Norway and Spitsbergen - Hurtigruten’s ‘Sportman’s Route’ Exploration (Northbound)

Amsterdam – Norway – Bjørnøya – Svalbard – Longyearbyen

Hurtigruten’s classic ‘Sportsman’s Route’ has been modernized to offer unforgettable scenery in the fjords as well as a crossing of the Arctic Circle. We explore remote Bjørnøya and the realm of the polar bear under the magical midnight sun* on this High Arctic adventure.

  • Enjoy vibrant Amsterdam
  • Sail through magnificent fjords and past idyllic islands on the Norwegian coast
  • See the midnight sun in untouched Arctic wilderness*
  • Scan for the mighty polar bear

Overview

*While the midnight sun lasts until August 22ndin the High Arctic, expedition cruises after that time enjoy a tremendous amount of daylight well into the autumn.

The Historic ‘Sportsman’s Route’

In 1896, Hurtigruten's founder Captain Richard With opened a hotel on Svalbard and established the Sportsman’s Route to bring visitors to the high north. His ship, DS Lofoten, sailed the Barents Sea between Hammerfest and Svalbard, captained by veteran polar explorer Otto Sverdrup. The 1896 Sportsman’s Route marked the start of Hurtigruten’s Explorer cruises. Today, we are proud to draw on more than 120 years of experience sailing in the most extreme conditions on Earth.

Buzzing City Life to Begin the Journey

Enjoy the culture and energy of beautiful Amsterdam, home of Rembrandt and van Gogh. Stroll the Canal District and visit the cafés and museums that place this city among the most popular destinations in the world.

The Rugged Coast of Norway

Norway has an incredibly long coastline, stretching from 58° to 71°N. This rugged shoreline features a hugely diverse landscape, from lush fjords to steep mountains, islands, skerries, and Arctic wilderness. Starting in historic Rosendal, we sail on to the deep and long fjord of Geiranger to enjoy incredible scenery, lush hills, high mountains, powerful waterfalls, and charming little villages.

Lofoten and the North Cape

The beauty of the Lofoten islands is simply staggering, characterized by jagged mountains peaks, deep fjords, sheltered inlets, white beaches, and idyllic fishing settlements. A bit further north you can experience pristine beauty at the Arctic paradise islands of Sommarøy. The North Cape, at the very northern tip of Europe, has been a great adventure destination for travelers for centuries. Take in the view and stand atop the steep cliff over 1,000 feet above the Arctic Ocean that marks the end of the continent.

Realm of the Polar Bear

We cross the Arctic Ocean to Bjørnøya, situated about halfway between Svalbard and the Norwegian mainland. If conditions allow, we will go ashore to scout for wildlife.

As we arrive in Spitsbergen, the midnight sun will be taking full effect, with bright nights creating great opportunities for sighting wildlife. We will explore some of the most scenic fjords along the west coast of Spitsbergen. Hornsund is a favorite area, with sharp granite peaks such as the Hornsundtind rising to more than 4,500 feet over broad ice glaciers.

Don't forget to scan the coastlines and ice floes to spot a polar bear family. In the water, watch out for a whale blow catching the sunlight. We take our ice-class ship ever further north, probing into the Leifdefjord to enjoy views of the Monaco Glacier, or step ashore on the green tundra of the Krossfjord, dotted with the pinks campion flowers and yellow buttercups.

We may sail into pretty Magdalenefjord. On the north shore, little auks bustle back and forth, their laugh-like calls echo off the rocks that hold their nests. On the south side, we can land close to a graveyard for whalers from the 17th century. Our last stop is the fascinating town of Longyearbyen, where you can enjoy splendid museums, restaurants, and galleries.

Price includes: 

  • Hurtigruten expedition cruise in the cabin grade of your choice on a full-board basis
  • Transfer from the ship to the airport in Longyearbyen
  • Coach-class flight from Longyearbyen to Amsterdam
  • Wind- and water-resistant jacket
  • Landings with small boats and activities on board and ashore
  • Professional English-speaking expedition team that gives lectures as well as accompanies landings and activities
  • Complimentary tea and coffee

Not included: 

  • International flights
  • Travel protection plan
  • Luggage handling
  • Optional excursions and gratuities

Related Cruises

Itinerary

Cruise Itinerary

Departure July 22, August 15 & September 8, 2019

Departs from Amsterdam, Netherlands
Day 1
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Photo: BriYYZ/Flickr Photo

