The historic Sportsman's route from 1896
In 1896, Hurtigruten's founder and tourism entrepreneur Captain Richard With, opened a hotel on Svalbard. Because he wanted to make the hotel available for pioneer tourists and trappers, he also started the Sportsman's route the same year. DS Lofoten sailed this stretch between Hammerfest and Svalbard. The captain on these sailings was Otto Sverdrup, who had been on several polar expeditions with explorer Fridtjof Nansen and later did expeditions on the original explorer vessel Fram. This Sportsman's route was basically the start of our Explorer-expeditions
Appreciate the midnight sun and cool summers north of the Arctic Circle
This Arctic summer an expedition starts in Tromsø. The city is called the Gateway to the Arctic, because many expeditions used it as a starting point for exploration of the High North. Today Tromsø is a lively, colourful town that boasts rich Arctic and Polar history.
The fabled North Cape
North Cape is the northernmost point of the European mainland. The mountain cliff rises 307 metres above the Arctic Ocean. The feeling of walking on to the cliff is extraordinary - like being at the end of the world. After that, we head for Gjesværstappan, a bird cliff that will be teeming with breeding arctic species in a cacophony of sound.
Then we cross the Arctic Ocean to Bjørnøya, situated about halfway between Svalbard and the Norwegian mainland. Our goal is to go ashore, where an almost astronomical number of breeding birds spend their summer.
The best of the Arctic summer
We start in Longyearbyen, and then concentrate our efforts on exploring some of the most scenic fjords along the west coast of Svalbard, all the way up to the northwest corner of Spitsbergen. We plan to make several nature landings and also visit Ny-Ålesund, the northernmost community on earth and site for Arctic Research. The Arctic summer holds a lot of opportunities. The nights are bright and spending time outdoors, be it on shore or on open decks, you can really take in the landscape and wildlife. The sea ice is melting, allowing us to navigate the still icy fjords, while looking for seals and other mammals.
The female polar bears that denned early winter have begun to appear with their offspring – clumsy cubs that have no cares in the world – except getting more of their mothers’ fatty milk. If we are exceptionally lucky we might spot a polar bear family. As well as marine wildlife, seabirds populate the bird cliffs that are abandoned during winter.