From 2023, Hurtigruten launches two new spins on its iconic coastal voyage. Here's what you need to know about the Svalbard Express and North Cape Express.
Next year marks the 130th anniversary of Hurtigruten's first voyage on the now iconic Norwegian coastal voyage. To celebrate the occasion, the company is bringing back an itinerary to Svalbard last sailed in 1982 and launching an all-new route from Oslo.
Both routes will call at some ports that feature on the traditional coastal voyage, while several new ports will be added. The MS Trollfjord will operate both routes, the Svalbard itinerary in the summer and the Oslo to North Cape itinerary in the winter.
Although sister brand Hurtigruten Expeditions operates cruises to Svalbard, these sailings will be operated by the Norway-based coastal voyage arm of the company. This means cargo will be carried together with passengers. 100 new people will be employed.
If you've always wanted to tour the Norwegian coast but the traditional Bergen-Kirkenes-Bergen route didn't do it for you, perhaps one of these new voyages will be of interest. Here's what you need to know about both these exciting new routes.
The Svalbard Express
One for fans of maritime heritage, the historic Svalbard Express returns to Norwegian waters for the first time since 1982. The route follows the Norwegian coastline from Bergen to the North Cape before turning north to Svalbard.
Unlike the coastal voyage, the vessel will spend longer amounts of time in fewer ports as it makes its way along the coast. Some major ports like Trondheim and Bodø are skipped, while others including Åndalsnes, Træna and Urke will bring a fresh feel to the voyage.
But the undoubted highlight for all travellers booking this voyage will be the Arctic summer landscapes, wildlife and history of Svalbard.
The full return trip takes 15 days, although I imagine the 10-day northbound journey will be a popular one-way option. Several sailings are available between 3 June and 14 September, 2023.
The North Cape Express
An equally intriguing option is the brand new North Cape Express. The return voyage from Oslo to Honningsvåg features many ports new to Hurtigruten.
For the first time, Hurtigruten coastal voyages will depart from Norway's capital city, Oslo. This is a smart move from the company given that approximately 1.5 million people live in the vicinity of Oslo.
The call at Lindesnes means this voyage will include Norway's southernmost and northernmost points. Other ports of note include a return to the historic Hurtigruten port of Lødingen for the first time in decades, and Alta in the north of Norway.
The turnaround point at Honningsvåg allows visitors a full day to explore the Arctic village, and plenty of time to take an optional excursion to Nordkapp, the North Cape.
The full return voyage from Oslo to the North Cape takes 15 days. While the northbound-southbound legs are more balanced on this voyage, it seems like only roundtrip tickets are currently available. Several sailings are available between 25 September, 2023, and 23 March, 2024.
Aboard the MS Trollfjord
With competition now on the coastal voyage, Hurtigruten have more ships available for use on other routes. The MS Trollfjord will operate the two new routes.
Named after the dramatic fjord in Northern Norway, the vessel is currently undergoing refurbishment ahead of its 2023 debut on the new routes. The company describes the new look as an “homage both to Norwegian nature and our 130-year heritage sailing the Norwegian coast.”
The food onboard will follow the same ‘coastal kitchen' concept as on the traditional Bergen-Kirkenes-Bergen coastal voyage. This means fresh ingredients with a healthy dose of fish and seafood, sourced from the ports along the route.
At the time of writing, the MS Trollfjord has a total passenger capacity of 822 and is capable of sailing at 15 knots.