Tromsø to Lisbon Grand Expedition Cruise: Norway & Europe’s Atlantic Coast in the Autumn

Tromsø to Lisbon Grand Expedition Cruise: Norway & Europe’s Atlantic Coast in the Autumn

Tromsø to Lisbon Grand Expedition Cruise: Norway & Europe’s Atlantic Coast in the Autumn

Tromsø to Lisbon Grand Expedition Cruise: Norway & Europe’s Atlantic Coast in the Autumn

Travel information 23 Days MS Spitsbergen
Departure
22 October 2022
Price from
£ 4940
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included
Check prices and availability

Join us for a special late autumn/early winter adventure, starting in Tromsø and ending in Lisbon.

Stunning fjord landscapes and cultural gems

We’ll travel from above the Arctic Circle down the Norwegian and European Atlantic coastlines, taking in amazing natural highlights including glaciers, fjords and idyllic islands – and maybe even the Northern Lights. Our journey starts in Tromsø and we sail south, exploring coastal treasures and unique towns along the rugged coastline.

We’ll visit the iconic Lofoten Islands and the fishing town of Svolvær, learning about Viking history, glaciers and Norwegian mythology as we go. Norway’s south west coast offers spectacular fjords and mountainous landscapes, likely dusted with fresh snow. Savour the crisp fall air as we explore these awe-inspiring surroundings, and then visit Bergen, Norway’s old capital.  

Historic cities and southern European treasures

Crossing the North Sea to Germany, we pay a visit to the famed island of Heligoland before moving onto Hamburg, the so-called ‘Venice of the North’. Next, you’ll explore the galleries and canals of Amsterdam before touching base in England at the White Cliffs of Dover. In France we witness D-Day battlefields and medieval settlements before crossing the Bay of Biscay, where we’ll be looking out for marine wildlife.

The rugged northern coast of Spain is where we find Galicia, famed for its distinct culture and gastronomy. In Portugal we visit Porto, where port wine is made, before ending our journey in beautiful Lisbon. We’ll be joined by an onboard Expedition Team who’ll be giving you lectures and leading nature walks. Our ship MS Spitsbergen is a small, comfortable and stylish expedition ship, ideally suited to this kind of adventure.

Tromsø to Lisbon Grand Expedition Cruise: Norway & Europe’s Atlantic Coast in the Autumn Tromsø to Lisbon Grand Expedition Cruise: Norway & Europe’s Atlantic Coast in the Autumn
  • Day 1
    Tromsø, Norway

    Our adventure begins

    22 October 2022
    Estimated time of departure is 21:00

    Historically, Tromsø has been the starting point for numerous Arctic expeditions, making it the ideal first destination for our adventure. Today, the city is sometimes called the ‘Paris of the North’ due to its cosmopolitan outlook and it sophisticated feel – you'll soon see why. 

    Tromsø’s attractions include plenty of historical, cultural and architectural sights. The small city has a lively café scene, a relaxed atmosphere and a range of restaurants specialising in the fresh produce of the region. In the centre you’ll find some interesting shops and boutiques offering a range of locally-made specialties. 

    The city’s most recognisable landmark is the Arctic Cathedral. It was built as recently as 1965, and features a huge stained-glass mosaic. For fresh air and epic views, take the Fjellheisen cable car to the top of nearby Mt. Fløyfjellet and enjoy a breathtaking vista of the city, mountains and fjords. 

    The experience centre Polaria lies not far from the city centre – architecturally it looks like stacked ice. Here you’ll find an Arctic aquarium, exhibitions and a panoramic cinema. Pay a visit to the University Museum of Tromsø, which showcases Norwegian nature and culture. Focusing on the indigenous Sami people, the museum also highlights Norway’s archaeological heritage, geology and the Northern Lights. 

    After exploring Tromsø, your comfortable and stylish expedition ship MS Spitsbergen will be waiting for you in the port. Once you’ve boarded, you’ll pick up your complimentary expedition jacket and take time to settle into your cabin. Afterwards you can explore the ship, and there’ll be a mandatory safety drill. In the evening you’ll enjoy the first of many sumptuous dinners on board and there’ll be a welcome toast by the Captain, wishing us a great cruise. 

    Pre-Programme 

    There’s plenty to see and do in Tromsø so if you feel like you’d like to get to know this charming Norwegian city a bit better before embarkation we recommend booking our optional Pre-Programme. This includes a cable car ride to the top of a nearby mountain and an overnight stay in a nice, centrally-located hotel. 

    Day 1
    Tromsø, Norway

    Our adventure begins

  • Day 2
    Svolvær, Norway

    Majestic beauty of the Lofoten Islands

    23 October 2022

    This picture postcard archipelago really will take your breath away! Lofoten is a group of starkly beautiful islands that have cultural roots that are deeply associated with the Vikings. The combination of dramatic peaks, sheltered coves, and pristine waters is simply beautiful beyond compare. Lofoten is also known for its enchanting villages and placid, sandy beaches. 

