Norway’s dramatic coastline is one of the world’s natural wonders. Forest coated mountains sit with their feet in the water and their snowy peaks raked with cloud. Waterfalls plunge into pristine fjord and glaciers crown cols between mountains.
Zigzagging among a pattern of islands, weaving in and out of narrow inlets, manoeuvring through gaps between rocky islets, the ships of the Norwegian coastal voyage reveal both the captivating scenery and the rich life that lies ashore. In brightly coloured hamlets, neat wooden houses are painted in spice shades of mustard and cinnamon and bells ring out from traditional wooden churches.
Everyday of the year, a Hurtigruten ship leaves Bergen for Kirkenes, way above the Arctic Circle and close to the russian border. The 11 day trip takes in 34 ports, delivering passengers, freightand essential supplies to big towns and remote islands communities.
Although many of the ships are newly built and each has its own character, they don’t pretend to be glitzy cruise liners, which is undoubtedly part of their charm for travellers more interested in the northern lights than light entertainment. They are, however, very comfortable, with excellent restaurants and puplic spaces hung with fine norwegian art. While on board, there are many opportunities to savour the extravagant beauty of land and sea from the panoramic-view lounges. Step ashore and there is always much to explore, including intriguing little museums in the towns. Varied excursions take passengers on city tours, into glacier country, husky dogsleddingor on encounters with the saami way of life. THE TRIP IS TRULY A UNIQUE VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY.
TWELVE DAYS IN THE FJORDS,
Day 1: Bergen
Bergen is the bustling capital of Norway’s fjord district. If you arrive a few hours before departure, stroll around the old wooden buildings in the Bryggen Wharf, remnants of its Hanseatic past.
In travel’s early days, it was easier to get from Bergen to the Continent by sea than it was to get to Oslo-a fact apparent in this city’s architecture and culture. You board the Norwegian Coastal Voyage this evening.Excursions: None
Day 2: Maloy-Torvik-Alesund-Molde-Kristiansund
- When you awake, the ship will be crossing the open Stadthavet and heading for Torvik. En route, you’ll stop in the beautiful Art Nouveau town of Alesund. (Between 15 April and 14 September, all ships call at Geiranger in the Geirangerfjord, a UNESCO World Heritage site, to see the beautiful Brudesloret, Friaren, and the Seven Sisters waterfalls.)After a call at Molde, its magnificent view of the Romsdal Alps made it a favorite vacation spot of Henrik Ibsen. The ship will carefully navigate the Hustadvika, a belt of islets and skerries, before docking at Kristiansund. Optional shore excursions: Geiranger Panorama 1, Geiranger Panorama 2, Art Nouveau Tour, Ålesund
Day 3: Trondheim-Rorvik
- The ship arrives early this morning in ancient Trondheim, where you’ll have time to explore this jewel of a city, Norway’s first capital.Did you know that the first Viking sale of goods from “the new found land” took place here about 1000 AD? Timber from Leiv Eriksson’s Vinland estate was sold to a Bremen merchant. Walk the charming streets, sit by the peaceful harbor, or cross the old city bridge to see the restored wooden buildings in Bakklandet and the great gothic cathedral of Nidaros, where the new kings of old Norway once received their official blessing.From Trondheim, the ship sails on to Rorvik, where the southbound and northbound coastal ships meet. Optional shore excursion: Nidaros Cathedral & Ringve, Trondheim & Nidaros Cathedral, Sverresborg – Trøndelag Folk Museum
Day 4: Ornes-Bodo-Stamsund-Svolvaer
- Torghatten ved Brønnøysund
- Today you’ll cross the Arctic Circle. Of course you can’t actually see the line, but on your portside, the globe on the island of Vikingen serves as a marker.There are spectacular sites ahead: islands and skerries with majestic rock formations, whose origins are the stuff of legend.After Bodø, the ship heads out to open sea for the Lofoten Islands with their picturesque cabins on stilts and weathered wooden racks with drying cod. In the evening, she’ll navigate the narrow Raftsund Strait, passing the looming crags of the Trollfjord.Optional shore excursion.
