Exploration-style cruises and trips aboard the Hurtigruten Coastal Express are excellent ways to explore the long, heavily indented coastline and fjords of Scandinavia or the shores of Spitsbergen and Greenland. In the winter, a cruise is a great way to see the dancing technicolour of the Northern Lights and share the same waters as magnificent whales and sprightly seals.
Trips along the length of Norway’s coast are especially popular, as ports of call include historic towns and spectacular fjords alike. On our classic voyage north, start in the country’s south, in Bergen, where you’ll depart from the gabled wooden buildings of its UNESCO-listed wharf-side. You’ll then call into Ålesund’s Art Nouveaux buildings and Trondheim where the gothic Nidaros Cathedral houses the Norwegian crown jewels before crossing the Arctic Circle. Here, you’ll move through the Lofoten Islands to the North Cape – Europe’s most northerly point – before finishing in Kirkenes, just a few miles from the border with Russia.
In the summer months, you can even sail right into the spectacular Geirangerfjord whose deep blues are hemmed in on both sides by towering crystalline rock walls, traced by tumbling waterfalls. And, come the colder months, the clear winter skies and long nights offer the best chance of spotting the stunning aurora borealis. If you’d like to discover more of Norway’s spectacular northern scenery, look to Spitsbergen where excursions take you out to Barentsburg, Pyramiden or the Tempelfjorden.
Cruises also offer unique way of tying together some of the region’s best-loved cities. On our popular Baltic cruise, start out with Stockholm’s fine gastronomy and cultural gems before heading to Helsinki, whose town squares and neoclassical buildings are host to Finland’s largest art collection and the Lutheran cathedral that looks out over the city. From here, it’s possible to catch a ferry across the Gulf of Finland to Tallinn. The Estonian capital is an exciting mix of medieval buildings and contemporary character.
For something a bit different, Scandinavia – specifically Helsinki – is perfectly positioned for cruises through Russian waters to its storied cities. What’s more, due to the brevity of the crossing, you don’t need a visa. Arrive in St Petersburg, where you can experience the fascinating State Hermitage Museum along with the city’s exciting architecture, typified by St Isaac’s Cathedral’s golden dome and the multi-coloured minarets of the Church on the Spilled Blood.