MS Spitsbergen

Former name: MS Atlantida (ferry ship)

MS Spitsbergen current position

MS Spitsbergen current location is at North East Atlantic Ocean (coordinates 74.43506 N / 1.55934 E) cruising at speed of 13.6 kn (25 kph/ 16 mph) en route to AKUREYRI. The AIS position was reported 9 minutes ago.

Current Position

Specifications of MS Spitsbergen

Year built2009  /  Age: 13
Flag state Norway
BuilderEstaleiros Navais/WestSEA Shipyard (Viana do Castelo, Portugal)
Classcruiseferry (Ro-Pax ship)
Ferry route / homeportsBergen-Kirkenes
Speed15 kn / 28 kph / 17 mph
Length (LOA)101 m / 331 ft
Beam (width)18 m / 59 ft
Gross Tonnage7344 gt
Passengers-to-space ratio35
Decks with cabins3
Last Refurbishment2020
Former namesMS Atlantida (ferry ship)
Christened byCecilie Skog
OwnerHurtigruten AS
OperatorHurtigruten Cruises

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The 2009-built (as "MV Atlantida" /cruiseferry) MS Spitsbergen cruise ship is among the newest in the Hurtigruten's fleet. The ship was temporarily named “Norway Explorer” in order to receive her identification numbers, after the 2015 purchase by the Hurtigruten company. Cruise operations for the line started in July 2016.

NEWS: In 2021, Hurtigruten added 4 old ships to the company's expedition fleet - Spitsbergen (2009), Midnatsol (2003), Trollfjord (2002) and Finnmarken (2002). This fleet also includes Fram (2007) and the 3 newbuilds - Roald Amundsen (2019), Fridtjof Nansen (2020) and TBN (2022).

The vessel (IMO number 9434060) is currently Norway-flagged (MMSI 258157000) and registered in Tromso.

History - construction and ownership

The shipowner Hurtigruten is a Norwegian passenger shipping company specializing in cruise and ferry services. The "Norwegian Coastal Express Route" (Bergen-Kirkenes) is a cargo-passenger ferry service along Norway's western and northern coast. Hurtigruten's cruise ferries sail nearly the entire length of Norway and complete this roundtrip itinerary in 11 days. The route also includes Lofoten Islands and Vesteralen Islands.

MS Spitsbergen cruise ship

The 340-passenger ship Spitsbergen is one of the newest in the fleet. Her name was selected by fans of the line in a Facebook contest. Erlend Baldersheim from Baldersheim (near Bergen) was the lucky winner to be Captain's guest aboard the ship on a very special sailing. Spitsbergen took her name after the largest island in Svalbard Archipelago: the northernmost part of Norway, where Richard With – the founder of Hurtigruten, started Arctic explorer tourism business in the far away 1896. MS Spitsbergen was christened on July 8, 2016, in Svolvaer, a fishing village located in Lofoten. Norwegian explorer Cecilie Skog served as godmother.

The vessel was built in 2009 in Portugal and was designed as a ferry ship (originally named "Atlantida"). After its 2015-2016 rebuilt to become a cruise ship, Spitsbergen now has 180 berths and is able to accommodate a maximum 320 Hurtigruten cruise passengers. The line’s newest vessel features modern-design public areas, a big-capacity restaurant, spacious lounges (used also for expert lectures and observation), arcade games, library, a kids facility.

Decks and Cabins

MS Spitsbergen staterooms (180 total, in 10 grades) include 9x Suites, 158 Outside, 22 Inside. Most staterooms are sized 150 ft2 (14 m2). The largest accommodations are the Owners Suites (355 ft2 / 33 m2, with balcony included). Standard cabin amenities include phone, bath products, radio, heated floors, mirrored writing desk.

The boat has 8 decks, of which 6 are passenger-accessible and 3 with cabins.

Shipboard dining options - Food and Drinks

MS Spitsbergen features various dining venues. Dining in the main restaurant is relaxed and informal. All menus are planned around seasonal fresh ingredients and benefit from local produce to satisfy guests' healthy appetites stimulated by the sea air. There is also a selection of lounges and bars with drinks available.

