Norway and Spitsbergen – Hurtigruten Sportsman's Route Exploration - Northbound

Amsterdam – Norway – Bjørnøya – Svalbard – Longyearbyen

Voyage from the heart of Europe to the heart of Arctic wilderness. Hurtigruten´s classic Sportsman´s Route has been modernised to offer unforgettable scenery in the fjords as well as a crossing of the Arctic Circle. We explore remote Bjørnøya and the realm of the polar bear under the magical Midnight Sun* on our High Arctic adventure.

  • Enjoy vibrant Amsterdam
  • Sail through magnificent fjords and past idyllic islands on the Norwegian coast
  • See the Midnight Sun in untouched Arctic wilderness*
  • Scan for the mighty polar bear


*While the Midnight Sun lasts until the 22nd of August in the High Arctic, voyages after that time enjoy a tremendous amount of daylight well into the autumn.

The historic Sportsman's Route

In 1896, Hurtigruten's founder Captain Richard With opened a hotel on Svalbard and established the Sportsman's Route to bring visitors to the high north. His ship, DS Lofoten, sailed the Barents Sea between Hammerfest and Svalbard, captained by veteran polar explorer Otto Sverdrup. The 1896 Sportsman's route marked the start of Hurtigruten's Explorer voyages. Today, we are proud to draw on more than 120 years of experience sailing in the most extreme conditions on Earth.

Buzzing city life to begin the journey

Enjoy the culture and energy of beautiful Amsterdam, home of Rembrandt and van Gogh. Stroll the Canal District and visit the cafes and museums that place this city among the most popular destinations in the world.

The rugged coast of Norway

Norway has an incredibly long coastline, stretching from 58° to 71°N. This rugged shoreline features a hugely diverse landscape, from lush fjords to steep mountains, islands, skerries and Arctic wilderness. Starting in historic Rosendal, we sail on to the deep and long fjord of Geiranger to enjoy incredible scenery; lush hills, high mountains, powerful waterfalls and charming little villages.

Lofoten and the North Cape

The beauty of the Lofoten islands is simply staggering, characterised by jagged mountains peaks, deep fjords, sheltered inlets, white beaches and idyllic fishing settlements. A bit further north you can experience pristine beauty at the Arctic paradise islands of Sommarøy. The North Cape, at the very northern tip of Europe, has been a great adventure destination for travelers for centuries. Take in the view and stand atop the steep cliff 307 meters above the Arctic Ocean marking the end of the continent.

Realm of the polar bear

We cross the Arctic Ocean to Bjørnøya, situated about halfway between Svalbard and the Norwegian mainland. If conditions allow, we will go ashore to scout for wildlife.

As we arrive in Svalbard, the Midnight Sun will be taking full effect, with bright nights creating great opportunities for sighting wildlife. We will explore some of the most scenic fjords along the west coast of Svalbard. Hornsund is a favourite area, with sharp granite peaks such as the Hornsundtind rising to more than 1,400 meters over broad ice glaciers.

Don´t forget to scan the coastlines and ice floes to spot a polar bear family. In the water, watch out for a whale blow catching the sunlight. We take our ice-class ship ever further north, probing into Leifdefjord to enjoy views of the Monaco Glacier, or to step ashore on the green tundra of Krossfjord, dotted with the pinks campion flowers and yellow buttercups.

We may sail into pretty Magdalenefjord. On the north shore, little auks bustle back and forth, their laugh-like calls echo off the rocks that hold their nests. On the south side, we can land close to a graveyard for whalers from the 17th century. Our last stop is the fascinating town of Longyearbyen, which is well worth a visit to enjoy the splendid museums, restaurants and galleries.

Travel tip: Get the train from London to Amsterdam. The Eurostar service runs twice a day, and tickets for the 3h 41min long journey start at £40.

Price includes: 

  • Hurtigruten Expedition with cabin grade of your choice on a full board basis
  • Transfer from ship to airport in Longyearbyen
  • Economy flight from Longyearbyen to Amsterdam
  • Wind and water-resistant jacket
  • Landings with small boats and activities on board and ashore
  • Professional English speaking Expedition team that gives lectures as well as accompanies landings and activities
  • Free tea and coffee

Not included: 

  • International flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Luggage handling
  • Optional excursions and gratuities

Related voyages


The itinerary

This is an expedition where the elements rule, and the weather, wind and ice conditions will determine our final schedule. Safety is paramount and the captain will decide the sailing itinerary during the voyage. Therefore, this itinerary is just an indication of what you can experience, and why every expedition with Hurtigruten is unique.

