Expedition Cruise to the Norwegian Coast from Hamburg
About Hamburg, Germany
- The coastal highlights including fjords, mountains, cities, villages, and islands
- Experience the beautiful but rarely visited Senja, Træna, and Hjørundfjord
- Expedition cruise in a cabin of your choice
- Breakfast, lunch, and dinner, including beverages (house beer and wine, sodas, and mineral water) in restaurants Aune and Fredheim
- Fine-dining À la carte restaurant Lindstrøm is included for suite guests
- Complimentary tea and coffee
- Complimentary Wi-Fi on board. Be aware that we sail in remote areas with limited connection. Streaming is not supported.
- Complimentary reusable water bottle to fill at onboard water refill stations
- German and English-speaking Expedition Team who organize and guide activities, both on board and ashore
- Range of included activities
- Experts from the Expedition Team present detailed lectures on a variety of topics
- Use the ship’s Science Center, which features an extensive library and advanced biological and geological microscopes
- The Citizen Science program allows guests to contribute to current scientific research
- The onboard professional photographer will give tips and tricks for taking the best landscape and wildlife photos
- The ship has hot tubs, a panoramic sauna, and outdoor and indoor gyms
- Participate in informal gatherings with the crew, such as daily recaps and the next day’s preparations
- Trekking poles, head lamps, and walking poles are available, if necessary
- Complimentary wind- and water-resistant expedition jacket
- Expedition photographers will help configure your camera settings before landings
- International flights
- Travel protection
- Baggage handling
- Optional shore excursions with our local partners
- Optional small-group activities with our Expedition Team
- Optional treatments in the onboard wellness and spa area
- All planned activities are subject to weather and ice conditions
- Excursions and activities are subject to change
- Please ensure you can meet all entry and boarding requirements
- No gratuities are expected
Your adventure begins - Hamburg, Germany
MS Otto Sverdrup, your comfortable expedition ship, will be waiting for you at the port of Hamburg. Once you board the ship and check in, you’ll receive your complimentary wind- and water-resistant expedition jacket. This may come in handy with the unpredictable weather. Settle into your cabin and explore a bit of the ship before attending a mandatory pre-departure safety drill.
And then we sail! MS Otto Sverdrup will set sail into the North Sea from Hamburg, bound for miles of adventure along the stunning Norwegian coastline. Stretch your sea legs on deck and explore the different areas of the ship, your home away from home for the next two weeks.
Enjoy dinner aboard the ship, your first of many delicious meals to come. Raise your glass and toast with the captain and crew to an enjoyable expedition together.
Then it’s time to meet the friendly and energetic Expedition Team. They’ll prepare you for your upcoming days of exciting exploration. Their fascinating lectures and intimate knowledge of the Norwegian coast will guide you through the voyage. Some are local Norwegians who are excited to show off their favorite aspects of their home. But the Expedition Team’s number-one priority is ensuring that you and your fellow explorers are always safe and well throughout your cruise. They will talk you through important health and safety principles and procedures that you’ll need to keep in mind for a smooth and safe journey.
Northbound to the fjords of Norway - At sea
Enjoy a day at sea as we head north to the rugged Norwegian coastline. You’ll have time to unwind, relax, and find the perfect mindset for this expedition cruise. Admire the waves from MS Otto Sverdrup’s expansive Observation Deck or settle into the Fredheim restaurant with a good book and a freshly baked pastry. Don’t forget to take full advantage of the gym and hot tubs!
You’ll also be invited to talks hosted by the Expedition Team who will happily share their extensive knowledge of Norway with you. The topics change each day and are often relevant to the current area of the journey. For example, our lectures might explore the geology of the North Sea as we sail across it. Instead of in the Science Center, we might head out on deck to learn about this sea, which is well-known for its oil and gas reserves divided among the U.K., Norway, Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands. These added insights will enhance your experience, filling out your sense of discovery with delicious detail.
We also support a number of Citizen Science projects, which we encourage you to join. These include the Happywhale project, where your photographs help identify and track whales as they travel across the planet. You could also join the Globe observer project, which combines your observations of clouds and sky conditions with satellite data. Not only will you be supporting the scientific community, you’ll also be gaining a better understanding of the world around you.
