Norway Winter Expedition Cruise from Hamburg
About Hamburg, Germany
- Spend six days searching for the Northern Lights under the Auroral Zone in the Arctic
- Visit top winter destinations in Norway like Alta, Tromsø, and the North Cape
- 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
- 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 sauna, an outdoor and indoor gym, and an outdoor running track
- Participate in informal gatherings with the crew, such as daily recaps and the next day’s preparations
- Escorted landings with small boats (RIBs)
- Trekking poles and head lamps 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
Norway bound - Hamburg
All aboard at Hamburg! MS Otto Sverdrup is at the port, waiting to sail north to Norway´s magical landscapes to hunt for one of nature’s greatest spectacles: The Northern Lights.
Once you board the ship, pick up your complimentary expedition jacket, and settle into your cabin. Feel free to explore the ship before attending a mandatory safety drill. After a sumptuous dinner (the first of many) and a welcome toast by the captain, it will be time to meet your expert Expedition Team. They’ll be your knowledgeable lecturers, warm hosts, and good-natured guides throughout your journey. Many of them grew up and live in the places you’ll visit, so they are passionate about sharing their home of Norway with you. First and foremost, they keep you safe and sound. Their first priority will be to run through important health and safety information with you and your shipmates.
Then it’s time to set sail to the North Sea. Stretch your sea legs and explore MS Otto Sverdrup, your cozy home away from home. Weather permitting, let the salty sea air envelop you from the deck, or grab a relaxing glass of wine in the Explorer Lounge and Bar while the world passes you by through the panoramic windows. Your adventure to the Arctic under the Auroral Zone is officially underway!
Day at Sea - At sea
This day at sea gives you all the time you’ll need to ease into your journey. Start enjoying the range of onboard facilities like the hot tubs, sauna, and indoor gym. Camaraderie is contagious, especially with the Expedition Team and the other crew members and guests.
The Expedition Team will begin their series of insightful lectures at the Science Center. Each member of the Expedition Team specializes in a different subject. You’ll see that they are walking, talking, treasure troves of stories and information. They’ll share their extensive knowledge about the places, history, nature, people, and natural phenomena we’ll likely encounter during this winter cruise along the Norwegian coast. Today’s topics might include the geology of the North Sea, the science behind the Northern Lights, or Hurtigruten’s history as a Norwegian national icon.
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 across the planet. You may 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 better understanding of the world around you.
It’s not a sure thing, but you can expect wind and waves on the North Sea, which are known to be choppy this time of year. Our captain’s goal is to bring us into Bergen the next day, but Mother Nature is the boss and nothing is set in stone. This is all part and parcel of the expedition experience, adding extra suspense and excitement to your adventure. Rest assured, we’ll do our best to make the cruise as safe and smooth as possible, even if we have to be flexible and adapt our plans to factor in the elements.
The City of Seven Mountains - Bergen
The morning will provide your first glimpses of the Norwegian coast as small islands and mountains appear on the horizon. En route to the Hanseatic city of Bergen, we’ll leave the North Sea behind and enter scenic straits and fjords. Weather conditions on the North Sea permitting, we aim to arrive in Bergen in the afternoon. As our first port of call in Norway, we arrive at Bergen, one of the country’s most picturesque cities. Founded in 1070 A.D., Bergen was Norway’s capital for many years, and you’ll see that the city hasn’t lost any of its local character, heritage, and charm.
Your included activity in Bergen is an excursion to Mount Fløyen. We’ll hop on Hurtigruten buses from where the ship docks and drive to the Fløibanen funicular. The ride to the mountaintop takes just six minutes. The summit is over 1,000 feet up, and you can bask in stunning views of city and its surroundings: seven mountains and the sea. If we have time, we might also venture into the alpine forest here for a short hike.
Back in the center of the thriving and compact city of Bergen, spend time strolling along its cobblestone streets and alleyways. Don’t miss the historic UNESCO-listed Bryggen district, with its colorful wooden wharfs. This area dates back to the 14th century and now houses boutique stores selling Norwegian arts and crafts. Across from Bryggen is Bergen’s famous fish market, where you savor a host of sights, sounds, and scents.
From the fjord to the mountaintop - Outside Loen
Start the day with a scenic cruise into Nordfjord. Early in the morning, we’ll pass by Hornelen, Europe’s highest sea cliff. The fjord’s runs off from Jostedalsbreen, Europe's largest mainland glacier, and flows west into the ocean just south of the Stadlandet Peninsula.