MS Spitsbergen cruise ship

MS Spitsbergen's Torget Restaurant on Deck 5 aft is the ship's complimentary Dining Room (capacity 234 seats) with floor-ceiling windows, buffet station in the middle, self-service beverage station (for coffee-tea-juices), Galley (kitchen adjacent to the Restaurant). Aune Restaurant serves complimentary Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. Breakfast (7-10 am) is buffet-style (bacon, eggs, sausages, cold meats, cheeses, seafood, bread selection, cereals, fruits, porridge). Lunch (11:30 am - 2:30 pm) is also buffet-style (salads, soups, hot/cold meats, seafood, vegetables, desserts). Dinner is 2-seating (at 6:30 pm and 8:30 pm) and waiter-served (3-course menu, including traditional Scandinavian dishes, plus a la carte menu with light snacks). Wine by the bottle is offered at extra cost. Hurtigruten has a wine package available for purchase at the Reception.

Brygga Bistro offers cafe-style food and is perfect for a light lunch. It serves beverages, sandwiches, and burgers throughout the day.

Shipboard entertainment options - Fun and Sport

MS Spitsbergen was built in 2009 in Portugal by Estaleiro Navais de Viana do Castelo, and was designed as a ferry ship (originally named "Atlantida"). After drydock 2015-2016 rebuilt to a cruise ship, MS Spitsbergen now has 180 cabins and max passenger capacity 320. The fully renovated vessel features modern-designed public areas, full-capacity restaurant, spacious lounges (also used also for expert lectures and observation).

On Deck 5 forward is Explorer Lounge and Bar (lower level 1 of 2) - the ship's Main Lounge and Bar, also hosting daily media presentations and professional lectures by expert scientists and wildlife experts. The Lobby area (deck 5 midship) has floor-ceiling windows, Foyer Lounge (seating area), Internet corner (4 computers, 1 printer, Library corner), Reception Desk (24-hour, Hurtigruten tours and expedition booking), Boutique Shop (sells Hutigruten-logoed merchandise, hand-made Norwegian souvenirs, toys, special occasion gifts, jewellery, toiletries, warm clothing).

Spitsbergen Science Centre (Kompass Service Center, deck 5 midship) is a large "scientific lounge" (research lab) packed with high-tech gadgets (including microscopes and touch screens) and latest digital technology equipment. The venue consists of Library, Lecture Halls, Photo Center (photo- and video-processing studio), Conference Room, Expedition Team Room, dedicated areas for themed educational activities (workshops in biology, marine life, geography, photography, etc). Hurtigruten's Expedition Team provides here passengers with scientific information and technology assistance.

Deck 6 is the ship's Promenade Deck and has the fore-located Explorer Lounge and Bar (upper level 2 of 2). Lounge's outdoor area (bow terrace) is traditionally called "Passenger Bridge" and is located right under the Wheelhouse (Navigation Bridge on Deck 7 above).

On Deck 7 is the aft-located Gym Room (fka Trim Fitness) - a modern gym, equipped with treadmills, exercise bikes, rowing machine, ping pong table, free weights. The Gym's back door leads out onto Pool Deck. The aft-located Pool Deck (Observation Deck, sundeck lower level 1 of 2) is an open-air terrace (sides are glass-enclosed) with two Jacuzzis (outdoor whirlpool hot tubs), Showers section, Locker Room, Sauna Room (accessible from the terrace only).

Deck 8's Observation Deck (sundeck upper level 2 of 2) offers the best vantage points on the ship for passengers to enjoy the scenery along the current cruise itinerary route. The top deck also has a large seating area with tables and deckchairs. Sun Deck is also the place for Hurtigruten's special ceremony "Arctic Circle baptism", including a Neptune-costumed crewmember, icy seawater, and a shot for warming up. The Helideck (Helipad) is used mainly for medical emergencies.


MS Spitsbergen itinerary program is based on Arctic polar expeditions and Norwegian Coastal Voyages. Ship's routes include the beautiful Norwegian fjords. Previously, Spitsbergen was mostly used as a ferryboat (for both passengers and cars) operating roundtrip 12-day itineraries out of Bergen and Kirkenes.

In 2016 Fall, the ship Spitsbergen replaced Midnatsol (now Maud), which started its inaugural season for Patagonia and Antarctica cruises in South America. In 2017-2018, on MS Spitsbergen were also introduced new itinerary routes for Hurtigruten - in Iceland and Greenland and New England (Canada).

In August 2021, Hurtigruten Expeditions announced the brand's inaugural Africa 2022-2023 season. The unique program (based on MS Spitsbergen) features itineraries along Africa's Atlantic Coast as well as the continent's archipelagos Cape Verde and Bissagos.

