Follow in Amundsen’s footsteps

Hurtigruten can take you in leisure where once only explorers dared go—Antarctica

A Hurtigruten ship and a group of penguins.

Photo courtesy of Hurtigruten

Molly Jones
The Norwegian American

When you think of a Hurtigruten cruise, you probably imagine yourself far in the North, hugging Norway’s coastline as you sail across the spectacular Arctic water—right? Although this famed route certainly represents the company’s heritage and continues to delight guests year after year, Hurtigruten has branched out over time and now offers a variety of voyages—including some on the other end of the planet!

Of course it should be no surprise that a company from Norway has become a world leader in expedition cruises, bringing travelers to Antarctica and other destinations for many years now. It was the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen who led the first expedition to reach the South Pole, after all.

If you wish to follow in Amundsen’s footsteps and make the journey to the Antarctic—in conditions much less dangerous and much more luxurious, of course—Hurtigruten has the experience tailor made for you. Do you want to see impressive penguin rookeries and come face-to-face with the curious little creatures? Or kayak among the glaciers while you take in the remote, unspoiled scenery? What about attempting to cross the Antarctic Circle—a feat not many others can claim? Not to worry; Hurtigruten offers all of these experiences.

Each voyage embarks from South America and lasts anywhere from a dozen to two dozen days. For those who want to see more of South America, there are several voyages that include stops on the continent—giving you the opportunity to visit destinations such as the Chilean Fjords, the Falkland Islands, or South Georgia. You can also choose to add an extension program in South America before or after your voyage to Antarctica.

You’ll also want to consider which excursions are right for you. These optional adventures—where you depart the ship on small explorer boats to get even closer to the pristine nature—may just take your vacation to the next level. Thinking about what excursions interest you the most may help you choose the perfect voyage.

Using top-of-the-line camping equipment, you can sleep in a tent on the snow under the Antarctic sky: a truly memorable experience called the Amundsen Night for good reason! For those who prefer to explore by water, you can earn your basic kayaking certification and learn from professionals through the Kayak Workshop.

Or maybe you’re an avid bird watcher. In that case, sign up for Bird Watching in the Falkland Islands, where you’ll tour around the island in a 4×4 vehicle and experience many species of rare birds in their natural habitat. If you’d prefer a bird’s-eye-view of the Falklands, you can opt for a 35-minute flight aboard a small plane on the Scenic Air Tour. From the sky, you’ll see Gypsy Cove, the Cape Pembroke Lighthouse, the Lady Elizabeth shipwreck, and the Bluff Cove Lagoon, among other sights.

A group of penguins.

Photo: Christopher Michel / Wikimedia
Seeing penguins in their natural habitat is one of the main draws of a cruise to Antarctica.

Once you’ve selected your adventure, you can get to know the ship you’ll be sailing on. Currently, three ships are on the roster for Hurtigruten’s upcoming Antarctic voyages: the MS Fram, MS Midnatsol, and MS Roald Amundsen.

In honor of the original Fram—which was used on three significant Norwegian expeditions, including Roald Amundsen’s successful expedition to the South Pole in 1910-1912—the MS Fram was built ten years ago with the goal of bringing its guests closer to the nature and wildlife. This ship features an observation lounge with panoramic windows, art commissioned from Arctic artists, and even an exhibition that is home to artifacts from the polar expeditions of Roald Amundsen and Fridtjof Nansen.

As its name suggests, the MS Midnatsol is a tribute to the midnight sun experienced in the Arctic each summer. This ship experiences the long days along the Norwegian coast from May to September each year, and the rest of the year it is used for Hurtigruten’s global explorer voyages, including Patagonia and Antarctica. In celebration of Norway’s summer sun, the ship is bright and colorful with a modern design.

The MS Roald Amundsen will be added to Hurtigruten’s fleet in July 2018 as the first of two hybrid ships in the works, proving that hybrid propulsion is in fact a possibility for large cruise ships. This environmentally sustainable technology reduces fuel consumption and results in a quieter, smoother, and cleaner sailing experience. It is also designed to be perfect for any climate, from the warmer temperatures of Central America all the way to icy Antarctica.

“Imagine sailing silently along the ice edge in the Arctic or Antarctica, or along the banks of the Amazon. That is truly unique and exceptional,” says the CEO of Hurtigruten, Daniel Skjeldam, of the remarkable experience.

This luxurious yet environmentally friendly ship showcases natural Scandinavian materials such as granite, oak, birch, and wool. All of the cabins have windows and half offer private balconies. Although the ship is still in the works, it is already possible to book one of several voyages to Antarctica on the ship’s maiden season.

If you’re ready to trade out palm trees and sandy beaches for an icy adventure to the most remote place on Earth, one of Hurtigruten’s voyages to Antarctica might be just the perfect vacation for you.

Visit www.hurtigruten.us/destinations/antarctica for more information on Hurtigruten’s upcoming Antarctica voyages.

This article originally appeared in the Nov. 3, 2017, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

You may also like...