Departure 22 July, 15 August & 8 September 2019

Departs from Amsterdam, Netherlands
Day 1
Photo: BriYYZ/Flickr Photo

Canals, Art and Cafes

Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Vibrant Amsterdam developed from a small 13th century fishing village to become one of the most charming and culturally important cities of the world. The city became wealthy as a trading centre with important connections to the Hanseatic League in the 17th century. Amsterdam´s "Golden Age” can still be seen in the Patrician houses that line the famed Canal District. Enjoy a stop in the city´s world-famous art centres, such as the Rijksmuseum, the Rembrandt House and the van Gogh Museum.  Take time to explore this world-class city before embarking on MS Fridtjof Nansen.

Day 2

Wildlife Spotting and Lectures

Location: The North Sea

Enjoy your first day on board! The Expedition team will start the lecture programme covering history and the great explorers, marine biology, wildlife, oceanography and climate change. We sail the North Sea, a vital waterway that was the cradle of the Viking's rise, and later the Hanseatic League. Today, these shipping lanes are among the busiest in the world, Enjoy a day on deck.  Breathe in the fresh salt air, look for birds, mammals, ships and oil rigs - all part of the lively North Sea.

Day 3
Photo: Donald West Photo

Norwegian Garden

Location: Rosendal, Norway

Rosendal is a small town on the shore of Hardangerfjord, Norway’s second-largest fjord. 

It is known for the Barony Rosendal, a historic estate and manor house completed in 1665. Around 200 years later in 1850, an extensive, and very romantic garden was laid out around the main house. This garden is often referred to as the most magnificent Victorian garden in Norway. Among other flowers around 2,000 roses in bloom can be experienced here from June to November, perfectly timed for our visit!

Alternatively, if you are feeling energetic, why not take a hike 890 metres up to Malmangernuten?  Your reward will be a beautiful view over Rosendal and the Hardangerfjord.

Day 4
Photo: Tommy L/Flickr Photo

Glacial Splendour

Location: Geiranger

The Geirangerfjord is often referred to as the "jewel in the crown" of the Norwegian fjords, surrounded by a fairy tale landscape of majestic, snow-covered mountaintops, wild and beautiful waterfalls, lush green vegetation and the deep, blue fjord itself.

The area has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2005, and it has been named the best travel destination in Scandinavia by Lonely Planet.

Look out for the powerful waterfalls as they tumble from mountain to sea. De Syv Søstrene (The Seven Sisters) consists of seven waterfalls that thunder down the mountainside next to the abandoned farm of Knivsflå.  Frieren (the Suitor) waterfall lies on the opposite side of the fjord, frustratingly unable to connect with any of the sisters!

The Geirangerfjord is about 300 metres deep, almost as deep as the surrounding landscape is high. 

Day 5
Photo: Herbert Ware Photo

Crossing the Arctic Circle

Location: At sea along the Norwegian coast

We welcome you to the Arctic with a special Arctic Circle crossing ceremony on deck: come and be baptised into the family of polar explorers!

We take the inside route as much as possible as MS Fridtjof Nansen weaves her way among the islands and green coast of Norway. As we sail further north and the air cools, we will be joined by an escort of fulmars flying along at port-hole level. Days at sea are an opportunity to wind down and watch the waves, or enjoy a lecture or two from the Expedition team.

Day 6
Photo: Christoph Strässler Photo

Picturesque Reine

Location: Reine and Trollfjord

Red and white traditional fisherman’s cottages - known as Rorbuer - sit perched on stilts over the water’s edge, with a background of granite spires jutting skywards in scenic Reine.  Take a stroll here, soaking in the serenity of the surroundings.

Later we sail through the Raftsundet Strait and as we proceed north keep a sharp eye open for white tailed sea eagles often found in the area.  Then we enter the magnificent Trollfjord. Surrounded by mountains that stretch up to 1,200 metres above sea level, this narrow fjord slices deeply and dramatically into the heart of the island. We navigate carefully far into the Trollfjord, where mountain walls rise directly out of the sea. This pristine channel is at times so narrow it feels as though you can reach out and touch the side of the fjord.

Day 7
Photo: Harald Groven Photo

Park your Husband

Location: Sommarøy

Sommarøy is an archipelago of small islands with white, sandy beaches and a lively fishing community. The settlement also has a couple of small shops where you can buy handicrafts and groceries. Inside the local shop, you will find “Kaillkråa” (the gentlemen’s corner) where husbands are usually “parked” while the wives do their shopping.

