Experience the magic of the midnight sun in the Arctic. Credit: Shutterstock

Sail to the midnight sun with Hurtigruten’s Svalbard Express

Author: Daniel Edward

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The midnight sun is a unique phenomenon that can only be witnessed high in the arctic circle in the summer, and Hurtigruten’s Svalbard Express is the ideal cruise for it

Summer is an intriguing time to visit Norway and venture north into the Arctic circle, where the sun never sets.

The truly unique phenomenon, known as the ‘midnight sun’ is only visible in the far northern reaches of the northern hemisphere, and Hurtigruten’s in depth Norwegian itineraries are the ideal way to experience it for yourself.

You’ll know that you’ve arrived in the Arctic Circle when you watch the sun lazily bounce on the horizon and, instead of setting for the evening, immediately rises again without a moment of darkness. Dusk segues straight into dawn.

And it’s all thanks to the Earth’s axis. That 32.4 degree tilt is enough to cause the seasons, and because the North Pole is titled towards the sun, it means that the whole polar region stays perfectly in the sun’s rays for months on end (spare a thought for the South Pole though – flung into months of permanent darkness).

The midnight sun is visible in Svalbard from April 20 to August 22, with other northern Norwegian towns witnessing the phenomenon for slightly smaller windows.

For unending days sailing into the sunset/rise, you’ll want an itinerary that calls into Tromsø, Bodø, or perhaps Hammerfest. Of course, the best is Svalbard.

And that’s why Hurtigruten’s Svalbard Express is the ideal choice for this memorable experience.

See some amazing wildlife in Svalbard with Hurtigruten. Credit: Shutterstock

See the light on the Svalbard Express
The Svalbard Express is a reimagined version of a classic Norwegian itinerary from back in the 1960s. Hurtigruten has been sailing these waters longer than any other line and offers the perfect opportunity to really embrace an authentically local side of this mysterious coastline.

The 16-day voyage, which is available to book direct with Hurtigruten (currently with no single traveller supplement, if you travel alone), runs 10 times between May and September this year.

Not only will you get the most amazing photos of the midnight sun (perhaps even a time-lapse video from your balcony or the open deck), but you’ll also gain a deep understanding of coastal Norway – it’s history, culture, and cuisine.

The authentic connection to a true Norway is what sets Hurtigruten apart from the crowd in the region. Unlike other cruise lines who cover vast swathes of the world, Hurtigruten focuses in on one area – their home – and showcases it like no other.

From the southern point of the journey in Bergen, MS Trollfjord follows Norway’s craggy and dramatic coastline up through alpine villages and historic fishing communities, picking up fresh local produce on the way to serve up in the onboard restaurants.

The whole voyage is enlightening, but then the lights really turn on from day six of the cruise as you arrive into Tromsø, the gateway to the Arctic. In the basin of snow-capped mountains, Tromsø is a modern city with a rich history, from its roots in 1794.

And the cruise continues north yet. When you reach Honningsvåg, you’ll find yourself in one of the northernmost reaches of the continent – just 1000 miles south of the North Pole. The imposing 307m high North Cape makes a striking view and a powerful picture of the start of Europe.

And it’s from this launch pad that MS Trollfjord heads out into the Atlantic towards Svalbard, a stark and beautiful archipelago that has witnessed countless inspirational expeditions over the years. And you’ll have the opportunity to learn about these islands’ natural and expedition histories in a dedicated onboard lecture series.

The legendary voyage returns to the mainland with further port visits on the journey back to Bergen. Following days in the never-ending summer sun, you’ll once more see the sun setting and rising independently on two separate days.

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