Picture a cruise vacation and you probably imagine lounging on the deck, en route from one tropical port of call to another, right? And while we love that type of cruise, a Hurtigruten Expeditions is an entirely different experience.
In September 2022, we were happy to be invited on board Hurtigruten’s newest fleet member, the MS Fridtjof Nansen, giving us a first-hand look at both the vessels and the thrilling Northern water on our way from Iceland to Canada.
Established in 1893 by government contract, Hurtigruten was originally created to improve communications along Norway’s long, rough coastline. (The name itself means express route.)
Since those early days, however, it has evolved into the renowned adventure travel provider we know today – with a fleet of modern vessels venturing to Greenland, Iceland, Antarctica, and the Galapagos.
MEET THE MS FRIDTJOF NANSEN
Speaking of modern vessels, their newest addition to their fleet was created to honour Norwegian explorer, scientist, humanitarian and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Fridtjof Nansen.
Appropriately, Nasnen is more remembered for his Arctic expeditions. In 1888, he led the first crossing of Greenland on cross-country skis. He is perhaps most famous for his attempt to reach the geographical North Pole during the Fram Expedition (from 1893-1896), ultimately reaching a record northern latitude of 86°14′.
His namesake ship, the MS Fridtjof Nansen, was custom-built for adventure in extreme conditions, equipped with kayaks, a fleet of Blueye underwater drones, and expedition boats for safe landings in remote areas. And it is led by a hand-picked team of specialists and modern-day explorers who will be your guides on your Hurtigruten expedition.
But they also haven’t skimped on comfort and style. Inside, it’s filled with signature Scandanavian design and local materials such as granite, oak, birch, and wool. Half the suites include private balconies for maximum immersion in your surroundings and some suites even feature private outdoor hot tubs. Hungry? Three on-board restaurants feature cuisine inspired by Nordic traditions.
THE CAPTAIN’S LOG
While they take adventurers to faraway destinations around the world, the heart of Hurtigruten is still in the north, where they offer guests the chance to experience a combination of wild landscapes and thrilling activities.
Case in point: a recent 11-day Hurtigruten adventure onboard the MS Fridtjof Nansen from Iceland to Greenland to Canada. From thrilling Orca sightings to the ethereal Northern lights, this first-hand account captures the beauty and excitement of Hurtigruten. Here’s a glimpse into each day on board:
September 5, 2022 – Reykjavík
After boarding the ship and attending the safety briefing, with a very entertaining demonstration of the “lobster suit,” we set sail and left Reykjavik behind us. As we sailed away, we were treated to a beautiful sunset, with orange and red colours blanketing the sky, and as day turned to night, we also had a spectacular display of the northern lights, which danced right above our ship.
September 6, 2022 – At Sea
As we crossed the Denmark Strait from Iceland to Greenland, we had plenty to do onboard. In the morning, many were outside enjoying the sun, watching wildlife and hearing about the world’s largest waterfall. Throughout the day, excitement started to build as we were briefed about the places we would be visiting on the voyage, and about the different citizen science programs we could get involved in. The day ended with the Captain’s Welcome, where the members of the Expedition Team introduced themselves.
September 7, 2022 – Skjoldungen
What a day! We started off the morning sailing through the Southern Skjoldungen Fjord, where we saw waterfalls, glaciers and avalanches on either side of the passage. We then started our operations for the day in the Morke Sound, where we cruised with our expedition boats to the marine-terminating ice cliff of the Thrym Glacier, hiked to a land-terminating glacier and kayaked in the fjord. We sailed out the Northern Skjoldungen Fjord into the fog, and before our view was obscured we had a sighting of a pod of Orcas.
September 8, 2022 – Prins Christian Sund
Although the weather was forecasted to be foggy all morning, the fog lifted earlier than expected and we had a blue sky day, with the sun beating down on us. We launched our expedition boats and cruised towards the glacier in the Kangerdluk fjord, then back towards Prins Christian Sund towards the west. We passed icebergs, glaciers, waterfalls, mountains and even spotted a bearded seal. Our boats rejoined the ship, and we sailed on to Aappilattoq, and began our journey to Canada.
