Explorer Voyages with Hurtigruten

Explorer Voyages
Antarctica, Svalbard, Russia, Greenland, Iceland

Get ready for a rare adventure! From Ushuaia, cross the Drake Passage and sail on to an unforgettable exploration of Antarctica. Meet penguins up close and touch icebergs with your bare hands. On board there is so much to do: the Explorer room, Young Explorer programme, theme days, exciting lectures, and more, all designed to enhance your trip.


Explore the World with Us

Hurtigruten is an exploration company in the truest sense of the word and our mission is to bring adventurers to remote natural beauty in distant corners of the world. Our experience in the field is unparalleled, and we draw on this unique heritage to guide our fleet of advanced expedition ships to unforgettable wilderness experiences in some of the most difficult to reach places on Earth.


Close Encounters with Antarctic Wildlife

Taking an expedition to Antarctica with MS Midnatsol is sure to rank among the most exciting things you’ll ever do – exploring the most remote place on earth. Join us on this adventure filled with the unparalleled highlights of Antarctica. 


A Living Continent of Ice

The adventure starts as we sail the famous Drake Passage before arriving in remote Antarctica. Things quickly become even more interesting – behind every new iceberg a new highlight appears. 

The goose bump factor is huge and the wildlife of Antarctica is a chapter in itself. You will see whales, meet thousands of penguins and even some seriously cute seals. And the icebergs drift by in fantastic variety, in all shapes and colours. The horizon seems endless and blue-white, and the oceans are full of icebergs and whales. Even more awe-inspiring, we will have our first encounters with huge colonies of penguins. Most importantly, you will explore ashore and in small craft through iceberg-rich waters to feel like a real polar explorer. 

Back on board, you’ll have fun opportunities to learn and share discoveries with family and new friends in a relaxed way. MS Midnatsol is a ship built and designed to meet the needs of modern explorers – both on and off board.  Our explorer deck is where you can meet fellow adventurers for scientific fun with our engaging Expedition Team, no matter what age you are. The media room on board shows the highlights of the day, and if you haven’t joined an excursion or landing, you can see films and photos, and share in the adventures here at the end of each day. The children should check out our Young Explorers programme. All scientific content is presented in a lively, fun and easily understood manner – first class edutainment, so to speak. 

So, join us on a voyage to the extremes of the world, on the adventure of a lifetime!

You don't need to climb Everest to be considered an explorer. With Hurtigruten's explorer fleet, you can realise your dreams large or small, from setting foot on untouched wilderness to simply trying something new. Join us! Let us help you connect with your inner explorer on an unforgettable journey.


Adventure to the end of the Earth

Read more about Antarctica

True Polar Expedition
Embark on an adventure unlike anything else with the leader in Antarctic expedition cruises.

Another World
Set foot on the most unique and remote place on Earth. Explore the frozen wilderness on daily landings and activities.

Fascinating Wildlife
Meet the curious and fearless Antarctic animals like penguins, whales and seals in their natural habitat.

Sustainable Travel
Sail with the greenest expedition cruise fleet. Learn about our planet’s most fragile ecosystems and get a deeper understanding of the world we share.

Wildlife in Antarctica

There isn’t much life in the Antarctic. While the landscape may seem somewhat desolate to the untrained observer, it is actually one of the most interesting places on earth. Apart from a few herbivorous Antarctic creatures, all animals on the southernmost continent are predators.

There are four types of seals that live in the waters surrounding Antarctica: leopard, crabeater, Weddell, and southern elephant. All seals are fairly slow predators that hunt by waiting in places their prey is likely to appear. Most of them are unlikely to pay humans much mind at all—except for the leopard seal. This seal, named for its characteristic spots, has been known to become aggressive with humans in small boats. They’re fierce predators and are perfectly happy to eat anything. Although they don’t attack humans often, it’s best to give leopard seals a wide berth.

During the austral summer, Antarctic waters are full of many different types of whales looking to eat fish, squid, and plankton. Killer whales are one of the species travelers might be able to spot on their trip; these are the most aggressive and ambitious hunters, as their sights are set on seals, seabirds, and even other whales. They’re perfectly capable of taking down creatures that are much larger than they are, provided they hunt in groups.

The world’s favourite awkward Antarctic creature, penguins mostly eat krill and very small fish. They spend most of their time in the water, but usually come on land to mate and raise their chicks. Although Antarctic penguins don’t think of humans as a threat or a meal, it’s still best to exercise caution when around them. They’re not shy around people, and may come right up to you – still, they can and do bite, so it’s wise to treat them the way you would any other wild animal.


