11 Night Cruise sailing from Bergen roundtrip onboard Vesteralen.
Day 1 Bergen, Gateway to the Fjords
Your voyage starts in Bergen, a city surrounded by seven mountains. Before departure you may wish to explore this cultural gateway to the fjords. Bergen was founded in 1070 AD, and was the capital of Norway for several years. The city is a central point for Norwegian travel, and has retained a great deal of local character and history. One example of this is the historic UNESCO-listed Bryggen district with colourful wharfs that date back to the 14th century. Take a stroll around this charming and compact city, spend some time in one of the outdoor cafés and restaurants, enjoy a trip on the Fløibanen Funicular or visit the famous fish market.
After embarkation, we invite you to enjoy our tasty dinner buffet, based on the best ingredients from the coast. We sail north from Bergen along the Hjeltefjord, the same route the Vikings once plied to the Shetland Islands and beyond. We are heading to the high north. Spend the rest of the evening relaxing as you admire the spectacular landscapes, either from deck or in our panorama lounges.
Day 2 Floro - Molde
If you wake up early the next day, you have the chance to enjoy the breathtaking beauty of the Nordfjord, followed by a delicious breakfast. As we sail past the West Cape, we are out on the open sea. The ship then navigates through skerries and islands before reaching Ålesund.
Distinguished by its numerous spires, towers and highly-ornate buildings, Ålesund is a town renowned for its beautiful art nouveau architecture. It owes this to a devastating fire that burned a large proportion of the city to the ground in 1904. The entire town was subsequently rebuilt in the fashionable style of the time, art nouveau. If you like marine life, join us on a visit to Atlanterhavsparken - one of Northern Europe’s largest salt-water aquariums. The tour includes a visit to the open-air pool to see the resident penguins. After visiting Atlanterhavsparken, we continue onwards and upwards to Mount Aksla where you will get an amazing panorama of the area.
In the summer months, we set course for the spectacular UNESCO-listed Geirangerfjord passing sheer, 800 metre cliffs and impressive waterfalls en route. In autumn, we explore Hjørundfjord, situated amidst the majestic Sunnmøre Alps. Its seclusion and unspoiled natural landscape are what give this fjord its special character: far from the tourist bustle, taking passengers past steep rock walls, green meadows, lonely mountain farms and small villages.
Day 3 Kristiansund - Rorvik
Few large cities have managed to preserve their intimacy as effectively as Norway’s third largest city, Trondheim. Viking king, Olav Tryggvason, founded this ancient city as early as 997. Join our optional excursion to Norway’s national shrine, Nidaros Cathedral, the country´s only Gothic-style cathedral built over the burial place of St. Olav, Norway’s patron saint. Here you can marvel at the cathedral’s incredible architectural details and exquisite works of art.
During spring and summer, we continue to the Ringve Museum of Musical History, where the history of Norway’s music is brought to life. This beautiful manor house is surrounded by a wonderful botanical garden, and provides fantastic views of both the city and the fjord.
From September to May you can experience Trondheim in a vintage carriage on the world’s northernmost tram for a unique sightseeing tour.
You can also explore Trondheim from sea level in a kayak along the river Nid all year, or experience the city on a bicycle and try out the world’s only bicycle lift from April to September. Join the Expedition team for a hike to discover more of the surroundings of Trondheim.
In the afternoon, the ship sets a northwest course, passing the beautiful Kjeungskjær lighthouse and numerous charming islets and rocky outcrops. After passing through the narrow Stokksund, the ship heads towards charming Rørvik.
Day 4 Arctic Circle and Lofoten Islands
Today we cross the Arctic Circle! This invisible line is situated at 66 degrees 33 minutes north and marks the border to the Arctic Region. In summer, this means 24-hour daylight - often referred to as the ‘midnight sun’. During winter, being above this latitude provides the best chances for experiencing the Northern Lights. Even if you aren’t awake to see the Arctic Circle, the captain makes sure that the occasion is a memorable event. If you are sailing in Arctic waters for the first time, you can participate in a daytime Arctic Circle ceremony on deck.
