New Year's Eve on the North Cape, Opera in Oslo, Viking history and myth, air-inclusive vacations, the midnight sun, the Northern Lights, stunning fjords, wildlife at every turn...the list of cruise and land opportunities goes on and on and is detailed in Hurtigruten's new full-color, 80-page 2010 Norway brochure. Hurtigruten, a name synonymous with exploration cruising, continues to find more ways to showcase their year-round home, adding new theme cruises and shore excursions and packaging air, land and sea into easy to book vacations. The centerpiece of nearly every offer are the six-, seven- and 12-day sailings along the spectacular fjord-filled west coast of Norway year-round -- a voyage named the “world’s most beautiful voyage” by Lonely Planet’s “Bluelist.” The scenery changes from moment to moment as the company's fleet of modern ships, journeying 1,250 miles between Bergen and Kirkenes, make 34 port calls -- small fishing villages in the rugged Lofoten Islands, Art Nouveau Alesund, the ancient Viking capital of Trondheim and Norway's "Paris of the North" Tromso. Cruise-only fares range from $1,205 to $6,622 per person, double with many prices reduced for early booking. Solo travelers avoid the single supplement on a large number of departures.
Coastal Value Packages - these 9- to 15-day independent adventure vacations offer a way to take in many of Norway's best sites without having to worry about booking flights or hotels - a one-stop, all-inclusive option with daily departures, year-round. One night is spent in both Bergen and Oslo, bookending the cruise, where guests have plenty of free time to explore and sightsee -- Oslo's Vigeland Park, Viking Ship Museum, the new Opera House, and many small shops selling unique Norwegian jewelry and other treasures. Walking the cobblestone streets of Bergen offers sights that include its Art Museum, with more than 9,000 works of art; St. Mary’s Church, the oldest building in Bergen; composer Edvard Grieg's home; and the wooden buildings in the Bryggen Wharf. The nine-day "Norwegian Holiday" incorporates the six-day south-bound sailing, departing from Kirkenes, above the Arctic Circle. The 10-day "Highlights of Norway" sails seven days on the northbound route. The 15-day "Grand Norway" offers guests the 12-day roundtrip, allowing them to see during the day what they may have missed at night in the other direction. Airfare is from New York with add-ons from dozens of North American gateways priced from $100 to $360. Air fuel surcharges, air and cruise taxes and ticketing fees are additional.
Theme Voyages - as more travelers look to bring home memories of unique and educational experiences, Hurtigruten has sought out the interests of their passengers and is offering an expanded roster of even more fascinating possibilities for 2010.
· "Celebrations in the Arctic" brings in the New Year as no one else can - with the countdown held on the North Cape, Europe's most northern point - Dec. 26, 2009 and Dec. 27, 2010.
· "Notes at Sea" is an opera-lover's dream trip - daily concerts on board and a Norwegian New Year's Concert at Oslo's brand-new Opera House - Jan. 5, 2010.
· "The Rhythm & Fabric of Life" showcases the deep-rooted traditions of the Norwegian culture, mixing music, crafts, dance and folk culture. Guests enjoy learning to folk dance and see how traditional instruments are made - Jan. 5, 2010
· "Lords of the Fjords" is a step back in time to when the Vikings ruled the waters and land. Onboard experts provide talks and entertainment, immersing the passenger in the Viking history and culture - Apr. 7 and Sept. 23, 2010.
· "Tastes & Sounds of the Fjords" is a series of choir, jazz and classical concerts, cooking lessons and wine tastings combined to create a unique culinary experience - while in the midst of the majestic beauty of the fjords - Apr. 15 and Sept 16, 2010
· "Norway's Big Day Out" is what it sounds like - a celebration of Norway's Constitution Day (May 17). Children's parades and festivities take play across the nation and guests learn about the country's history from experts - six May 2010 departures.
· "Hall of the Mountain King" explores the life of Edvard Grieg. Performances by pianist Rune Alver and talks by lecturer Eilif B. Lotveit bring to life Norway's renown composer - with daily recitals and daily lectures - Oct. 10 & 16, 2010.
· "The Ice-Breakers" - Fridtjof Nansen and Roald Amundsen were two of Norway's greatest explorers. And guests will learn more about them from famous lecturer Arne Kertelhein as the ship follows some their Norway routes - Oct. 11 & 18, 2010.
· "Birds of the Nordic Coast" takes place as millions of migrating birds return to the Arctic for nesting - a true ornithological event with lectures and stellar bird-watching opportunities - May 20, 2010.
Excursions and Explorations - getting off the ship and enjoying the local scene and sights has always been an important feature of Hurtigruten cruises, so the company has developed dozens of high-quality excursions for their guests. Port excursions range from city tours of Alesund and Tromso to the more unusual "Lofotr Viking Feast" - a true Viking feast, banquet hall and all - and a "Quad-Safari to the Russian Border," to the simply fun: "Dog Sledding in Tromso" and "Scootertrip in Lapland" (snowmobiles). Pre- and post-cruise explorations, ranging in length from a few hours to three days, offer wonderful opportunities to experience Norway in all its glory. Among the offerings - guests can spend two days in the Snowhotel in Kirkenes, sleeping on ice beds; float in a survival suit in the Barents Sea while the team leader dives for the evening's meal of King Crab; dog sled and snowshoe in Kirkenes; take the train from Bergen to Voss, a boat to Flam and a train to Myrdal on "Norway in a Nutshell"; and visit the mining town of Roros, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Most optional excursions can be booked before Sailing aboard Hurtigruten ships means large, comfortable lounges with panoramic windows and wonderful views from large outdoor decks; no need to dress up for dinner (unless you want to) and open seating; fresh seasonal ingredients, plenty of incredible seafood and a comprehensive wine list; multilingual tour directors; comfortable cabins - from the smaller inside accommodations to the large outside suites with private balconies, picture windows and even Jacuzzis on some; and a friendly and well-informed crew, ready to offer assistance and their suggestions when asked.