    Harvesting the seas has been a way of life here for centuries, and you’ll see the fishing villages, with their photogenic cabins – or rorbu  which are set out in rows along the shore. Originally built to house those who would migrate here seasonally to fish for cod, these cabins give the villages a truly old-world feel. 

    You might also spot the wooden racks called hjell dotted around the shores of the town. Cod is air dried on these without the addition of salt, and turned into tørrfisk  or stockfish in English – a prized local delicacy. Catching and processing cod in this manner is a way of life in Lofoten, and you’ll see evidence in many places of the islanders’ proud fishing heritage. 

    Svolvær, the biggest town on the archipelago, is close to Lofoten’s many magnificent sights and provides easy access to activities such as kayaking and walking in nature. You’ll also find interesting shops, galleries, cafés, and restaurants dotted around town. 

    Day 2
    Svolvær, Norway

    Majestic beauty of the Lofoten Islands

  • Day 3
    Svartisen, Norway

    Dark ice glacier

    24 October 2022

    We’ll be sailing into the Holandsfjord off the Helgeland coast today to get to the glacier named Svartisen. Meaning ‘black ice’ Svartisen covers 230 square miles and has 60 tongues, making it Norway’s second largest glacier after Jostedalsbreen. It’s actually made up of two separate glaciers, Vestisen and the Østisen, which are divided by a wide valley. The first time you set eyes on this spectacular glacier it’ll be frozen into your memory! 

    It might mean ‘black ice’, but the actual colour of Svartisen ranges from turquoise to dark blue, but never quite black. There are deep tunnels beneath the 660 ft.-thick ice that go down to the roots of the mountains – and it’s the site of an independent glaciology research laboratory constructed to help scientists better understand the phenomenon of glacial meltwater. 

    Our aim for the day is to land on the local jetty and get a closer look at this frozen wonder by way of exploration on foot. You’ll spend the day exploring Engenbreen, an accessible arm of the glacier that stretches all the way down to the sea. There are limestone caves to be discovered in in the mountains to the east along marked trails. 

    In the afternoon you’ll be back aboard MS Spitsbergen, warming your toes and perhaps enjoying a hot drink after the morning’s icy adventure. Why not really warm up in our amazing panoramic sauna, which offers fantastic views of the beautiful outdoor scenery as you relax. There are also hot tubs out on deck, if you haven’t tried them yet. 

    Day 3
    Svartisen, Norway

    Dark ice glacier

  • Day 4
    Torghavet, Norway

    Hole of the mountain king

    25 October 2022

    In the morning, we’ll sail past many of the small islands that dot the waters of Helgeland county. From the ship you’ll be able to pick out the peaks of the Seven Sisters mountain range, which Norse mythology says are seven petrified troll sisters. 

    Our goal for today is to explore Torghatten, a small mountain outside the town of Brønnøysund. As far as mountains go, at less than 850 ft. It's not exactly Mt. Everest, but what makes it special is the distinctive hole that goes straight through it. This unusual feature has made it one of the most photographed sights in Norway. 

    We plan to anchor close by and use small boats to land on shore, but if weather says otherwise we’ll dock in a nearby port and reach Torghatten by bus. Geologists generally agree that the scientific explanation for its 98-foot-high, hole is due to erosion during the last Ice Age. But that isn’t the only explanation for the unusual phenomenon. 

    Norwegian folklore tells of the troll Hestmannen who was besotted with the fair maiden Lekamøya. When his advances were spurned, Hestmannen flew into a rage and loosed an arrow at her, which went right through the mountain creating a huge hole. Witnessing this, the troll-king of Sømna Mountain threw his hat into the path of the arrow just in time to save Lekamøya. 

    But there’s a twist at the end of the tale. Just as the mountain king threw his hat, the sun sent its first rays over the horizon, turning all the trolls to stone. Lekamøya herself is immortalised as a small mountain to the south of Torghatten.  

    If you’re feeling up for an adventure you can join the Expedition Team and hike up to the mountain’s hole. For something a bit less strenuous, there’s an alternative walk around the mountain. 

    Day 4
    Torghavet, Norway

    Hole of the mountain king

  • Day 5
    Åndalsnes, Norway

    Stunning mountain scenery

    26 October 2022

    Today we’ll sail along Romsdalsfjorden towards the tiny settlement of Åndalsnes, set deep in the Romsdalen valley. Along the way we might see some early snow dusting the mountain peaks adding to the prettiness of the beautiful scenery of islands and rocky reefs along the coast. 

    Åndalsnes is seen as a basecamp for exploring the Romsdalsfjorden. From here you can explore Trollveggen, the tallest vertical rock face in Europe, which looms majestically over the valley. To get the best views, you can hitch a ride on the Romsdal Gondola to the mountain station on Mt. Nesaksla, 2,277 ft. above the fjord. From there you’ll have a fantastic vista down to Åndalsnes and the Romsdalsfjord. 

    The scenery here truly is spectacular. In his novel Flaggermusmannen – or The Bat – Jo Nesbø waxes lyrical about the region, writing, “That was where God had started when He was creating the world, and that He had spent so long on Romsdalen that the rest of the world had to be done post-haste to be finished by Sunday.” 