Near Ørnes, you find Svartisen, Norway’s second largest glacier. Join us for a trip to the Svartisen Tourist Centre in summer, where you can admire the beauty of this enigmatic ice world. Afterwards, the journey continues along the beautiful coast of Helgeland to Bodø, where you re-join the ship. In Bodø, you can join an adventure in harmony with nature, eagles and the deep blue sea. We head to Saltstraumen in a RIB, where you witness the world’s most powerful tidal current. On this exciting journey through wild landscape, there is also a good chance to observe sea eagles.
Majestic, beautiful Lofoten
Later this afternoon, the sight of the 1,000 m high Lofoten Wall appears on the horizon. Tucked between majestic granite cliffs and white sandy beaches, Lofoten is an experience that is out of the ordinary. The charms of the Lofoten Islands are revealed in the small, picturesque fishing villages with their bohemian ambience. Take a stroll between stockfish racks and ‘rorbuer’, the traditional fisherman’s huts.
At Stamsund, join a historical journey to the Lofotr Viking Museum, where you are invited into the chieftain’s house, a full-size reconstruction featuring exhibits of finds dating back to the Viking Age. The chieftain and the lady of the house invite you to join them for a real Viking meal in the banquet hall, providing a taste of the Viking Age, complete with traditional food, drinks, costumes, singing and dancing.
Between Stamsund and Svolvær, you have the chance to experience life on a herb and cheese farm in Lofoten, or visit the Lofoten’s only craft brewery, situated in an old fish landing facility in Svolvær.
Hunting the Northern Lights
In winter, crossing the Arctic Circle is when the hunt for the Northern Light begins. We celebrate the event by presenting a multimedia show, ‘The Magic Light, Aurora Borealis’, featuring pictures, words and music. As we sail through the narrow Raftsund, we stop at the entrance to Trollfjord. Here we serve freshly made fish cakes out on deck. You also hear the story of ‘The battle of Trollfjord’, which took place here in the winter of 1890. If you look closely, you might see trolls up in the steep mountains. Or you might not.
Day 5 Stokmarknes - Skjervøy
Get ready for a day full of exciting activities, whatever the season! During the morning hours, we briefly dock at Risøyhamn, Harstad and Finnsnes. The ship then continues to Tromsø, `Capital of the Arctic´, for a prolonged stay. Many epic Arctic expeditions used Tromsø as a starting point. Join our `Polar History Walk´ in winter to learn more about the explorers and Arctic hunters, and to taste beer made at the world´s northernmost brewery.
In winter and spring, you can complete your stay in Tromsø with a thrilling husky dog sledge ride. On this mini polar expedition, the huskies pull you over the frozen landscape while you enjoy stunning views of the ocean, mountains and open plateaus. During the polar night, the only light comes from headlamps, the starry sky, and, if we’re lucky, the magical Northern Lights. Why not test your coordination skills and have some winter fun by joining a cross-country skiing or snowshoeing adventure or go deep-sea fishing on an Arctic fjord.
All year you can join the Expedition team for hikes and discover more of Tromsø and its surroundings.
If you want to experience peace and tranquillity on the sea, why not join us for a kayaking excursion in summer? Paddle in the waters off the Tromsø coastline with the mountains as a stunning backdrop. This is a great way to silently glide through these pristine waters and get close to marine wildlife.
After an exhilarating day in Tromsø, we continue our northbound journey. The ship is now sailing into waters where you have the best chance of seeing the Northern Lights between September and March. We gather on deck to search the skies for this breathtaking phenomenon.
Day 6 North Cape
Enjoy magnificent sub-Arctic landscape as we cross the 71st parallel on our journey towards North Cape, one of the northernmost points on the European continent. In summer, you may see herds of grazing reindeer and small camps belonging to the indigenous Sámi people.
After a brief and early stop in Hammerfest we arrive in Havøysund where you can disembark for an overland RIB and Hike expedition to the North Cape during the summer months. We pass scenic bird cliffs on our way to Hornvika, where we hike the old historical route up to the North Cape Plateau.