Canals, Art, and Cafés


Location : Amsterdam, Netherlands

Vibrant Amsterdam developed from a small 13th century fishing village to become one of the most charming and culturally important cities of the world. The city became wealthy as a trading center with important connections to the Hanseatic League in the 17th century. Amsterdam's 'Golden Age' can still be seen in the aristocratic houses that line the famed Canal District. Enjoy a stop in the city's world-famous art centers, such as the Rijksmuseum, the Rembrandt House, and the van Gogh Museum.  Take time to explore this world-class city before embarking on MS Fridtjof Nansen.

Day 2
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Wildlife Spotting and Lectures


Location : The North Sea

Enjoy your first day on board! The expedition team will start the lecture program covering history and the great explorers, marine biology, wildlife, oceanography, and climate change. We sail the North Sea, a vital waterway that was the cradle of the Viking's rise, and later the Hanseatic League. Today, these shipping lanes are among the busiest in the world. Enjoy a day on deck breathing in the fresh sea air, and look for birds, mammals, ships, and oil rigs - all part of the lively North Sea.

Day 3
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Photo: Donald West Photo

Norwegian Garden


Location : Rosendal, Norway

Rosendal is a small town on the shore of the Hardangerfjord, Norway’s second-largest fjord. 

Rosendal  is known for the Barony Rosendal, a historic estate and manor house completed in 1665. Around 200 years later, in 1850, an extensive, and very romantic garden was laid out around the main house. This garden is often referred to as the most magnificent Victorian garden in Norway. Among other flowers around 2,000 roses in bloom can be experienced here from June to November, perfectly timed for our visit!

Alternatively, if you are feeling energetic, why not take a hike 890 metres up to Malmangernuten?  Your reward will be a beautiful view over Rosendal and the Hardangerfjord.

Day 4
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Photo: Tommy L/Flickr Photo

Glacial Splendor


Location : Geiranger

The Geirangerfjord is often referred to as the 'jewel in the crown' of the Norwegian fjords. It is surrounded by a fairy-tale landscape of majestic, snow-covered mountaintops; wild and beautiful waterfalls; lush, green vegetation; and the deep, blue fjord itself.

The area has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2005, and it has been named the best travel destination in Scandinavia by Lonely Planet.

Look out for the powerful waterfalls as they tumble from mountain to sea. De Syv Søstrene (The Seven Sisters) consists of seven waterfalls that thunder down the mountainside next to the abandoned farm of Knivsflå.  Frieren (the Suitor) waterfall lies on the opposite side of the fjord, unfortunately unable to 'connect' with any of the sisters!

The Geirangerfjord is about 984 feet deep, almost as deep as the surrounding landscape is high. 

Day 5
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Photo: Herbert Ware Photo

Crossing the Arctic Circle


Location : At sea along the Norwegian coast

We welcome you to the Arctic with a special Arctic Circle–crossing ceremony on deck. Be 'baptized' into the family of polar explorers!

We take the inside route as much as possible as MS Fridtjof Nansen weaves her way among the islands and green coast of Norway. As we sail farther north and the air cools, we will be joined by an escort of fulmars flying along at port-hole level. Days at sea are an opportunity to wind down and watch the waves, or enjoy a lecture or two from the expedition team.

Day 6
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Photo: Christoph Strässler Photo

Picturesque Reine


Location : Reine and Trollfjord

Red and white traditional fisherman’s cottages - known as ‘Rorbuer - sit perched on stilts over the water’s edge, with a background of granite spires jutting skyward in scenic Reine.  Take a stroll here, soaking in the serenity of the surroundings.

Later we sail through the Raftsundet Strait, and as we proceed north, keep a sharp eye open for white-tailed sea eagles often found in the area.  Then we enter the magnificent Trollfjord. Surrounded by mountains that stretch up to 3,937 feet above sea level, this narrow fjord slices deeply and dramatically into the heart of the island. We navigate carefully far into the Trollfjord, where mountain walls rise directly out of the sea. This pristine channel is at times so narrow it feels as though you can reach out and touch the side of the fjord.

