From Norway to Swedish Lapland - Winter 2018/19
Part I - Bergen > Kirkenes (MS Spitsbergen)
My last winter season was really great. I got a chance to spend four weeks in the Arctic again. And I´ve combined a few trips in one trip this time. Different friends were with me, for different parts of my voyage. It all started with a northbound Hurtigruten voyage on MS Spitsbergen from Bergen to Kirkenes. Hurtigruten is called the most beautiful sea voyage in the world. And I totally agree with that! I did this voyage more than twenty times and I still can`t wait to sail it again!
Hurtigruten is not a regular cruise. It is special, but in a really positive way! The "Norwegian Coastal Express" was established in 1893 as a ferry and cargo service, to support and connect the remote places along the Norwegian Coast. That`s why this route is often described as the lifeline of Norway.
Eleven ships are constantly circeling the Coastal Route of 2300 km in each direction, between Bergen in the South and Kirkenes in the North. All ships stop at 34 ports in each direction. That`s one of the reasons, why Hurtigruten is much better than a regular cruise. You really get to experience the Norwegian Coast and all the beautiful places along it. The ships usually stay between 15 minutes and 6 hours in port, depending on the size of the city and the excursions offered there. Hurtigruten ships are also much smaller than cruise ships. That allowes them to sail through really tiny fjords, like the famous Trollfjord, where a cruise ship would never fit it.
The food on board is absolutely fresh, delicious and healthy! Hurtigruten has started a new concept called "Norwegian Coastal Kitchen" a few years ago. Since they have started this innovative service, the food is mostly made of fresh, local products from the ships destinations. That means a lot of fresh fish, salmon and reindeer!
The route is served all year long, due to the warm water of the gulf stream. It is really beautiful in every season. I personally prefer the winter and spring, because I love the Arctic nature, snow, ice and Northern Lights. But every season has its own advantages. You can depart northbound or southbound daily from every port ! Most of the guests start in Bergen or Kirkenes and do the one way or return voyage.
This gallery shows impressions of a northbound voyage with MS Spitsbergen in December 2018.
Part II - A wonderful stay at the Snowhotel in Kirkenes
Awesome adventures, romantic moments, tasty food, unforgettable nights under the dancing Northern Lights - all available at Snowhotel Kirkenes on the top of Norway, just 60 km from the russian border.
We luckely had two nights in one of their very comfortable Northern Lights Cabins. If you plan to come here as well, definetly stay more than a night, because they also offer a lot of great activities in this beautiful landscape.
Hundreds of dogs are living in the dog yard right infront of the hotel, all of them accessible, lovely and just waiting for you to come around and hug them or to pull you through the snowy Winter Wonderland on a dog sled.
I can recommend to stay in a snow room for one night and spend a few more nights in the extraordinary comfortable Gamme Northern Lights Cabins before or after. The scandinavian inspired design of the cabins looks just mindblowing. The big panoramic windows allow you the best possible view at all times. Even when the Northern Lights show up, you can theoratically stay in your warm and comfy cabin, without missing anything.
Make sure you prebook some great activities with your stay, because all of them are limited and can be sold out quickly. I personally love the Husky Safari and the King Crab Safari, but I am pretty sure that the Snowmobile Safari or the Icefishing activities are just as good.
I think this years Snowhotel is the best they`ve ever created. They`ve also added ten new Gamme Northern Lights Cabins and more departures for all activties, which gives you even more flexibility to plan your stay. If you are interested in this place, feel free to watch the short clip that I`ve made in December 2018.
Videoclip of the Snowhotel and its activities
Impressions of the Snowhotel in Kirkenes
Part III - Bergen > Kirkenes > Rørvik (MS Trollfjord)
This gallery shows pictures of MS Trollfjord`s Christmas voyage in 2018. I was on board from Bergen to Kirkenes and down to Rørvik again.
Part IV - Rørvik > Kirkenes > Harstad (MS Polarlys)
This gallery shows pictures of MS Polarly`s New Year`s voyage in 2018. We were on board from Rørvik to Kirkenes and down to Harstad again.