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We cruise to Norway and the Arctic Circle

16 December 2015

Norway Mountains

Updated July 2019

We sent a few of our Sales & Commerical staff, Callum and Rob, on a wintery adventure with Hurtigruten onboard MS Richard With, to Norway and the Arctic Circle. Read all about their snowy cruise and stay below.

There’s nothing quite like a snowy adventure to Norway and the Arctic Circle to get you in the Christmas spirit, and Hurtigruten’s Arctic Highlights itinerary was perfect to do just that.

Sailing from Tromsø to Kirkenes and back, we joined the ship - which proudly carries the name of the cruise line's founder, Richard With - already inside the Arctic Circle.  The cabins were ideal for the nature of the trip, providing a perfect place to rest our heads between ports along the Norwegian coastline.  The dress code was informal throughout; ideal for this type of voyage.  It was normal to see everyone walking around in fleeces and walking boots ready to explore the next port of call or prepared to dash out on deck at the first sign of a Northern Lights sighting being called by the ship’s Captain.

The Panorama lounge & bar was the perfect spot to sip a hot coffee or refreshing cold drink in comfort while watching the snow-capped coastline sail by.  The informal feel flowed through to the restaurant too, a relaxed buffet with a variety of hot and cold dishes to suit everyone. The fresh ‘caught today’ seafood was delicious, especially the incredible king crab; and the reindeer steak from the a la carte restaurant was a particular highlight.

We were impressed with all the crew onboard who were always friendly and attentive, creating a relaxed and friendly atmosphere, and gave us great advice on where to visit.  We found them to be incredibly informative, and could answer all sorts of questions about the history and culture of each port of call.

But the ship really was secondary to the hero of the trip, the itinerary.  The Arctic Highlights itinerary was superb; with hotel stays in Tromsø too, we got the full Arctic Norway experience.

In Honningsvåg, an excursion to the North Cape saw us visit the most northerly point of Continental Europe and less than 2,000km from the North Pole itself.  Next was Kirkenes situated right on the Russian border – a visit to the SnowHotel which they were still constructing with nature’s help, and the hotel's  neighbouring reindeer enclosure and husky kennels gave for some fantastic photos to take home.

Sailing back down towards Tromsø, we got our first experience of the natural phenomena Aurora Borealis – commonly known as the Northern Lights.  They were awe-inspiring, truly majestic and an absolute must for everyone to see.  We saw them multiple times throughout the journey, all different shapes and colours and they really made the whole experience just that more special. We had a quick stop in Vardø for an Arctic swim in the Barents Sea and at only 4°C and wind-chill at -12°C, it was an experience we won’t forget in a while!  Although when back onboard the Captain presented us with a certificate awarding us for the brave decision (or arguably mad) to take a dip in the sea.

Hammerfest was our last stop before arriving back in Tromsø and it was beautiful.  Everything was covered in a soft duvet of snow and looked like a picturesque Christmas card, adding to the fact at this time of year in the Arctic Circle there’s only approx. 2 hours of daylight a day so every house around the port was illuminated with their festive Christmas lights too.  With snow around us in every port, the child within shone through many times and there were plenty of snow angels and snowball fights along the trip.

Back in Tromsø for a last stay at the Radisson Blu Hotel before our flight home, there was enough time for shopping and sampling some of Tromsø’s great nightlife; a favourite being Rorbua Pub which with live music, local beers and an open fire, was perfect to thaw out after a walk around the city.  Tromsø is a fantastic city full of things to do. Highlights included the Polaria Arctic Experience to see the bearded seals during feeding and a visit to the Polar Museum which offers a fascinating insight to the history of Arctic Norway.

By far the most exciting and special highlight of the trip was husky sledding through the snowy mountains of Tromsø.  It felt like we were sledding through a Christmas story and it capped off an amazing adventure, ticking a must-do off our bucket lists and something I would recommend everyone to try. We can’t wait to join another of Hurtigruten's breathtaking itineraries visiting this spectacular part of the world.

If you're feeling inspired and would like to see this majestic part of the world for yourself, take a look at our Norwegian Fjords and Arctic Circle adventures.

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