests to travel with Hurtigruten for the unrivalled range of adventure activities we offer. It has been more than ten years since Hurtigruten last placed an order for the construction of a new ship so the prospect of being able to expand this with the arrival of new vessels is very exciting.”

The agreement is testament to Norway’s strong international position as a shipbuilding nation. It will also ensure Hurtigruten’s position as world leading within adventure tourism in the Arctic and Antarctica.

Daniel Skjeldam adds, “We are proud to be a more than 120-year old pioneer company. Along parts of the Norwegian coast, Hurtigruten drew the charts – literally. We will bring this knowledge and know-how with us when we put the new ships into operation.”

The vessels will be designed and developed by Rolls-Royce, with the assistance of renowned Norwegian ship designer Espen Øino, and built by Kleven, a longstanding partner.

From 2017, Hurtigruten will offer explorer travel to additional new destinations such as the Amazon Rainforest and Arctic Canada. And with the new explorer ships, guests will be able to land close to new completely new adventurous destinations.