Tuesday, 29 September 2015
Dog sled rides, Northern Lights and majestic fjords: Behind the small-ship trips offering the ultimate Norwegian coastal experience
A Norwegian coastal journey around the fjords with Hurtigruten has rightly become one of the ‘bucket list’ things to do when you retire.
Serious bucket-listers can tick off a second item by using the trip as a way of experiencing the Northern Lights. But for bucket listers on a budget, there is the nagging anxiety about taking the trip but failing to see the Lights.
Be anxious no longer. Hurtigruten is offering a Northern Lights Promise – open to passengers who book a 12-day Classic Round Voyage for departure between October 2015 and February 2016.
Way to go: A dog sled ride through the snow in Norway. Clara Perry said: 'Most tourists to Norway never have a chance to experience, such as being pulled along the frozen Arctic on a husky sled'
Staff on board Hurtigruten’s 11 coastal ships will be scouring the night skies and will announce any sightings of the Lights.
If they don’t appear during the voyage, Hurtigruten will offer guests the choice of a free seven-day Classic Voyage North, or a six-day Classic Voyage South in an inside twin cabin (voyage-only, B&B basis), departing between October 2016 and March 2017.
Not only that, but those booking a voyage departing in October, November and December 2015 can look forward to excellent value for money, with flights from Heathrow or Gatwick included, plus wine or beer with evening meals.
Cyril Bricaud of Hurtigruten says that the shipping company is ‘putting their money where their mouth is.
This winter our guests are not only benefiting from our Northern Lights Promise, but with flights and a drink package included, there has never been a better time to go’.
The Classic Round Voyage hugs the Norwegian coastline from Bergen up to Kirkenes, where it turns around and starts its journey south back to Bergen.
Weaving through narrow waterways and fjords on small yet comfortable working ships, you will visit off-the-beaten-track towns and villages and try activities that most tourists to Norway never have a chance to experience, such as being pulled along the frozen Arctic on a husky sled, or enjoying a thrilling rib boat ride through the world’s fastest tidal current – there are more than 50 experiences on offer along the way.
Prices for an inside cabin on a full-board basis (based on two sharing) and including the free flights and wine package start from £1,197, on a choice of dates, including October 30, 2015 (hurtigruten.co.uk; 020 3582 6642). Regional flights are available for a supplement. Alternatively, guests travelling in early 2016 can book an inside cabin on full-board basis (based on two sharing), on a choice of dates in January 2016 (including January 23) for £995pp. Flight and transfer packages start from an additional £330pp.
If you want to discover the world this autumn on smaller ships with a more intimate experience, discover award-winning Fred.Olsen Cruise Lines, which operates four traditional ships: Balmoral, Braemar, Boudicca and Black Watch.
Hurtigruten is offering a Northern Lights Promise – open to passengers who book a 12-day Classic Round Voyage for departure between October 2015 and February 2016
Being smaller, the ships are able to cruise to the heart of hundreds of destinations worldwide from ten convenient, regional UK ports, ‘bringing the world closer to you’.
Fred.Olsen Cruise Lines (fredolsencruises.com; 0800 0355 242) says its ships are ideally suited to the traditional British cruise guest – and promises that its experience has a ‘home-from-home’ feel. Its four ships offer a friendly and welcoming ‘country house’ atmosphere ‘where friendships are forged with fellow guests and crew alike’.
The ships offer a relaxed and informal style of cruising, yet retain those aspects that make a cruise such a special form of holiday, such as dressing for the formal dinner evenings.
This autumn, Fred.Olsen is offering the chance to escape the cooler weather of the UK with a range of ‘Warmer Cruises’ – all with prices from £50pp per night and the chance to upgrade to the ‘all-inclusive’ drinks package from £10pp per night.
A cruise on Balmoral’s 14-night Stunning Spain & Gibraltar itinerary, which departs Southampton on October 25, includes a trip to see the Alhambra palace from Malaga; a chance to see the Moorish and Spanish influences in Seville, from Cadiz; and to uncover Roman history in Cartagena.
Alternatively, the Landscapes Of Madeira & The Canaries, including Madeira and Tenerife, is a 14-night cruise aboard Boudicca and leaves from Tilbury on November 30.
Fred.Olsen’s Do Something Different cruises are a collection of four holidays, in October and November, claiming to offer ‘very special experiences’.
These include an 11-night Myths And Legends Of The UK cruise, which will take in attractions including Stonehenge, the Giant’s Causeway and the Neolithic village of Skara Brae.
There is also the opportunity to uncover tales of leprechauns, wizards and the Loch Ness Monster. On board, passengers can listen to lectures from guest speaker Dr Patrick McCafferty, a specialist in Irish mythology.
For something adventurous, Fred.Olsen is giving guests the chance to ‘tell the captain where to go’ with a 15-night You Choose Your Cruise holiday – a new concept. Guests on board will get to vote for the next port of call – choose from two destinations every 48 hours. Destinations include Oporto (from Leixoes) in Portugal or Vigo in Spain; Barcelona or Palamós in Spain; and Valencia in Spain or Palma in Majorca.
Cruise guests looking for a shorter break could set sail on a five-night Sea Is For Comedy cruise.
Departing from Southampton, guests can spend five laughter-filled days cruising to Santa Cruz in Tenerife aboard Braemar while being entertained by a great line-up of performers.
From start to finish, the cruise is set to be a blast.