Norway Christmas Expedition Cruise from Hamburg

Norway Christmas Expedition Cruise from Hamburg

Norway Christmas Expedition Cruise from Hamburg

Norway Christmas Expedition Cruise from Hamburg

Travel information 15 days MS Otto Sverdrup
23 December 2022
Price from
6434 €
Breakfast, lunch and dinner included

Make your Christmas and New Year’s even more magical with an expedition along the beautiful Norwegian coast, bringing together yuletide traditions and hopefully the spectacular Northern Lights. 

It’s beginning to look a lot like… 

Sailing from Hamburg, we plan to reach Bergen in time to enjoy its Christmas market. Then we’ll head into Nordfjord to enjoy the views from the village of Loen. From there, it’s across the Arctic Circle to Svolvær, the largest town in the Lofoten Islands. Enjoying the twilight of the Polar Night, we continue to Alta to admire the Northern Lights Cathedral there. You’ll then journey to North Cape via Honningsvåg, one of the northernmost points on the European continent.

Starting the New Year on an adventure 

In the Arctic capital of Tromsø, you’ll learn about its polar history and possibly take part in exciting excursions. Sip champagne for New Year’s celebrations aboard your ship, arriving in the picture-perfect Lofoten fishing village of Reine the next day. We’ll then explore the coast of Trøndelag, tour the Art nouveau architecture and aquarium of Ålesund, and stop off at villages deep within Hardangerfjord. As we sail back to Hamburg, you’ll have many cherished memories of a charming Christmas and New Year’s along the Norwegian coast.

Norway Christmas Expedition Cruise from Hamburg Norway Christmas Expedition Cruise from Hamburg
  • Day 1

    On your way to Christmas and New Year’s in Norway

    23 December 2022
    Estimated time of departure is 7:00 PM

    As we exit the Hamburg channel we reach Cuxhaven where we will go alongside and celebrate the start of our journey to Norway. For hundreds of years German seafarers and emigrants leaving Germany have used the port of Cuxhaven. Join us for the ceremony where the expedition team will let you know all about the coming adventure in the land of the Northern Lights. A local sea shanty choir will entertain us, and the museum of the Hapag-Halle will give us a guided tour and a historical perspective on our journey.

    Day 1

    On your way to Christmas and New Year’s in Norway

  • Day 2
    At sea

    Christmas comes early

    24 December 2022

    This day at sea gives you all the time you need to ease into your journey. You’ll definitely want to start enjoying onboard facilities like the hot tubs, sauna, and indoor gym.  

    The Expedition Team will begin the first in their series of insightful lectures over at the Science Center. Each member of the team are experts on different subjects and you’ll find them to be walking, talking treasure troves of stories and information. They’ll share their extensive knowledge about the places, Christmas traditions, history, and natural phenomena you are likely to encounter.  

    Our Captain’s goal is to bring us into Bergen the next day, but where wind and waves on the North Sea are involved, nothing can be completely set in stone, especially in the winter season. This is just part and parcel of the expedition experience, adding extra suspense and excitement to your adventure.  

    As in Germany and a few other European countries, Norwegians also celebrate Christmas on the 24th rather than the 25th of December. We’ll find a place with calm waters to enjoy a traditional Christmas dinner. The menu will be inspired by the same Christmas dinner Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen enjoyed on his expedition to the North Pole aboard the original Fram in 1893. It was also the year Hurtigruten was founded. 

    Our chefs will have been busy preparing rich oxtail soup, traditional fish terrine, succulent reindeer with tangy lingonberry marmalade, stewed cloudberries, and kransekake, a Norwegian confectionary made of almonds. Christmas meals are usually washed down with a generous glass (or more) of local akevitt (snaps) and beer. God jul to all! 

    Day 2
    At sea

    Christmas comes early

  • Day 3

    An unforgettable Christmas

    25 December 2022

    Depending on the weather when crossing the North Sea, we aim to arrive in Bergen in the afternoon. As our first port of call in Norway, Bergen is certainly one of its finest.

    Enjoying a picturesque setting in the fjord, near to several islands, it is also known as the ‘City of Seven Mountains’. Houses line the hillsides, nestled among snow-covered trees.