And, as this shopping might be a time-consuming activity, the local men have private hooks on the wall for their coffee cups to pass the time. We offer a variety of excursions like hikes and kayaking, or you can take this opportunity to visit Tromsø. This lively small city is known as the Gateway to the Arctic. The colourful downtown area is rich in polar history, and it is beautifully situated, surrounded by the dramatic Lyngen Alps, blue fjords and hundreds of islands.

Day 8
Photo: Ruben Holthuijsen Photo

The Northernmost Point in Europe

Location: Skarsvåg

A few hours before we arrive at Skarsvåg we will sail past the spectacular North Cape cliff, offering you a stunning view of this famous landmark. Don’t worry about missing it: our Expedition team will alert you! 

Skarsvåg is a small village that lies along the northern coast of the island of Magerøya. It claims the distinction of being the world's northernmost fishing village. Join the optional excursion to the North Cape and get a feeling what it’s like to stand at the end of the Earth. There is a combined museum and restaurant at the plateau, where you can learn more about the early expeditions to North Cape and watch a panoramic film that takes you through four seasons in a landscape full of contrasts, light and breathtaking scenery. North Cape is a spectacular place to experience the Midnight Sun. 

Day 9

In the Middle of the Arctic Ocean

Location: Bjørnøya

Bjørnøya, with a population of just 9 persons, is the southernmost island of the Svalbard Archipelago. It is an isolated spot in the middle of the Arctic Ocean, known for hosting “the largest concentration of sea birds on the Northern Hemisphere”.  This is where the cold waters from the Arctic Ocean meet warm Gulf Stream currents, and when these water masses collide, nutrient-rich water is pushed up to the surface, making it an "all-you-can-eat" buffet for 126 different bird species. If conditions allow, we will land here.

Day 10-11
Photo: Renèe Schneider Photo

Exploring Spitsbergen

Location: Spitsbergen, Svalbard

Cruising northbound from Bjørnøya, we will take advantage of the conditions at hand, focusing on the ice edge. Early in the season, we will attempt to enter fjords where we can expect fast, or landlocked ice. Later in the season, we will have to take our search for ice further north. Within the Svalbard Archipelago there are about 3,000 polar bears, which depend on the ice to hunt for seals.

Polar bears are solitary animals with no set colony or living area. We are most likely to observe this marine mammal on the drift ice, close to the ocean or even in the water. We often observe polar bears, although not every day and seldom at very close range. Like most things in a true wilderness, there are no absolute guarantees. But the more eyes scouting through binoculars, the better our chances of observing the King of the Arctic.

The Captain and Expedition leader will make the best use of the conditions at hand. We may cruise into Hornsund and explore the ice-filled fjord by small boats, or land to hike to a viewpoint overlooking the glacier. The Expedition team will tell stories of the history of the area, including that of Wanny Woldstad, the first female trapper-hunter who lived here in the 1930s.

We continue to the north-west corner of Spitsbergen and may head into Magdalenefjorden, where we find graves, blubber ovens and other cultural treasures from when men first started to inhabit Svalbard. We might also see the enormous Monaco Glacier in Liefdefjord, before making a landing nearby at the old trapper hut at Texas Bar. Later we may attempt to cross the 80th parallel close to Moffen Island, where sometimes walrus are seen.


Day 12
Photo: Shutterbird Productions Photo

The Power of Glaciers

Location: Longyearbyen, Svalbard

The Isfjord is the most extensive fjord system on Svalbard. We will spend the morning in the heart of the fjord, as we sail towards Longyearbyen. The landscape changes constantly – marvel at the immense U-shaped valleys, carved out of the mountains by the giant glaciers that covered the area some ten thousand years ago. You arrive Longyearbyen in the late evening. Enjoy the last hours on board before you are transferred to the airport for your night flight back to Amsterdam.

Day 13
Amsterdam_ ©JeniFoto_Shutterstock_Day 3_1200x600.png

Return to Europe

Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands

An early morning arrival in Amsterdam provides another opportunity to explore this fascinating city.

Arrival 3 August, 27 August & 20 September 2019

Location Amsterdam, Netherlands
Your ship Things to see and do


Prepare for your voyage and read up on the Svalbard and Norway before departure.

Hurtigruten Land Adventures

Complete your holiday with a Hurtigruten land adventure before or after your sailing. Choose between excursions of several hours and multi-day tours including hotels. (NOTE: Hurtigruten land adventures can only be added to your voyage after booking. Please call to book!)

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