About Explorer Cruises by Hurtigruten

An explorer cruise with Hurtigruten is meant for adventurers who value life experiences and personal growth over excessive luxury. These expedition-style voyages will take you on breath-taking, nature-based experiences in remote corners of the world, from the far north to the far south. On an Explorer voyage you will be accompanied by a highly skilled crew and expedition team on one of five intimately-scaled expedition ships.

Frequently asked questions:

What are the differences between the ships?

All five ships are designed for the special conditions of explorer cruises, but they are very different – ranging from the “old lady” MS Nordstjernen to the very modern MS Roald Amundsen, a brand-new environmentally friendly hybrid vessel launched in 2019. The vessels travel to different destinations. You can find information on the vessel used under each tour.

You can also read more about the different vessels here: 
MS Fram
MS Midnatsol
MS Nordstjernen
MS Spitsbergen
MS Roald Amundsen

What is included in the tour price?

An overview of the services included is specified for each tour (at the bottom of the tour page).

Will I meet a representative from Authentic Scandinavia during my trip?

Since we offer tours throughout the Nordic countries, the Baltis and Russia we do not have staff available to meet you in person during your travels with us. Please rest assured however that we are always available through phone and email during our office hours and through our emergency phone outside our office hours should you require any assistance during your travels.  

What is the weather like?

Even if you travel in summer, remember that you will be in Arctic regions where temperatures hardly ever raise over 10 degrees Celsius even in the warmest summer months. 
The climate in Longyearbyen on Spitsbergen (Svalbard) can still be minus degrees at night in May, and reaches a maximum of about 9 degrees Celsius in July. Further north on Spitsbergen, it can be colder, and if the weather is rough and windy, it might feel like proper winter. The temperature in Iceland can raise to about 15 degrees during July and August but can have a chilly 4 degrees at night in May. The climate on the west coast of Greenland is about the same as in Iceland. The temperatures in Antarctica vary a lot depending on the location. The average temperature during the summer time along the coast is just below 0 degrees Celsius.

What do I need to pack?

The dress code on board is informal; bring casual and comfortable clothing. There is no need to dress up for dinners. Even though it is summer, you will need warm clothing to be able to be outside on deck and for the landings. It is recommended to bring a warm jacket, wind and water-resistant trousers, long thermal or woolen underwear, a warm cap or headband, a scarf and gloves, a warm woolen jumper or a fleece jacket and warm socks. Shoes with good, grippy soles and a pair that is comfortable on board. Bring good sunglasses and sun protection. A small waterproof backpack, a pair of good binoculars and a good camera should also be on your packing list.

On all expedition ships except MS Nordstjernen, you will receive a wind- and waterproof jacket that you can bring home afterwards, and you can borrow boots (there is not enough space on board MS Nordstjernen for boot storage).

When is the best time to travel with MS Nordstjernen?

Early in the season, in May and beginning of June, there is usually still a lot of ice. That means there are many seals which again attract polar bears so that chances of seeing them might be a little bigger. On the other hand, lots of ice means that the ship might not get into all fjords, might not reach 80 degrees north or that landings have to be in different places than planned. 

From May to July, there are many birds to be seen; most of them will leave the area by August. August is a time of beautiful colours, and until August 23, you can still see the mignight sun (after that, it is still very bright but they days shorten with 20 minutes daily in each end). Both early (May) and late (August-September) in the season, the tour price is cheaper.

Is there a guide on board?

Yes, there is a professional expedition team on board that will keep you up to date on the progress of the trip and point out interesting sights and wildlife sightings. They will also hold lectures on topics such as biology, history and geology, accompany you on landings, and will happily answer all questions you might have. Apart from onboard MS Nordstjernen, the ships have an expedition desk where you can book additional activities if you like. The main language on board is English; on most departures there is also a German speaking guide on board.

Is there entertainment on board?

The emphasis on board is on relaxation and discovery, and not on the commercial entertainment which is so often a part of conventional cruises. Hurtigruten’s aim is to get you closer to unique environments and to allow you to share the experience with your fellow travellers. Occasionally there may be some musical entertainment on board in the evenings.

Is there a doctor on board? And do I have to be in good health?

It depends on the ship. There is no doctor on board MS Nordstjernen; the hospital in Longyearbyen will be contacted in case of emergency. On all other explorer ships, there is an English-speaking physician and nurse on board. The ships have a small medical facility with the necessary equipment and medication to handle small emergencies. In the event of a serious emergency, the nearest hospital will be contacted. Medical consultations as well as medication will be charged to the passenger affected. It is compulsory to carry sufficient travel/health insurance. If you depend on medication, remember to bring sufficient supplies to last through any unforeseen delays. We also recommend that you keep your medication in your hand luggage properly labelled and with clear instructions for its use. If you depend on vital drugs, please inform the ship’s doctor upon arrival. Illness on board can lead to quarantine and orders from the ship’s physician and captain must be followed. 

In general, it is advised that you are in good health when joining an explorer cruise since there is no immediate access to modern medical facilities. Futhermore, you must be able to walk on uneven or slippery surfaces and to climb on and off the small boats for landings. 

Might I get seasick?

Yes, that might happen since the sea can be rough at times. Seasickness pills are available for purchase in the reception. If you are prone to seasickness, it is recommended that you bring pills that you are familiar with. You may also buy “sea bands” on board.

Will my mobile phone work? Is there Internet access?

