Where the Joy of the Midnight Sun is Infectious
Norway’s legendary Hurtigruten cruise steamers sail along its intricate Gulf stream-warmed coastline, a region of exquisite fjords, glaciers, mountains, and in the summer months, a sun that never fully sets. The lifeline for the remote towns of northern Norway – some still accessible only by sea – this fleet of workboats stops in some thirty-five ports between Bergen and the Arctic Circle near the Russian border for a 1,500-mile, twelve-day round trip.
A Hurtigruten ship is not a luxury cruiser, but with this kind of scenery, the comfortable cabins and straightforward food are part of the adventure as you sail in and out of large and small ports. Some stops – such as North Cape (Nordkapp), a sheer, granite cliff rising 1,000 feet out of the frigid Norwegian Sea – are long enough for optional land excursions.
Due to the cape’s location, farther north than Alaska and most of Siberia, the sun stays above the horizon from May 12 to August 1 and below it from November 19 to January 25. The cape’s plateau, 800 miles from the start of the Arctic ice cap, is a largely uninhabited place of wild and romantic moonscape – nothing grows on this tundra.
This is a site that visitors either love or hate, but it elates adventurous tourists – just check out the festivity in the clifftop observatory’s Champagne bar, where you feel as if you’re about to fall off “the World’s very end,” as one Italian pilgrim wrote in 1664.