    Founded in 1070 AD, Bergen was Norway’s capital for many years and a key member of the Hanseatic League of trade cities. You’ll see that the city has retained a great deal of its local character, heritage and charm.

    One such place that has this in spades is the historic UNESCO-listed Bryggen district with its colourful wooden wharfs. The area dates back to the 14th century and now houses boutique stores across from Bergen’s famous fish market.  

    Christmas time probably means the shops and market will be shut, and the streets and squares fairly empty. The city is therefore all yours to explore as you like!

    You’ll get a feel for the city as you admire the architecture and look for street art in the narrow cobblestone streets, many of which will be decked out in festive decorations and fairy lights. 

    Day 3

    An unforgettable Christmas

  • Day 4
    Outside Loen

    Fjord side to mountain top in five

    26 December 2022

    We start the day with some scenic cruising into Nordfjord, passing Hornelen, Europe’s highest sea cliff, early in the morning. You’ll spot numerous old fishing communities located along the fjord that actually date back to pre-Viking times. 

    It would make sense if lectures for today focus on the geology of Norway, covering the formation of its fjords, mountains and glaciers. You might also learn more about the Viking culture that used to inhabit the region and their thirst for exploration that still beats in the hearts of Norwegians today.  

    Thanks to the smaller size of our expedition ship, we’ll be taking you through straits and channels that larger vessels simply can’t fit through. This allows you to get that much closer to the fjords and mountains that the Norwegian coast is so famous for.

    It also means we can access small communities that few ever get to visit, giving you an intimate glimpse into the culture and way of life here. One such place is Loen, where we arrive around noon. 

    In the shadow of Mount Skåla, at the very heart of Nordfjord, and near the mighty Jostedalsbreen glacier, Loen enjoys a stunning setting. It is also home to some of the oldest farms in all of Norway, pre-dating even the advent of Christianity in the country.

    You might have the opportunity to choose from a few optional winter activities here, such as snowshoeing or sledding. If time and weather allow, there might also be an opportunity to do some thrilling winter kayaking on the fjord.  

    Day 4
    Outside Loen

    Fjord side to mountain top in five

  • Day 5
    At sea

    Approaching the Arctic Circle

    27 December 2022

    Today you can spend time in the ship’s lounge, soaking in a hot tub, or out on deck. Whatever you do, don’t take your eyes off the scenery as we sail through Helgeland county. 

    Pick out the peaks of the Seven Sisters mountain range, thought to be the petrified bodies of seven troll sisters caught out at sunrise. 5 likely be amazed by Torghatten mountain too, with its distinct hole right through the middle. Local legend states that the mountain was in fact the troll-king’s hat which turned to stone when it was pierced through by an arrow.  

    At this point of your expedition, we are around the halfway mark along Norway’s long coastline and you won’t be far off from the Arctic Circle. This is an exciting time as the further north we sail, the greater your chances of seeing the Northern Lights. 

    The natural phenomenon occurs when charged particles carried by the solar wind disturb the Earth’s upper atmosphere, creating mesmerising ripples and rays. The end result is a cosmic lightshow of dazzling colour and dance. Our route along the Norwegian coast will take us directly under the Auroral Zone, a prime area of Northern Lights occurrences. We’ll be hoping to see multiple sightings of the lights in different locations.  

    The weather in northern Norway will be noticeably nippier and the amount of snow you’ll see will normally start to increase as well, which actually has the effect of making the landscapes seem brighter. Depending on when in the winter season you sail, the periods of daylight will be fairly short and grow even more brief above the Arctic Circle.

    It’s not complete darkness though as you’ll also get to experience the very romantic ‘blue hour’. This is an extended twilight that can actually be several hours long. The winter sun glows just below the horizon, bathing Norway’s fjords and mountains in a dreamy cobalt-blue light.  

    The Expedition Team will continue their onboard lectures which may cover local folklore and fairytales or a history of navigation along the coast from lighthouses to satellites. You might also learn about the quintessentially Norwegian love of the outdoors known as friluftsliv. Or perhaps pick up tips from the professional onboard photographer on how best to capture the aurora when they appear.  

