The christening event featured thousands of people in the town square at Svolvaer, a former fishing village and today one of the most spectacular adventure travel destinations in the world and truly one of the highlights of the Hurtigruten Norwegian coastal voyages.
“Adventure travel is one the fastest growing global tourism mega trends and Lofoten offers everything the new adventure traveller seeks: Spectacular scenery, authenticity, a unique history and atmosphere, and access to active nature-based experiences. Svolvaer in many respects mirrors the modern Hurtigruten, being a world leading provider of explorer cruises with activity, learning and sustainability in the core”, said Hurtigruten CEO Daniel Skjeldam.
The new explorer ship is named MS Spitsbergen, after the largest island in the Svalbard Archipelago. This very northernmost part of Norway, next to the North Pole, is also where Hurtigruten founder Richard With first started explorer tourism in the Arctic in 1896.
Polar pioneer, mountaineer godmother
Cecilie Skog was the godmother to smash the champagne bottle in the ship’s side and officially christen MS Spitsbergen. Skog is one of the most merited contemporary Norwegian explorers, with numerous impressive achievements including expeditions to the North Pole; the South Pole; Mount Everest; Antarctica; and Greenland. She has also climbed the ‘Seven Summits’ to stand on top of the highest mountain on each of the earth’s seven continents.
Arctic adventure awaits
After a first season in Norway, MS Spitsbergen will alternate between the Norwegian coast and polar expeditions. Already from 2017, guests can sail with her to Greenland; to Iceland; to the Faroe and Shetland Islands, as well as to Arctic Canada. Amongst the many exceptional landings in Canada is L'Anse aux Meadows, a UNESCO World Heritage site where the first Vikings settlements were discovered in 1960.
“Archeological findings suggest this is the place where pioneer explorer Leiv Eriksson went ashore and named it Vinland. Coming here and to the other historic sites with MS Spitsbergen, more than a 1000 years later, resonates with our Viking spirit and Hurtigruten’s pioneering ambitions”, says Skjeldam.