Hurtigruten actually means “Fast Route”. In the latter part of the 19th Century the Norwegian Government set out a tender to offer a reliable service to all of the small port towns dotted on her northern coast during the winter season. This was due to towns being effectively cut off from the rest of the world during the cold dark months. Roads were not accessible and the aeroplane still had another 20 years to make some sort of impact on the world. Richard With, businessman and from a family of seafarers came up with the unique answer, by ship. The first ship to be rolled out was the SS Versteraalen. A small and uncomfortable ship compared to today’s ocean cruise ships, but this pioneering ship helped yield many communities especially in the cold months. Such was the success of this venture that over the years it evolved into one of the most cherished cruise lines with a working element to their ships.
Now a well-established cruise line with over 12 ships in four different classes Hurtigruten offers mainly Norwegian Fjords voyages calling at over 30 ports, albeit some just for 15 minutes and others a bit longer. They still carry out their promise made over 100 years ago to deliver and collect all the essentials to the people along Europe’s longest coast line. Mention Aurora Borealis and the World’s best light show comes to mind, the Northern Lights. With regular voyages from Bergen or Tromso the choice is endless. When passing the Arctic Circle expect to be met by Neptune on deck, you are encouraged to take part in one of Maritimes great customs, ice on your back! (You even get a Baptism certificate). Moving north you will stop at the most northern port of our planet, North Cape. From there you will visit Kirkenes just next to the Russian border.
Whether it’s the traditional classic journeys the excursions are one to muster, entertainment on board the Hurtigruten ships are somewhat watered down (i.e. no casino, West End shows or climbing walls and so on). Then again you can enjoy a husky ride, snow mobile, snow hotel or reindeer rides (some of these you can ride and meet the ship at the next port). Accommodation on board is comfortable and choices of inside, sea view and suites are available. Dining is either half or full board. Guests are encouraged to visit the towns when the ship is docked during lunch. Breakfast (buffet service) and dinner (waiter service) are on board and lunch (buffet) is available but on a full board basis.
*Antarctica have very strict rules and only allow 100 guests in one go.
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