OSLO, NORWAY – Hurtigruten Norway, which has carried local passengers, goods, and tourists along Norway’s coast since 1893 with the Norwegian Coastal Express, will introduce the two new offerings, the Svalbard Express and North Cape Express, next year. The Svalbard Express will launch on June 3, 2023, just one month ahead of the company’s 130-year anniversary, while the first North Cape Express will depart on September 26, 2023.
An upgraded extension to the traditional Coastal Express, the two new itineraries will offer a significantly different experience: half-or full-day port visits; cooking classes; wine, beer, champagne, and whisky tastings; a food center; a cocktail bar; and onboard entertainment. Dining options will include an à la carte restaurant with tasting menus, all-day dining, afternoon tea, and takeaway service. The food center will feature both cooking demonstrations and classes, and picnic and culinary excursions will be available, another first for the company. Like the Coastal Express has done since 1893, the two new itineraries will also bring cargo between ports and freight to the northernmost community on Earth in the case of the Svalbard Express.
“For almost 130 years, we have been carrying travelers on what is often referred to as ‘the most beautiful voyage in the world’, and no one does the Norwegian coast better than Hurtigruten Norway. With the Svalbard Express and North Cape Express, we will offer an experience similar to the likes of the Orient Express, combining a premium onboard experience with beautiful scenery, exceptional excursions, and some of the best food on any sea,” said Hedda Felin, CEO of Hurtigruten Norwegian Norway.
The Svalbard Express will mark the return of one of Norway’s most iconic sailing routes, which operated between 1968 and 1982. The new itinerary will include some of the Norwegian coast’s most popular destinations – such as the Lofoten Islands, Vesterålen, and the North Cape – before heading north to Longyearbyen in Svalbard, the world’s northernmost populated city. The full roundtrip journey takes 14 days. In addition, a seven-day one-way cruise, either starting or ending in Svalbard, is also available and would allow guests to pair their journey with Hurtigruten Svalbard’s wide range of sustainable activities. The one-way journey package includes two nights at a hotel in Longyearbyen and two excursions: a wilderness evening at Camp Barentz and the hybrid-electric catamaran MS Bard.
Meanwhile, the 13-day North Cape Express takes guests to Oslo, the capital of Norway, and both the country’s southernmost and northernmost points. It will mark Hurtigruten Norway’s first-ever time with regular sailings in Oslo. This itinerary will also include new ports in southern Norway, scenic cruising through Hardangerfjord, and the most beautiful cities and picturesque towns along the coast.
“This expansion of our global operation signals exactly what we in Hurtigruten Group believe in for the future of the travel industry, such as strong ties with local communities and less impact on nature both on land and in the ocean. Hurtigruten Group will be at the forefront of this development. These new routes in Norway and up to the world’s northernmost populated city, Longyearbyen, are a small but significant step in the0 right direction,” said Daniel Skjeldam, CEO of Hurtigruten Group.
Both the Svalbard Express and the North Cape Express will be onboard MS Trollfjord, which will undergo a comprehensive refurbishment during the first half of 2023. Cabins will be upgraded and feature modern Scandinavian design. In addition, the restaurants will be refurbished and improved, including the à la carte restaurant, which will be more than doubled in size.
“The new concept from Hurtigruten Norway will offer the absolute best of Norway, in terms of activities, nature, and food. We know travelers are looking for authentic and local experiences, which is exactly what they will get with these two itineraries. Both the Svalbard and North Cape Express have the potential to end up high on many travelers’ bucket lists,” said Håkon Haugli, CEO of Visit Norway.
The extended port visits allow the Coastal Experience Team to create a wide range of excursions depending on route and season. They are also responsible for the lecture program, which focuses on Norwegian history, culture, food, nature, and wildlife, as well as photography and handicraft and arts classes.