Thanks to the small size of our expedition ship, we can take you through straits and channels that larger vessels can’t navigate. You’ll be that much closer to the fjords and mountains the Norwegian coast is so famous for. Our small ships also mean better access to small communities that few get to visit, giving you an intimate glimpse into their culture and way of life.
As you might expect, today’s lectures center on Norway’s geology, including the formation of its fjords, mountains, and glaciers. Then discover the culture of the Vikings, who used to inhabit the region. Learn about their thirst for exploration, which still beats in the hearts of Norwegians today.
Spot numerous old fishing communities located along the fjord that actually date back to pre-Viking times. One such place is Loen, where we dock around noon. At the very heart of Nordfjord, in the shadow of the mighty Jostedalsbreen (the Jostedal Glacier), Loen is the perfect place to explore this gorgeous area.
Our small boats (RIBs) land at a floating jetty, the starting point for the Loen Skylift. The cable car climbs over 3,300 feet in just five minutes, to the top of Mount Hoven. At the summit, you’ll be treated to unforgettable views over the fjord. Gaze at Mount Skåla and Lake Lovatnet to the east, with Jostedalsbreen (the Jostedal Glacier) and Olden to the south. With this scenery as your backdrop, you’ll have the opportunity to participate in several optional winter activities on the mountain, such as snowshoeing or sledding. Time- and weather-permitting, you might also have an opportunity to do some thrilling winter kayaking on the fjord.
At the Arctic Circle’s doorstep - At sea
Spend time in the ship’s lounge today, soak in a hot tub, or step out on deck. No matter what you do, don’t take your eyes off the scenery as we sail through Helgeland county and the thousands of islands in the Strandflaten lowland area. Count the peaks of the Seven Sisters mountain range, long fabled to be the petrified bodies of seven troll sisters caught out at sunrise. Let the Torghatten mountain amaze you, with its distinct hole right through the middle. Local legend has it that the mountain was a hat worn by the troll-king, which turned to stone when it was pierced by an arrow.
We have now reached the halfway mark of your expedition along Norway’s long coastline. You’re not far from the Arctic Circle! This point of the trip is an exciting time, as the farther north we sail, the greater your chances are of seeing the Northern Lights. This natural phenomenon occurs when charged particles carried by solar wind disturb the Earth’s upper atmosphere, creating mesmerizing ripples and rays. The end result is a cosmic lightshow of dazzling, dancing color. Our route along the Norwegian coast will take us directly under the Auroral Zone, a prime area for viewing the Northern Lights. We hope for multiple sightings of the Northern Lights in different locations.
The weather in northern Norway is noticeably colder, and the amount of snow will steadily increase as well, making the landscapes seem brighter. Depending on when you sail in the winter season, daylight hours will be short, and will shorten even more near the Arctic Circle. It’s not complete darkness, though—you’ll be one of the few to experience the very romantic ‘blue hour’. This extended twilight can last several hours. As the winter sun glows below the horizon, it bathes Norway’s fjords and mountains in a dreamy cobalt-blue light.
The Expedition Team will continue their onboard lectures, ranging from local folklore and fairy tales to the history of navigation, from lighthouses to satellites, along the coast. You might also learn about the concept of friluftsliv, the quintessentially Norwegian love of the outdoors. You can also pick up tips from the professional onboard expedition photographer about how best to capture the Northern Lights when they appear.
The enchanting Lofoten Islands - Svolvær
There are just a few places on Earth where you can sail north of the Arctic Circle during wintertime. The Norwegian coast is one of them The ship officially crosses the Arctic Circle sometime in the morning. In the tradition of Norwegian sailors, we’ll mark the occasion by inviting you on deck for a special ceremony. What is that all about? You’ll have to find out on your cruise!
We then approach the Lofoten Islands, one of the most spectacular locations in all of Norway—and maybe even the world. As we approach the archipelago, the sight of the massive wall of mountains and dramatic peaks rising up out of the sea is something you’ll never forget. Serene fishing villages sit nestled in sheltered coves, which are even more charming if dusted with snow—especially with the northern lights swirling above, if we’re lucky!
