Welcome to Norway!
Welcome to Norway!Bergen – gateway to the fjords
You’ll arrive in Bergen, a beautiful city on Norway’s west coast. Admire views of the majestic peaks that famously surround the city, earning Bergen the nickname of ‘The City of Seven Mountains’.
What began as a small village was developed by King Olav Kyree in 1070 AD and is now Norway’s second-largest city. Nestled in the centre is Vågen Bay, the historic core of the city, and home to the UNESCO-listed Bryggen quarter. There, you can wander down charming cobblestone streets and peruse local boutique shops. Across from Bryggen, you’ll find the fish market, which cooks up fresh and delicious seafood dishes to feast on.
As you’re here in the summer, the days are long, giving you more hours of daylight to explore this historic city. One of the seven mountains in Bergen’s nickname is Mount Fløyen, accessible by walking up or taking the Fløibanen funicular. At the top, enjoy some stunning views of the city and nearby peaks.
Reward yourself and your thirst with some local 7 Fjell beer, before going to your hotel to get some rest, ready to embark on your Svalbard Express voyage the next day.
*Please note that if the date you make your booking is less than 90 days before your chosen departure date, your voyage will start on Day 2 in Bergen.
Sailing the Svalbard Express
Sailing the Svalbard ExpressBergen – gateway to the fjords
After you wake up in your hotel, enjoy some time in the early morning to further explore Bergen before your transfer arrives at the hotel to bring you to our comfortable guest lounge at the Bergen Terminal.
Bergen has been the starting point for many Norwegian Coastal Express cruises for generations, and the stylish guest lounge here is exclusive for our guests. Sample finger-food from our Norway’s Coastal Kitchen or talk to staff about securing a spot on any optional excursions still available.
Once we’ve welcomed you aboard, talk to your ship’s Coastal Experience team, who will be your hosts and guides to the Norwegian coast and Svalbard. Meet your shipmates and take some time to settle in to your new home-away-from-home.
Enjoy your first meal aboard the ship, and watch the row of colorful buildings on the seafront get smaller behind you as you sail into the Norwegian Sea.
Alpine village by the fjord
Alpine village by the fjordÅndalsnes
Our first port of call is Åndalsnes, located along Isfjord at the end of Romsdalsfjord. After docking in the morning in the town center, you can explore this picturesque coastal town, home to about 2,000 people.
From 1838 until 1964, the village of Åndalsnes served as the administrative center of the old municipality of Grytten and was completely rebuilt after an attack during World War II. Åndalsnes is now a modern town (it even has its own newspaper) in one of Norway’s most stunning natural locations.
The highlights (literally) of Åndalsnes are the mountains that tower over the town. Experience the Norwegian concept of friluftsliv (a love of the outdoors) through a variety of activities, such as hiking to the Rampestreken viewpoint.
For a calmer way to take in the sights, sit back on the relaxing Romsdal Gondola or travel the winding Trollstigen Pass by bus. Whichever activities you choose, today will bring you the best views of Isfjord, Romsdalsfjord, and the surrounding peaks.
Norway’s oldest fishing community
Norway’s oldest fishing communityTræna
We’ll sail along the coast of the Helgeland region in the morning. When you see islands rising out of the water in the distance, you’ll know we’re almost at our next destination.
Træna is an archipelago that sits at the edge of the Arctic Circle, 33 nautical miles northwest of the mainland. Made up of around 500 islands, islets and skerries (only four of which are inhabited year-round), Træna is a quiet municipality, with birdlife thriving on the mostly uninhabited isles.
Though small, this archipelago has a long history. Archeological finds indicate that the islands have been inhabited since the Stone Age. Some of these ancient relics have been found in a cave on the island of Sanna, which is now used as a venue for an annual music festival.
Spend the afternoon in one of Norway’s oldest fishing communities. Weather permitting, you may be able to enjoy activities such as culture walks, Arctic swimming, or even island hopping.
You could also head out on deck to scan the skies for sea eagles, the largest bird of prey in Norway. Or, for a truly authentic experience, step into the age-old shoes of a Norwegian fisherman and cast a line under the summer sun.
When it’s time to leave in the evening, take some time to rest and unwind on board. We’ll cross the Arctic Circle as we continue heading north, commemorating the moment with a little Norwegian ceremony.