With calm seas and good weather conditions, we expect to reach Bergen tomorrow afternoon. If the weather isn’t so cooperative, the captain will chart a course farther north up the coast to stunning Hjørundfjord. This slower sail through Norway’s idyllic islands offers additional protection against unruly elements.
Historic Hanseatic coastal capital - Bergen Norway
In the afternoon, we’ll get our first glimpse of Norwegian coast. Small islands and mountain silhouettes draw closer. We now leave the North Sea behind us and enter scenic straits and fjords. Weather conditions permitting, we’ll start our visit to Norway in Bergen, one of the country’s most beautiful cities and a great place to explore by foot.
As we approach Bergen, ‘The City of Seven Mountains’, you’ll soon spot the colorful houses dotting the hillsides. Founded in 1070 A.D., Bergen was Norway’s capital for many years. Its location was ideal as a gateway port for Hanseatic trade between Norway and Europe. Even though it’s grown into the nation’s second-largest city, it’s retained much of its local character, history, and charm.
While you’re in Bergen, be sure to visit the historic Bryggen district, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with distinctive wooden wharves. You’ll find the area full of independent boutiques selling artisanal handicrafts. Opposite Bryggen is Bergen’s exciting and authentic fish market, which also has stands that serve fresh, succulent seafood in front of your eyes. Take the funicular (cable car) up Mount Fløyen for views of the gorgeous seven mountains. If the sun is out and the weather is warm, what could be better than sitting outside at one of Bergen’s many cafés or pubs? Drink a pint or two of the refreshing local Hansa beer and bask in the vibes of this buzzing city.
Hidden tranquility - Sæbø/Urke, Hjørundfjord, Norway
Like the famous Geirangerfjord next door, Hjørundfjord is part of the UNESCO-designated Fjords Norway area, which is notable for “exceptional natural beauty”. Unlike its neighbor (which can get a bit too popular), Hjørundfjord is off the beaten tourist track and you can calmly bask in its beauty. Surrounded by the Sunnmøre Alps, with peaks soaring over 5,500 feet straight up from the sea, it is one of the most scenic fjords in all of Norway and still undiscovered by most other cruise lines.
On a clear day, you’ll get the full 360° sensory experience: the bluest skies, the greens of coniferous forests, and pastures for grazing covering the mountainsides. The still, pristine waters reflect this superb scenery in all its glory, perfectly merging the fjord and the landscape. No land is cultivated here, as the steep mountains make it almost impossible. Still, a few tiny farms cling to the slopes, and we will sail past small villages nestled along the shoreline.
We’ll go ashore at the villages of Urke or Sæbø to experience Norwegian nature and culture. Today’s lecture may touch upon the geology of Norway, including how the mountains and fjords came to exist. Sign up for optional excursions to further explore the area. You can join a guided walk through villages along the Hjørundfjord and learn about the history, nature, and royal connections of this splendid and gorgeous place. Or you could opt to raise your pulse on exhilarating excursions, such as hiking up the mountain for incredible views. Or kayak the fjord, where exquisite silence is broken only by your paddle dipping into its waters.
Viking capital - Trondheim, Norway
Welcome to Trondheim, Norway´s third-largest city and the former capital for 200 years. It was founded in 997 A.D. by Viking King Olav Tryggvason, who is buried at Nidaros Cathedral, near the city center. Trondheim is best explored by foot and most attractions are within walking distance of one another. A nice walk along the river from where the ship docks will bring you to the cathedral, sometimes referred to as the ‘Notre Dame of Norway’. This medieval masterpiece is built in the Gothic style and is the only one of its kind in the country.
From Nidaros Cathedral, a ten-minute stroll will bring you to Old Town Bridge, which connects you to the vibrant Bakklandet neighborhood. The bridge was constructed in 1861 and sits over the River Nid, with views of the colorful wooden wharves that line the water. Many of the former warehouses are now cosmopolitan eateries, so make sure to pop into one of the luscious bakeries and trendy coffee shops. Doing so, you’ll maybe come to understand why the other name for the bridge is ‘The Portal of Happiness’. You can also get a different perspective of the bridge and the neighborhood by joining an optional kayaking excursion on the river.