    Day 5
    At sea

    Approaching the Arctic Circle

  • Day 6

    Winter in the Arctic

    28 December 2022

    There are only a few places on Earth where you can sail north of the Arctic Circle in wintertime. The Norwegian coast is one of them. The ship will officially cross over the Arctic Circle sometime in the morning. To mark the occasion, in the tradition of Norwegian sailors, we’ll invite you out on deck for a special ceremony.  

    As we approach the Lofoten archipelago, the sight of the massive wall of mountains and dramatic peaks rising up out of the sea is something you’ll never forget. Serene fishing villages sit nestled in the sheltered coves, all the more charming when dusted with the season’s snow and if the aurora is seen swirling above. 

    We sail along Vestfjord and arrive in Svolvær, the largest town in Lofoten, in the afternoon. You’ll be greeted by rows of rorbuer (fishing huts) and wooden racks dotted along the shore called hjell. Here, locally caught cod is dried and turned into stockfish, a prized local delicacy.  

    If the shops and art galleries along the seafront are open, pick up some Lofot caviar, some locally handcrafted candles, or handblown glass to bring home as souvenirs. You may even be able to rent a kicksled for a traditional ride through the town powered by kicking the ground with your leg and foot. 

    From where you dock, it’s a short walk to your inclusive visit to the multicoloured Magic Ice bar. The former fish-freezing warehouse is filled with ice sculptures that depict Lofoten life and Viking culture. Enjoy a signature spirit to warm you up, served in an ice glass of course!  

    Guided by your expert Expedition Team, you can join optional excursions to snowshoe or hike among the spectacular Lofoten scenery in the Polar Night, lit by headlamps and perhaps even by the Northern Lights themselves.  

    • Included Fishing Village Walk
    Day 6

    Winter in the Arctic

  • Day 7

    On the lookout for the Northern Lights

    29 December 2022

    Alta lies in the vast wilderness of Troms and Finnmark county, well above the Arctic Circle at 70 degrees north. Welcome to the turning point of your expedition and to one of the northernmost towns in the world with a population over 10,000. 

    We’ll arrive here in the early afternoon and plan to stay past midnight to stargaze and watch for the aurora in Alta’s skies. The town is directly beneath the Auroral Oval, a zone known for consistent Northern Lights activity. If the heavens aren’t overcast, and the conditions are right, you might well be in for quite the show... 

    You’ll learn more about the aurora at the modern Northern Lights Cathedral in Alta, situated at the end of the Christmas-decorated pedestrian street. The titanium-clad building and its spiral belfry dominate the skyline here, all the more impressive when illuminated at night.  

    There is an interactive exhibition in the cathedral that chronicles how Norwegian scientist Kristian Birkeland established Alta as an epicentre for ground-breaking Northern Lights research in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. You’ll also be treated to a classical concert in the cathedral as part of your visit… perfect for the festive season! 

    Buorit Juovllat!’ That’s Merry Christmas in North Sámi. Troms and Finnmark county forms part of the traditional lands of the indigenous Sámi whose livelihoods revolve around semi-nomadic reindeer herding. Not far from Alta is Máze, a Sámi village located along Kautokeino River, that you can visit and experience Sámi culture and food as part of an optional excursion.  

    When more snow falls as winter progresses, Alta is also prime territory for visits to snow hotels, dog sledding and snowmobiling. For example, the ice hotel in Sorrisniva has a new design every year and is open to visitors for tours. You will also be able to join optional excursions to go snowshoeing and hiking in the incredible tundra wilderness.  

    • Included Experience the Northern Lights Cathedral
    Day 7

    On the lookout for the Northern Lights

  • Day 8

    At the edge of Europe

    30 December 2022

    Start the day by arriving at the small town of Honningsvåg. You’ll now visit one of the northernmost points in Europe as part of an included excursion.  

    The scenic bus ride from Honningsvåg passes small bays and tiny villages, then crosses a mountain plateau before arriving at spectacular North Cape. At 71°10’21´N, it is just 2,100 kilometres away from the Geographic North Pole, with only the Svalbard Archipelago in between.  

