MS Nordstjernen - last voyages will be on Spitsbergen

(Picture borrowed from
As I wrote in a previous post, the MS Nordstjernen is to be replaced by MS Finnmarken, which is returning from Australia. This will happen on the 22nd of March 2012. Since her first trip with Hurtigruten, she has sailed 1.500 roundtrips Bergen-Kirkenes-Bergen, a distance similar to 185 times around the Earth. 

The MS Nordstjernen was built for Hurtigruten in Germany, way back in 1955 (in the picture above you can see her being launched). In the eighties she was modernized, and she also got a new engine adding more horsepower to her propulsion.

Fans of the veteran ships of Hurtigruten will be pleased with Hurtigrutens announcment today, that MS Nordstjernen will be seen sailing for Hurtigruten on Spitsbergen when she leaves the Norwegian coast in March 2012. Actually, from 1995 the MS Nordstjernen was used for 14 years along the coast of this island far north of Norway. (Spitsbergen is the biggest island in the Svalbard archipelago). 

From June to August there will be two voyages a week. At the beginning of the season you can actually sail with the MS Nordstjernen all the way from Bergen to Spitsbergen. The same goes for the end of the season, where you can join her from Spitsbergen to Bergen. Check out Hurtigruten's Spitsbergen voyages with the MS Fram and MS Nordstjernen.

Hurtigruten has not revealed any further plans for MS Nordstjernen, so next year seems to be the last for this beautiful ship. If she is to disappear altogether from Hurtigruten, then the "Nordstjernen" name would be a great name for a new ship. Todays MS Nordstjernen is the second ship to bear this name.

In the video below you can see the MS Nordstjernen. Wow, what a beautiful ship! The lines, the way she cuts through the waves... It's a real shame if she won't be seen sailing for Hurtigruten no more. But, the replacing MS Finnmarken will add capacity and more modern standards to the Hurtigruten fleet. I guess most Hurtigruten passengers would prefer a more modern ship than MS Nordstjernen. A least there's the MS Lofoten sailing for some time still, a veteran ship although she is nine years younger than the MS Nordstjernen.


Traveling in Norway - some useful information

If you've been considering a cruise on the Norwegian coast with Hurtigruten, you've probably wondered about how to get to the port from which the ship leaves? Hurtigruten can arrange with transportation to Bergen or other ports, but if you were to arrange this by yourself, here's some useful information.

When it comes to airlines, there many who has flights to Norway. The two airlines with the most frequent schedules when it comes to flying you to Norway, are SAS and Norwegian. You should compare prices from both, because although Norwegian is a so called low cost airline, when you add costs for luggage, preferred seat and so on, SAS is just as competitive on prices. With SAS, luggage, seating etc. is included. For flights to the smaller communities you should check out SAS' subsidiary Widerøe.

(Picture borrowed from Wikipedia.)

If you want to travel through Norways beautiful scenery to get to your port, you could go by train, bus or car. With NSB you can go by train to as north as Bodø. There are different bus companies, but the biggest is Nor-Way. And of course, you find all the biggest car rental firms like Hertz and Avis, if you want to drive yourself.

When it comes to accomodation you can check out hotel chains like Thon Hotels, Nordic Choice Hotels and Rica Hotels, who has good websites and are considered good hotels, when it comes to prices and standards.

A really good website for information about travel in Norway would be VisitNorway.

When it comes to seeing the beautiful Norwegian coastline, there's only one way to do it; book a cruise with Hurtigruten!


Fantastic northern lights!

Last night the northern lights could be seen much farther south in Norway than usual. And the light of the aurora borealis (or artic light as someone calls it) was very intens! As the north of Norway gradually looses daylight, the northern lights are truly a magnificent sight.

(Picture borrowed from Wikipedia.)

If you want to come to Norway and see the northern lights for yourself, Hurtigruten have cruises that will take you to Northern Norway:

"Witness the ghostly wisps of green, yellow, red & violet arcs of the Northern Lights as they fill the inky night sky from the comfort of one of our ships."

Read more about Hurtigrutens cruises to the northern lights.

Now, take a look at the fantastic view that could be seen last night! A photographer by the name Helge Steinar Marø took som great shots. Check out the aurora borealis!

