Hurtigruten announces 2 new 'premium' cruise itineraries for its Norwegian coastal ferries
The journey along the ice-kissed coastline of Norway — with its majestic glaciers, wildlife and wind-sculpted fjords — may make Hurtigruten's Norwegian Coastal Express "the most beautiful voyage in the world," as it's sometimes called. However, this cruise has never been called "the most comfortable voyage in the world." Luckily, that's about to change with the addition of two new "premium" cruise itineraries that will finally match the stunning landscapes outside with comfortable amenities inside.
Hurtigruten's two new offerings will launch next year, starting with the rollout of the Svalbard Express on June 3, 2023, one month ahead of the company’s 130th anniversary. The North Cape Express will set sail on Sept. 26, 2023.
Both itineraries will take place on board the MS Trollfjord, which will be fully renovated during the first half of the year before the new sailings. Upgrades will include modern cabin designs and improved dining venues that should appeal to cruisers beyond just a local audience.
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Hurtigruten has operated the Coastal Express since 1893. For many years, it was predominantly used as a ferry, carrying local goods, mail and passengers from town to town. Now, tourists can join for overnight journeys that are especially popular for spotting the famed northern lights above the Arctic Circle.
Hurtigruten has expanded over the past decade, adding a modern expedition arm and rolling out new sustainable vessels. Now, just ahead of the company's anniversary, the new cruise itineraries on the iconic Norwegian coastal route will bring an elevated experience to the scenic journey.
"With the Svalbard Express and North Cape Express, we will offer an experience similar to the likes of the Orient Express, combining a premium onboard experience with beautiful scenery, exceptional excursions, and some of the best food on any sea journey," Hedda Felin, CEO of Hurtigruten Norway, said.
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What's new on board
Although food offerings were always fresh and local on the original Coastal Express routes, options were limited on long journeys. Some port stops provided just enough time for goods to be loaded or offloaded, with a handful of extended options for visitors to fully explore destinations and activities.
The two new itineraries will offer a significantly different experience. Highlights include half- or full-day port visits; a food center with cooking demonstrations and classes; wine, beer, champagne and whisky tastings; a cocktail bar; and onboard entertainment.
Dining options will include an a la carte restaurant with tasting menus, all-day dining, afternoon tea and takeaway service. The food center will also offer picnic and culinary excursions, a first for the company.
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Where the routes sail
The 13-day North Cape Express will take passengers to Oslo, the capital of Norway. These stops mark Hurtigruten's first regular sailings to the popular city. The route also includes both the country’s southernmost and northernmost points, the historic Viking city Bergen, new ports in southern Norway and scenic cruising through Hardangerfjord and some of the most picturesque towns along the coast.
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The Svalbard Express will mark the return of one of Norway’s most iconic sailing routes, which originally operated between 1968 and 1982. The new itinerary will stop at some of the Norwegian coast’s most iconic destinations including the Lofoten Islands, Vesteralen and the North Cape. It will then head north to Longyearbyen in Svalbard, the world’s northernmost populated city. The full round-trip journey takes 14 days; passengers can also choose seven-day, one-way cruise options that either start or end in Svalbard. The one-way journey package includes two nights at a hotel in Longyearbyen along with two excursions: a wilderness evening at Camp Barentz and a hybrid-electric catamaran cruise on the MS Bard.
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