Remote, mysterious and extreme

Read more about Svalbard

Explore the Svalbard archipelago, located halfway between Norway and the North Pole. The largest of Svalbard’s islands, Spitsbergen, is a land forged by ice, wind and sea. Join an expedition cruise or participate in one of our spectacular land adventures that will take you closer to the ghost towns of early whaling stations, spectacular fjords and icebergs, wildlife and the King of the Arctic – the Polar Bear.

Wildlife in Svalbard

The wildlife on Svalbard has had to adapt to the harsh living conditions in the Arctic. Here the animals are exposed to extreme cold, periods with little food and a long winter without daylight. Svalbard only has two species of land mammals; the arctic fox and Svalbard reindeer. The polar bear spends most of its life on the drift ice and is therefore considered a marine mammal.

King of the Arctic – The Polar Bear
The polar bear is perhaps the most well-known symbol of Svalbard and its wilderness, and it is an incredible experience to see one in its natural environment. At the same time, it is important to understand that these are predators which we are not allowed to disturb, and that visitors should feel lucky if they should see one, rather than disappointed if they do not. The polar bear you don’t see might be relaxing on an iceberg somewhere, enjoying life and eating a seal. The polar bear is the world’s largest bear, whose native range is largely within the Arctic. The total number of polar bears in the world is estimated to be around 25,000 animals, and of these approximately 3000 are found on Svalbard and the surrounding areas. There are strict protections in place in those countries where polar bears are found, and hunting of polar bears is very controlled and strictly limited. On Svalbard, the bears are completely protected.


Birdlife on Svalbard
The number of bird species on Svalbard may be somewhat limited compared to more southerly climes, but many of them visit in incredible numbers. This is particularly clear when you see thousands of seabirds nesting on a single bird cliff. One of the most popular species, the Brünnich’s guillemot, has several colonies with over 100,000 nesting pairs. In the bird cliffs, the close symbiosis between life on land and at sea becomes more obvious, as you see bird after bird return home to their chicks with small fish and shellfish. Most of the birds that nest on Svalbard migrate south in the late summer. Most of them spend the winter in regions with more comfortable climates and easily accessed food sources. The Svalbard grouse is the only bird that lives all year on land on Svalbard. Generally, only a very small number of eider ducks, long-tailed ducks and black guillemots stay for the winter, around the coast of Svalbard.


14 Facts about Polar Bears
The African savannah has lions, and in the Arctic we have polar bears. Check out these facts that you probably did not know about the King of the Arctic. This wild, yet cuddly looking creature dominates our ice-covered wilderness, and is at the very top of the food chain. If you are lucky, you may see a polar bear on Svalbard, perhaps on one of our boat or snowmobile tours.

1. The longest documented unbroken swim taken by a polar bear was 685 km over 6 days. Watch out, Michael Phelps – that’s the same distance as Washington DC to Boston. During the swim, the female bear lost 22 percent of her bodyweight. Studies show that we can expect more long distance swimmers amongst the polar bears in the future, due to the shrinking ice cover.

2. The latin name for the polar bear is ‘ursus maritimus’, which means sea bear. In Inuit mythology, the polar bear is known as ‘Pihoqahiak’ – the ever-wandering one.

3. When we first look at languages, the polar bear is known as isbjørn (ice bear) in Norwegian, and is often called ‘kvitbjørn’ (white bear) or ‘polarbjørn’ (polar bear). Other names that are used include ‘Kongen av Arktis’ (The King of the Arctic) and less understandably ‘gammel man i skinnkappe’ (Old man in a fur jacket)

4. Polar bear females generally give birth to two young which live with their mother for more than two years, until they can hunt and survive on their own. The females receive no assistance from the males.

5. On average, the weight of an adult female bear is about 250 kg. Whilst pregnant, the females can weigh up to 500 kg. A fully grown male bear weighs around 450 kg.

6. In the wild, polar bears live for an average of 15 to 18 years.

7. These bears are amongst the animals that are most affected by climate change, as their home is literally melting under their feet.

8. Seal is the preferred meal for polar bears.

9. They are amongst the largest carnivorous mammals, and are the largest member of the bear family.

10. Polar bears can have blubber up to 10 cm thick. Under their light fur – which makes for excellent camouflage – polar bears have dark skin, which helps the warmth from the sun to sink in. Their fur even grows under their claws, which helps protect them from cold surfaces.

11. Even if most polar bears are born on land, they spend most of their life at sea. Two of the most important habitats for polar bears in the Arctic are the Beaufort Sea and the Chukchi Sea.

12. Polar bears are the only bear that is considered to be a marine animal.

13. Even if polar bears look adorable, they are powerful carnivores who are seldom afraid of humans, which makes them very dangerous.