Depending on the operator with whom you have a contract, mobile phones will function in some places on shore. Check with your carrier company for details.
There is no internet connection on board MS Nordstjernen. On the other ships, Wi-Fi is available for a fee. On MS Fram, MS Midnatsol and MS Spitsbergen, there is an internet café on board with available computers, and coverage almost everywhere on the vessel except in the cabins. On MS Roald Amundsen, no internet café is available but the whole ship will have Wi-Fi coverage at an extra cost. 

Are there laundry facilities on board?

There is no laundry service on MS Nordstjernen. On the other ships, laundry service is available for a fee. There are no self-service or dry-cleaning options. 

Is smoking allowed on board?

Smoking is only permitted in designated areas on the outside decks. Smoking in the cabin is prohibited and subject to a fine.

Do I need travel insurance?

Yes, Hurtigruten requires all guests to have a travel insurance including cancellation cover and providing medical cover for illness or injury and repatriation while overseas.

Why is the cruise schedule not fixed?

During an expedition cruise, the elements rule, and the weather, wind and ice conditions will determine the final schedule. Safety is paramount and the captain will decide the sailing itinerary during the voyage. Therefore, the stated itinerary is just an indication of what you can experience, and why every expedition with Hurtigruten is unique.

What are small boat landings?

During the explorer cruise, you will make several landings by small boats, often called Polar Circle Boats. These sturdy boats are used for water-based exploration and safe landings in otherwise inaccessible areas. You need to be fairly agile to board them (especially on MS Nordstjernen where you need to climb down stairs), but the crew is there to assist. Proper footwear needs to be worn. There are usually two boat tours or shore visits per day but they depend on the weather and wind, and no guarantee can be given for the location and the amount of landings during the cruise. 

Are children allowed on expedition cruises?

Expedition cruises are neither recommended nor allowed for small children. For most expedition cruises the lower age limit is 5 years (for tours in the Antarctic it is 12 years) but we ask you to consider if your child will enjoy a tour like that. On cruises on MS Nordstjernen around Spitsbergen, small children/babies are allowed but not recommended since the ship and the program are not adjusted. In any case, due to safety reasons, children under 12 will be considered for each landing. It is entirely at the Captain’s discretion to allow children on shore landings. 

Why do I have to fill out a personal questionnaire and medical forms?

The personal questionnaire is necessary for the ship manifest, immigration offices, flight tickets and customs (if applicable for the chosen tour). Please fill in the Hurtigruten questionnaire once you receive it from us after your booking is confirmed. Please note that we are unable to send your travel documents until we have received the completed form. 
 
A Medical Certificate needs to be submitted by all passengers joining our voyages to the Antarctic Peninsula, South Georgia, the North East side of Greenland, on the Northwest Passage and across the Atlantic Ocean, due to the remoteness of these areas. The Medical Certificate is to be completed and approved by your personal physician not more than 8 weeks before your departure date. 
 
The completed forms must be presented to the ship’s doctor upon boarding. Boarding will be denied if part III of the Medical Certificate is not approved by your personal physician. Even if the forms have been duly submitted and approved by your personal physician, the ship’s doctor and the captain reserve the right to deny the boarding of guests who do not seem to be sufficiently fit for travel. 

Will I see the Northern Lights on Explorer voyages?

No, since the explorer voyages are mostly sailing under the Midnight Sun. For chances of seeing the Northern Lights we recommend to book Norwegian Coastal voyages in winter.

Is there a jacuzzi on board? 

There is a jacuzzi on all ships except MS Nordstjernen. 

What is the cruise card?

A cruise card will be issued upon arrival on board as part of the check-in procedure. All guests are requested to wear this card when disembarking in all ports of call and landings. The card serves as a control system on the gangway enabling the ship to know which of the guests are on board and ashore at any time. This card, in addition to being the key card for your cabin, is also your payment card on board. The card is the only means of payment for on board facilities. To activate the cruise card account you must have a Visa, American Express, Diners or Mastercard (Maestro Card is not supported). The credit card must be valid more than 3 months after your stay on board. 

Do I need an adapter?

The plugs in your cabins are all 220V/50hz. Suites have 110V for Shavers. The plugs are continental two pin plugs. Please bring an adapter if your appliances use different ones. On all ships except MS Nordstjernen, adapters are available for purchase in the shop.

Can I drink the water on board?

The tap water in your cabin is drinkable. Filtered water by the carafe is available at your table during meals, while bottled water is available for purchase.

What does Hurtigruten do for the environment?

Hurtigruten attempts to only leave a small footprint. In order to achieve this, they have established the Hurtigruten foundation that helps fight pollution, funds local and global projects in the areas they explore and is involved in research to for example secure the polar bear population. They have introduced the first battery hybrid power ship and convert most of their existing ships to hybrid battery powered. As the first cruise line in the world, Hurtigruten has banned all unnecessary single use plastic. From straws to drinking cups and plastic bags, the plastic has been removed or replaced by environmentally friendly alternatives made of paper, biodegradable material and sustainable materials. Hurtigruten actively works against marine pollution and involves their guests, for example by cleaning the beaches during landings. 

Furthermore, Hurtigruten has been actively involved in establishing the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO), which oversees expedition cruising in Arctic areas. Through the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO), Hurtigruten works to secure a safe and environmentally aware tourism industry in the unique and fragile Antarctica.