    There are many angles to experience the valley from. If you want to enjoy the scenery at ground level, follow one of the local hiking trails. For those who fancy more of a challenge, we recommend hikes on the Romsdalseggen ridge, or just up to Rampestreken view point, 1,853 ft. above the village. 

    The starkly modern-looking Norwegian Mountaineering Museum is situated in Åndalsnes. Here, you’ll get an insight into the history of mountaineering in Norway, and be able to try out some of the equipment on display. 

    Just before dinner we’ll set sail again towards the longest and deepest fjord of Norway – Sognefjorden. 

    Day 5
    Åndalsnes, Norway

    Stunning mountain scenery

  • Day 6
    Fjærland, Norway

    The longest fjord in Norway

    27 October 2022

    Around lunchtime we’ll sail into Sognefjorden, the so-called ‘King of the Fjords’ due to it being the longest and deepest in Norway. Stretching 127 miles inland from the coast, we plan to cruise deep into its interior and visit the tiny hamlet of Fjærland.   

    Only about 300 people live in idyllic Fjærland, and when you go ashore you’ll discover just how charming and quaint this little old village is. Fjærland is a designated Norwegian Book Town, meaning there are a lot of books here, and picturesque second-hand book shops and stands can be found around every corner. In fact, there are over 2.5 miles of books on shelves in this tiny village, so it’s claimed – the perfect place to pick up a paperback. 

    This is also the place where Sognefjorden meets one of Norway’s best-known glaciers, Jostedalsbreen. It’s the largest glacier on the European continent and has several smaller glacial arms stretching out in many directions, including Bøyabreen and Supphellebreen.   

    Enjoy an included visit to the Norwegian Glacier Museum and find out more about the processes involved in their creation. Designed by famed architect Sverre Fehn, this award-winning museum allows you to engage with hands-on exhibits that explain why the ice is blue and how the fjords were formed. You can even perform some ‘cool’ experiments with 1,000-year-old glacier ice. 

    Day 6
    Fjærland, Norway

    The longest fjord in Norway

  • Day 7
    Bergen, Norway

    Norway’s old capital still charms

    28 October 2022

    We’ll arrive in Bergen in the morning. It’s often said that Bergen is one of Norway’s most picturesque cities, and you’ll soon see why. The city is surrounded by seven mountains, and some beautiful fjord scenery. What’s made it so well-known is its unique charm, which is something you have to experience for yourself. 

    Founded in 1070 CE, and known as a gateway to the fjords, Bergen was once Norway’s capital for many years. You’ll see that the city has retained a great deal of its local character, heritage and allure. Enjoy strolling around the old streets and alleyways where people have lived for centuries. 

    An included activity in Bergen is an excursion to Mount Fløyen.  A funicular railway has been transporting visitors to the top of the mountain for over a century, and from the top you’ll get an amazing view looking out across this picturesque city and seeing the blend of colourful homes, mountain scenery, and clear blue water. If there’s time, we might also have an opportunity to venture into the alpine forest here for a short hike. 

    Back in the centre again, spend some time wandering the cobbled streets and alleyways of this thriving, compact city. Be sure to visit the historic UNESCO-listed Bryggen district with its colourful wooden wharves. The area dates back to the 14th century and now houses boutique stores selling a range of arts and handicrafts. Across from Bryggen is Bergen’s famous fish market, which is full of sights, sounds – and scents – to savour.

    Day 7
    Bergen, Norway

    Norway’s old capital still charms

  • Day 8
    Eidfjord, Norway

    Spectacular waterfalls

    29 October 2022

    Today we head inland and sail into Hardangerfjord, the second largest fjord in Norway. This impressive waterway winds its way into the heart of Norway’s coastline for 111 miles. As we sail along it, we’ll pass by many scenic villages, such as Rosendal, Sunndal and Ulvik. Down here in the south-west of Norway, the climate is normally mild during autumn. 

    It will be several hours before we reach our day’s destination at the innermost point of the fjord, Eidfjord. It’s a very old settlement and there’s been human activity here for over a millennium. Not far from the village are the remains of ancient Viking burial mounds. The Old Eidfjord Church was built in 1309, and sits centre-stage against the backdrop of the beautiful mountains surrounding it. 

    Eidfjord is a perfect starting point to explore Hardangervidda National Park or one of the many waterfalls in the region. One of the most well-known is Vøringsfossen, which pours water down through the Måbødalen valley from a height of 597 ft. There are a number of viewpoints that can be accessed to see this spectacular sight, including the newly-built viewing platform at the Fossli Hotel. 

    Your Expedition Team are on hand to offer advice on the best routes for walking in the town, and you’ll also have the option to join them on some onshore hikes and kayaking. Eidfjord also has a few cafés, restaurants, and shops, where buy a souvenir, or simply enjoy a coffee and enjoy the view. 

    As the sun goes down, we’ll depart Eidfjord and sail out of Hardangerfjord towards our next adventure.