Day 5: Harstad-Finnsnes-Tromso-Skjervoy
- This morning you’ll pass the medieval Trondenes church before calling at Harstad for breakfast. Afterward, you’ll sail across the Vagsfjord past the great island of Senja with its diverse countryside of farmland, pine trees, and plunging peaks.Later you’ll stop at Tromsø, the “Paris of the North”. In the 19th century, Russian, British, Dutch, and German ships called here before heading off on Arctic expeditions for hunting whales, walruses and seals.Optional shore excursions.
Days 6-7: Hammerfest-Havoysund- Honningsvag-Kjollefjord-Mehamn- Berlevag-Kirkenes
- Finnmark’s landscape is austere in its beauty, teeming with wildlife. Watch for rookeries of puffins and gannets along the cliffs and pods of orca hunting for herring.After calling at Honningsvåg, the capital of the North Cape, the ship heads east toward the pretty fishing villages of Kjøllefjord, Mehamn, and Berlevåg.On the seventh day, you’ll arrive at Kirkenes, the journey’s northern terminus and turning point.Optional shore excursions available for both days.
Day 7: Kirkenes-Vardo-Batsfjord-Berlevag
After a few hours docked at Kirkenes, the ship will depart upon the southbound half of her voyage, calling during the day at ports passed at night on the trip northward.
Crossing Varangerfjord, Norway’s only east-facing fjord and a fabled bird-watching site, you’ll arrive in Vardo, the easternmost point of the country.
Next the ship will round the Varanger peninsula, where archaeologists excavated a community believed to date from 9000 BC. In the evening, the ship calls at Batsfjord, which also boasts the remains of a Stone Age settlement, and Berlevag. Look out for the Tanahorn mountain, which long ago was a Sami sacrifice site.
Day 8: Honningsvag-Havoysund- Hammerfest-Oksfjord-Skjervoy-Tromso
- The ship arrives at Honningsvag in the early morning. After calling at Havoysund, she will stop for 1 1/2 hours in Hammerfest, the world’s most northerly town. Despite its remote location, it was the first Norwegian town to have electric street lighting and its own power station.She then heads south to Øksfjord, whose glacier calves directly into the sea. After crossing open water, the ship calls at the old trading post of Skjervøy. You’ll dock in Tromsø just in time to savor its nightlife.Optional shore excursions available.
Day 9: Harstad-Risoyhamn-Sortland- Stokmarknes-Svolvaer-Stamsund
The island groups of Lofoten and Vesteralen have some of the most stunning scenery on this journey. Before your arrival, you’ll see the captain skillfully maneuver the ship through the shallow waters of the Risoyrenna Channel, where sand banks are visible through the green water on both sides of the channel. The ship will negotiate the narrow Raftsund Strait leading into the breathtaking Trollfjord, before arriving in Svolvær and Stamsund. Later, the ship heads east across Vestfjord toward Bodø.
Optional shore excursions.
Day 10: Ornes-Nesna-Sandnessjoen- Bronnoysund-Rorvik
From Ørnes, you’ll travel through crystalline waters, filled with spawning cod from January to April, and go by lush agricultural fields. Nearly every towering peak you’ll see is associated with a local legend.
Crossing the Arctic Circle once again, you’ll pass the idyllic island of Sandnessjøen. On the approach to Brønnøysund, which you reach this afternoon, you’ll spy the mythical Seven Sisters Mountains.
Make sure you’re on deck when the ship departs Brønnøysund, and you’ll be impressed by the captain’s steady hand! Today’s last port of call will be Rørvik.
Day 11: Trondheim-Kristiansund-Molde
- Arrive in Trondheim early, with time to visit Norway’s largest medieval church, Nidaros Cathedral, and the restored Archbishop’s Residence.You will then sail out through the beautiful Trondheimsfjord, past Hitra, island of deer, and lonely Grip. At day’s end, you’ll call at Molde, before arriving in Ålesund late in the evening in time for a stroll on shore.Optional shore excursion.
Day 12: Torvik-Maloy-Floro-Bergen
- During the night, the ship will call at Torvik, Måløy, and Florø. The World’s Most Beautiful Voyage is drawing to a close. Yet still ahead lies mile after mile of spectacular west Norway scenery: holly trees on Svanøy, the mouth of Sognefjord, and the beautiful archipelago on the approach to Bergen.