Peter Breivik shot this video over Trondheim. Amazing colors...


MS Finnmarken back on the Norwegian coast 16th of February 2012!

Hurtigruten has just released a press statement saying that MS Finnmarken will be back on the Norwegian coast on the 16th of Februrary 2012. The ship has been in Australia for two years, serving as a hotel ship. There will be a stop in Singapore on the way home to Norway, to set the ship back to Hurtigruten standards and colors, and to pick up a Norwegian crew. The MS Finnmarken, along with MS Trollfjord and MS Midnatsol, is Hurtigrutens newest and biggest ship.

The first assignment for the MS Finnmarken is to cover for MS Nordlys which had an accident in September 2011. There's also good news about MS Nordlys; she will be back in traffic on the 20th of March 2012.

(Picture borrowed from Hurtigruten.)

When MS Nordlys is back, the new assignment for MS Finnmarken is to replace the ageing MS Nordstjernen. This will happen on then 22th of March 2012. Although this will mean an increase in capasity for Hurtigruten, it will be a sad farewell to this classic beauty. Maybe Hurtigruten can use her for the Spitsbergen sailings?

From the 3rd until the 24th of January of 2012, Hurtigruten will be a ship short. But from the 25th of the same month the schedule is back on track.

Related post: MS Finnmarken to return from Australia


Most beautiful Hurtigruten shorter trip - cast your vote!

If you're thinking about booking a cruise with Hurtigruten, you're maybe thinking about going the full distance, Bergen-Kirkenes-Bergen (The classic voyage). Or maybe just the one way. But with Hurtigruten you can also book shorter trips, from one port to another. But which shorter trip should you consider?

The Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet (online) has a great article about Hurtigruten. It's in Norwegian, but it also contains a poll: "Which Hurtigruten shorter trip do you think is the most beautiful?" Here you might get an idea about which shorter trip Hurtigruten passengers think is the most beautiful.

Go to the article and vote, or see what others have voted!

(Picture borrowed from Dagbladet.)


What does the signals mean?

If you have traveled with one of the Hurtigruten ships, you would have heard the loud signals that the captain (or someone else on the ships bridge) gives with the ships horn from time to time. You might think that these signals are quite random, but they are part of a signal system.

Several times during a cruise with Hurtigruten, the ship you're sailing with will meet another Hurtigruten ship, going in the opposite direction. The ships signal to each other, and the north bound is supposed to sound the horn first. (If they meet at night, they signal to each other with lights so that passengers can sleep undisturbed).

When a Hurtigruten ship approaches a port, it signals with a few blasts of the horn. If the ship is northbound, the signal is one long, one short and one long honk (it's the letter K in the morse code). If the ship approaching a port is southbound, the signal is two long, one short and one long (morse code for Q.)

Finally, the signal you shouldn't miss: Five minutes before the Hurtigruten ship is living a port, the ship gives a short signal. This means that you have to hurry back to the ship if you're not already back onboard!

In the video below you can see and hear MS Finnmarken meeting MS Richard With:


Hurtigruten 365 - life aboard the MS Midnatsol

In 2006 NRK (Norwegian Broadcasting Company) made av TV series about Hurtigruten. It was called "Hurtigruten 365" and consists of 20 episodes, where you can follow the crew aboard the MS Midnatsol. Ever wondered what life is like working on one of Hurtigruten's ships? Now you can find out.

All of these episodes can be viewed on NRK's website, but I'm not sure if access is limited to Norwegian viewers only, or if the episodes are available for everybody (please leave a comment if you're not from Norway and can/can't see the episodes). The language is Norwegian of course. Anyway, follow this link to Hurtigruten 365 and check it out! (Click on "Se episodene her".)

(Picture borrowed from Hurtigruten.)


Northern lights - Aurora borealis

In summertime you can experience the midnight sun in Northern Norway. This means that you can actually see a bright shining sun in the sky, in the middle of the night. It's truly amazing. But the people living in these parts of Norway have to "pay the prize" in wintertime, because the sun will not rise above the horizon at all for at couple of months! There's some daylight anyway for a few hours, but for most of the day it's pretty dark. 