Then we sail along the Vestfjord to arrive in Svolvær in the afternoon. This is the largest town in Lofoten, with about 4,800 residents, many of whom still work in the fishing industry. There are shops and art galleries to browse along the seafront promenade, and rows of rorbuer (fishing huts) to admire. You might also spot wooden racks called hjell dotted around the shores of the town. These racks are used to dry locally caught cod, which then becomes tørrfisk (stockfish in English), prized as a local delicacy. Fishing is clearly an important way of life in Lofoten. The lecture for the day may focus on how cod helped build Norway into a country.
From the ship, it’s a short walk to your included visit to the multicolor Magic Ice bar. The former fish-freezing warehouse now displays a range of picturesque, selfie-suitable ice sculptures depicting life in Lofoten and Viking culture. Enjoy a signature drink to warm you up—served in an ice glass, of course! The expert Expedition Team might show off its local knowledge by handpicking a few spectacular hiking trails or snowshoeing areas as optional excursions.
The City of the Northern Lights - Alta
Alta lies in the vast wilderness of Finnmark county, well above the Arctic Circle at 70 degrees north. Welcome to the turning point of your expedition and one of the northernmost towns in the world, whose population is over 10,000. We’ll arrive here in the early afternoon. The plan is to stay past midnight to stargaze and watch for the Aurora—the ethereal Northern Lights. Alta is directly beneath the Auroral Oval, a zone known for consistent Northern Lights activity. If the heavens aren’t overcast and the conditions are right, get ready for nature’s most special show...
You’ll learn more about the Aurora at the modern Northern Lights Cathedral in Alta. The titanium-clad building and its spiral belfry dominate the skyline here. It’s even more impressive when illuminated at night. An interactive exhibition here chronicles how Norwegian scientist Kristian Birkeland established Alta as the epicenter for groundbreaking Northern Lights research in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. You’ll also be treated to a classical concert in the cathedral as part of your visit.
Troms and Finnmark county form part of the traditional territory of the indigenous Sámi people, whose livelihoods revolve around semi-nomadic reindeer herding. In Alta, the Expedition Team may also speak about Sámi culture. Not far from Alta is Máze, a Sámi village located along the Kautokeino River, which is visitable as part of an optional excursion. When more snow falls and deep winter arrives, Alta is prime territory for visits to ice hotels, dog sledding, and snowmobiling.
At Europe’s edge - Honningsvåg
Start the day by arriving at the small town of Honningsvåg. You’ll visit one of Europe’s northernmost points as part of an included excursion. The scenic bus ride from Honningsvåg brings you past small bays and tiny villages, then crosses a mountain plateau before arriving at the spectacular North Cape. At 71°10’21´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 the closest you may ever get to the top of the world. Snap the obligatory selfie at the Globe Monument before visiting the North Cape Hall for exhibits and a short film chronicling the cape’s history.
Back in Honningsvåg, stroll along the pretty harbor, and check out the charming shops, houses, and church. Like many towns in northern Norway, fishing is the primarily industry and source of income here. Local restaurants offer fresh fish and seafood, with king crab on the menu all year round. This is the ship’s turning point and from here, we start our return trip southbound.
Gateway to the Arctic - Tromsø
It’s time to explore Tromsø, the capital of the Arctic. But before we do, we’ll be on the watch for humpback whales out on deck or from the Explorer Lounge. These gentle giants are known to frequent the winter waters here, feeding on a smorgasbord of herring. The Expedition Team will also be on the lookout and alert you to any sightings.
We reach the city of Tromsø in the morning and will spend the day and evening exploring its captivating history, culture, and bold architecture. One of the most striking landmarks in Tromsø is the Arctic Cathedral, especially when lit up at night. Its eye-catching and massive stained-class window is well worth seeing up close.
Historically, Tromsø was a frontier town visited mostly by hunters and explorers. It also served as a launching point for several Arctic expeditions. Today, the city has been called the ‘Paris of the North’, because of its international and cultural diversity. Browse its shops or try one of its many restaurants to sample the region’s fresh and locally sourced foods. Feel like meeting some of the friendly locals? Tromsø is home to the world’s northernmost brewery, Mack Bryggeri, which also runs Ølhallen, a lively pub filled with locals chatting and enjoying a pint or two.
Your included activity in Tromsø is a visit to the Polar Museum, which is housed in a converted 1830s warehouse on the seafront. You’ll enjoy exhibitions covering the city’s heritage as a base for the famous trappers Henry Rudi and Wanny Wolstad. Wanny was the first female hunter in Svalbard. Tromsø also played a crucial role in the expeditions of legendary explorers Fridtjof Nansen and Roald Amundsen.