For 2022, Hurtigruten Expeditions (MS Spitsbergen) scheduled a 17-day "White Sea - Norway and Russia Adventure" itinerary departing on October 6 (2022) from Bergen and ending in Tromso. The Russian Arctic voyage included Lofoten islands, Sommaroy Island, Nord Cape, 7-day cruising in Russian waters (Murmansk, Barents Sea, Arkhangelsk, Solovetsky Islands, White Sea/Kola Peninsula). Prise started from GBP 5190 (EUR 6045 / USD 7115) per person with double occupancy.

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Spitsbergen cruise ship was inaugurated in 2009 (as "MV Atlantida ferry") and built by WestSEA in Viana do Castelo, Portugal. This is the newest expedition boat in the fleet of the Norwegian company Hurtigruten. The vessel's name was selected after a contest organized by the company on its Facebook page. The ship is named after the biggest island from the Svalbard Archipelago (northernmost Norway).

This Hurtigruten ship was originally designed and built as a ferry cruise ship to operate in the Azores Islands (Portugal). After the purchase in early 2015, the vessel was renamed "MS Norway Explorer" and given its identification numbers (IMO, MMSI, call-sign). During the extensive drydock refit and refurbishment, MS Spitsbergen was remodeled in order to serve the Hurtigruten's Arctic cruise expedition program, and also the regularly operated Norwegian Coastal Voyages along the country's coast.

The Spitsbergen ship was originally constructed for car and passenger ferry service in the Azores. During its 2015 drydock reconstruction, the vessel's hull was ice-strengthened. Adaptions to the marine diesel engines were also made to reduce its fuel consumption and bad emissions.

On July 6, 2016, was held the vessel's christening ceremony. For the first time in the company's history, the new vessel was christened under the midnight sun - one of Nature's most spectacular phenomenons. The naming took place near port Svolvaer Norway. The port town is located on Austvagoya island (Lofoten archipelago). The ship's godmother Cecilie Skog smashed the champagne bottle into the hull. For the Spitsbergen's naming ceremony, two other Hurtigruten ships were also present in Svolvaer- Richard With and Midnatsol (now Maud).

The ship's godmother Cecilie Skog is a professional adventurer, tour guide and expert lecturer from Ålesund Norway. She is famous for being the only woman who participated in expeditions to the North and South poles, also in Antarctica, Greenland, even to Mount Everest. She is also the world's only "Seven Summits" woman (standing on top the highest mountain on each of the continents).

MS Spitsbergen cruises in Norway exclusively. Its itineraries visit the North Cape and the Norwegian fjords Geirangerfjord, Lyngenfjord, Holandsfjord, with traditional one-way and round-trip departures from port Kirkenes (southbound) and port Bergen (northbound). The ship's inaugural cruise was on July 24, 2016, leaving from Bergen.


Hurtigruten's official announcement said the Spitsbergen ship starts operations in May 2016. It parallels the MS Lofoten ship's itinerary schedule, having the same dates of departure as Lofoten. The ship visits all the regular Norwegian coastal route ports but doing only daytime calls. It means that all night calls in ports are excluded from its itinerary. This is done to allow the Hurtigruten cruise passengers more daytime for shore explorations in all the key ports along the Norwegian Coastal Voyage itinerary. All regularly operated by Hurtigruten excursions are available for booking. An additional port of call for MS Spitsbergen is Geiranger (on all northbound itineraries across the calendar).

Follows the list of all ports of call:

  • 7-day (northbound itinerary) leaving from Bergen (day 1), Alesund (day 2), Trondheim (day 3), Arctic Circle & Lofoten Islands (day 3), Tromso (day 5), North Cape (day 6), Kirkenes (day 7)
  • 6-day (southbound itinerary) leaving from Kirkenes (day 1), North Cape, Lyngenfjord & Tromso (day 2), Lofoten Islands (day 3), Arctic Circle (day 4), Trondheim (day 5), Bergen (day 6)
  • 11-day (one-way combined itinerary) leaving from Bergen and Kirkenes
  • 12-day themed "Northern Lights Promise" itinerary
  • 11-day "Classic Round Voyage" - ends in Trondheim, with included Dovre Railway travel to Oslo
  • Norwegian coastal cruise passengers can opt for 5-11-night stays, with the full 12-day sailing from Bergen to Kirkenes, then going back southbound. In most ports of call are offered Hurtigruten-sponsored excursions and tours. A ceremony "Crossing the Arctic Circle” welcomes newcomers.
  • On Hurtigruten Norwegian coastal voyages, the line offers flight-cruise package deals. Bookings are protected with ATOL Certificate. ATOL stands for "Air Travel Organisers' Licensing" (Civil Aviation Authority, UK).

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