Named after the largest island in the Svalbard Archipelago, the vessel will start its first season in Norway before alternating between sailings along the Norwegian coastline and polar expeditions. Adventurous guests will be able to join her on a range of voyages, including In the Wake of the Vikings, which sails along the Viking trail, from Bergen via the British Isles to Iceland, landing on several of the beautiful islands in the North Atlantic Ocean.
Located in the northernmost part of Norway, the Svalbard Archipelago is important for Hurtigruten as it’s where the company’s founder, Richard With, first ventured into explorer tourism in the Arctic region. Amongst the many unique landings guests will get to experience is L'Anse aux Meadows, a small fishing village on the UNESCO World Heritage List, where Norwegians Anne Stine and Helge Ingstad and their daughter Benedicte, made discovery of a Viking settlement in 1960.
Daniel Skjeldam, CEO for Hurtigruten comments: “Lofoten and Svolvaer have everything the modern adventure traveller seeks - spectacular scenery, the midnight sun, unique culture and opportunities for active experiences. For the christening, we will stitch together a compact event with sustainable adventure tourism at its core. The three ships, MS Spitsbergen, MS Richard With and MS Midnatsol, will all be berthed in Svolvaer during the ceremony.
“We plan for a spectacular one-of-kind festival packed with active nature-based experiences and complimented with locally sourced food from Hurtigruten’s Norway’s Coastal Kitchen. Archeological findings suggest Lofoten is the place where pioneer explorer Leiv Eriksson went ashore and later named Vinland. Coming here more than 1000 years later certainly has a Viking saga ring to it.”
Anthony Daniels, UK & Ireland Head of Sales for Hurtigruten comments: “Every year we see an increase in demand from guests wanting to explore Norway’s stunning coastline. We are always keen to widen our offering to meet this demand, whilst continuing to reaffirm our position as leaders in coastal exploration and continue to satisfy everyone’s thirst for adventure.”
Adventure tourism boom
Explorer tourism is a fast growing industry and the arrival of MS Spitsbergen adds greater flexibility to Hurtigruten’s global operations. With four ships now setup to traverse the poles, the opportunities for guests to explore the wildlife and cultural experiences in this region of natural beauty are extensive.
In the high North, Hurtigruten now offers voyages to Greenland and Iceland, around Spitsbergen, and from 2017 will also lead explorations to Arctic Canada. On the Southern Hemisphere, Hurtigruten takes guests around Antarctica’s waters, along both coasts of South America and, from 2017, will venture as far as the Amazon rainforest.