Follow the cobblestone streets of Bakklandet up a steep hill to the white walls of Kristiansten Fortress. The grounds here give sweeping views of the city, the river, and toward the fjord. You’ll likely notice an island that stands just off the coast of Trondheim. Munkholmen (Monk’s Islet) has a fascinating and diverse history. In the Age of the Vikings it was an execution site. Then as Norway’s first monastery, it was home to Benedictine monks. In the 17th century a fort was built to house prisoners. During World War II, the island was used as an armory that used anti-aircraft guns designed to attack aircraft. Now, it’s a popular beach. We’ll pass by the island again later when we leave Trondheim to continue your adventure north.
‘Friluftsliv’ in a little Hawaii - Træna Island, Norway
In the morning, we’ll sail along the coast of Helgeland, with nothing but sky and sea ahead. In the distance, you can see mountains rise from the horizon. This is Træna, an archipelago made up of over 400 islands and islets, and sits right on the Arctic Circle. The plan is to take a scenic walk around the village of Husøya, where most of Træna’s fewer than 500 inhabitants live.
Surprisingly, there is a ‘Nordic-Hawaiian’ vibe on the islands. Visit the permanent outdoor photography exhibition, the themed café, and even a local ‘Waikiki Beach’.
Similar to the Hawaiian spirit, Norwegians believe in their own philosophy of ‘friluftsliv’—a respect for nature and a love of the outdoors. This expedition is the perfect time not just to learn about this ideal, but to live it. Træna is a perfect place for you to try a host of optional excursions.
Remember, though, that the sea can be rough all year round. If weather prevents us from landing this far from the coast, we might take you to Svartisen Glacier instead, where you can join a hike to the glacier or go kayaking on an optional excursion. At approximately 143 square miles, Svartisen is Norway’s second-largest glacier, after Jostedal.
We’ll cross the Arctic Circle in the evening and mark the occasion with a special ceremony. What’s that ceremony about? Come on deck to find out!
Microcosm of Norway - Senja Island, Norway
Today we dock at Senja, one of the most ruggedly beautiful and least-visited islands in Norway. This scenery will leave you awestruck and you’ll understand why it made CNN’s Travel’s list of ’10 of the world’s most beautiful islands’.
Senja is Norway’s second-largest island, but has fewer than 8,000 inhabitants, most of whom work in the fishing and aquaculture industries. The captain will decide on a location to drop anchor or a port where we can dock. Should the weather be rough on the coastal side, we’ll seek a bit more shelter in the bays or inlets.
Sometimes referred to as ‘Norway in miniature’, the island’s diverse landscapes seem to change in the blink of an eye. Senja’s northern coastline features lofty mountains that plummet straight into the sea, with isolated coves and sandy beaches along crystal-clear turquoise waters. Southern Senja boasts a rocky coastline and pine forests, and is home to Ånderdalen National Park. Senja’s eastern side has gentler, more forgiving landscapes with rolling hills and birch forests.
One of the best ways to see the island’s beautiful and contrasting topographies is a road trip along the National Scenic Route in Senja.. Setting off from a local village, we’ll take a guided bus tour along part of the route and see Senja’s magnificent, untamed coastal landscapes. You’ll be amazed by the dark, jagged peaks of the Okshornan mountain range, which are aptly nicknamed the ‘Devil’s Jaw’. Meanwhile, the Expedition Team will tell you the intriguing tale of the Senja troll.
At the top of Europe - Skarsvåg, Norway
We spend the morning sailing through Arctic Norway. Notice how the landscape and scenery has changed since the Helgeland coast. The climate is a usually a bit cooler, too. Relax on board, catch up on your journal, visit the gym, or check out the Science Center. Today’s lecture topics focus on Norwegian history, so you can learn about the country’s Viking past, the Pomor trade with Russia, or discover more about the indigenous and semi-nomadic Sámi people of Troms and Finnmark county.
After lunch, we’ll arrive in Skarsvåg, a small fishing village only a scenic bus ride away from the North Cape. Then you’ll visit one of Europe’s northernmost points as part of an included activity. The scenic bus ride brings you past small bays and tiny villages, then crosses a mountain plateau before arriving at the spectacular North Cape. At 71°N, it is just 1,300 miles away from the Geographic North Pole, with only the Svalbard Archipelago in between. Stand at the cliff’s edge and gaze across the sparkling sea. The North Cape is likely the closest you’ll get to the top of the world. Take the obligatory selfie at the Globe Monument before visiting the North Cape Hall for exhibits and a short film chronicling the cape’s history.