The ship arrives in Honningsvåg, the gateway to the spectacular North Cape. An optional excursion to the North Cape plateau puts you at 71°10'21´N, only 2,000 km away from the geographic North Pole. Standing on top the 307-metre high North Cape plateau imparts a sublime sense of being at the end of the world. Nearby is one of the world's most exciting nature reserves, Gjesværstappan. Join a bird-watching safari to experience Finnmark's largest flock of puffins, as well as large numbers of kittiwakes. During the nesting season, this area is teeming with life, and mighty sea eagles hover above in search of prey. Meanwhile guillemots, razorbills, cormorants, arctic skuas, northern fulmars, brünnich's guillemots, and the large northern gannet fill the air with a cacophony of shrieks and screeches.
If you want to learn more about local life in this remote region, join the fishing village visit that takes you through the island of Magerøya´s fantastic scenery to the fishing communities of Kamøyvær and Skarsvåg. Along the way, your guide tells you about the area´s nature, local culture and history.
The ship then continues north, sailing into the heartland of the indigenous Sámi people. We pass their ancient sacred site, the rock formation Finnkirka, as we approach our next stop, the fishing village Kjøllefjord. Here you have the opportunity to learn more about the Sámi people, as well as to explore the wonderful landscape in summer and autumn. Learn about Sámi traditions and their way of life, and hear traditional Sámi joiking (song).
In winter, you can join us on an unforgettable snowmobile trip to one of Europe's most extreme and exciting natural areas. Along the way, guides tell you about the Sámi people, the geographic and climatic conditions, life on the Finnmark coast, and how the local population effectively utilises nature during both the summer and winter seasons. Experience snow-clad valleys, fresh winter air and perhaps the mesmerizing Northern Lights in the clear, starry sky. 'Sámi Autumn' is an excursion where you can learn about the Arctic natural 'pantry and pharmacy', sampling dried-reindeer meat, crowberry juice, herbal tea (nettle) and roseroot tincture. You may also feel the presence of the Sámi shaman, Noaidi.
Day 7 Location: Båtsfjord - Kirkenes - Berlevåg
The vistas become more dramatic as we approach Kirkenes. We arrive in nearby Vadsø early in the morning and just after breakfast, arrive in Kirkenes, at 30° East, further east than Istanbul and St. Petersburg. This is Hurtigruten’s turning point for the return journey southwards. Kirkenes is known as the capital of the Barents region and gateway to the east.
The Russian border is a just few miles away. You may find it intriguing that the local road signs are written in both Norwegian and Russian. Depending on the season, there are many ways to visit the Russian frontier. Travel either by bus (all year), enjoy a riverboat safari, or join an action-packed trip on ATV/quad-bikes. Kirkenes also boasts several fascinating small museums recounting the remarkably rich history and heritage of this remote region.
Spending time in Kirkenes provides the opportunity to take part in numerous adventurous activities into the Arctic environment. In winter and spring, you can join several activities and excursions, for example, exploring the Arctic wilderness on a snowmobile and driving over a frozen fjord. During the trip, your guides tell you about the history of the region, the extreme Arctic climate and the area´s unique wildlife. On our dog-sledge adventures, huskies eagerly transport you across the frozen Arctic landscape. In summer, you can join the excursion where you catch and eat giant king crab from the Barents Sea.
Southbound and down
As the ship starts its voyage south, you can first enjoy lunch followed by views of the surrounding Arctic landscape on deck or from the panorama lounge. As we depart Kirkenes, you’ve only seen half of what our voyage along the Norwegian coastline has to offer. Prepare yourself for many new experiences. The ports previously visited by night on the northbound journey are now seen by day.
In the afternoon, the ship again docks at Vardø, Norway’s easternmost port. Weather permitting, we may invite you to experience ice bathing in the Arctic Ocean. On board in spring, there is a presentation about shorebirds residing along the Nordic coastline. Heading south, we cruise along the Varanger peninsula to Båtsfjord, before reaching Berlevåg in the evening. The latter town is home to one of Norway’s most famous male choirs, consisting mainly of local fishermen.
Day 8 Location: Mehamn - Tromsø
In the middle of the night, we dock at Mehamn, where it is possible to join an unforgettable snowmobile trip through one of Europe's most extreme and exciting natural areas during winter time. Experience snow-clad valleys, fresh winter air and perhaps the mesmerising Northern Lights in the clear, starry sky.
