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

Longyearbyen – Svalbard – Bjørnøya – Norway – Amsterdam

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 our High Arctic adventure before making our way along the Norwegian coast to vibrant Amsterdam.

  • Explore Arctic wilderness under the Midnight Sun*
  • Scan for the mighty polar bear and possibly reach 80° north
  • Sail through the magnificent fjords and delightful islands of the Norwegian coastline
  • Complete the voyage in vibrant Amsterdam


* While the midnight sun lasts until the August 22nd in the High Arctic, 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. 

Realm of the Polar Bear

We explore some of the most scenic fjords along the west coast of Svalbard, all the way up to the northwest corner of Spitsbergen.

Our Captain will take advantage of the rapidly changing ice and weather conditions to create the best route. The bright Arctic nights are ideal for taking in the landscape and wildlife.

Be sure to scan the coastlines and any ice floes. If we are exceptionally lucky we might spot a polar bear family. In the water, watch out for a whale blow catching the sunlight. As well as marine wildlife, seabirds populate the bird cliffs that are abandoned during winter.

Over three days, we take ourship ever farther north, probing into the Leifdefjord to enjoy views of the Monaco Glacier, or to step ashore on the green tundra of the Krossfjord, dotted with the pink flowers of campion and yellow flowers of buttercups.

We may sail into pretty Magdalenefjord, where, on the north shore, little auks bustle back and forth, their laugh-like calls echoing off the rocks that hold their nests. On the south side, we can land close to a graveyard used by whalers in the 17th century.

Hornsund is likely to be on our list, with sharp granite peaks such as the Hornsundtind rising to more than 4,593 feet over broad ice glaciers. Then we cross the Arctic Ocean to Bjørnøya, situated about halfway between Svalbard and the Norwegian mainland. Our goal is to go ashore here, where an astronomical number of breeding birds spend their summer.

The Rugged Coast of Norway

Norway has an incredibly long coastline, stretching from 71° N to 58° N. This rugged shoreline features a hugely diverse landscape, from lush fjords to steep mountains, islands, skerries, and Arctic wilderness.

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 1,000 feet above the Arctic Ocean that marks the end of the continent.

A bit farther south you can experience the pristine beauty at the Arctic paradise islands of Sommarøy.

Next on our journey south is the staggering beauty of Lofoten, which is characterized by jagged mountains and peaks, deep fjords, sheltered inlets, white-sand beaches, and idyllic fishing villages.
Later we sail into the Geirangerfjord in the heart of Western Norway and blessed with an excess of dramatic fjord scenery. In this area, you will experience lush hills, high mountains, powerful waterfalls, and charming little villages.

We make a final coastal stop at historic Rosendal before crossing the North Sea toward mainland Europe.

A Cosmopolitan End to Our Adventure

Enjoy disembarking in Amsterdam, one of Europe's most culturally rich cities. Once the home of Rembrandt and van Gogh, it has a wealth of museums and art galleries. Take some time to experience this city of canals, cafés, and culture before heading home.

Price includes: 

  • Hurtigruten expedition cruise in the cabin grade of your choice on a full-board basis
  • Coach-class flight from Amsterdam to Longyearbyen
  • Transfer from the airport to the ship in Longyearbyen
  • 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


Cruise Itinerary

This is an expedition where the elements rule, and the weather, wind and ice conditions will determine our final schedule. Safety is paramount and the captain will decide the sailing itinerary during the voyage. Therefore, this itinerary is just an indication of what you can experience, and why every expedition with Hurtigruten is unique.

Departure August 02 & 26, and September 19, 2019

Departs from Amsterdam and Longyearbyen
Day 1
Photo: BriYYZ/Flickr Photo

From 59° N to 78° N

Location : Amsterdam and Longyearbyen

This expedition cruise starts with an evening flight from Amsterdam. Take some time to explore the rich and colorful city of canals, museums, and cafés before boarding your flight to the High Arctic and Longyearbyen.

Day 2
Photo: Shutterbird Productions Photo

Into the Arctic

Location : Longyearbyen and Isfjord

Upon arrival in Longyearbyen, you will be transferred to your ship, MS Fridtjof Nansen. Enjoy your first night on board before departing Longyearbyen in the morning.

We sail out into the Isfjord, the most extensive fjord system on Svalbard. Join us on deck for some evening whale-watching!

