MS Spitsbergen
MS Spitsbergen / Hurtigruten
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Sundeck with a view of Bergen
Sundeck with a view of Bergen / Hurtigruten
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Sauna / Hurtigruten
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Arctic Superior Outside Cabin
Arctic Superior Outside Cabin / Hurtigruten
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The Bistro
The Bistro / Hurtigruten
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Pastries from the Bistro
Pastries from the Bistro / Hurtigruten
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Torget buffet
Torget buffet / Kayla Becker
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Cheese selection for Norway's Coastal Kitchen
Cheese selection for Norway's Coastal Kitchen / Hurtigruten
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Torget Dining Room
Torget Dining Room / Hurtigruten
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Panorama Bar
Panorama Bar / Hurtigruten
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Fitness Center
Fitness Center / Hurtigruten
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Arctic Superior Outside Cabin
Arctic Superior Outside Cabin / Hurtigruten
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MS Spitsbergen

Our Ship Review
Deal Expert / Travel Blogger

While not entirely new (it was built in 2009), the 220-guest MS Spitsbergen joined the Hurtigruten fleet in May 2016 after a complete refurbishment and was the first of multiple expedition vessels planned by the over-130-year-old company. Part of the overhaul was to give MS Spitsbergen the ability to handle polar voyages to Greenland, Iceland, and the Arctic. The ship is now part of Hurtigruten Group’s rebranded HX expedition fleet.

In an era of over-the-top mega ships, MS Spitsbergen is decidedly no-frills (you won't find Broadway-style shows or crazy waterslides here). What you do get is a simple, modern ship that is a comfortable way to experience the natural beauty of the Arctic.

What We Love

Local Fare: There is a real emphasis on local products on this ship, meaning you'll dine on Arctic Char from Sigerfjord and cloudberries with cream, and sip aquavit or Lyngen Alps vodka in the Explorer Lounge.

The Sauna: Yes, the views are lovely from the glass-enclosed Explorer Lounge. But our favorite vista came from the windowed sauna, where our stress melted away as the arctic landscape passed by.

Best Known For

The Norwegian Way: Hurtigruten’s ships have been plying the coast of Norway since 1893 and are part of the country’s culture — this has been the way that many who live in small towns in the fjords have gotten their mail and packages for decades. Scandinavian touches run throughout MS Spitsbergen's contemporary spaces, from the images of coastal landscapes lining the halls to the warm (faux) fireplace. You'll get to experience cultural traditions as well, taking a shot of cod liver oil during the ship-wide celebration while passing the Arctic Circle, for example.

Easygoing Atmosphere: There is no need to pack formal clothing — expedition gear makes a stronger fashion statement here. Also adding to the casual vibe is the fact that vacationers aren’t the only ones on board — Norwegians use Hurtigruten's ships as ferries for transportation down the country's coast.

Who It's Best For

Explorers of All Kinds: Expedition teams guide you on excursions ranging from low-key walking tours to adventure-packed dog sledding trips, so you can go as rugged as you’d like.

Europhiles: Most passengers on board are Europeans in the 50-70 age range, so you will get to mingle with people of other cultures. It also means you'll listen to multiple versions of the same announcements, usually in Norwegian, German, and English.

Don't Say We Didn't Warn You

The Weather Is Temperamental: It can be sunny one minute and a downpour the next, so be prepared for a chance of foggy conditions and low visibility that blocks your view of those iconic fjords. If you go in winter, the cloudy skies mean you’re not guaranteed to see the Northern Lights.

ShermansTravel Editorial Staff
Deal Expert / Travel Blogger