September 9, 2022 – At Sea
The Labrador Sea was extremely calm today and the glassy waters provided us with perfect wildlife spotting conditions. We spotted several cetaceans, including a pod of pilot whales. Whilst many spent their time outdoors, we also had a busy onboard program, with lectures on seabirds, Fridtjof Nansen and glaciers, as well as sessions on ocean currents, Greenlandic artefacts and clouds – there was something for everyone. The day ended with an entertaining quiz, hosted by the Expedition Team.
September 10, 2022 – Saglek Bay
After crossing the Labrador Sea, we finally arrived in the Torngat Mountains National Park. The morning was busy with lectures about Newfoundland and Labrador, but the main highlight of the day was sailing through the Saglek Fjord and spotting our first polar bear! As we sailed on deeper into the fjord, we spotted several more polar bears, including a mother and two cubs walking along the coastline. Once we arrived in North Arm fjord, we started our operations, which included cruising, landing, and hiking to a waterfall. As the fog rolled in, we sailed away onto our next destination.
September 11, 2022 – Nachvak Fjord
We spent the day exploring the Nachvak Fjord, ‘nachvak’ means ‘to find’, because you can find everything there. The ship first sailed into the Tallek arm, and then we cruised with our expedition boats and kayaked within the Tasiuyak arm, where some were lucky to spot a swimming caribou. A repositioning of the ship in the afternoon brought us to the end of the fjord, where we cruised near the Big White Bear Skin Island and saw two polar bears as the sun set over the mountains. A day not to forget.
September 12, 2022 – Ramah Bay
The sun was shining again for us today, and we had a beautiful day at Ramah Bay. Everyone was able to visit the remains of the church and sod houses in the bay, and many enjoyed a refreshing dip in the sea and waterfall. We also had the kayakers and paddle boarders out on the water exploring the rocky coastline. We sailed south in the afternoon, and as the sun was setting, we went out in the expedition boats around Saglek Bay, where we cruised amongst minke whales, a polar bear, and a black bear.
September 13, 2022 – Hebron
Today was spent in Hebron, once the northernmost settlement in Labrador. We started the day early with a landing at Hebron, but soon had to leave the site due to polar bear sightings. We resumed our operations with cruising around the area, where we saw polar bears and a minke whale carcass, and we resumed our landing in the afternoon, giving everyone a chance to see the church.
September 14, 2022 – At Sea
This day at sea was well-timed, as it gave everyone the opportunity to recharge for the packed days to come. The conditions were quite foggy, so many decided to spend the day indoors, learning about navigation, Vikings in the North Atlantic, plankton and Inuit relocation. There was also an opportunity to visit the bridge and meet the officers, and we had the Hurtigruten Foundation charity auction in the evening, where we raised around €2,000, so thank you to everyone who donated!
September 15, 2022 – Battle Harbour
Our luck with the sun ended here in Battle Harbour, but this allowed us to experience the true Viking rain. We had a great day exploring Battle Harbour and Great Caribou Island, learning about the history of the settlement, and exploring the surrounding flora, fauna and geology. Some were even lucky enough to see several humpback whales feeding in the bay, just metres from the shore.
September 16, 2022 – L’anse aux Meadoux
Our last day was spent at L’anse aux Meadoux, on the northernmost tip of Newfoundland. This was a Norse settlement dating to approximately 1,000 years ago, and it was fascinating to spend the day at this archaeological site. In the afternoon, we started our sail south to our final port of call, St John’s, and as the day drew to a close, everyone came together for the Captain’s Farewell. As well as saying goodbye to our officers, and a big thanks to the Fridtjof Nansen crew, the Expedition Team also presented their favourite memories from this amazing voyage. Till the next time!
A PRE-CRUISE STOP IN ETHEREAL ICELAND
Before we began our Hurtigruten cruise, we were lucky to have some time to spend in Iceland, which gave us the prime opportunity to explore one of the world’s most magical landscapes.
From The Blue Lagoon to inside the volcano experience to endless waterfalls and natural wonders, our friends Colpitts Media were along for the journey, capturing every breathtaking moment. Watch the video:
COOL AS ICELAND: The surreal beauty of Iceland as captured by Brett Colpitts of Colpitts Media.