Day 3-5
Photo: Renèe Schneider Photo

Exploring Svalbard

Location : Spitsbergen, Svalbard

Cruising toward the North West Corner of Spitsbergen 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 that 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 will make the best use of the conditions at hand. We may cruise 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.

Hornsund is a favourite area in the south of the island we may explore the ice-filled fjord by small boats, or step on land to and ascend to a view point 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 to live here in the 1930s.

Day 6

Middle of the Arctic Ocean

Location : Bjørnøya

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

Day 7
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 let you know when its approaching!  Skarsvåg is a small village that lies along the northern coast of the island of Magerøya.

Skarsvåg 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 coastal Norway's four seasons – a landscape full of contrasts, light, and breathtaking scenery. The North Cape is a spectacular place for experiencing the midnight sun. 

Day 8
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. Sommarøy 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 take some time, the local men have private hooks on the wall for their coffee cups to pass the time.

We offer a variety of excursions such as 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 9
Photo: Christoph Strässler Photo

Picturesque Reine

Location : Reine & Trollfjord

In the morning, we enter the magnificent Trollfjord. Surrounded by mountains that climb 4,000 feet above sea level, this narrow fjord slices deeply and dramatically into heart of the landscape. We carefully navigate far into the Trollfjord, where steep 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 mountains.

As we head south toward Reine, keep your eyes open for white-tailed sea eagles, often seen in this area.

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 lovely Reine. Stroll slowly through the village and soak in the serenity of the surroundings. 

Day 10
Photo: Herbert Ware Photo

Crossing the Arctic Circle

Location : At sea along the Norwegian Coast

We sail the inside route as often as possible as MS Fridtjof Nansen weaves her way among the innumerable islands and green coast of Norway. If the air warms as we sail south, why not take a dip in one of the on-deck swimming pools? Days at sea are an opportunity to wind down and watch the waves, or enjoy a lecture or two presented by the expedition team.

Day 11
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, surrounded by a fairy-tale landscape with majestic, snow-covered mountaintops; wild and beautiful waterfalls; lush, green vegetation; and the deep, blue fjord itself.

Geiranger is a small tourist village at the end of the fjord. 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.

Watch powerful waterfalls tumble from the mountains to the sea. De Syv Søstrene (The Seven Sisters) consist 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 1,000 feet deep, almost as deep as the surrounding landscape is high. 

Day 12
Photo: Donald West Photo

The Most Romantic Garden in Norway

Location : Rosendal, Norway

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

Rosendal is best known for the Barony Rosendal, a historic estate and manor house that was completed in 1665. Around 200 years later, an extensive and very romantic garden was laid out around the main house. It is often referred to as the most magnificent Victorian garden in Norway. Among the many varieties of flowers are some 2,000 roses that bloom each year from June to November, perfectly timed for our visits!

Alternatively, if you are feeling energetic, why not hike the 3,000 feet up to Malmangernuten?  Your reward is a beautiful view over Rosendal and the Hardangerfjord region that encompasses majestic mountains and the sea.

Day 13

North Sea Wildlife and Lectures

Location : The North Sea

Enjoy a relaxing day at sea. Catch up on your reading, organize some of the many photos taken, or even write a postcard. The expedition team will continue their lecture program, perhaps with a focus on the oceans. The North Sea has been an important waterway from Viking times to the modern era. It was the center of the feared Viking's rise, and later the transport hub of the Hanseatic League.

Today, this shallow north-eastern arm of the Atlantic Ocean is very important for marine transport.  The shipping lanes are among the busiest in the world, Enjoy a day on deck.  Breathe in the fresh salt air, look for birds, mammals, ships and oil rigs - all part of the lively North Sea.

Day 14
Amsterdam_ ©JeniFoto_Shutterstock_Day 3_1200x600.png

Cosmopolitan Amsterdam

Location : Amsterdam, Netherlands

It is hard to believe that 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 a famous worldwide trading center with important connections to the Hanseatic League in the 17th century.

Evidence of Amsterdam's 'Golden Age' can still be seen in the Patrician houses of the famed Canal District, now a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city is well-known for its outstanding museums like the Rijksmuseum, the Rembrandt House, and the Van Gogh Museum.  Take time to explore this world-class city before heading home.

Arrival August 15, September 08 & October 02, 2019

Location Amsterdam, Netherlands
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