Cruise & Ferry Review - Spring/Summer 2023

192 The expedition category is expanding as cruise operators seek to capitalise on travellers’ growing wanderlust and appetite for exploration. Historically, the term ‘expedition cruise’ suggested a robust ship with a research team sailing to remote or otherwise hardto-reach destinations. Today, however, the term has a much wider definition. Remoteness is a stretch for some itineraries, but it seems entirely justifiable for a winter cruise in Northern Norway. In recent times Norway has proven its appeal as a year-round cruise destination, with each season offering a uniquely different experience for visitors. Cold winter months might not traditionally be associated with the popular image of cruising, which is usually marketed via photographs of sun-kissed beaches. But the lure of snowy adventures illuminated by the northern lights is a sure-fire crowdpleaser and including Norwegian ports on an itinerary makes any cruise worthy of the expedition moniker. Narvik may previously have been somewhat hampered by the location of the old pier, but when the new city-centre pier opened in 2019, it became an instant hit. At 150 metres long, it is capable of berthing ships up to 350 metres long and has helped to elevate the port’s appeal among wily operators, particularly as the destination also has a well-rounded shore excursion product. For example, the opportunity to come face-to-face with a wolf at Narvik’s Polar Park is an exhilarating adventure befitting of any expedition cruise. While it’s an absorbing year-round attraction, Polar Park really fulfils the promise of its name during the snowy months. Snowshoeing up Narvikfjellet evokes a similarly adventurous vibe and delivers a remarkable view of the city from the summit. There are more sedentary shore excursion options that convey the history and spirit of the town and locale, including Narvik War Museum and the Ofoten railway. And there are several venues that offer a good opportunity for a well-earned beverage, such as Narvik Mountain Lodge. Bodø is set to be the European Capital of Culture in 2024, a status that will enhance the city’s appeal for cruise visitors. It is an easy city to navigate on a walking tour with a range of noteworthy stops that can include a choir or organ performance at the cathedral. Meanwhile on the outskirts of the city, the Norwegian Aviation Museum offers the opportunity to learn about the country’s military and civil aviation history in a 10,000-square-metre facility – and this tour will interest more than just aircraft afficionados. Elsewhere in Bodø, cruise guests can see a rare natural phenomenon: the tidal currents of Saltstraumen strait. They are a top-rated attraction, especially if witnessed close-up onboard a rib boat. The city’s arctic coastal hike may be a little less dramatic but it is exquisitely picturesque, and a guided tour can focus NORTHERN EUROPE: REPORT Exploring Northern Norway Every brand can capitalise on the boom in expedition cruising by scheduling calls in Norway. Jon Ingleton shares the highlights of the ports and adventures he experienced during a trip with Cruise Northern Norway & Svalbard Those who snowshoe up Narvikfjellet are rewarded with a remarkable view