PHOTO: No doubt you will find some extraordinary scenery on a trip through Norway. (Courtesy Hurtigruten).
It’s sometimes hard to tell one cruise line from another.
But your typical cruise experience with a Hurtigruten voyage sets sail with a purpose–of providing a transportation lifeline between cities and villages while also exploring the fjords and UNESCO World Heritage Sites that can be found along Norway's 1,000 miles of pristine coastline.
Along the way, passengers have the chance to meet local residents, in addition to their fellow travelers, and create life-long memories.
Here are 10 reasons to visit one of the world’s most beautiful countries.
- Norway's Coastal Kitchen. While cruise passengers slumber in their berths, Norway's fishermen have long been at it, pulling in fish that will be on passengers' plates by nightfall. Hurtigruten prides itself on serving only the freshest local ingredients, a point brought home when guests indulge in a dessert of sea-buckthorn berries and aquavit ice cream produced by Gangstad Gårdsysteri dairy, or cured leg of lamb from Hellesylt (a town near the Geirangerfjord), roast reindeer from Finnmark or cloud berries, handpicked and delivered on board each autumn by a local woman in Finnmark.
- Northern Lights. Journey between Bergen and Tromso and see one of the world's most sought-after natural wonders. Along the way guests can experience a husky sled adventure or even a snow mobile trip into the polar night.
- Arctic Adventure. This 12-day trip is the journey of a lifetime for astronomy buffs and anyone who has seeing the Aurora Borealis on their bucket list. Hurtigruten is so certain passengers will experience the Aurora Borealis that if they don't, they'll give passengers a voyage free of charge.
- Arctic Islands Expedition. Perhaps Hurtigruten's most diverse cruise, this island-hopping itinerary includes four islands, including Jan Mayen, Iceland and Bjornoya, which is so far north it has no permanent inhabitants, only nine people working at Norway's meteorological station.
- Explore Spectacular Sognefjord. Enjoy a special 2-night sailing through the full 127-mile Sognefjord, Norway’s longest and deepest fjord. Passengers have the chance to take excursions into the valleys and mountains and visit the oldest UNESCO-listed stave church.
- Voyage of the Vikings. The men, the myth, the legends. This educational voyage introduces passengers to the true history of Vikings and how they became both feared and revered. Among the highlights are onboard lectures by British Museum Curator of Early Medieval Britain and Europe Gareth Williams and a traditional feast in a Viking longhouse.
- Polar Pioneers of Svalbard. This journey combines the midnight sun and a full winter north of the Arctic Circle, plus the chance to see polar bears–not your usual spring sightseeing expedition.
- Norway Cultural Voyages. Inspired by one of Norway's best known composers, this cruise sails in the wake of Edvard Grieg on a journey through the landscapes that shaped Norwegian art, music, and history.
- MS Spitsbergen. Sailings on this brand new ship feature an exclusive "best of Norway's fjords" itinerary that includes visits to five breathtaking fjords, as well as an expedition ship and onboard educational program.
- Christmas and New Year’s. Spend a magical holiday with Hurtigruten and learn how Norwegians celebrate the Yuletide. Passengers will share in such holiday traditions as decorating gingerbread houses, making Christmas decorations, learning Norwegian carols and partaking in the traditional Julegot (Christmas porridge). Find the almond and win a prize. Santa Claus also makes a surprise visit.