    Day 8
    Eidfjord, Norway

    Spectacular waterfalls

  • Day 9
    Egersund, Norway

    Picturesque town of wooden houses

    30 October 2022

    You’ll love Egersund, with its cosy vibe. The town is famous for its brightly coloured, wooden houses - a real departure from the white-painted dwellings of many of Norway’s towns, and a welcome sight as you approach the harbour. Depending on the weather conditions, we aim to arrive at Egersund early in the morning. 

    People have lived around the area of Egersund since the Stone Age. There are several places around the town where you’ll find ruins of settlements dating back to the early migrations around 400 – 600 BCE, and ancient runes have been found carved into rocks nearby. It’s also one of the best natural harbours in Norway, and it used to be the largest in the country when measured in quantity of fish landed each year. 

    Enjoy exploring the cosy town centre, which has preserved some of the best examples of wooden houses - a few even dating back 160 years. The varied landscape surrounding the town is great for walking. 

    For a panoramic view of the town and coast, we recommend you hike to the viewpoint of Varberg, about 15 minutes from the centre of town. You’ll enjoy great views all over the city from this vantage point, seeing the array of coloured buildings sitting low in the valley, surrounded trees in autumnal colours. 

    An optional hike is on offer in the morning with your Expedition Team, who’ll take you into this beautiful hilly area. After lunch we’ll set out into the North Sea towards Heligoland, our first stop in Germany.

    Day 9
    Egersund, Norway

    Picturesque town of wooden houses

  • Day 10
    Heligoland, Germany

    A tranquil oasis of calm

    31 October 2022

    After lunch, we’ll arrive at Heligoland, which lies around 30 miles from the German mainland. 

    Germany’s only archipelago features Heligoland Island, a red sandstone outcrop known for its laid-back holiday vibe and its plentiful lobsters. Originally settled by Frisians in the Middle Ages, Heligoland became a pirate base. Since then it has changed hands several times between Denmark, Britain and Germany. In fact, the British swapped it for the tropical African island of Zanzibar in 1891, which was German-ruled at the time. 

    The crowds are low at this time of year and the colours are soft with autumn hues. Enjoy strolling in the charming streets, and see the colourful fishermen’s houses that line the harbour promenade. Originally used as storage, they house restaurants and souvenir shops these days. Except for a few taxis, there are no cars on the island, adding to the blissfully calm atmosphere. 

    There are a few interesting museums if you want to learn more about the island’s colourful history. But if you’d rather get active, there are several walking tails on the island, some of which lead along the cliffs. A hike along the coast will lead to the Lange Anna rock formations. ‘Lange Anna', along with her little ‘sister’, form two pinnacles jutting out of the sea. 

    After spending an enjoyable day on this pleasant and slightly idiosyncratic holiday island, it’s time to head back to the ship and set our course for Hamburg.

    Day 10
    Heligoland, Germany

    A tranquil oasis of calm

  • Day 11
    Hamburg, Germany

    The ‘Venice of the North’

    1 November 2022

    Hamburg is the second-largest city in Germany and one of the greenest urban areas in all Europe. Sometimes called the ‘Venice of the North’ due to its numerous canals, you can enjoy a boat tour to explore the city’s waterways. You can also easily explore on foot, by bike or by hop-on, hop-off bus.  

    Visit the old floating dock of Landungsbrücken, see the old ships and yards, waterfront buildings, and the Old Elbe Tunnel. Climb the 433 ft. bell tower of the famous St. Michael’s Church for stunning views over the city. 

    Many places of interest are concentrated in the Altstadt or Old Town. Take a look at St. Catherine’s Church and the St. Nikolai Memorial, discover the timber-framed houses of Deichstraße Historic Street and see the impressive City Hall on Rathausmarkt Square. 

    The world’s largest warehouse complex at Kontorhausviertel and Speicherstadt, which together with Chilehaus, are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. If you must choose just one museum to visit, Hamburg Kunsthalle ranks as the nation’s foremost art museum. You can break up the sightseeing with some browsing on Mönckebergstraße, or stop for some traditional Hamburger fare like aalsuppe, a ham soup with dried fruits, or labskaus, corned beef with potato and pickles. 

    There really are a lot of things to see and do in Hamburg, and by the time you head back to MS Spitsbergen you’ll probably feel like putting your feet up and giving your legs a rest. The good news is that you won’t need to do anything apart from relax until we reach Amsterdam, the day after tomorrow.

    Day 11
    Hamburg, Germany

    The ‘Venice of the North’

  • Day 12
    North Sea

    Bracing North Sea air

    2 November 2022

    Our journey continues with a day at sea and today there’s nothing to do but relax, enjoy the ships facilities, and perhaps catch up on your travel journal. You might want to go out on deck and enjoy the bracing North Sea air, and spend some time looking out for seabirds. Or maybe you just want to curl up in a comfy chair and continue reading that paperback you picked up in Fjærland. 

    If you haven’t already done so, now might be the time to check out the Science Center in more depth, and learn about the Citizen Science programmes we run. These aim to help scientists around the world better understand the locations we sail to, and contribute valuable research. 

