Sailing into history: Celebrating the 130th anniversary of the Hurtigruten Norwegian Coastal Express

By Sue Wallace

Summer in Norway is simply spellbinding.
Summer in Norway is simply spellbinding.
It’s the 130th anniversary of the Hurtigruten Norwegian Coastal Express and it’s time to celebrate! Hurtigruten invites you to join them on a year of new voyages, upgraded luxury, regional cuisine, charming villages and unbeatable scenery.

To celebrate Hurtigruten Norwegian Coastal Express’ 130th anniversary, two exciting itineraries will be offered on sailings from next year, including the revival of the Svalbard Express and the new North Cape Express departing from Oslo. 

For the first time, Hurtigruten will sail from Norway’s capital city and explore the full length of the country’s incredible coastline on the new North Cape Express cruise. 

It leaves from Oslo to Norway’s southernmost point, on the MS Trollfjord that was recently refurbished with the finest materials and ship craftsmanship. 

A premium experience awaits with excellent dining featuring special regional dishes. 

Over the 16-day North Cape Express full voyage, guests will spend an average of six hours at the 14 carefully chosen stops showcasing the iconic flavours, adventures, and pristine beauty of Norway in the colder months. 

The Northern Lights are guaranteed to make an appearance for much of the season. 

The mountains, islands, fjords, and communities of the Norwegian coastline are rarely more splendid than when dressed in snow and garlanded by the aurora. 

The striking architecture of old and new cities are highlights and guests can experience the traditions of secluded villages with UNESCO World Heritage status. 

There will also be a chance to hike from sea to snow-covered summits and watch waterfalls plunging into deep blue fjords, while listening for the splash of a breaching whale. 

Take the chance to go dog sledding in Tromsø.

EMBRACING ‘FRILUFTSLIV’

Friluftsliv, the Norwegian concept of loving the outdoors, isn’t only for the summer months – there’s plenty to do when the nights are long. 

In the Lofoten Islands, guests can hike or take a scenic bus tour, ride a horse across the Lofoten Islands’ snow-covered beaches and go dog sledding and snowshoeing in Tromsø, the snowy ‘Paris of the North.’ 

As well as making history on the North Cape Express, the cruise also follows in the footsteps of some giants from the past. On board MS Trollfjord, passengers sail in the wake of Vikings, see relics of the World Wars, and discover a rich history at the Hurtigruten Museum. 

LAND OF NORTHERN LIGHTS 

Alta, which is known as the City of Northern Lights, is one of the best places to see this natural phenomenon … even the church, a modern architectural landmark, is known as the Northern Lights Cathedral. The North Cape Express sails when guests are most likely to see the Northern Lights and the North Cape Express cruise is covered by Hurtigruten’s Northern Lights Promise. 

The Northern Lights are a bucket- list sight for many travellers.

FRESH AND PURE FLAVOURS 

The flavours of Norway’s abundant coast feature in the cuisine on board, with excursions to taste the region’s finest food and beverages. 

There are three upgraded restaurants and bars plus a new Show Kitchen on the MS Trollfjord. Seaweed and traditional Norwegian preservation techniques take centre stage in the main restaurant. The Brasseri is the place to go for dry-aged beef served by a chef with a story about the meat’s provenance. You can drink beer made from water sourced in Trollfjord, gin brewed in the clear fjords of Tromsø, and a wide selection of Norwegian aquavit. 

The Show Kitchen is the place to learn how to fillet cod, halibut or salmon and guests can enjoy a barbecue on deck. 

Foodies can join excursion dinners to feast on dishes based on the day’s excursions while learning more about the produce from the chef. 

The chefs in MS Trollfjord’s new Show Kitchen are ready to whip you up a treat.

RETURN OF THE EXPRESS 

The Svalbard Express is a nostalgic voyage back to the northernmost reaches of the world, bathed in the ever-changing light of the midnight sun. It is a great way to connect with the stories, people and the wild beauty of Norway’s coast. 

Hurtigruten started the first regular summer sailing to the remote Arctic Archipelago of Svalbard in 1968, becoming a lifeline for its community until 1982. Back then, the route was one of the most reliable links the remote settlements on Svalbard had to mainland Norway. 

The Svalbard Express again offers an opportunity to experience the far-flung feel of the High Arctic, aglow in the magical midnight sun. 

Guests will follow the footsteps of the pioneering explorers, scientists, and sailors who have made the voyage to Svalbard over the centuries, as well as seeing some of the most magnificent scenery and wildlife in the world. Highlights include majestic fjords, remote hamlets splashed with red fisherman cabins and mountain ranges that tower above the sea. And if you’re lucky, a polar bear might wander into view as it prowls the coastline. 

The 16-day full voyage takes in UNESCO World Heritage sites, hip city centres, tiny fishing villages, and inaccessible islands surrounded by towering sea cliffs teeming with birds. It crosses the Arctic Circle and visits the northernmost point of Europe, sailing across the Barents Sea to the polar barrens of Svalbard. 

On board MS Trollfjord, the Svalbard Express itinerary handles essential cargo and sails where other cruise ships don’t, just as Hurtigruten has done for 130 years. 

The voyage also immerses guests in Norway’s coastline and islands with excursions led by passionate locals, along with contemporary twists on cabin décor and menus inspired by the 1960s. 

The MS Trollfjord takes to the sea.

EXPERIENCE THE MAGIC 

Amazing experiences await – guests can discover the flavours of the coast at one of Norway’s most talked-about dining destinations in the Vesterålen archipelago. Guests can also paddle a kayak across the pristine waters of the Bergsfjorden or hike to Torghatten Mountain, which has a hole right through its centre, and hear the legend about the spurned troll that pierced its peak. 

You can plunge into the stories and livelihoods that have nourished the Norwegian coast for centuries, at scientific research centres, restaurants and UNESCO World Heritage sites. 

The North Pole Expedition Museum is a great place to visit and you can take a guided tour of the Amundsen Monument, dedicated to one of the greatest polar explorers of all time. Passengers can also explore towns populated by scientific researchers, help clean up a white- sand beach on Lofoten before taking a dip in the sea, and fish in Træna, which is one of Norway’s oldest fishing villages. 

Wildlife spotting includes sea eagles, little auks, puffins, black-legged kittiwakes, and northern fulmars flying over the dramatic, inaccessible island of Bjørnøya (also known as Bear Island). 

Aboard the ship, you can learn about Bjørnøya’s history through polar history lectures. 

In Svalbard, look out for walruses basking in the sun and you may also spot beluga whales on this wonderful Arctic adventure.

For more information, visit hurtigruten.com.au

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