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Hurtigruten and HX, why this company deserves special attention?

Posted: 1/29/2024

Author: Amelie de Moreau

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Let's talk about one of our partners: HX-Hurtigruten Expeditions and Hurtigruten, which are two companies that offer expedition cruises, particularly in the Arctic and Antarctic regions, but also to explore the Norwegian fjords, admire the northern lights, catch a glimpse of polar bears, or visit remote villages.

Let's learn more about one of the oldest cruise companies in the world, its sustainability policy and its commitment to protect the environment! At the end, you will know everything about the itineraries offered by the company!

Who is Hurtigruten? A Brief History

Let's start at the beginning, who is Hurtigruten?

It is one of the oldest cruise companies in the world, and its name means 'the fast route' In the 1870s, there was a growing demand for fish from the Nordic countries, as Europeans became increasingly fond of herring, halibut, and cod caught in Norwegian waters. However, Norwegian waters are among the most challenging maritime routes in the world, with numerous islands, narrow sea arms, and perilous reefs. Add to that inefficient steamships, and you have fish traveling for 3 weeks (and even 5 months in winter) from the north to the south of the country, with ports in the south facilitating exports to other European countries.

In 1891, the Norwegian government realized that fishing was becoming increasingly important to its national economy and that it was imperative to improve the efficiency of transporting fish from the north to the south of the country. The government issued several tenders to find a company that could improve maritime transport efficiency in Norway.

These tenders remained unanswered, as the task proved to be complex and risky. A few years later, a man specializing in herring trade and already owning several merchant ships decided to take on the challenge. This man was Captain Richard With.

Captain With then partnered with Anders Holte, an experienced sailor, to map the Norwegian coast. The "fast route" - Hurtigruten was born!

On July 2, 1893, the first ship made its inaugural voyage and was welcomed with great fanfare by the villagers! This new route allowed some villages to emerge from isolation, drastically reducing the delivery times of goods, people, and mail.

Thanks to the rapid export of fish worldwide, the Hurtigruten company played a massive role in the economic development of Norway. Captain With was even knighted by the Royal Norwegian Order of Saint Olaf, a reward for services rendered to the nation and humanity.

To this day, Hurtigruten remains one of the few cruise companies that combine passenger transport with freight transport. Additionally, many Norwegians take the ship as we would take the bus or train to visit relatives or work!

In 2024, who is Hurtigruten Expeditions-HX and Hurtigruten?

Since 2021, Hurtigruten has decided to divide its business into two:

Hurtigruten which continues the original route since 1983 and serves nearly 34 villages around Norway. The fleet consists of 9 ships.

HX (Hurtigruten Expeditions) which offers expedition cruises in more than 30 different countries and has 6 ships.

Who is travelling on Hurtigruten and HX?

All HX and Hurtigruten cruises attract clients eager for culture, adventure, vast landscapes, and immersion in the visited countries! You will indeed have the opportunity to hike, kayak, snowmobile, dog sled, visit villages, churches, museums, learn more about Viking culture, etc. It is impossible for me to list all the activities offered by Hurtigruten and HX, but believe me, you won't be bored! Furthermore, there are always groups of experts on board who give lectures during the evenings. The topics covered are varied but always related to the destinations.

Hurtigruten is an excellent company for couples and solo travelers, often offering discounts or not imposing supplements for single travelers.

With small ships, it's very easy to meet people on board, not to mention that excursions and meals provide plenty of opportunities to socialize. Hurtigruten Expeditions-HX does not accept children under 5 years old for expeditions to Antarctica and under 6 years old for the Galápagos. Additionally, zodiac transfers for children under 12 are at the discretion of the Captain. For Hurtigruten Coastal Express, children of all ages are accepted. Children aged 2 to 15 traveling with both parents receive a 50% discount on the cruise price, while those traveling with a single parent receive a 20% discount. Cabins have a maximum capacity of 4 people. There is no Kids' club, but there is a program called 'Young Explorers' for children aged 6 to 13. This program, offered in English and Norwegian during school holidays, is included in the cruise fare. Older children can also join the program if they wish, and younger ones are welcome with their parents! This fun program allows children to understand the history of the country they are visiting through role-playing (such as living like a Viking), experience the phenomenon of the Northern Lights, learn a few words of Norwegian, etc. If you're looking for a cruise with water slides, mini-golf, or arcade games, I advise you to look for an other cruise line.

What do we do on these ships?

First and foremost, it's important to keep in mind that the primary goal of these cruises is to discover the environment, meet others and local cultures, and share experiences. Taking a cruise with HX or Hurtigruten is a unique experience, somewhat timeless. You'll spend your days exploring a city or hiking in wild nature. In the evening, you'll enjoy delicious food and share your day's experiences with fellow guests at your table. The evening can then extend into one of the ship's lounge bars, but if you're looking for shows or even a casino, you'll need to look to another company. However, you can still attend one of the lectures given by specialists to learn more about your next destination.

5 Reasons to travel with HX or Hurtigruten

You might say, well, many cruise companies already go to these regions and claim to be experts in the field, but then why is Hurtigruten such a unique company?

Reason 1: They know how and where to navigate.
Due to their history (you see, I told you history was important), they know how to navigate the Norwegian waters and the challenging maritime routes. Moreover, they are genuinely involved in the communities they travel to and are generally extremely well received by the locals!

Reason 2: An eco-conscious cruise!