    In the Explorer Lounge & Bar your Expedition Team will summarise the voyage so far and will continue to give talks on a range of subjects. 

    This evening you’ll savour another sumptuous meal in the Aune restaurant, and prepare yourself for your next destination, Amsterdam. 

    Day 12
    North Sea

    Bracing North Sea air

  • Day 13
    Amsterdam, The Netherlands

    City of canals and art

    3 November 2022

    After setting foot on Dutch soil, wander the quaint cobbled streets and see the reflective canals of Amsterdam – the city where the land meets the sea. The Netherlands’ famously liberal capital is a showcase of architectural styles, and it’s saturated in history.  

    Founded in the Middle Ages, Amsterdam is a cosmopolitan city with a rich cultural heritage. Located at the estuary of the river Ij, the original settlement was built on islets of moving sand linked by a thousand bridges. Today, water remains all pervasive and it’s still is a city that looks to the sea. 

    The concentric, semi-circular rings of canals found in the original core of the city look somewhat like a spider’s web on the map. Walk around beside these iconic canals and across the old bridges between the rivers Amstel and Ij. You’ll probably come across the charming townhouses lining the canals of the Grachtengordel. They were built in the 17th and 18th centuries by wealthy merchants, and are now protected by UNESCO. 

    Head over to Museumplein, where three of the world's top museums await you. The Rijksmuseum has one of the greatest European galleries, known for its unrivalled collection of Dutch masters, including Rembrandt. Meanwhile, the Vincent Van Gogh Museum has the world’s largest collection of the troubled genius’s paintings, while the Stedelijk Museum is one of the best places to view modern art. 

    As you return to MS Spitsbergen, get ready to sail across the English Channel to our next destination, Dover.

    Day 13
    Amsterdam, The Netherlands

    City of canals and art

  • Day 14
    Dover, United Kingdom

    Iconic white cliffs and medieval fortifications

    4 November 2022

    Located facing the narrowest stretch of the English Channel and flanked by spectacular chalk cliffs, Dover has been the gateway to Britain since prehistoric times. Founded during Roman times, the settlement of Dover quickly became the main port between the provinces of Britannia and Gallia Balgica, and its strategic position has remained important ever since. 

    Start your day with a visit to the sprawling Dover Castle, with dazzling views of the Channel, just a short walk from the port. If you’re a history buff, you won’t be disappointed by this huge fortress. Admire the Roman lighthouse, the 13th century gates and the massive outer defences built during the Napoleonic Wars. 

    You might want to pay a visit to the underground barrack tunnels that served as the fire command post during the Great War, and later as the headquarters of Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay during the evacuation of French and British soldiers from Dunkirk in 1940. 

    If you haven’t had your fill of historical sites, make your way to Dover’s only remaining Norman church, the 12th century St Mary’s, which survived the heavy bombing of WWII. Or explore another medieval building that survived the war, the 13th century Hospital of St Mary, also known as Maison Dieu, and now part of the Town Hall. 

    The Western Heights of Dover are worth a visit if you’re looking for more fortifications to explore. Within walking distance from the port, these vast defences are made up of forts, strongholds and ditches built in the 18th and 19th centuries. 

    Of course, don’t miss the opportunity to snap the perfect shot of the iconic White Cliffs of Dover, just east of Dover Castle. Continue eastwards to the South Foreland Lighthouse for magnificent views or explore the picturesque St Margaret’s Bay, four miles away.

    Day 14
    Dover, United Kingdom

    Iconic white cliffs and medieval fortifications

  • Day 14
    Ouistreham, France

    D-Day landings and battlefields

    4 November 2022

    With a rich and turbulent past, Normandy is a region inextricably tied up with European history. From the Viking Rollo’s arrival in 911, to being the seat of the Norman invasion of England by William the Conqueror in 1066, and the D-Day landings in 1944, Normandy is a captivating mix of medieval abbeys, sprawling beaches and moving WW2 memorials.    Ouistreham is known for its D-Day landing sites in connection with Operation Overlord. A 50-mile stretch of the Normandy coast was sectioned into five areas, with Ouistreham codenamed Sword. The invasion here was the responsibility of the British Army, with backup from the navies of Norway and Poland. Learn more about the landings and the heavy battle that was fought here at the Musée de Debarquement No 4 Commando. 

    Visit the extensive German fortifications at the restored Grand Bunker Mur de l’Atlantique Musée, dedicated to the Atlantic Wall, and pay tribute to the fallen at the war cemetery of Hermanville-sur-Mer, three miles west of Ouistreham. Afterwards, stroll along the beautiful Riva-Bella beach and feel the salty Atlantic breeze. You might also enjoy a visit to the nearby 12th century church of St Samson and the 1905 lighthouse.    Located 11 miles from Ouistreham, Caen was named Catumagos by the Romans after a Celtic term for battlefields. Fortified by William the Conqueror, who preferred it to Rouen, the city changed hands repeatedly and was occupied several times. Despite being heavily bombed during WW2, Caen was rebuilt and has retained its considerable charm. Don’t miss the impressive 11th century Romanesque church of Saint-Étienne. 