At Honningsvåg you can join an excursion that features breakfast at North Cape and the discovery of hidden parts of Finnmark along the way between May and October. Before stopping in Hammerfest, you can enjoy an 'energy coffee' and short introduction to Melkøya - the world´s northernmost natural gas terminal'. Hammerfest was founded in 1789, and over time became Norway's polar capital, serving as a base for hunting expeditions into the High Arctic. Here you can see the UNESCO-listed Meridian Column, erected in 1854 to commemorate the first precise geographic measurement of the globe. In winter, you can also join a mini-mountain expedition to experience the Arctic outdoors and learn about local polar hero and cook, Adolf Henrik Lindstrøm.
We continue south to Øksfjord. After crossing open water, we make a brief stop at the old trading post of Skjervøy. In spring, we sail through the beautiful Lyngenfjord, surrounded by the snowy peaks of the Lyngen Alps: Here, you might get a taste of fresh locally-caught prawns.
We then dock at Tromsø, just in time to enjoy a magical midnight concert at the Arctic Cathedral. In summer, you can join a midnight excursion, under the Midnight Sun, to explore Tromsø by sea in a RIB boat. Alternatively, a walk around the town provides you the chance to enjoy a local brew at one of the city´s many friendly pubs.
Day 9 Location: Tromsø - Stamsund
We arrive at Harstad this morning, where you have the opportunity to participate in one of the classic Hurtigruten excursion programmes: A taste of Vesterålen. Experience history, beautiful scenery and a selection of breathtaking sites that include a visit to Trondenes Church, one of Norway's premier cultural heritage sites from the late Middle Ages.
Those who choose to stay on board can admire views of this old church as we sail towards the Risøyrenna, a shallow 7-metre-deep channel made especially for Hurtigruten in the 1920s to provide an 'inside route' between Harstad and Sortland. The sand banks along the Risøyrenna are visible through the clear, green water.
The island groups of Lofoten and Vesterålen offer some of the most stunning scenery you will see during the entire coastal voyage. The Lofoten region is renowned for its natural beauty with steep mountains, wild nature and small, picturesque fishing villages. The daylight sailing route through the Lofoten Islands is a highlight for many of our guests.
Risøyhamn is a small village with only 200 inhabitants, and we make a short stop here to deliver passengers, groceries and mail. As a springtime tribute to the region´s fishing history, our chef shows how to fillet the catch of the day on deck. We then continue south via Sortland to Stokmarknes, where Hurtigruten was founded more than 120 years ago. Go ashore and pay a visit to the Hurtigruten museum here. Continuing southwards, it looks like we are sailing straight into the mountain wall, but we inevitably slip through an opening leading to the narrow Raftsund. This 20-km passage between Lofoten and Vesterålen takes you through mountains soaring 1,000 metres directly out of the sea.
Trollfjord and the Lofoten islands
Now we reach the spectacular Trollfjord, only 2 km long and 100 metres wide, surrounded by majestic mountains. If the weather and time permit – the captain makes a detour into the fjord. Steep cliffs hug the ship´s sides and the dramatic landscape conjures fairy tale images of an imaginary land of trolls. Trollfjord is also the realm of the sea eagle.
Just north of the fjord, a smaller vessel awaits to take you out to see this magnificent bird up close on an optional sea eagle safari. To join the safari, you transfer to a smaller tour boat before we reach the Trollfjord. The Hurtigruten ship turns around in the narrow fjord, a magnificent sight in its own right! The eagle safari begins after leaving the Trollfjord, passing through narrow channels flanked by steep mountains where the sea eagles dwell and can be viewed. These beautiful, rare birds of prey circle the boat a few times before we toss fish into the sea for them to grab and devour. Be sure to bring a camera!
Reaching Svolvær, you can choose from several excursion options. Join our Lofoten Islands tour to learn more about the fishing communities, beautiful scenery and art from this area. You can join a horseback ride and experience a sunset trot through powdery white sand on a beach along the Norwegian Sea. If you want more of an adrenaline rush, join one of our high-octane excursions by RIB.
Lofoten is known for its excellent fishing, and in winter and spring you can join a fishing trip to try your luck at catching cod. If you prefer dry land, a guided fishing village walk provides in-depth insights into the history and culture. From Svolvær, we continue on to Stamsund, where we see the majestic peaks of the huge Lofoten wall. We leave Lofoten during the evening and set course for the mainland.
