Norway's Iconic Coastal Cruise to Unveil 2 New Itineraries That Are Like an Adventurous Sea Version of the Famed Orient Express

In honor of its 130th anniversary, Hurtigruten will debut the Svalbard Express and North Cape Express, with new routes and excursions.

The MS Trollfjord sailing in Trollfjord,Norway

Courtesy of Hurtigruten Norway

Norwegians can tell the time based on which Hurtigruten ship is sailing along the coast, our guide aboard the MS Trollfjord said jokingly. A daily fixture of life in Norway since 1893, Hurtigruten’s Coastal Express route connects 34 seaside communities, once transporting everything from people to essential goods to mail.

In honor of its 130th anniversary, the sustainable cruise company is upping its coastal journeys in a historic way. In June 2023, it will debut the Svalbard Express and North Cape Express, with new routes and excursions, as well as extended port visits from Bergen to Svalbard during the summer and Oslo to Honningsvåg come winter.

The MS Trollfjord sailing in Trollfjord, Norway

Courtesy of Hurtigruten Norway

"Our new Svalbard Express combines the very best of the extraordinary Norwegian coast, one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world, with the uniqueness of Svalbard, the northernmost inhabited place on Earth,” says Hedda Felin, CEO of Hurtigruten Norway.

Aerial view of the MS Bard sailing in Longyearbyen, Svalbard

Courtesy of Hurtigruten Norway

For these new routes, passengers will board the MS Trollfjord. Completely refurbished with a sleeker, more upscale look, the ship will include additional suites with Scandinavian wood furniture, neutral tones, and traditional double bed sleeping. It will also feature a new expedition center with a dedicated coastal experience team. 

“Building on our 130-year history of operating along the Norwegian coast, we will refurbish MS Trollfjord into a signature product that will offer a premium experience in one of the world's most popular cruise regions,” says Felin.

But the ship’s most enticing advancements are on the culinary front. The top deck will include a glass-enclosed show kitchen for Norwegian cooking classes alongside a whiskey tasting room. In the afternoon, tea will be served in the Espolin Johnson Lounge under historic, original artwork. 

A la carte restaurant on board the MS Trollfjord -Hurtigruten Norway

Courtesy of Hurtigruten Norway

For lunch or dinner, guests can choose between an all-day bistro, a contemporary buffet area, or an updated fine-dining à la carte restaurant with an open kitchen and floor-to-ceiling windows. Following dinner, head to the new circular cocktail bar in the two-story observation lounge, which will have a locally inspired drinks menu, live entertainment, and stunning views of the fjords.

Chefs at the à la carte restaurant will craft multicourse Norwegian fare from the Coastal Kitchen. Partnering with more than 50 local suppliers spanning the Norwegian coast, they supply 80% of ingredients on board. As part of the initiative, Hurtigruten started its Culinary Ambassador program and joined forces with local fine-dining chefs.

The fjord-to-table experience includes a hyper-local menu designed by chefs like Halvar Ellingsen of Kvitnes Gård, one of the most exciting, in-demand restaurants in Norway. Sampling Ellingsen’s new Nordic menu redefined my idea of cruise food. The roasted carrot soup with cured moose and sour cream was a welcome introduction after a cold day at sea. Then, our servers delivered a plate of sirloin that married perfectly with salt-baked turnips, lovage, and kale stew. For dessert, we tried an addictive, sugar-pickled rhubarb atop sea buckthorn ice cream and crunchy barley bread.

For travelers, the most exciting addition to the new Coastal Express routes will be the extended port visits. Rather than the typical drop-off, pick-up itinerary, the new ones will offer half- and full-day visits, averaging seven hours in each port. With all that time, Hurtigruten is introducing a whopping 57 new excursions.

View of the Storseisundet Bridge with mountains in the background from the elevated path at Eldhusøya

AdamMajor/Getty Images

I got a sneak peek at some of these new excursions, including the journey along the Atlantic Road, one of Europe’s most scenic driving routes. The roads swept us along the jagged coast and over steep bridges for moody mountain views. Then, we stopped for photos at Eldhusøya, an island with a raised walkway where you’ll recognize the famous bridge from James Bond’s ”No Time to Die.”

Another outing took us more than 2,300 feet above the ocean. We climbed onto the Romsdalen Gondola for ear-popping panoramic views of Norway’s mountain ranges. Before you book this one, make sure the forecast says clear skies.

Dog sledding in Longyearbyen, Svalbard

Agurtxane Concellon/Courtesy of Hurtigruten Norway

Once we stepped foot on Longyearbyen in Svalbard, our excursions matched the wild nature and beauty of the world’s northernmost town. We boarded Hurtigruten’s hybrid-eclectic catamaran, the MS Bard, with hopes of spotting polar bears in the wild. Instead, we saw pods of dolphins, whales, and puffins on the windswept waters. Another highlight was dog sledding with a team of eight Greenlandic huskies. Next, we warmed up with an evening at Camp Barentz, where we learned about Svalbard’s history and its polar bears over reindeer stew and waffles.

Aerial view of Camp Barentz and a bowl of reindeer stew

From left: Halvor Mykleby, Eveline Lunde/Courtesy of Hurtigruten Norway

“By focusing on authentic and local experiences, we're enabling our guests to engage meaningfully with the destination,” says Felin. “Whether enjoying warm drinks in a Sami herdsman's tent or deep-sea fishing aboard a traditional Norwegian cutter, travelers will develop strong ties with local communities along our routes while creating unforgettable experiences."

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