    Stroll the pleasant streets and take in the small shops, pavement cafés, green parks and restaurants. If you appreciate fine art, you’ll enjoy the Musée des Beaux-Arts housed in the remains of the Château de Caen.

    Day 14
    Ouistreham, France

    D-Day landings and battlefields

  • Day 16
    Saint-Malo, France

    Citadel by the sea

    6 November 2022

    Viewed from the sea, Saint-Malo is quite a sight. This gateway to Brittany is fringed by fortified bastions and shallow beaches, creating the impression of a place apart. In fact, Saint-Malo considered itself an independent city state for much of its modern history, and its residents still refer to themselves as Malouins, somewhat distinct from the French and even the Bretons. 

    Whatever you do today, make room for a circular walk of the ramparts. From the top of the walls, you’ll have the best views of the town and the surrounding islands. You’ll find tributes to Saint-Malo’s most celebrated locals: a statue of famous pirate Robert Surcouf and a monument to Jacques Cartier, the maritime explorer credited with mapping the Gulf of St. Lawrence and naming Canada. 

    The corsairs of Brittany were ruthless privateers, operating under the protection of the King of France. Back home in Saint-Malo, they built fine country homes and were treated as respectable gentlemen. Tour the Château Saint-Malo museum and visit the Privateers House, where you can learn about the town’s pirate heritage. 

    At low tide, walk across the sand to the fortified island, Le Grand-Bé, where famous 19th century writer Chateaubriand is buried, then gaze across to the Vauban-designed bastion of Fort National on a nearby island. 

    Within the old city walls, a historical trail leads through a maze of cobbled streets where you can discover what remains of the original town before the Allied bombings of 1944 reduced much of it to rubble. Visit the Gothic-style St. Vincent Cathedral and the Chateau de la Duchesse Anne, with its distinctive turret. 

    Then take a scenic stroll to the nearby village of Aleth, where you can discover more about Saint-Malo’s experiences during World War II at the Cap-Horniers Museum.

    Day 16
    Saint-Malo, France

    Citadel by the sea

  • Day 17
    At sea

    Sailing the Bay of Biscay

    7 November 2022

    Today we’ll enjoy a leisurely day at sea as we sail across the western edge of the Bay of Biscay on our way down to Spain’s Galicia region. 

    Back in the days of the Romans, these waters were named Sinus Cantabrorum after the Cantabri, the Celtic tribe inhabiting the northern coasts of the Iberian Peninsula. Today, the southern portion of the Bay of Biscay, adjacent to the northern Spanish coast, is still called the Cantabrian Sea.  

    Relax on deck with your binoculars and look out for wildlife. Cetaceans can often be spotted here, with up to a quarter of the world’s species of whales, dolphins and porpoises having been recorded in the waters of the Bay. They are drawn here by the nutrient rich waters around the edge of the continental shelf, and it’s one of the few places in the world where beaked whales can be seen, if you’re lucky. 

    If you haven’t already done so, now could be a good time to get to know the onboard Science Center. Here you’ll have plenty of information at your fingertips and you can learn about the marine biology of the seas along our cruise. There are hands-on demonstrations to take part in, high-tech microscopes to view marine microorganisms, and nature photography tips to learn. 

    Join the Expedition Team in the Explorer Lounge for in-depth lectures on different topics related to the days ahead. These might include learning about the history, geography, and the environment of the destinations to come. And don’t forget to make full use of the leisure facilities on board MS Spitsbergen – why not try out the panoramic sauna if you haven’t done so yet?

    Day 17
    At sea

    Sailing the Bay of Biscay

  • Day 18
    A Coruña, Spain

    Guided by the light of Hercules

    8 November 2022

    We continue our Atlantic journey across the Bay of Biscay, towards Finisterre, the ‘Land’s End’ region of north-western Spain. Despite its apparent isolation at the edge of the Iberian Peninsula, Finisterre and the rest of the Galicia region have played a central role in Atlantic Europe since prehistoric times. 

    Ships sailing to and from the Mediterranean had to navigate the rugged Galician coast and seek shelter from the occasional fury of the ocean in the natural rias. Fjord-like in appearance, these rias are not flooded glacial valleys like the Norwegian fjords, but river valleys flooded after the last glaciation. Their gentle banks hold an age-old allure and are the reason why farming and fishing have thrived in this region. 

    The oldest extant lighthouse in the world that’s still functioning, known as the Tower of Hercules, bears witness to this enduring relationship with the sea. Built around 2,000 years ago in Roman times, the tower of A Coruña has survived to this day and helps ships navigate the tricky Finisterre coast of Spain and safely enter A Coruña’s natural harbour. The lighthouse has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2009. 

    We expect to dock at A Coruña in the evening, giving you plenty of time for a leisurely stroll into town from the port and a chance to visit the unique lighthouse. Galicians, it has long been claimed, are among the toughest fishermen in Spain, and their maritime heritage still permeates many aspects of life here, as you will discover as you explore.