14. These Arctic kings have no natural enemies.


The remote and extreme north

Read more about Russia

This is Russia as few know it. Perched on the utmost edge of Russian territory, at the top of the world above 80°N, is the archipelago of Franz Josef Land. This is the Extreme North, a smattering of islands encased in Arctic ice, and the site of many a famous expedition to the North Pole. Murmansk, Russia’s key port in the region, is our launch pad into the various islands, which are themselves the natural home to walrus, as well as the mighty polar bear.

Read more about Franz Josef Land

Remote Franz Josef Land has always been a magnet for hardy adventurers. Now you can set foot on the ice where great explorers like Fridtjof Nansen and Hjalmar Johansen spent the winter. Watch for polar bears wandering in their natural environment and feel the cool Arctic air gust down from the North Pole just a few miles away.


The beautiful land of contrasts

Read more about Greenland

A green and white oasis in the middle of the rough sea, with exceptional interaction between man and nature.

Greenland is a land of contrasts. Colossal icebergs calve from the inland ice sheet against a backdrop of green mountains, long fjords and beautiful wild flowers. A rich variety of animal life add to its splendour, including sea mammals, game, and birds by the million. Still, the best description of what Greenland is all about is the Greenlandic name of the world’s biggest island: Kalaallit Nunaat –the “Land of the people”.

Man and Nature
The fine-tuned interaction between man and nature, as illustrated by the traditional lives of hunters in small isolated communities, is reflected in the language, music, myths, clothing and food. Like no other polar destination, Greenland offers close interaction and unique cultural experiences along with breathtaking nature.

The total area of Greenland is over 2.1 million square kilometres, with ice covering over 80% of the island. Here you find the most productive glacier in the northern hemisphere. It produces up to 10% of all the icebergs in Greenland – with its massive glacier front feeding a 40 kilometre long fiord packed with sculptural icebergs. The town of Ilulissat, on the Icefjord, is on the UNESCO world heritage list.

Close Encounters
With Hurtigruten you can choose among a variety of expedition sailings to Greeland on the MS Fram and MS Spitsbergen. We cooperate with local suppliers to give you an even closer encounter with the nature, wildlife, culture and history of Greenland. This includes both on-board meetings with the local Inuit and visits to Greenlandic communities and settlements as regular parts of the programme.

22 Fun Facts about Greenland

On a Greenland cruise with Hurtigruten, voyagers will get an authentic experience with the ancient culture and stunning wildlife. In a land dominated by ice sheets, there are limitless natural attractions. Check out these fascinating facts about the world’s largest island:

1. The name Greenland means “Land of People.”

2. Almost 80 percent of the land mass is covered by an ice cap and glaciers. Though a minority of land, the ice-free area is nearly as large as Sweden.

3. The Ilulissat Icefjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the most productive glacier in the Northern Hemisphere.

4. Greenland has a population of roughly 56,000, about 17,000 of whom live in the capital Nuuk.

5. Fishing and grants from Denmark are the primary sources of income for inhabitants in Greenland. In recent years, the country’s tourism industry has been expanding as well.

6. Scientists have estimated that the Greenland ice sheet is between 400,000 and 800,000 years old.

7. Greenland was a Danish colony until 1953, when it became a country. It attained home rule in 1979 and began full self-government in 2009. The government is a constitutional monarchy, with a 31-member unicameral parliament called Landsting and a premier. The country sends two representatives to the Danish Folketing. The nominal head of state is the Danish Queen.

8. There are a number of hot springs that attract visitors throughout the year to their balmy temperatures averaging between 98 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

9. The largest town in southern Greenland is Qaqortoq, which has been occupied for about 4,300 years. Stop by the Qaqortoq museum for a glimpse back in time with an art collection from the Dorset, Thule and Norse cultures.

10. The Hvalsey Church, which was the first Christian church on the continent, is one of best preserved Norse ruins.

11. In mid-March, golf lovers can join or watch the Ice Golf World Championships in Uummannaq. The two-day event takes place on a a course cut on the ice, between icebergs and out in the snow fields.

12. Recent research indicate that the inhabitants of Greenland originated from eastern Siberia via Canada.

13. Greenland had a closed and self-sufficient economy until World War II.

14. The country’s flag has a polar bear in a blue shield – the polar bear is meant to symbolize the fauna of Greenland and the blue represents the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans.

15. The country is geographically part of North America, but politically is part of Europe.

16. The sun does not set from May 25th to July 25th. On the Arctic Circle the midnight sun only lasts for about half an hour, but the further north you get, the longer it lasts. June 21, the longest day of the year, is a national holiday. July is the only month when Greenland’s temperature reaches above freezing.

17. Danish krone is the currency of Greenland.

18. “Kayak” and “igloo” are Greenlandic words that have been adopted directly by other languages.

19. The northeast Greenland ice sheet has lost more than 10 billion tons of ice a year since 2003, according to a Nature Climate Change study.

