Norway and Spitsbergen - The Route of Polar Pioneers (2020)

This expedition cruise is filled with history, wildlife, brilliant scenery and great adventure. We have sailed here since 1896, and now it´s your turn to explore beautiful Spitsbergen! Scan for the mighty polar bear on Bjørnøya and marvel at the North Cape before sailing into our final destination of Tromsø.

  • Sail Hurtigruten´s historic pioneering route from 1896
  • Scan for polar bears and wildlife on Bjørnøya
  • Hike to the North Cape like the early explorers
  • Explore lovely and historic Tromsø

The itinerary

Hurtigruten offers unique expedition cruises to some of the most remote and pristine waters of the world. As with all expeditions; nature prevails. Weather, and ice and sea conditions, sets the final framework for all Hurtigruten’s operations. Safety and unparalleled guest experiences are at all times our top priorities. All our indicative itineraries are continuously evaluated for adaptions, whether this is due to constraints the elements unexpectedly presents – or exciting possibilities nature and wildlife offer. That is why we call it an expedition.

Departure 25 August 2020

Departs from Oslo / Longyearbyen

The Historic Sportsman´s Route

Hurtigruten´s history of Svalbard expedition cruises dates all the way back to 1896. On this voyage we follow what became known as `The Sportsman’s Route´ over a century ago to explore the scenery and wildlife of Svalbard.

Vast, Pristine Natural Beauty

We sail the north-western coast of Spitsbergen, a vast wilderness of unspoit nature and amazing Svalbard geology. Turning south, we encounter Bellsund, site of English whaling in the 18th century, and mountainous Hornsund.

The Island of Bears and the North Cape

Bjørnøya, isolated in the middle of the Barents Sea, is waiting for us next. Scan for birds and some of the polar bears on Svalbard as well as gain the first view of the North Cape plateau, the northern-most point in Europe.  Once we reach the Cape, you can choose to walk the steep path to the North Cape monument, or you can relax let a comfortable bus do the work!

Gateway to the Arctic

The voyage ends in Tromsø, the Gateway to the Arctic. Visit the historic Ølhallen, once the meeting point for all the hardy explorers and trappers who returned after a winter hunting the polar bears on Svalbard.

Day 1: Oslo / Longyearbyen

From 59º N to 78º N

Flight & overnight - Hotel

Before your flight from Oslo to Longyearbyen, check out the urban pleasures of Norway´s capital. Your arrival in Longyearbyen reveals an entirely different world; a colourful town perched on the edge of the Arctic wilderness. Enjoy the museum and choose among several bars and restaurants.

Transfer to your hotel for an overnight.

Day 2: Longyearbyen

The Norwegian Stronghold in the High Arctic


After an overnight stay in one of our hotels, join after lunch an excursion to get to know Longyearbyen, a prime destination for adventure travellers around the world. Enjoy the singular atmosphere of this colourful frontier outpost before boarding your ship, MS Spitsbergen.

Day 3-7: North West Spitsbergen National Park

Exploring Amazing Fjords with Fascinating History

The North West Corner of Spitsbergen is scattered with islands, fjords and beaches. Pioneering explorers and hardy whalers were the first to set foot here. Today, we respect the power of nature and work with the elements to ensure a safe and exciting itinerary.

We hope to land to see whaling settlements, or visit Kongsfjorden, considered one of the most beautiful fjord areas in Spitsbergen, with mighty glaciers calving icebergs into the sea. The former mining settlement of Ny-Ålesund is another possible destination, now an international centre for research, with a picturesque mix of old and new buildings.

In the Magdalenafjorden and Gravneset areas, you may have the chance to swim and earn a rare Arctic swimming certificate. There will be exciting landings and optional scenic kayaking opportunities.

Day 8-9: Bellsund & South Spitsbergen National Park

Heading South

We head south to the Bellsund area, followed by Hornsund with its wonderful varied landscape and geology. On a clear day, we might even see the amazing Hornsundtind, 1,431 m above sea level.