    Day 18
    A Coruña, Spain

    Guided by the light of Hercules

  • Day 19
    A Coruña, Spain

    Gateway to Galicia

    9 November 2022

    A Coruña is one of the main cities in Galicia, a region of Spain that’s culturally distinct and with its own identity. With a dialect that’s closer to Portuguese than Spanish, Galicians are proud of their Celtic roots.

    Settled by Celtic peoples from at least the first millennium, A Coruña flourished under the Romans. It was conquered during the Arabian Invasion at the beginning of the eighth century and reconquered shortly after by soldiers under Christian command. As if that wasn’t enough, A Coruña was also repeatedly attacked by Vikings in the ninth and tenth centuries.

    Today, the historical centre is an enticing mix of charming squares, winding streets and narrow alleys. The perfect city for exploring on foot, it’s also home to ancient chapels, Baroque convents, and plenty of neoclassical architecture. Stroll through the old town and admire the famous glass-fronted buildings by the harbour, and don’t miss the architectural structures at Plaza María Pía and the archaeological museum located at the old castle.

    If you didn’t manage to see the Tower of Hercules yesterday evening, be sure to do so today. After your wanderings, have a rest at one of the many bars or restaurants, and sample the unique gallego cuisine. Ask for a selection of tapas, which might include the classic pulpo a la gallega – Galician octopus – and sample a glass of famous Galician cider, traditionally poured into the mouth from a height.

    A Coruña is an excellent base from which to explore the highlights of Galicia, including the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of the Roman walls of Lugo and the pilgrimage city of Santiago de Compostela. Join one of our optional guided tours to explore these two major sites.

    Day 19
    A Coruña, Spain

    Gateway to Galicia

  • Day 20
    Vigo, Spain

    Galician traditions

    10 November 2022

    Perfectly sheltered inside a ria, and protected by the beautiful Cíes Islands, Vigo has one of the best natural harbours in Galicia. The city flourished in the 16th century, attracting traders and settlers, as well as pirates and other invaders. But Vigo persevered and grew to become the main trading and fishing port of Galicia. 

    For centuries, Vigo was the gateway to the Americas. Many Galicians, as well as other Spaniards, emigrated to the New World from here. Even today, in many Latin American countries, people of Spanish descent are sometimes known as Gallegos, regardless of where in Spain their ancestors came from. 

    Vigo expanded eastwards in the 19th and early 20th century along the bustling Rúa do Príncipe with an eclectic mix of buildings in neoclassical and Art Nouveau styles. Perhaps the most impressive structure of all, is the 16th century Castro castle and its surrounding park with spectacular views of the town. Nearby, you’ll find the remains of an iron age castro, the original settlement of Vigo from more than 2,000 years ago. 

    The port is perfectly located for exploring the city on foot. Vigo is built on the slope of a hill overlooking the ria, which means that almost everything is uphill from the harbour! The maze of streets in the old town are organised around Plaza de Igrexa and the 19th century neoclassical cathedral of Santa Maria. 

      On your way to the square and the cathedral, stop by Rúa da Pescadería, the best street in town to sample the delicious seafood Galicia is famous for. After that, have a coffee break on the Praza da Constitución, a lovely square with pretty houses, cafés, and restaurants.

    Day 20
    Vigo, Spain

    Galician traditions

  • Day 21
    Porto, Portugal

    The City of port wine

    11 November 2022

    MS Spitsbergen will dock at Leixoes, an excellent first base in Portugal for a spot of exploration. Head north towards the small fortification of Forte Leça de Palmeira and continue along the beach to Avenida Liberdade, or visit the Lighthouse of Leça, the Chapel of Boa Nova, and the beautiful Praia Azul beach. 

    A shuttle bus is available take you the six or so miles to Porto. Famed for its port wine and UNESCO-listed historic centre, Portugal’s second city will win you over with its charismatic looks and surprise you with its modernity. It’s a place made for strolling, with a maze of narrow streets and unique monuments, and where everywhere eventually seems to lead to the Douro River. 

    Don’t skip the Church of San Francisco, the Romanesque cathedral with an opulently gilded Baroque interior, or the panoramic views from the top of the Church of the Clérigos. Do you like books? Lose yourself among the magical neo-Gothic interior of the beautiful Lello bookstore, and afterwards discover the Palácio de la Bolsa and stroll along Avenida de los Aliados. 

    Soak up the atmosphere along the bustling riverside promenade at the Ribeira Docks, packed tight with pastel-coloured houses and beautiful tiled façade. Cross the Douro via the top deck of the Eiffel Tower–inspired Ponte de Dom Luís I bridge, see the warehouses and port cellars of Vila Nova de Gaia on the south bank, and cross the bridge again, this time along the lower walkway. 