Day 7
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Photo: Harald Groven Photo

Park Your Husband


Location : Sommarøy

Sommarøy is an archipelago of small islands with white, sandy beaches and a lively fishing community. The settlement also has a couple of small shops where you can buy handicrafts and groceries. Inside the local shop, you will find 'Kaillkråa' (the gentlemen’s corner) where husbands are usually 'parked' while the wives do their shopping.

And, as this shopping might be a time-consuming activity, the local men have private hooks on the wall for their coffee cups to pass the time. We offer a variety of excursions like hikes and kayaking, or you can take this opportunity to visit Tromsø. This lively small city is known as the Gateway to the Arctic. The colorful downtown area is rich in polar history, and it is beautifully situated, surrounded by the dramatic Lyngen Alps, blue fjords and hundreds of islands.

Day 8
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Photo: Ruben Holthuijsen Photo

The Northernmost Point in Europe


Location : Skarsvåg

A few hours before we arrive at Skarsvåg we will sail past the spectacular North Cape cliff, offering you a stunning view of this famous landmark. Don’t worry about missing it: our expedition team will alert you! 

Skarsvåg is a small village that lies along the northern coast of the island of Magerøya. It claims the distinction of being the world's northernmost fishing village. Join the optional excursion to the North Cape and discover what it’s like to stand at the end of the Earth. There is a combined museum and restaurant at the plateau, where you can learn more about the early expeditions to North Cape and watch a panoramic film that takes you through the four seasons of the Norwegian coastal landscape, which is full of contrasts, light, and breathtaking scenery.

North Cape is a spectacular place to experience the Midnight Sun. 

Day 9
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In the Middle of the Arctic Ocean


Location : Bjørnøya

Bjørnøya, with a population of just 9 people, is the southernmost island of the Svalbard archipelago. It is an isolated spot in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, known for hosting the largest concentration of sea birds on the Northern Hemisphere.  This is where the cold waters from the Arctic Ocean meet warm Gulf Stream currents, and when these water masses collide, nutrient-rich water is pushed up to the surface, making it an 'all-you-can-eat' buffet for 126 different bird species. If conditions allow, we will land here.

Day 10-11
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Photo: Renèe Schneider Photo

Exploring Spitsbergen


Location : Spitsbergen, Svalbard

Cruising northbound from Bjørnøya, we will take advantage of the conditions at hand, focusing on the ice edge. Early in the season, we will attempt to enter fjords where we can expect 'fast ice', or landlocked ice. Later in the season, we will have to take our search for ice farther north. Within the Svalbard archipelago there are about 3,000 polar bears, which depend on the ice to hunt for seals.

Polar bears are solitary animals with no set colony or living area. We are most likely to observe this marine mammal on the drift ice, close to the ocean or even in the water. We often observe polar bears, although not every day and seldom at very close range. Like most things in a true wilderness, there are no absolute guarantees. But the more eyes scouting through binoculars, the better our chances of observing the 'King of the Arctic'.

The Captain and Expedition Leader will make the best use of the conditions at hand. We may cruise into Hornsund and explore the ice-filled fjord by small boats, or land to hike to a viewpoint overlooking the glacier. The Expedition Team will tell stories of the history of the area, including that of Wanny Woldstad, the first female trapper-hunter who lived here in the 1930's.

We continue to the north-west corner of Spitsbergen and may head into Magdalenefjorden, where we find graves, blubber ovens and other cultural treasures from when men first started to inhabit Svalbard. We might also see the enormous Monaco Glacier in Liefdefjord, before making a landing nearby at the old trapper hut at Texas Bar. Later we may attempt to cross the 80th parallel close to Moffen Island, where sometimes walrus are seen.

Day 12
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Photo: Shutterbird Productions Photo

The Power of Glaciers


Location : Longyearbyen, Svalbard

The Isfjord is the most extensive fjord system on Svalbard. We will spend the morning in the heart of the fjord, as we sail toward Longyearbyen. The landscape changes constantly – marvel at the immense U-shaped valleys, carved out of the mountains by the giant glaciers that covered the area some ten thousand years ago. You arrive Longyearbyen in the late evening. Enjoy the last hours on board before you are transferred to the airport for your overnight flight back to Amsterdam.

Day 13
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Return to Europe


Location : Amsterdam, Netherlands

An early morning arrival in Amsterdam provides another opportunity to explore this fascinating city.

Arrival August 3, August 27 & September 20, 2019

Location Amsterdam, Netherlands
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