Birthplace of the Norwegian Coastal Express
Birthplace of the Norwegian Coastal ExpressStokmarknes
Spend a full day in Vesterålen, an archipelago just northeast of Lofoten. This island chain is the namesake of our very first Coastal Express ship to sail Norway’s rugged coastline in 1893.
We’ll dock in the historic town of Stokmarknes. This town holds a special place in our hearts, being the birthplace of Hurtigruten Norwegian Coastal Express. Today, we go back to where it all began.
In 1893, in this very town, shipping pioneer Richard With founded the Original Coastal Express, revolutionizing both coastal passenger travel and Norwegian shipping. Hurtigruten quickly became a lifeline for Svalbard and Norway’s remote communities and boosted their economies by carrying exports to and from the ports.
Stokmarknes is therefore a fitting location for a museum that immortalizes our inspiring legacy. Hurtigrutemuseet can be found along the waterfront, where our retired 1956 ship, MS Finnmarken, proudly stands encased in a glass building. Here, you’ll find archives, photographs, and artifacts displayed in a range of interactive exhibitions. A guided tour will immerse you in the atmosphere of a different era as you explore the retired vessel.
Besides visiting the museum, you may be able to enjoy hiking and other activities on the islands, including a sea eagle safari in the fjord that gave MS Trollfjord its name.
Gateway to the Arctic
Gateway to the ArcticTromsø
Tromsø is northern Norway’s urban Arctic hotspot, boasting impressive architecture, hip restaurants, and the world’s northernmost university. Rich in polar history, it makes for a natural stopping point before we go farther north into the High Arctic.
This modern city has a long legacy, with artifacts found that date back to the Ice Age. The city grew in importance after being declared a kjøpstad, or ‘market town’ in 1794, despite only being home to 80 people. It became a center of Arctic hunting in the mid-1800s. By the end of the 19th century, Tromsø was an established Arctic trade center.
We aim to dock here in the morning, giving you a whole day to explore this historic Arctic city and its surroundings. Learn more about the culture and polar history of Tromsø on a city walk. Or go see seals at the Polaria center, one of the world’s northernmost aquariums. Here, you can see various species of Arctic marine life up close.
There may also be an option to visit the striking Arctic Cathedral, which has an enormous and colorful stained-glass window. Towering over Tromsø is Storsteinen Mountain, accessible via Fjellheisen Cable Car for exceptionally beautiful views of the city, mountains, and fjords.
At the top of Europe
At the top of EuropeHonningsvåg
Around mid-morning, we arrive at Honningsvåg, the northernmost city in mainland Norway. Honningsvåg is a fairly young city, having only been declared as such in 1996, and it remains one of Norway’s smallest.
Spend some time wandering around or head straight to Honningsvåg Church which dates back to 1885, making it the oldest building in the area. Peruse local pieces at the Once Upon A Dream art gallery or drop into the Artico Ice Bar for a drink or two on the rocks.
Honningsvåg is also the gateway to the North Cape, the famed ‘northernmost point of Europe’. The plateau stands 1007 feet above the sea, and is just over 1,000 miles south of the geographical North Pole. Take a moment to gaze out across the sea from the soaring cliffs while you watch the waves crash against the rocks below.
An iconic globe monument stands atop the cliffs, which is perfect for snapping a quick selfie. Afterwards, visit North Cape Hall, which hosts a variety of exhibits and a short film that tells the Cape’s history.
Sailing away from Honningsvåg, enjoy dramatic views of the plateau from the sea. The ship will head further into the Barents Sea, leaving mainland the Norwegian coast behind.
Between Norway and Svalbard
Between Norway and Svalbard
The southernmost island of the Svalbard archipelago, Bjørnøya, sits just past the halfway point between mainland Norway and Spitsbergen. We’ll be viewing this inaccessible land from the ship in the afternoon, so think of this as the prologue to your Svalbard adventure.
Upon seeing the island, you might notice the lack of trees—there are hardly even bushes. Very little grows here, with the land partly being covered only by a layer of moss and lichen. Whatever grows here is fertilized by the abundant birdlife that nests on the sea cliffs. Get your camera ready to capture little auks, puffins, black-legged kittiwakes, and northern fulmars flying over dramatic cliff tops and steep slopes, alongside many other seabird species.