Day 10 Location: Bodø - Rørvik
Crossing the Arctic Circle at 66°33’N is an important ‘rite of passage’. Today we celebrate the event out on deck with a `taste´ of Arctic tradition – a spoonful of cod liver oil. As we sail along the Helgeland coast, you pass hundreds of islets, fertile farmland and steep granite walls rich in local lore. On deck you can see the strange mountain Torghatten (rising 258 m above sea level), famous for its distinctive hole right through the middle. The hole is 160 m long, 35 m high and 20 m wide, and was created during the ice age.
Another highlight is sailing past the Seven Sisters mountain range. All seven mountains are between 900 and 1,100 m high, and it is easy to understand how these ‘ladies’ influenced ancient myths. The story goes that there were seven troll sisters, the daughters of King Sulis, who kept them under strict control. One night, when the king fell into a deep sleep, the seven maidens sneaked out. Vågekallen, who was eager for a wife, was lying in wait. He pursued the sisters, who fled southwards down the coast. Several other trolls joined the chase to either capture or rescue them. When night turned to morning, the troll sisters and their pursuers were petrified as the sun turns all trolls to stone. They all became the rocks and mountains that today make the Helgeland coastline one of the most beautiful places on earth.
Next we make a short stop at Nesna, an idyllic old trading post before moving on to Sandnessjøen. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Vega Islands is close to Sandnessjøen and can be visited on an optional excursion during summer. This unique cultural landscape consists of dozens of islands. The UNESCO designation was awarded due to the unique interaction between the eider duck and island population. Learn how the fishermen and farmers have cultivated a centuries-old symbiotic relationship with the ducks, and how it continues to contribute to a livelihood of eiderdown harvesting and making down-filled duvets.
As we arrive in Brønnøysund, you can join the excursion to visit to the Norwegian Aquaculture Centre near Brønnøysund for an informative tour and taste of fresh salmon from April throughout October.
Day 11 Location: Trondheim - Ålesund
Today provides another opportunity to explore the city of Trondheim. Back on board, the ship heads out into the majestic Trondheimsfjord, which is 170 km long and up to 25 km wide. Like all other Norwegian fjords, it is deep, plunging to 577 m.
As we sail along the coast, you realise the importance of fish to Norwegian coastal communities. Kristiansund’s location has steadily provided the town with a wealth of opportunities in the fishing, shipbuilding and oil industries. Kristiansund is today regarded as Norway’s ‘dried cod capital’ because of its long-time export of salted dry fish. Here you can join an excursion to the renowned Atlantic Road, one of Norway’s most visited tourist destinations. It is 8.2 km long, built on a total of eight bridges and surrounded by picturesque landscapes and open sea.
Another interesting excursion is to the Bergtatt marble mine, which includes entering a mountain and sailing across an illuminated subterranean lake, before enjoying a meal in the mine´s ‘Grand Hall’. Those choosing to stay on board at Kristiansund will experience the ship´s crossing the open sea on our way to Molde, known as Norway´s ‘City of Roses’. Along the way you see see the steep, grey, pointed peaks of the Romsdal Alps.
Day 12 Location: Bergen
During the night, the ship calls at Ålesund, Torvik, Måløy, as the world’s most beautiful voyage draws to a close. Before we dock in Bergen, there are some nautical miles of fascinating scenery ahead of us, including the picturesque Nordfjord below the enormous Jostedal Glacier. Here the fjord widens to the east and forges 90 km inland to Loen and Olden.
The rugged coastal areas are a striking contrast to the inner fjord regions where the wind is gentler and less rain falls. Fertile fruit orchards and glacial fingers stretch towards glistening lakes and gushing rapids. This landscape has its own distinctive charm and you are encouraged to experience it. In the morning, we call at Florø, a modern coastal seaport that is also the Sogn og Fjordane region´s oldest town and Norway’s westernmost community. Despite constant changes, the city of Florø has maintained its special features.
A few nautical miles south of Florø, we navigate the mouth of the mighty Sognefjord, and enjoy superb views of this magnificent island-studded coastline en route. Finally, you disembark in Bergen, taking with you memories of a unique journey filled with unforgettable experiences and meetings with local people, wildlife and stunning nature. Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, but we hope to see you on board for new adventures in the very near future.
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