Other winter activities available in Tromsø include optional excursions with our Expedition Team on nature hikes, snowshoeing, and hunting the northern lights on bus rides. Like many places in Arctic Norway, when the snowpack is deep enough, this landscape becomes ideal for exhilarating dog-sledding.
Idyllic island life - Reine
In the morning, we’ll dock at the picture-perfect fishing village of Reine, tucked into the Lofoten Islands. This is where red-painted rorbuer cling to a string of islands beneath sharp granite mountain ranges. The 1,476-foot tall Reinebringen is one of the most distinctive peaks and is especially dramatic with a dusting of snow. This contrast of settings and colors makes Reine one of the most photographed landscapes in all of Norway. Cross your fingers that the Northern Lights are active above the village, which would be the cherry on top of this little slice of paradise.
After “ooh-ing” and “aah-ing” your way through the scenery in Reine, you’ll go on your included activity for today. A 30-minute bus ride will take you to Å, one of the best-preserved traditional fishing villages in Norway. The Norwegian Fishing Village Museum sits at the heart of this tiny village, and covers fishing’s importance and development in Lofoten over the past 250 years. Explore at your leisure and you’ll soon discover that the village is a museum, and the museum is the village!
Going with the flow - At sea
We will then reach the islands off the coasts of Helgeland and Trøndelag. In stark contrast to the sheltered fjords, you’ll notice how these windswept islands are directly exposed to the North Sea. It’s a wonder that small communities continue living here, among trees stunted and bent by the wind.
Our plan today is to play it by ear. After all, where’s the fun in having everything scripted? The day’s activities and landings will therefore be decided at the discretion of the Expedition Team. They’ll use their in-depth knowledge of the area to choose the most interesting sites for you to explore, based on that day’s weather conditions. It’s all part of your expedition experience.
There are many islands and fjords to choose from in the area. We’ll be exploring one or several of them, according to the time and weather conditions. The ship will anchor off one of the islands or in a small bay. Small boats (RIBs) will take us to shore, where you’ll have the chance to explore local nature and culture.
Aquarium and Art Nouveau architecture - Ålesund
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 apartments painted in yellows and reds. Stroll through Ålesund’s cobblestone streets 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. This 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 stand here today.
Ålesund is Norway’s fishing capital, and is also the site of the Atlantic Sea Park, recently designated as Norway’s first marine science center. A visit here is your included activity for the day. 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 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.
‘Queen of the Fjords’ - Rosendal or Sundal
Hardangerfjord, located in southwest Norway, will be the last of the great fjords we’ll visit on this winter expedition. Enjoy the views as we sail deep into this fjord. We plan to explore the villages of Sunndal or Rosendal, depending on the weather conditions.
From Sunndal, situated near Bondhusbreen, the Bondhus Glacier, you can explore the area on a scenic hike or by kayak with the Expedition Team as optional excursions. The small, charming village of Rosendal has only 800 inhabitants. Just to its east sits the Folgefonna Glacier. You can learn about one of Norway’s largest glaciers at the village visitor’s center.
Whether we stop in Sunndal or Rosendal, make sure to stop into one of the villages’ small cafés to sample the delicious local food. The hillsides of Hardangerfjord are home to 40% of all of Norway’s fruit orchards. The region is therefore famous for its apples, from jams and juice to award-winning cider, which one wine critic described as “Nordic champagne”.
Headed for Hamburg - At sea
The end of your expedition is on the horizon. By this stage of your journey, you’ll likely regard your fellow explorers as friends, after finding so much in common in your interests and passion for nature. Chat with your shipmates over a snack at the bistro-style Fredheim restaurant and share your favorite stories from the expedition so far. Enjoy drinks at the Explorer Bar over friendly banter and share stories of past adventures. You might even spot a few members of the crew and Expedition Team here too.
If you’d rather spend this last day at sea in quiet contemplation, just check out your camera roll—you’ll hopefully have multiple memory cards full of Northern Lights photos to sift through. Or head to the gym to clear your mind and take stock of everything you’ve seen and experienced, then relax one last time in the soothing sauna.
The end of an enchanting expedition - Hamburg
The time has come to bid a fond farewell to the ship, the captain, the crew, the Expedition Team, and your new-found friends.
As you head ashore, you’ll take with you special memories of Norway in winter: wonderful fjords, fascinating towns and cities, friendly people, and the magical Northern Lights.
We look forward to welcoming you aboard again soon!