    Stand at the cliff’s edge and gaze out across the sparkling sea. The North Cape is the closest you may ever get to the top of the world. There’s the obligatory selfie at the Globe Monument to snap before visiting the North Cape Hall for several exhibits and a short film which chronicle the history of the cape.      Back in Honningsvåg, enjoy a stroll by the pretty harbour, browsing the charming shops, houses and church. Like many towns in northern Norway, fishing is the main source of income here. The local restaurants offer fresh fish and seafood, with king crabs available all year round. This is the ship’s turning point and from here, we start our return trip southbound. 

    • Included Honningsvåg - The North Cape
    Day 8

    At the edge of Europe

  • Day 9

    The Gateway to the Arctic

    31 December 2022

    Your Yuletide adventure, filled with the magical beauty of nature, continues on New Year’s Eve as we look out for humpback whales out on deck or in the Explorer Lounge. Families of these majestic mammals are known to frequent these winter waters, feeding on the abundant herring. The Expedition Team will be on hand to alert you to any sightings.  

    Our next stop is Tromsø, capital of the Arctic. We’ll arrive around lunchtime and spend the rest of the day and evening exploring its fascinating history, culture and bold architecture.  

    The city is especially pretty around Christmas, festooned with lights and decorations. The Arctic Cathedral is one of the most striking landmarks in Tromsø, especially when lit up at night. It features a huge stained-glass window that is well worth seeing up close.  

    You can busy yourself by browsing the shops or sampling the region’s fresh produce in a range of restaurants. Why not drop into a local bakery and try some seasonal julekake, ‘Norwegian Christmas Bread’, made with raisins and orange peel?   

    For more festive spirit, join the friendly locals in the town’s many pubs. Tromsø is home to the world’s northernmost brewery, Mack Bryggeri, which also runs Ølhallen, a popular and lively pub.  

    Your included activity is a visit to the Polar Museum, housed in a converted 1830s warehouse on the seafront. You’ll enjoy exhibitions about the city’s heritage and famous trappers like Henry Rudi and Wanny Wolstad, the first female hunter in Svalbard.  

    You’ll also learn about Tromsø’s crucial role in the expeditions of legendary explorers Fridtjof Nansen and Roald Amundsen. The Expedition Team’s lecture today may go into more detail about Norway’s polar history or may cover the nation’s many scientific achievements. 

    Other winter activities in Tromsø include optional excursions with our Expedition Team on nature hikes and by snowshoe in the surrounding hills offering panoramic Polar Night views of the city. And like many places in Arctic Norway in winter, the landscape transforms into the ideal place for an exhilarating dog sledding experience.  

    As we leave Tromsø in the afternoon, spend the evening on deck – hunting for the Northern Lights. For your special New Year’s Eve dinner, expect caviar, king crab, and beef, salmon or nut roast Wellington. Round it off with an aquavit sorbet to kick off more New Year’s Eve celebrations aboard the ship for the rest of the evening.  

    As the party reaches its climax and the clock counts down to midnight, you might be treated to both fireworks and the Northern Lights in the skies above. Not a bad way to see in the new year, not bad at all...  

    • Included The Polar Museum
    Day 9

    The Gateway to the Arctic

  • Day 10

    Starting the year in stunning scenery

    1 January 2023

    You’ll be starting the new year surrounded by the stunning beauty of the Lofoten Islands. In the morning, we dock at the idyllic village of Reine.

    This is where red-painted, snow-covered rorbuer cling to a string of islands beneath sharp, dark grey granite mountain ranges. The 450-metre tall Reinebringen is one of the most distinctive peaks, particularly dramatic when layered with snow.  

    The combination of setting and colour makes Reine one of the most photographed landscapes in all of Norway. You’ll be hoping the Northern Lights are active above the village when we are there, completing the composition of your own photo of this piece of paradise.  

    After marveling at the scenery and discovering pretty Reine, you’ll go on your included activity for today. A 30-minute bus ride will take you to Å, one of the best-preserved traditional fishing villages in Norway. You’ll explore the tiny village as part of a guided tour, discovering the importance and development of fishing in Lofoten over the last 250 years. 

    Later, we return to Reine where there may be opportunities to go on hikes with the Expedition Team or even try some winter kayaking. The views here will certainly tempt you to sign up to either.  

