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Cruise Away From Crowds With Hurtigruten

by Felicity Long

Mar 7, 2019

© Anibal Trejo | Dreamstime.com


It’s no secret mainstream cruising is hugely popular with families; outdoor activities, on-shore attractions and kid-friendly food — what’s not to like? But sharing an oversized vessel with thousands of other passengers, no matter how tall the water slide or how big the poolside movie screen — might not be right for your family, especially if your interests lie in nature and the rugged outdoors.


Enter Hurtigruten, known for its sustainable expedition voyages of Northern Europe and the Arctic, which will put a completely different spin on the family cruise experience. The company has 14 ships, and depending on how private you want your experience, they can accommodate from 100 to 646 passengers.


As for young guests, the company offers a Young Explorers program on sailings along the Norwegian coast — the company’s specialty — for kids aged 7 to 13. The program is free and available year-round on select ships.


Choose from a cruise on the MS Finnmarken, for example, a child-friendly vessel with a heated outdoor pool, a dedicated kids’ playroom, a hot tub and onboard spaces for activities.


Or entice the mini-environmentalists in your family with a cruise aboard the MS Roald Amundsen, a new ship with its own Science Center and an infinity pool, on its itineraries from Norway to Alaska and Antarctica. The ship, which began sailing this year, is the first hybrid-powered cruise ship and boasts the tallest LED screen at sea.


Its sister ship, the MS Fridtjof Nansen, offers the program year-round in Antarctica, while the MS Midnatsol operates the Young Explorer program when the ship is in Antarctica, November through March.


Hurtigruten voyage in ferry along Norwegian coast, in Norway © Pablo Hidalgo | Dreamstime.com

Hurtigruten voyage in ferry along Norwegian coast, in Norway © Pablo Hidalgo | Dreamstime.com


While the activities vary by destination, each sailing includes the services of a dedicated host, who will greet families on arrival and plan and organize activities, all geared toward eco-friendly learning and adventure.


Every Young Explorer receives a starter pack with an activity book — complete with “assignments” related to the different exploration topics — and a t-shirt. Daily onboard activity themes can range from nature and climate to history and culture, depending on the destination and seasons. Other topics include wildlife, local food, environmental protection and famous explorers.


In summer, for example, on each Round Cruise along the Norwegian Coast, kids can participate in a beach clean-up in cooperation with the Hurtigruten Foundation and Keep Norway Beautiful —  although parents should be aware that, as always, Mother Nature is in charge: The clean-ups can’t be conducted if there is snow or ice on the beach.


Parents should also know that, in general, they won’t participate in Young Explorers activities, although in some cases, they may be invited to join in depending on the size of the group and other factors. Regardless of the sailing, the activities are primarily offered in English.


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