Contrary to its name, which means ‘Bear Island’, the only native mammals are Arctic foxes. The island was named after a polar bear was spotted swimming in the waters nearby, but this is an unlikely sight this far south.
Aboard the ship, learn about Bjørnøya’s history through polar history lectures. You might find out about the historic expeditions that led to its discovery and the subsequent claims that various countries have attempted to make over the island. Discover the strategic importance of this unreachable sanctuary, and the role Bjørnøya played in World War II.
Sailing on from Bjørnøya, continue to make use of MS Trollfjord’s various onboard facilities to relax, such as the sauna or fitness room.
At the edge of the world
At the edge of the worldLongyearbyen
Today, we arrive at the Svalbard archipelago and make our way up to Spitsbergen, the largest of the three main islands. Magnificent brown and green mountains rise and ripple up from the High Arctic tundra while rivers of snow-melt trickle through the valley plains, glistening under the summer sun.
Spend a moment just taking in Svalbard. You’re at a latitude more than 78°N and less than 820 miles from the North Pole. The air is fresh and pure, and the overall temperature in summer is mild, thanks to a warm northern branch of the Gulf Stream.
You’ll disembark the ship at Longyearbyen, nestled on the banks of a sweeping fjord. It is the biggest settlement in Svalbard and pegged as the world’s northernmost settlement with a population over 1,000.
Home to some 2,000 inhabitants from across the world, it originally sprang up as a coal mining colony in 1906. Today, it is a hub for adventure travelers and scientists and engineers attached to local research projects, like the famous Global Seed Vault.
After transferring and checking in to your hotel, in the evening it’s then on to Camp Barentz, located at the foot of Breinosa mountain, for a true Svalbard wilderness experience. There, enjoy dinner in a cozy wooden cabin and maybe even try some bidos (a traditional, homemade Sámi stew of slow-cooked reindeer meat and vegetables).
Savor your dessert around the campfire, perhaps under the Midnight Sun. End your day admiring the mountains as we head back to your hotel in Longyearbyen.
*Please note that if the date you make your booking is less than 90 days before your chosen departure date, your voyage will end on Day 9 in Longyearbyen.
Mini-adventure in the High Arctic
Mini-adventure in the High ArcticLongyearbyen
After breakfast at your hotel, you’ll be off on a mini-adventure aboard hybrid-electric catamaran MS Bard. Make the most of the summer climate as you take a tour on the water amidst Spitsbergen’s magnificent landscapes at Billefjord and Nordenskiöldbreen.
MS Bard is a groundbreaking new catamaran for day cruises. Whenever it approaches glaciers, wildlife, or settlements, it will run silently on electric propulsion. Its specially designed propellers create minimal noise and vibration so as not to disturb Arctic wildlife.
Early in the season, there might still be ice in Billefjord. Switching to the boat's electric motor, we’ll carefully and silently follow the ice’s edge on the lookout for seabirds, walrus, and seals. Enjoy views of the beautiful and vast Nordenskiöld glacier, which crumbles icebergs into the fjord.
Along the way, spot the abandoned Soviet coal mining town Pyramiden in the distance, so named after the shape of a nearby mountain. It remained a ghost town for many years, but there have been recent attempts by various individuals to repopulate the area.
On the outer park of Billefjord is Skansbukta, another small settlement and gypsum mine lost to time under the impressive cliffs. MS Bard will also sail past Svenskhuset, the oldest standing building on Spitsbergen and site of the tragic lead poisoning that claimed the lives of 17 hunters and sailors through tinned food.
Admiring the views of the fjord, glacier, mountains, and Arctic flora in bloom, you’ll make your way back to Longyearbyen on MS Bard to spend the night at your hotel.
Return from the top of the world
Return from the top of the worldLongyearbyen
Following breakfast at your hotel, it’s time to say farewell to Svalbard and to Spitsbergen. You’ll make your own way to the airport at Longyearbyen, marking the end of your time with us. Alternatively, you could choose to extend your stay in Svalbard.
You won’t soon forget the slices of paradise you’ve seen along the Norwegian coast and Svalbard as part of this iconic cruise. If you’ve taken in optional excursions, you will have photos of you kayaking, hiking, fishing, or cycling in some of the most beautiful scenery you’ve ever seen.
We know you’ll take fond memories home with you and we wish you a safe onward journey. This is the Svalbard Express. We hope to see you back here with us soon.