    Day 10

    Starting the year in stunning scenery

  • Day 11
    At sea

    Expedition day!

    2 January 2023

    Today you will get to explore the area around Mid-Norway windswept islands outside the coast of Trøndelag. Notice how the islands facing the North Sea are a stark contrast to the sheltered fjords, as you will see from the small trees here, bent by the strong wind. Still, small communities choose to live here.  

    Our plan is to explore one of the islands in this area, either by anchoring off one of the islands or sheltered in a small bay. Our small boats will take you ashore where you get the possibility to explore the local nature and culture.  

    Keep in mind that the coastline can be rough any time of the year. If the weather does not permit us to go ashore this far from the coast, we will find an alternative landing or port for the day, making sure you get the best experience based on the weather conditions for that day.  

    Frøya is one of the possible islands we will explore this day. It’s a resting, nesting and wintering area for many kinds of seabirds, like seagulls, cormorants, ducks and sea eagles. If we get to go ashore, you may also see seals, mink, otter, hare and deer.  

    You may attend optional activities like hikes and kayaking and join the Expedition Team in lectures on topics, like settlement patterns in Norway, how to navigate along the coast through history and oceanography. 

    Day 11
    At sea

    Expedition day!

  • Day 12

    Art Nouveau architecture and aquarium

    3 January 2023

    Welcome to the charming coastal city of Ålesund! The small city clutches to the shores of a thin island chain. Its waterfront buildings, once wharves and warehouses and now apartments, are painted in pastel yellows and reds. 

    Walk its cobblestone streets and admire the numerous spires, towers and highly-ornate buildings. Look closely and spot the variety of stone statues carved into the buildings. Due to a devasting fire in 1904, much of the city was rebuilt in the architectural style so fashionable at the time: Art Nouveau. 

    The extensive project was partly funded by Kaiser Wilheim of Germany who enjoyed vacationing in the Sunnmøre region. He was such a fan that he is known to have visited Norway at least 22 times! Approximately 20 master builders and 30 Norwegian architects educated in Trondheim and Berlin drew inspiration from all over Europe when designing the many buildings that still stand here today.  

    As Norway’s Fishing Capital, Ålesund is also the site of the Atlantic Sea Park, recently granted status as Norway’s first marine science centre. A visit here is your included activity for the day.

    Built in the coastal landscape at Tueneset, you’ll find a spacious Humboldt penguin park and Europe’s biggest seal pool together with an underwater observatory. The park’s Otter Island is home to three sociable and adorable otters who go by the names of Nusse, Muffe and Pia.   

    There’s also a decent hike to the summit of nearby Mount Aksla, giving you views over the city and the other islands. Once you reach the top, you can refuel with a snack at the café.

    We recommend tucking into a svele while here, a thick, crescent shaped pancake popular in these parts. For an added, bold Norwegian twist, add a slice of brunost, Norwegian brown cheese, so it melts in the middle.   

    • Included Ålesund - The Norwegian Aquarium
    Day 12

    Art Nouveau architecture and aquarium

  • Day 13
    Rosendal or Sundal area

    ‘Queen of the Fjords’

    4 January 2023

    Hardangerfjord, located in the south-west of Norway, is the second longest fjord in Norway after Sognefjord. If Sognefjord is considered the ‘King of the Fjords’, then Hardangerfjord would certainly be the Queen. Enjoy the views as we sail deep into this classic, 179-km-long fjord. We plan to explore either villages of Sunndal or Rosendal, depending on local conditions.  

    From Sunndal, located close to the Bondhus Glacier, you can explore the area on a scenic hike or go kayaking with the Expedition Team as optional excursions. With only 800 inhabitants, Rosendal is a small, charming village. Just to the east of Rosendal is Folgefonna Glacier. You can learn more about one of Norway’s largest glaciers at the visitor’s centre found in the village.  

    Whether Sunndal or Rosendal, make it a point to stop into one of the small cafés in the village to sample the delicious local produce. The hillsides of Hardangerfjord are home to 40% of all of Norway’s fruit orchards. The region is therefore famous for its apple products, from jams and juice to its award-winning cider, which one wine critic described as “Nordic champagne”.   

