World’s first explorer ship christening under the midnight sun

Explorer cruise line Hurtigruten’s newest vessel was christened in daylight late at night in spectacular Lofoten, north of the Polar Circle on the coast of Northern Norway.

The christening event featured thousands of people in the town square at Svolvaer, a former fishing village and today one of the most spectacular adventure travel destinations in the world and truly one of the highlights of the Hurtigruten Norwegian coastal voyages.

“Adventure travel is one the fastest growing global tourism mega trends and Lofoten offers everything the new adventure traveller seeks: Spectacular scenery, authenticity, a unique history and atmosphere, and access to active nature-based experiences. Svolvaer in many respects mirrors the modern Hurtigruten, being a world leading provider of explorer cruises with activity, learning and sustainability in the core”, said Hurtigruten CEO Daniel Skjeldam.

The new explorer ship is named MS Spitsbergen, after the largest island in the Svalbard Archipelago. This very northernmost part of Norway, next to the North Pole, is also where Hurtigruten founder Richard With first started explorer tourism in the Arctic in 1896.

Polar pioneer, mountaineer godmother

Cecilie Skog was the godmother to smash the champagne bottle in the ship’s side and officially christen MS Spitsbergen. Skog is one of the most merited contemporary Norwegian explorers, with numerous impressive achievements including expeditions to the North Pole; the South Pole; Mount Everest; Antarctica; and Greenland. She has also climbed the ‘Seven Summits’ to stand on top of the highest mountain on each of the earth’s seven continents. 

Arctic adventure awaits

After a first season in Norway, MS Spitsbergen will alternate between the Norwegian coast and polar expeditions. Already from 2017, guests can sail with her to Greenland; to Iceland; to the Faroe and Shetland Islands, as well as to Arctic Canada. Amongst the many exceptional landings in Canada is L'Anse aux Meadows, a UNESCO World Heritage site where the first Vikings settlements were discovered in 1960. 

“Archeological findings suggest this is the place where pioneer explorer Leiv Eriksson went ashore and named it Vinland. Coming here and to the other historic sites with MS Spitsbergen, more than a 1000 years later, resonates with our Viking spirit and Hurtigruten’s pioneering ambitions”, says Skjeldam.

MS Spitsbergen 2017/18 voyages 

In the wake of the Vikings: Norway-Shetland-Faroe Islands-Iceland

The Vikings crossed the North Sea and landed on the British Isles. Although they are often thought of as barbaric raiders, they were also accomplished explorers and settlers.

The Vinland Saga Adventure: Iceland-Greenland-Canada

Between year 800 and 1000, the feared and fabled Vikings carried out a number of expeditions to explore the North Atlantic Ocean. This expedition follows a route described in the Vinland Saga.

Exploring the Arctic land of the Caribou: Canada

This expedition includes the chance to visit two national parks, several different settlements and intriguing cities. Along the way, guests will get to experience remarkable archaeological remains and get an insight into the interesting history of the Vikings. 

Crossing Baffin Bay: Canada-Greenland

This voyage explores the unspoiled regions on both sides of Baffin Bay. From Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada; via the grand landscape of Baffin Island; to Greenland where guests can touch an iceberg with their bare hands and marvel at the power of nature in Ilulissat Icefjord.

Thule, north and beyond: The west coast of Greenland

A unique Arctic expedition exploring the northwest coast of Greenland, along the edge of the Greenland Ice Sheet, which stretches 1,500 miles north, covering up to 80 per cent of the island.

Island hopping in the north Atlantic: Greenland-Iceland-Faroe Islands-Shetland Islands-Norway

Guests can discover the spectacular and un-spoilt scenery of Greenland and visit Iceland’s capital of Reykjavik, and the charming Faroe and Shetland Islands.

Elves, sagas and volcanoes of Island: Circumnavigation of the island of Iceland

Mythical Iceland is the perfect destination for adventurers looking to explore wilderness, wildlife, history and settlements.

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