Combine this included activity with other optional excursions on the rugged and remote island of Magerøya. The island is a birder’s paradise. It’s home to hundreds of sea eagles and other birds like Arctic skuas, northern fulmars, and Brünnich’s guillemots, who are attracted to the nutrient-rich waters and congregate in large numbers around the bird cliffs of Gjesværstappan.
Back in Skarsvåg, stroll along the quaint harbor and check out the charming houses, and its shop and church. The village’s lone shop is also the local restaurant. It serves up king crab all year round, along with a traditional fiskesuppe made by the owner, Heidi. It may be the best fish soup we’ve ever tasted. Skarsvåg is the end of the road for the ship. This is where we turn around and start our return trip southbound.
Arctic capital for adventure - Tromsø, Norway
Looking for Arctic adventure? Tromsø is the place to find it. Set far above the Arctic Circle, the Midnight Sun shines here from May 20 to July 22 and it never gets dark during the peak of the summer. There are lots of great hiking trails to explore and watersports around the harbour. You can join optional excursions like hikes with our Expedition Team, kayaking, boat trips and scenic bus tours.
Nicknamed the ‘Paris of the North’, Tromsø is a lively university city, with a large brewery and several microbreweries, and a selection of great restaurants specialising in fresh regional produce. It is also rich in Arctic history and culture. Our Expedition Team can share more with you about polar history and exploration in one of their lectures. As the gateway to the Arctic, Tromsø was the starting point for many polar expeditions and provided a very welcome first stop on explorers’ return to civilisation. Visit the Polar Museum to learn more about the famous explorers and expeditions that have their origins in the city.
The angular Arctic Cathedral is a city landmark, featuring a striking, stained glass window. One of the main attractions is to ride the Fjellheisen cable car to the top of a 424-metre-high mountain. The summit provides fabulous views of the city, mountains and fjords. If you are curious about Arctic marine life, the Polaria Arctic Experience Centre is a family-friendly aquarium with fish and seals that inhabit the region’s polar waters.
Iconic island landscapes - Reine, Norway
Don’t miss our approach to Lofoten, as a formidable wall of mountains comes to greet you. The islands here are unlike anything you’ve ever seen. The breathtaking scenery is a masterpiece of distinctive peaks, sheltered bays, untouched beaches, and idyllic fishing villages.
We start the day by sailing to the Trollfjord, a narrow waterway where vertical mountain walls loom above you. At the captain’s discretion and weather conditions permitting, you might get to ‘threading the needle’ as the ship sails into the fjord so close to the cliff walls that you’ll feel like you can reach out and touch them. Once safely within the fjord, the ship will then turn 180° on the spot. Hold your breath as the ship maneuvers back out through the tight entrance. It’s a thrilling experience and a feat of superb seamanship. Thankfully, our captains have that in spades!
We’ll land in idyllic Reine in the afternoon. It’s one of the most photographed nature landscapes in Norway, for good reason. Characteristic red fishing huts known as rorbuer dot the shoreline against a backdrop of granite peaks jutting out from the fjord. An included activity here includes boarding a bus to the old and picturesque fishing village of Å—a unique, historical attraction. Here, you’ll see well-preserved houses, a blacksmith, an old cod liver oil press, and a bakery that might very well be whipping up a fresh batch of lefse cakes. The local museum explains how cod fishing has been key to Norway’s establishment as a country.
The pierced troll’s hat - Torghatten mountain, Norway
In the morning, we’ll sail through Helgeland county and the thousands of islands of the lowland area. Count the peaks of the Seven Sisters mountain range, long fabled to be the bodies of seven troll sisters who were petrified by the sun’s rays at dawn.
Our goal for today is to explore famous Torghatten, a small mountain outside the town of Brønnøysund. It is only just over 840 feet tall, but its singularity comes from the distinctive hole straight through its center. It’s easily one of Norway’s most photographed and iconic places. We plan to anchor right next to the mountain and use small boats (RIBs) to land on the island. If the weather is not conducive to anchoring there, we’ll dock in a nearby port and reach the mountain by bus.
Geologists generally agree that the hole in the center of Torghatten (measuring 100 feet high, 82 feet wide, and 524 feet deep) is due to erosion during the last Ice Age. The locals prefer a more fanciful explanation. Norwegian folklore tells of the troll Hestmannen, who was enraptured by the fair troll maiden Lekamøya. When his advances were spurned, Hestmannen flew into a rage and attempted to kill Lekamøya with an arrow. Witnessing this, the troll-king of Sømna mountain threw his hat in the path of the arrow to protect Lekamøya. At that very moment, the sun rose and turned everything to stone. Lekamøya herself is immortalized as a small mountain to the south of Torghatten.
