Award-winning Hurtigruten has operated voyages along the craggy Norwegian coast since 1893. This year guests will be crossing the 71st parallel during their top-ranking “North Cape” cruise. The 71st is the northernmost point on the European continent — way north of Iceland – and very valuable for bragging rights as a claim few people can make.
Plying these nippy sub-Arctic waters in the part of the world known as “Finnmark” offers a rich tapestry of Sami, Russian and Finnish cultures. Summer visitors see grazing reindeer and Sami camps, and in winter a special bus follows a snow plow up the final eight miles to reach the 1,000-foot high plateau where, bracing against the winds, you get to stand beside the iconic North Cape globe for photographic proof positive that you have literally stood at the top of the world.
Top stop, Tromsø, Norway’s biggest city north of the Arctic Circle, was named top cruise destination for 2012 by Frommer’s. “The Midnight Concert in the Arctic Cathedral” in the candlelit Tromsdalen Church is always a high note. Another highlight: the Polaria Centre, an aquarium and theater featuring educational programs about the Northern Lights (greatest show not on earth), and local polar bears and seals. Opportunity to ride a dog sled or just meet and greet the huskies without sledding.
As a world leader in expedition cruising to the most remote of destinations – including Antarctica, Greenland and the Arctic’s Spitsbergen, Hurtigruten’s fleet of 14 intimate ships (100 -646 guests each) offers a vast menu of thrilling excursions in the 34 ports between Bergen and Kirkenes … anyone for a Viking feast in Stamsund-Svolvaer or a scooter expedition in Lapland?
Chill out! Check out: www.hurtigruten.us. Or call (877) 301-3117.