    Day 13
    Rosendal or Sundal area

    ‘Queen of the Fjords’

  • Day 14
    At sea

    Headed for Hamburg

    5 January 2023

    Your expedition is fast coming to an end. By this stage of your journey, you’ll have made friends with your fellow explorers, finding that you have much in common in terms of your interests and passion for nature.

    You can spend time chatting with them over a snack at the bistro-like Fredheim, perhaps recalling the best moments of your expedition together. Enjoy drinks at the Explorer Bar while swapping friendly banter and stories of past adventures. You might even catch a couple of the crew and Expedition Team here too.   

    If you’d rather spend this last day at sea in quiet contemplation, you’ll likely have multiple memory cards full of Northern Lights, Christmas decorations, and more to sift through and reminisce on. Take stock of everything you’ve seen and experienced with a blood-pumping session in the gym and then relax in the soothing steam of the sauna one last time.  

    Day 14
    At sea

    Headed for Hamburg

  • Day 15

    End of an enchanting expedition

    6 January 2023
    Estimated time of arrival is 11:00 AM

    It’ll be time to say a fond farewell to the ship, the Captain, crew, Expedition Team, and your new-found friends.   

    As you head ashore, you’ll take with you special memories of Norway in winter at Christmas time: wonderful fjords, fascinating towns and cities, friendly people, and the magical Northern Lights.   

    We look forward to welcoming you aboard again with us soon!   

    Day 15

    End of an enchanting expedition



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Current offers on this cruise:

  • Northern Lights Promise

    The beautiful Aurora Borealis is Mother Nature’s ultimate light show. We know that no trip to the Arctic Circle is quite complete without experiencing this highlight at least once on your journey.

    If the Northern Lights do not appear on your expedition cruise to Norway, we will give you another 6 or 7-day Classic Voyage FREE OF CHARGE.
    See Special Offer

What's included

Included in your voyage

Expedition Cruise

  • Expedition cruise in a cabin of your choice
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner including beverages (house beer and wine, sodas, and mineral water) in restaurants Aune and Fredheim
  • À la carte restaurant Lindstrøm included for suite guests
  • Complimentary tea and coffee
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi on board. Be aware that we sail in remote areas with limited connection. Streaming is not supported.
  • Complimentary reusable water bottle to use at water refill stations on board
  • German-speaking Expedition Team who organise and accompany activities on board and ashore
  • Range of included activities

Onboard Activities

  • Experts on the Expedition Team deliver in-depth lectures on a variety of topics
  • Use of the ship’s Science Center which has an extensive library and advanced biological and geological microscopes
  • Citizen Science program allows guests to assist with live scientific research
  • Professional onboard photographer gives top tips and tricks for the best landscape and wildlife photos
  • Use of the ship’s hot tubs, panoramic sauna, outdoor and indoor gyms
  • Informal gatherings with the crew such as daily recaps and preparation for the day to come

Landing Activities

  • Escorted landings with small expedition boats
  • Trekking poles and head lamps are available if necessary
  • Complimentary wind and water-resistant expedition jacket
  • Expedition Photographers help with your camera settings before landings

Not included in your voyage

  • International flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Luggage handling
  • Optional shore excursions with our local partners
  • Optional small-group activities with our Expedition Team
  • Optional treatments in the onboard wellness and spa area


  • All planned activities are subject to weather and ice conditions
  • Excursions and activities are subject to change
  • Please make sure you meet all entry and boarding requirements
  • No gratuities expected
  • This cruise is conducted entirely in German
Hjorundfjord, Norway MS Otto Sverdrup
MS Otto Sverdrup
Photo: Andrea Klaussner
Cabin M4
Photo: Espen Mills
Your ship

MS Otto Sverdrup

Year built 2002
Year of refurbishment 2020
Shipyard Kleven Verft (N)
Passenger capacity 526
Beds 554
Gross tonnage 15,690 t
Length 138.5 m
Beam 21.5 m
Speed 15 knots
Hjorundfjord, Norway MS Otto Sverdrup

MS Otto Sverdrup is a German-language ship offering exciting, sustainable expedition cruises along the Norwegian coastline.

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Aune Restaurant
Photo: Espen Mills
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