Hurtigruten is introducing three April itineraries of eight, 12 and 14 days that incorporate both ocean and river cruising, cumulatively forging a path from the Mediterranean to the Baltic aboard the 318-passenger MS Fram. The trio of sailings, which when combined make a 34-day voyage, includes an eight-day “Easter Cruise,” sailing from the Canary Islands’ Las Palmas to Lisbon, Portugal on April 8, cruising Spain’s only navigable river, the Guadalquivir; a 14-day “Spring in Western Europe,” departing from Lisbon to Hamburg, Germany on April 15, with visits to seven countries as the ship sails the Gironde, Seine, Thames and Elbe rivers; and a 12-day “Baltic Sea” April 28 sailing, embarking in Hamburg and cruising the Elbe River to the Kiel Canal, and calling at a host of Northern European capitals — Stockholm, St. Petersburg and Finland. Depending on itinerary selected, fares range from $2,479 per person, double to $10,849. A 15% space available discount reduces the fares to $2,107 to $9,222.
Two leisurely days at sea combine with five ports of call on the eight-day “Easter Cruise,” including Las Palmas, where travelers can get a dose of the island’s culture and architecture in the charming, historical Vegeta section which boasts the Santa Ana Cathedral, begun in the early 15th century and completed 350 years later. In Funchal, the 500-year-old capital of the Portuguese island of Madeira, guests will find a charming seafront promenade lined with restaurants and cafes, as well as a majestic Gothic cathedral. Cruising the river Guadalquivir, MS Fram sails into the heart of Seville, providing the chance to visit the Alcazar palace and garden complex that was first a Moorish stronghold and then of Christian kings; and the Cathedral of Seville, the largest in Spain. From Portugal’s Portimao, guests can embark on an optional excursion to Lagos, a fishing port once inhabited by Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans and Moors. Discounted rates range from $2,107 to $4,963 per person, double; normal rates are $2,479 to $5,839.
The 14-day “Spring in Western Europe” voyage from Lisbon to Hamburg offers one of Europe’s most extensive sailings, taking in highlights of seven countries while ensconced in a deluxe ship. Setting sail along Portugal’s River Tejo, the MS Fram makes its way to the country’s Leixoes at the mouth of the River Douro, and near the 12th-century port wine center of Oporto. Guests can take an optional excursion to Santiago de Compostela, the city said to be the final resting place of Saint James, from Spain’s La Coruna; and choose to visit some of Bordeaux’s more stunning vineyards and chateaux as the ship makes its way up the Gironde River. Next are the Channel Islands ports of Sark, the smallest of the island group featuring breathtaking coastal views and a pastoral interior; and Guernsey, whose landscape blends cliffs, beaches and a bustling harbor town. Other highlights include cruising the Seine River to Rouen, France, a cathedral city that has flourished since the Middle Ages; sailing up England’s Thames through the heart of London; calling at Antwerp, the northernmost province Belgium’s Flanders’ region; and exploring Amsterdam, with its romantic canals and Van Gogh Museum, housing the largest collection of paintings and drawings by Vincent Van Gogh. Discounted fares are $3,799 to $9,222 while normal rates are $4,469 to $10,849
Roundtrip from Hamburg, the 12-day “Baltic Sea” sailing explores Northern Europe, plying the 61-mile Kiel Canal connecting the North and Baltic Seas. The MS Fram calls at Ronne, the capital of the Danish island of Bornholm; Stockholm, known as the Venice of the North; Finland’s capital, Helsinki; and Russia’s St. Petersburg, with its gilded czarist palaces and Hermitage, housing one of the largest collections of Western European art. Other destination highlights include the World Heritage Site of Tallinn, Estonia, featuring cobble-stoned streets, open-air cafés and the 13th-century Toompea Castle; and Visby one of the best-preserved European medieval cities located on the Swedish Island of Gotland. Discounted rates are $3,679 to $8,669; regular rates are $4,329 to $10,199.
Onboard Expedition teams educate and guide the guests with lectures, activities and daily programs. Optional excursions possibilities are extensive and can be pre-booked. Highlights on the Easter cruise include a tour of the romantic island of Las Palmas, a Jeep Safari that takes in many of Funchal’s hidden secrets, and an extensive tour of Lisbon, Sintra and Cascais. The 14-day adventure offers walking tour of the first capital of Portugal – Guimarães; a exploration of the Medoc Vineyards and a wine tasting; and a visit to Feudal Sark, the smallest independent feudal state in Europe where there are no cars or high-rise developments – just peaceful surroundings. Optional excursions on the “Baltic Sea” include an evening waterway cruise through Stockholm, a visit to St. Petersburg’s Catherine Palace followed by a Russian lunch and River Neva cruise, and an a gala event with champagne and caviar at Yusupov Palace.
MS Fram, the world’s newest expedition ship, accommodates 318 guests in suites and staterooms and features a restaurant, two bars, panoramic lounges library, and Internet café and conference rooms. A new program aimed at the suites includes two optional excursions for free, beverages, a bottle of champagne on arrival and other amenities. For more information on Hurtigruten, contact the company at (800) 323-7436 or (212) 319-1300; fax (212) 319-1390; for brochures (800) 666-2374, 24 hours a day; www.hurtigruten.us.