This area was popular with polar bear hunters until 1973. The old Hurtigruten steamer D/S Lyngen had scheduled stops here in past to serve trappers in the area. We hope to see a polar bear here too!

Day 10: Bjørnøya

Sea Birds and Bear Island

This isolated island is said to host the largest concentration of sea birds in the Northern Hemisphere, as well as a strong population of polar bears. In the North of the island, Bjørnøya weather station provides vital data to scientists. The wind and weather conditions will decide what we can do today.

Day 11: Hornvika, Skarsvåg & Gjesvær

North Cape and Bird Cliff

In the early morning, we sail past the North Cape, and offer the chance to enjoy a steep hike to the Cape starting in Hornvika, or to visit the Cape by bus from Skarsvåg.

The ship will continue to Gjesvær, where the excursion participants will come on board again. Next, we sail past Gjesværstappan, a bird cliff which is home to one of the largest seabird colonies in Norway.

Included activity:

North Cape (3 hrs 30)

Cross the 71st parallel and enjoy magnificent landscapes on a trip to North Cape, one of the most northernmost points in Europe. North Cape cliff rises 307 meters above the Arctic Ocean. See an impressive 180° panoramic film about the region in North Cape Hall, where you can also visit a souvenir shop, small chapel and a Thai Museum.

Day 12: Tromsø

Arctic Gateway


Your expedition cruise will end in colourful Tromsø, often referred to as the Gateway to the Arctic. In early days, the town was full outfitters, hunters and dreamers who left their loved ones here to seek their fortune in the far north, and much of that pioneer spirit remains.

Arrival 05 September 2020

Location Tromsø, Norway
What's included


  • Hurtigruten Expedition Cruise in cabin grade of your choice
  • Economy flight from Oslo to Longyearbyen
  • One hotel night in Longyearbyen before the voyage including breakfast and lunch
  • All transfers in Longyearbyen including an excursion before the voyage


  • A rich program of included activities on all voyagesdesigned to immerse you in the destinations you visit, including onshore exploration with the Expedition Team  
  • Professional English-speaking Expedition Team - an international handpicked team of highly educated experts of various academic fields with profound knowledge of the region we sail in  
  • Complimentary wind- and water-resistant jacket   
  • Loan of boots, trekking poles, and equipment needed for optional and included activities  


  • In-depth lectures on science, history, biology, geography, geology or culture that provide context to your voyage and help you understand the destinations you will experience  
  • Explorer Science programme, with educational and Citizen Science activities that let you learn about the sights you’ll see while contributing to research
  •  Introduction photo lecture, camera adjustment and tips & tricks, photo and film footage from the voyage shared in an Expedition Logbook
  • Casual opportunities to engage with the Expedition Team and other guestsincluding a welcome event, daily gatherings to recap the day and prepare for the day to come
  • Opportunities to dine and interact with the Expedition Team and officers  
  • Destination-focused onboard library  
  • Port presentations providing destination insight
  • farewell event  


  • All meals including beverages (ship beer and wine, sodas and mineral water in all restaurants)
  • Coffee and tea included throughout the day
  •  Early riser and afternoon treat offered in addition to breakfast, lunch and dinner 
  • Gym, hot tubs and panoramic sauna
  • Free Wi-fi on board for all guests. Be aware that we sail in remote areas with limited connection. Streaming is not supported.
  • No gratuities expected   


  • International flights 
  • Optional shore excursions with our local partners  
  • Optional small-group adventures with our Expedition Team such as kayaking (availability contingent on weather conditions and safety)  
  • Travel insurance  
  •  Luggage handling 


  • All planned activities are subject to weather and ice conditions
Life on board

Your ship: MS Spitsbergen

Reconstructed in 2016, MS Spitsbergen features comfortable, modern public areas and cabins. The ship's smaller size make her ideal for exploring polar waters.

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