Choosing to cruise with Hurtigruten means choosing a meaningful cruise! Whether on expedition cruises or the classic route, many scientists are on board and they fulfill several roles: sharing their knowledge and expertise with you while also conducting research or collecting data.

Moreover, you too can contribute to research by sharing your photos taken during your cruise; these photos can be used for the census of whales, orcas, or seals!

This cruise therefore takes on a particular meaning because it is not only intended to transport travelers who wish to explore new horizons.

Believe me, you will come out of a Hurtigruten cruise more knowledgeable!

Reason 3: One of the greenest cruise companies in the world!

Numerous examples testify to Hurtigruten's commitment to protecting the planet. The company has banned the use of heavy fuels, and a good portion of their fleet is hybrid, which reduces nitrogen oxide emissions by 80%. Moreover, the ships can run on electricity when docked, which prevents the emission of fine particles at port of call. These hybrid ships also help reduce noise pollution in protected areas to minimize disruption to local wildlife. Finally, a 'zero-emission' ship is under construction and is expected to join the fleet by 2030.

On board, the products used (shampoo, household products, etc.) are all biodegradable; they have even created their own brand - Polar Arctic. The pools, cabins, hot tubs, etc., are heated by a heat recovery system from the engines and food waste. They have also banned the use of single-use plastics since 2018 and offer water fountains on the ship. They no longer sell synthetic clothing because the production of these fabrics generates the production of microplastics that are then released into the ocean. Also, to minimize the production of microplastics, all clothes, sheets, tablecloths, etc., that are washed on the ship are placed in washing nets.

Reason 4: Local and plant-based food

80% of the food served on board comes from the visited ports to support local communities and minimize the transport of goods. The fish served to travelers comes from responsible fishing, and they have implemented a very effective food waste reduction program! Finally, they have many vegan and vegetarian options, and believe me, it's delicious.

Reason 5: Unique itineraries!
Hurtigruten has 6 expedition ships and 9 ships that sail along the Norwegian coast, with capacities ranging from 90 to 590 passengers. These small ships allow visits to smaller ports, longer stays in port (passenger disembarkation takes less time), and immersion in the culture and nature of the regions visited. Finally, they advocate for reducing mass tourism by proposing maximum visitor quotas per port visited.

Where do we go with HX?

Expedition cruises, HX, are organized in over 30 different destinations. Whether it's to explore Antarctica, an island composed of 90% ice and admire orcas and wild birds, to warm up on intimate 90-passenger boats in the Galapagos, or to admire volcanoes, geysers, and impressive waterfalls in Iceland.
HX can also take you to discover polar bears in the Arctic or to experience the chill of the far North. You can also visit the British Isles through completely immersive itineraries that will immerse you in the most beautiful cities while admiring unique wildlife and flora.
Finally, if expedition for you means warmth, HX takes you to West Africa to combine safari and discovery of local populations. South America is also on the list of regions offered by HX, as well as hidden Caribbean islands.

Finally, all these itineraries are offered only at certain times of the year, aiming to take advantage of optimal weather conditions for travelers while also allowing wildlife to remain undisturbed during periods when they are most vulnerable.

The Northern Lights Promise

HX also offers you the opportunity to admire the Northern Lights from May to February departing from Dover, Amsterdam, and Bergen. This cruise allows you to visit numerous villages, participate in the Arctic Circle crossing ceremony, and meet the people living in the most remote villages of the North. Moreover, many of these cruises come with an undeniable advantage: the promise of seeing the Northern Lights. In case you cannot admire them, HX offers you a cruise the following year! HX is one of the few operators to offer this on its cruises, which proves that they truly know where to navigate to see them, and also that if you're unlucky, you'll have the chance to see them the following year and enjoy another cruise!

Where do we go with Hurtigruten?

Hurtigruten offers four different itineraries along the Norwegian coast, with a fifth itinerary offered, but it's more of a ferry route reserved for locals traveling with their cars between villages. The fleet is composed of 9 ships with maximum capacity of 500 passengers.

The original Coastal Express allows you to visit 34 villages over 12 days departing from Bergen. In some cases, stops at certain ports last only 10 minutes. This itinerary allows you to admire Norway's most beautiful fjords and meet very remote local communities. Life on board also prioritizes encounters as this route is also used by local residents.

The North Cape Express, with a departure and return to Bergen, allows you to visit 16 different destinations over 14 days, or you can opt for a one-way trip visiting 8 destinations in 7 days (Bergen-Kirkenes).

The Svalbard Express, departing from Bergen, allows you to admire the midnight sun, explore the northernmost point of the continent, and visit 16 different destinations over 16 days. This itinerary can also be shortened with departures and/or returns at destinations along the route.

The Spitsbergen Adventurer, a 7-day journey, takes you to the most remote islands in the north of the continent, where you'll have the opportunity to admire polar bears, impressive glaciers, and the world's most remote fjords.

So, when are we leaving?

In summary, we love Hurtigruten for its environmental commitment, its itineraries, its excellent cuisine, and its immersion in the country and sharing with local populations. However, it's challenging to advise on an ideal departure date and itinerary because it all depends on what you want to see and do. Additionally, given the multitude of itineraries offered and the many ships, it's important to get the best advice to ensure that your cruise meets all your criteria. Feel free to contact us at theteam@ifyoucruise.com, call us at 020 4576 2793, contact us via this link and check our Facebook channels for our latest promotions.

Article Tags: Hurtigruten, HX, Cruise,

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