Celebrating Christmas in Norway on Hurtigruten’s Finnmarken

Finnmarken

Finnmarken is one of Hurtigruten’s 11 ships that sail year-round along the Norwegian coast, round trip 12 days from Bergen to Kirkenes, making some 65 port calls ranging from 15 minutes to more than four hours.

Finnmarken

Finnmarken

The 2002-built, 15,690-ton Finnmarken can accommodate up to 740 passengers in staterooms and another 250-day passengers, as well as cargo and up to 47 cars.

Finnmarken

The current Christmas cruise includes large contingents of passengers from India and China in addition to passengers from South Africa, Australia, the UK, Germany and the United States.

Finnmarken

Winter attractions include Norway’s nature, including the Northern Lights, and shore excursions ranging from sightseeing to dog sledging, cross-country skiing and mountain hiking.

Finnmarken

The culinary experience is focused around Hurtigruten’s Coastal Kitchen concept, featuring ingredients and dishes native to Norway.

Northern Lights

(Photos by Angela Reale Mathisen and Oivind Mathisen)

MS Marco Polo Runs Aground in Norway

MS Marco Polo Runs Aground in Norway

Cruise ship MS Marco Polo has run aground with 750 passengers on board while manoeuvring to anchor near Leknes in Norway’s northern Lofoten Islands.

Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV), a passenger shipping company headquartered in Essex, UK  informed that due to adverse wind conditions experienced by their cruise ship MS Marco Polo when approaching her berth in Leknes (Lofoten Islands), Norway, it was decided, in the interest of safety, to take anchor.

“Whilst manoeuvring and as the tide was retreating, the ship touched a mud bank and became lodged. A subsequent inspection by divers has revealed that there has been no damage to the vessel’s hull or propulsion systems,” the company said in a release on Saturday, November 1st.

According to CMV, Marco Polo has been successfully manoeuvred off the mud bank with the assistance of the evening high water tide and resumed her 14 night voyage to Norway and the Land of the Northern Lights en-route to Alta.

There has been no oil pollution arising out of the incident and none of the 763 mainly British passengers or crew have been injured.

“Passengers wishing to go ashore were transferred by tender and the local tour programme continued as scheduled,” the release added.

Chris Coates, Commercial Director of CMV commented, “The comfort and safety of our passengers is our top priority and our passengers have been kept fully updated of the situation.”

Top tips for an adventure at sea

Fancy unleashing your inner Sir David Attenborough or Bear Grylls? Here are our top tips for going off the beaten track…

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TOP TIPS FOR THE FROZEN PLANET

Only 100 passengers are allowed to land at one time on Antarctica, so small ships are best.Go in November/December to see penguins or in January/February to see whales.

“Whether you want to follow in the footsteps of Scott and Shackleton, be overwhelmed by the  number – and smell – of the penguins or just witness the serenity and beauty of wind-sculpted ice then the Antarctic will be your ultimate challenge. The spectacular wildlife includes orcas, humpback whales and sea birds.”Deborah Stone, Contributing Editor

Most Antarctic expedition cruises start from Ushuaia (Argentina), followed by a two-day sail across Drake’s Passage to the Antarctic Peninsula. Captain’s Choice has luxurious trips to Chile and Antarctica

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TIME TRAVEL

Interested in learning while you cruise? Specialist cruise lines such as Voyages to Antiquity(voyagestoantiquity.com) have well-known lecturers on board to help you discover more about the history and culture of the places you’re visiting.

Specialist cruises tend to be casual, and entertainment will be a lecture about geography, history or culture. They usually involve early morning starts to help you make the most of the destinations you’re visiting.

Cruise International

EXOTIC ADVENTURES

Luxury cruise line SeaDream (seadream.com) has Asia cruises for diving and snorkelling in Komodo Island’s National Park. And one of the hottest trends right now is cruise and safari. Spend a few days in Namibia or Kenya and join a game drive before heading off for your cruise. Fred. Olsen, Voyages to Antiquity,Cunard, MSC and P&O all offer cruises to Africa.

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EXTREME ACTIVITIES

Voted winner of Best Destination (Rest of World) in the 2013 Cruise International Awards, the untamed landscape of Alaska is a cruise adventurer’s dream, where you can experience everything from whale spotting to dog-sledding and white-water rafting. And in the Arctic you disembark and explore by zodiac boat, taking you up close to glaciers and icebergs.

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WILDLIFE WONDERS

Cruise to the Galapagos Islands to see giant tortoises and flamingos. Variety Cruises (varietycruises.com) visit the Seychelles for rare black parrots and the bird nature reserve on Cousin Island, while Princess Cruises (princess.com) offers a range of cruises to South America and the Pacific.

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NORTHERN LIGHTS

Go in search of the Northern Lights on a Scandinavian cruise. The best time to catch this natural phenomenon is between autumn and early April when it’s dark from 6pm to 1am, and the best spots are above the Arctic Circle. Hurtigruten (hurtigruten.co.uk) has cruises departing from 1 November to 31 December 2014 with snowmobile safaris and reindeer driving.

Amazon cruise

UP THE AMAZON

A cruise on the Amazon River takes you into the heart of the jungle, past villages and banks covered by dense rainforest, plus the chance to spot wildlife including spider monkeys, three-toed sloths and macaws.Fred. Olsen sails the Amazon and the Caribbean on 22 March 2014 (fredolsencruises.com).

WHAT TO TAKE

For cruises to the Arctic take rubber fishing boots, with extra-thick soles, to keep feet warm and dry. You’ll also need waterproof trousers and layers to stay warm. For the Amazon, you’ll need insect repellent, sturdy footwear, antihistamines, anti-diarrhoea tablets and rehydration sachets may be useful. Always check with your GP in case you need any vaccinations before travelling, and travel insurance is a must.