(Picture borrowed from Hurtigruten.)
Really depressing you think? Not at all. All seasons has their highlights. In the dark wintertime you can often see fantastic Northern lights (Nordlys in Norwegian) or Aurora borealis, which is the scientific name. Some call it arctic lights.

The lights are the result of large solar explosions that travel from the sun and reacts with the earth's atmosphere.

So, what are the chances of seeing the Northern lights? You can get a reliable daily forecast from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

One of the more comfortable ways to experience the northern lights, is to book a cruise with Hurtigruten. Sailing from Bergen and northbound you are set to experience the beauty of the northern lights as you get further north. When you're on a ship sailing through the dark, the lights will appear more intense than if you're watching from an urban area. Read more about Hurtigruten and the northern lights.


Hurtigruten's schedule - ports of call

Unlike on other cruises, where you probably get to visit one port a day (or less), with Hurtigruten you will get a chance to see severeal ports a day. Some of the ports are short stops, bearly long enough to allow passengers to board/leave the ship, and for goods to be loaded/
offloaded. Hurtigruten's ships are not only cruise ships, they are also a vital lifeline for many smaller communities, which may not have many other means of transporting people and goods. In other ports you get the chance to venture into cities and smaller towns.

(Picture borrowed from Hurtigruten.)

Some of the popular ports are:
Bergen (this is where many passengers start and end their journey).
Ålesund (is famous for it's architecture).
Trondheim (this is where you can see the Nidaros Cathedral).
Bodø (the second largest town in North Norway).
Tromsø (you should visit Polaria).
Honningsvåg (this is where you can visit the North Cape).
Kirkenes (Hurtigruten turns back to Bergen again).

But there are many more ports, actually 34 all together. You can check them out here. As you can se in Hurtigruten's schedule, some of the ports are visited in daytime and some at night. If you book the round trip, you are sure to see the ports that you missed while sleeping, because the ports that that are visited in night time northbound, are visited in day time southbound.

If you look at a map of Norway, it's easy to think that travelling on Hurtigruten's ships means that you will be exposed to heavy seas. This isn't so. Although rough weather can be experienced, a large part of the route along the coast is sailed in fjords or behind bigger islands, which means that the ship is protected from the biggest waves.


Excursions with Hurtigruten - highlights

If you book a cruise with Hurtigruten, the beauty of the Norwegian coastline, the wildlife and the midnight sun/northern lights (depending on the time of year) can be enjoyed from the ship. A lot of passengers are content with that. But, with Hurtigruten you also choose to participate on a lot of different excursions. Here are some of what you can experience while cruising with Hurtigruten:

Geiranger Panorama
Nidaros cathedral and Ringve museum
Glacier adventure on Svartisen
Lofotr viking feast
Dog sledging
Snowmobile trip in Lappland
Sami camp experience
The North Cape
Sea eagle safari

These are just a few examples! There's lots more to experience.

If you find this tempting, you should check out Hurtigruten's new brochures, you can read them online, or order them.

(Picture borrowed from Hurtigruten.)


MS Finnmarken to return from Australia

Hurtigruten has had one of its biggest ships, the MS Finnmarken in Australia for the last 18 months. The ship has been rented out as a hotel ship on the Gorgon field. Now this contract is over and MS Finnmarken will return to the Norwegian coast. This will increase Hurtigrutens total capacity on the Norwegian coast with 10 per cent, because it will replace the old veteran ship MS Nordstjernen which was built all the way back in 1956. The Nordstjernen carries a maximum of 400 passengers, while the much bigger Finnmarken can carry 1000.

Before MS Finnmarken can return to the Hurtigruten schedule on the Norwegian coast, it will have to go to a shipyard in Singapore to be set back to Hurtigruten standards. This will also include a paint job, because while the ship was in Australia it was painted in total white. MS Finnmarken will again be painted in black, red and white. All the Hurtigruten ships (excluding the two veteran ships) are sharing the same color scheme, and of course the distinctive Hurtigruten logo/brand.

Under you can se a picture of MS Finnmarken at Westcon Yard, where she was modified and painted before the assignment in Australia. Modification included installing increased airconditioning capacity, and the car decks was converted into laundries and changing rooms. There was also installed a personell and provison elevator. 

(Picture borrowed from Westcon Yard.)

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