20. Much of Greenland tourism revolves around flora and fauna. The most sought-after wildlife includes polar bears, humpback whales, musk oxen, walruses, reindeer and sea eagles.

21. The Vikings discovered Greenland in the 10th century.

22. The official languages of the country are Greenlandic and Danish, though English is widely understood.


The mythical land of fire and ice

Read more about Iceland

Where the ground is so hot it ventilates through hot springs, volcano eruptions and fiery saga tales.

Mythical Iceland is the land of ice and fire, with glaciers and volcanos side by side. The nature offers stunning landscapes, geysers and impressive waterfalls. The contrasts are enhanced by long dark winters and summers lit by the midnight sun, as well as vast expanses of unspoilt nature at the doorstep of highly modern urban communities.

Bridge Between Continents
Located in the North-Atlantic Ocean close by the Arctic Circle, Iceland is very much a bridge between continents. By plane, Reykjavik is approximately five hours from New York and three hours from London. Like Norway, Iceland is blessed with the Gulf Stream providing a temperate climate, with refreshing summers and surprisingly mild temperatures in winter.

Norse and Cosmopolitan
The culture of this 103,000 square kilometre island has been shaped by isolation and the forces of nature. The approximately 330,000 islanders all know their saga tales, and both in culture and language they have kept close ties with their Norse ancestry. The capital of Iceland, Reykjavik, has a cosmopolitan air about it, remarkable for such a small city. It is a hub for creativity and design, famous for its colourful buildings, urban modernity and pulsating nightlife.

The Hidden People
With Hurtigruten you can choose from a range of expedition sailings to Iceland with excursions to active volcanoes, bright green valleys, glacier-carved fjords, black sand beaches and roaring rivers. You might even meet the Hidden People, the elves that are said to govern quite a lot of Icelandic affairs.

Mythsn and Legends of Iceland

Iceland is a country of striking and sometimes supernatural beauty – which is matched by its rich and extensive folklore. Here’s what you need to know about the Icelandic superstitions.

Reuters reported 10 percent of Icelanders believe in supernatural beings, while 10 percent do not – the remaining 80 percent either have no strong feelings either way or refuse to deny their existence entirely.

Belief in huldufólk – hidden people or elves – is fairly common, to such an extent that roadwork projects that run into trouble are sometimes said to be angering local elves and a medium must be consulted before work can continue.

If you are travelling to Iceland, you have a unique opportunity to visit the sites of thousands of years of mythology and folklore – and perhaps even to see elves and trolls yourself, if some locals are to be believed. Learning about the country’s folklore is a unique way to experience Icelandic culture, and certainly not a common experience.

For the discriminating and perhaps the quirky traveler, making a trip around Iceland based on myth and legend may be the best way to explore the country.

Here are a few otherworldly sights and sites to look for while you’re in Iceland:

Wherever you are in Iceland – whether in a populated city or the middle of supernatural-seeming wilderness – you’re likely to come across álfhól. These are small wooden houses people construct for the benefit of elves, who are said to live in them. You may even see very small churches, which are created for the purpose of converting the elves to Christianity. These elf homes range from simple to quite elaborate, and seeing how many you can spot while you’re in Iceland can be an amusing pastime. Remember to take plenty of pictures for your friends back home – it’s unlikely they’ve ever seen somewhere elves live.

Special Times for the Huldufólk
Certain holidays seem to bring the huldufólk out of hiding in Iceland. If you are in the country during New Year’s Eve, Twelfth Night, Midsummer or Christmas night, expect to hear folktales of elves holding parties or humans hosting bonfires for them. It is also an Icelandic custom to clean the house and leave food for the huldufólk on Christmas – a tradition you may wish to participate in from on board your cruise if you’re there at the right time. Midsummer night brings the chance to sit at a crossroads and have the huldufólk offer you great gifts – but the real rewards come from refusing them, or so the stories say.

The Trolls of Vík
If you decide to visit the beautiful black sand beach in Vík, you will encounter trolls, according to local legend. This site is worth a visit all on its own, as it is one of the world’s most enchanting beaches tucked away near a very small city. If you look off the shore, however, you will notice basalt rock formations known as Reynisdrangar. The legend says these rocks are really trolls, who were caught in the sunlight as they tried to drag ships ashore and were turned forever to stone.

Sea Monsters
Monsters, known in Icelandic as skrimsli, may live in the sea, according to many. Reuters spoke to Thorvaldur Fridriksson, a scholar of sea monsters, who keeps an open mind about this possibility.

“Some of these monsters are dangerous,” he said. “People are reluctant to tell about them because others will laugh. But about 70 percent of Earth is sea and who knows what the sea hides?”

While skrimsli are unlikely to be a threat to your cruise travel in Iceland, you may wonder at night in particularly eerie waters.

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