    Reward yourself afterwards with a refreshing glass of white port and tonic at one of the many lively bars and restaurants on the pier. Built up an appetite? Try Porto delicacies like the francesinha – a popular grilled meat and cheese sandwich – and the local variant of salt cured cod, called bacalhau

    Day 21
    Porto, Portugal

    The City of port wine

  • Day 22
    Lisbon, Portugal

    Legendary Lisbon

    12 November 2022
    Estimated time of arrival is 15:00

    We’ll be sailing south all morning, so why not join the Expedition Team for more fascinating talks, or head out on deck to scan the sea for marine life. We expect to arrive in Lisbon in the afternoon, so get ready to discover the ultimate destination on your cruise. 

    Located close to the Old Town, Lisbon Cruise Terminal is perfectly situated to explore the historical centre of the Portuguese capital on foot. Built on seven hills along the shores of the scenic River Tagus, Lisbon ranks among southern Europe’s most enchanting cities — with a fascinating history to boot. 

    The Phoenicians were the first to discover the commercial potential of the Tagus Estuary, but not the last. Lisbon’s great strategic location attracted the Celts, Romans, Visigoths, and Moors, each of whom occupied the city and left their mark. 

    A walk around Baixa, Bairro Alto, and Alfama, the classical districts of Lisbon, is essential. Almost everything of historic interest is here, as well as a great number of small shops and boutiques. Start at the Praça do Comercio in the Baixa district and make your way to Praça Rossio to see the statue of King Pedro IV before heading up to Largo do Chiado to explore the narrow streets of Bairro Alto. 

    In Alfama’s labyrinthine streets around the old Islamic quarter you’ll find Lisbon Cathedral; the remains of the Roman amphitheatre; and Castelo de San Jorge, the impressive 11th century Moorish fortress, which offers the best views of the city. 

    There are two historical gems you must leave the centre to see. Follow the river just over four miles downstream and visit Torre de Belém and Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Closely connected to Portugal’s Age of Discovery and explorers such as Vasco de Gama, Belém is also home to the famously delicious Pastel de Belém custard tart – which you’ll definitely want to try!

    Day 22
    Lisbon, Portugal

    Legendary Lisbon

  • Day 23
    Lisbon, Portugal

    Farewell in Lisbon

    13 November 2022

    Our expedition cruise ends at Lisbon. After breakfast it’ll be time to bid a fond farewell to MS Spitsbergen and all those who made your expedition so memorable, including the Expedition Team and other crew members. 

    Post-Programme 

    We feel sure that you’ll have had a great cruise discovering the fascinating history of the Atlantic coastline of Europe, but you don’t need to go home just yet. If you would like to explore Lisbon and its surroundings before you return home, we recommend joining our optional Post-Programme. 

    Not only will you see Lisbon’s fascinating historic districts, you’ll also explore the royal resorts outside the city, including the UNESCO town of Sintra, Monserrate Palace and the beaches of Cascais city during a guided excursion. Afterwards, you’ll return to Lisbon where you’ll spend the night. 

    As you return home, no doubt you’ll already be planning your next adventure. We look forward to welcoming you on board again soon! 

    Day 23
    Lisbon, Portugal

    Farewell in Lisbon

Departures

2022

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December
October:
22.

What's included

Included in your voyage

Expedition Cruise

  • Expedition cruise in a cabin of your choice
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner including beverages (house beer and wine, sodas, and mineral water) in restaurant Aune
  • Complimentary tea and coffee
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi on board. Be aware that we sail in remote areas with limited connection. Streaming is not supported.
  • Complimentary reusable water bottle to use at water refill stations on board
  • English-speaking Expedition Team who organise and accompany activities on board and ashore
  • Range of included activities

Onboard Activities

  • Experts on the Expedition Team deliver in-depth lectures on a variety of topics
  • Use of the ship’s Science Center which has an extensive library and advanced biological and geological microscopes
  • Citizen Science program allows guests to assist with live scientific research
  • Professional onboard photographer gives top tips and tricks for the best landscape and wildlife photos
  • Use of the ship’s hot tubs, panoramic sauna and indoor gym
  • Informal gatherings with the crew such as daily recaps and preparation for the day to come

Landing Activities

  • Escorted landings with small expedition boats
  • Complimentary wind and water-resistant expedition jacket
  • Expedition Photographers help with your camera settings

Not included in your voyage

  • Air travel
  • Travel insurance
  • Luggage handling
  • Optional shore excursions with our local partners
  • Optional small-group activities with our Expedition Team

Notes

  • All planned activities are subject to weather conditions
  • Excursions and activities are subject to change
  • Please make sure you meet all entry and boarding requirements
  • No gratuities expected
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Photo: Stefan Dall / Hurtigruten
Enjoy Norway's Coastal Kitchen on the new MS Spitsbergen
Photo: © Tor Farstad
Your ship

MS Spitsbergen

Year built 2009
Year of refurbishment 2016
Ship yard Estaleiro Navais de Viana do Castelo (POR)
Passenger capacity 180
Beds 243
Car capacity 0
Gross tonnage 7,344
Length 100.54m
Beam 18m
Speed 14.5 knots
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Our new ship, MS Spitsbergen will take you on a voyage beyond the ordinary.

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