Next year is shaping up to be a banner year for Hurtigruten as it continues to set the standard for expedition cruises - offering journeys to the world's most remote destinations - as well as maintaining its dominant Norway position. A new 2010-11 brochure has just been released detailing the expanding passenger expedition cruise choices in Greenland, Spitsbergen and Antarctica. A second brochure has also been released that provides specifics on all of the Norway offerings including new theme cruises and shore excursions. Early booking savings are available on many of the cruises - with additional details available online at the company's web site, www.hurtigruten.us.
The 60-page Explorer Voyages brochure outlines Hurtigruten's portfolio of adventure expeditions to both ends of the world -- pristine environments, unique wildlife and stunning vistas are combined with the opportunity to learn from experts in numerous disciplines including geology, marine life, environment, history and culture. Hurtigruten takes its commitment to safeguarding these remote destinations and belongs to both AECO and IAATO - organizations that demand its members maintain responsible travel safeguards so future generations will continue to enjoy similar access and experiences.
Greenland -- six different itineraries, ranging from 8 to 15 days, visit untouched regions of the world's largest island as well as journeys that take in Iceland and Canada.
Highlights include walking tours of Inuit villages and towns with tongue-twisting names -- Qeqertarsuaq, Ukkusissat, Ilulissat, Uummannaq and Ittoqqtoormiit; East Greenland - a region rarely visited by a cruise ship and rich in unspoiled scenery; abundant wildlife that includes numerous species of whales, seals (numbering about 2 million), walruses, polar bears, musk oxen, Arctic foxes and hundreds of bird species; and visits on some itineraries to Northeast Greenland National Park - the largest national park in the world at 1.5 times the size of France. On-board Expedition Leaders and experts teach guests about the biology, history and geology and interaction with local people ensure a better understanding of the island's importance and lasting memories. 15 optional excursions, several new for 2010, round out these unique cruises. Sailings depart from May through September and range in price from $5,133 to $14,969 per person, double, if booked by Dec. 31.
Antarctica -- one of the most popular of Hurtigruten's destinations, there are few Hurtigruten guests who are not immediately taken in by the little fellas in tuxedos, always out and ready to welcome new friends to their year-round home. And the penguins are just a small part of the experience as Antarctica offers dramatic scenery, countless species of bird and marine life, and haunting landscapes. Seven itineraries are offered in the 2010-2011 season, running from November through February, and ranging from 10 to 19 days. All of the cruise itineraries begin and end in Buenos Aires, Argentina's capital and the land of the tango. Early-booking fares good through Dec. 31 range from $6,251 to $16,047 and include roundtrip air between Buenos Aires and the boarding port in Ushuaia.
The 10-day "Antarctica Discovery" focuses solely on the White Continent, spending six days visiting several of its islands, bays and harbors, while the two 13-day expeditions spend eight days and sail into more remote areas of Antarctica: "Weddell Sea Adventure" heads as far into the Weddell Sea as possible, retracing the 1901-04 Swedish Expedition; and "Polar Circle Quest" visits the far south Marguerite Bay, off limits to most ships and home to Emperor penguins. The 15-day "Chilean Fjords" combines Antarctica with five days in the seldom visited Tierra del Fuego region including Diego Ramirez, Cape Horn, Puerto Williams and Magdalena Island. A special 17-day Christmas/New Years voyage, "Shackleton's Christmas," is a celebration not to be missed - combining visits to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, South Orkney Islands and Antarctica with traditional carols, Norwegian glogg, Santa Claus and a New Year's Eve dinner and midnight party. The two 19-day "Shackleton's Antarctica" do a similar trip substituting the festivities with two additional days of exploration.
Spitsbergen -- the land where polar bears reign supreme also offers towering glaciers, spectacular fjords, Arctic deserts, the Midnight Sun and a wealth of both marine and land animals and migratory birds. Midway between Norway and the North Pole, Spitsbergen is the largest island in the Svalbard archipelago and offer no roads to link communities - making Hurtigruten's four different itineraries of six and nine days the best way to take in the never-ending vistas. The June-August season offers 16 departures aboard the MV Polar Star or MS Fram, two highly-regarded expedition ships. Prices run from $1,145 to $8,242 if booked by Dec. 1, and include round trip air from Oslo to Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen.
The six-day "Polar Encounters" heads to the remote northern and eastern regions of the island, where expedition leaders take guests ashore to see extreme Arctic sights such as ice-filled Hinlopen Strait, Nordauslandet Island and historical, near-polar settlements of Barentsburg and Ny-Alesund. The nine-day "Svalvard Explorer" encompasses the entire west coast all the way up to the 80th Parallel North, visiting the stunning Hornsund Fjord, Bear Island and Lilliehook Glacier, to name a few stops, while the nine-day "Kingdom of the Polar Bear" duplicates much of the six-day sailing, adding extra stops and focusing more heavily on seeking out the "King." A second "Kingdom of the Polar Bear" itinerary adds a near-circumvention of the glacier-covered island of Nordauslandet and a landing at Andreeneset, where the remains of the ill-fated 1897 Andree Balloon Expedition were found in 1930.