Feeling adventurous and hungry for beautiful views? Join the Expedition Team to hike up to the mountain’s hole. Up for something less strenuous? There’ll be a walk around the mountain on offer too.
Art Nouveau architecture - Ålesund, Norway
Welcome to the charming coastal city of Ålesund! This small city shines from the shores of a thin island chain. Its waterfront buildings, once wharves and warehouses, are now charming, colorful apartments painted in yellows and reds. Join a guided walk through the cobblestone streets of Ålesund and admire the spires, towers, and ornate buildings rising up around you. Look closely and spot the variety of stone statues carved into the buildings
After a devastating fire in 1904, much of the city was rebuilt in the most fashionable architectural style of the time: Art Nouveau. The extensive project was partly funded by Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany, who enjoyed vacationing in the Sunnmøre region. He was such a fan that he is known to have visited Norway at least 22 times! Approximately 20 master builders and 30 Norwegian architects, educated in Trondheim and Berlin, drew inspiration from all over Europe when designing the many buildings that still stand here today.
Ålesund is Norway’s fishing capital, and is also the site of the Atlantic Sea Park, recently given designated as Norway’s first marine science center. A spacious Humboldt penguin park is built into the coastal landscape at Tueneset, along with Europe’s biggest seal pool and an underwater observatory. The park’s Otter Island is home to three sociable and adorable otters. You can call them by their names: Nusse, Muffe, and Pia.
There’s also a decent hike to the summit of nearby Mount Aksla, giving you views over the city and the other islands. At the top, refuel at the café with an ice cream. Don’t miss the warm svele, a thick, crescent-shaped pancake popular in these parts. To add a bold Norwegian twist (and feel like a local), add a slice of brunost, Norwegian brown cheese, so it melts in the middle.
Orchard-lined fjord - Rosendal or Sunndal, Norway
The Expedition Team’s lecture series continues. Topics may include glaciers and Norway’s climate, providing some background on the geology of the area you’re about to see. The peaks of tall mountains will appear on the horizon just before lunchtime. Between these peaks lie Norway’s world-famous fjords.
One such fjord is the Hardangerfjord. The most picturesque apple orchards in all of Norway blanket the hillsides, filled with ripening fruit in July and August. The region is famous for its apples, from jams to juice to award-winning cider, which one wine critic described as ‘Nordic champagne’. No taste captures the spirit of outdoor life better than a refreshing glass of crisp, apple cider!
Today, we’ll explore the villages of Sunndal or Rosendal, depending on weather conditions. From Sunndal, situated near the Bondhus Glacier, you may explore the area on a scenic hike or kayak with the Expedition Team as optional excursions. The small, charming village of Rosendal has only 800 inhabitants. The biggest attraction is the 16th-century Baronial manor, famous for its beautiful rose garden and landscaped grounds that are in full bloom during the summer months. Be sure to stop in at one of the small cafés in the village and sample the delicious local produce!
Near the end of the day, we leave the Hardangerfjord and begin our southward journey. It’s time to head back to Hamburg and leave the fjords, islands, and the Norwegian coast behind.
Homeward bound - At sea
Our final day at sea is also the last full day on this memorable expedition cruise. As we cross the North Sea, keep an eye out for the seabirds and dolphins that like to follow the ship.
Relive your wonderful experiences from coastal Norway by editing your photos or sharing stories with your shipmates over a drink in the Explorer Bar. Or, soak up the fresh sea air from the comfort of the hot tub or out on deck. Fill in any knowledge gaps in the Science Center as you chat with Expedition Team members. You’re sure to want to join their expedition review that includes a slideshow of all the trip’s highlights.
Special memories - Hamburg, Germany
We dock in Hamburg during the early morning hours. After breakfast, the time will come to bid a fond farewell to everyone on MS Otto Sverdrup who made your expedition so special.
As you head ashore, you’ll carry your lifelong memories of Norway with you, including wonderful fjords, impressive nature, fascinating towns and cities, and of course the friendly people you met along the way.
We hope you join us for new adventures soon!