Passengers on Norwegian Coastal
Voyage’s Fram explore the village of
When I discovered that my Norwegian Coastal Voyage cruise would
include such shore activities as a search for musk ox, a hike to
see sled dogs and a traditional lunch of Arctic whale blubber, I
realized that my cruising horizons had expanded beyond the
ordinary.My late-June cruise aboard the line’s newest vessel, the
Fram, took me to the top of the world, to Greenland. The world’s
largest island, 85 percent of Greenland is covered by the polar
icecap. That ice in the form of spectacular icebergs, glaciers or
the icecap itself is precisely what lures most travelers north of
the Arctic Circle.
Tourists also come to Greenland to discover the effects of
global warming, a topic covered during days at sea by the Fram’s
six expedition leaders. Each was an expert on a different topic,
ranging from polar ice, flora and local culture to Inuit hunting
and fishing traditions. Their lectures were delivered in at least
three languages, (including English), adding a much-appreciated
educational aspect to our voyage in the Land of the Midnight
The 318-passenger Fram is Norwegian Coastal Voyage’s first
purpose-built expedition ship. It’s also the line’s most luxurious
ship, boasting 39 suites of which six have aft-facing
The suites, ranging from 183 to 291 square feet, plus a
420-square-foot Grand Suite, are the type of stateroom familiar to
experienced American cruisers. They feature a sitting area, TV,
windows with a view and, something we usually take for granted, a
queen-size bed. The remaining cabins (a tight 118 to 140 square
feet) have two (or four) single beds that fold against the wall
during the day, similar to cabins on some European river
Dining takes place in the Imaq restaurant, an attractive space
surrounded by picture windows on three sides. The room itself is an
indication of the real focus of the Fram, which is to explore
nature’s most beautiful and remote areas; dining is secondary.
Dress is casual and most meals are buffets, with a few dinners
served at assigned tables.
The food is of a high quality, though, geared to the tastes of
northern Europeans who, at least in Greenland, make up 90 percent
of the passengers. The menu favors fish, seafood, reindeer, beef,
fresh veggies and delicious breads and cheeses.
Though by no means a resort-style ship, the Fram features
amenities found only on the line’s newer ships, including two
outdoor whirlpools, a gym with an ocean view, large men’s and
women’s saunas and an Internet cafe. Another highlight is the
lovely bar and observation lounge with unobstructed views through
For snacking, there is a self-service bistro offering coffee,
tea and cakes without extra charge. This differs from the coastal
vessels in Norway, which have pay-as-you-go cafes open to both
cruise passengers wanting between-meal treats and backpackers who
come aboard for brief port-to-port transportation. Clients aboard
the Fram also won’t see day-trippers everyone onboard is there for
the full cruise.
Those accustomed to the Norwegian voyages will also be surprised
to learn the Fram does not carry freight between ports. Instead of
cargo and cars, five Polar Cirkel boats are stowed in the hold. The
boats are similar to Zodiacs but are sturdier and have relatively
comfortable bench seats. They whisk passengers to shore when the
ship is anchored out, which was every port but one on my trip. Even
with an eight-passenger capacity, the transfers were the quickest
and most well organized I can remember on an expedition cruise.
Once the Fram completes her inaugural summer in the Arctic, she
sails south to the opposite end of the earth, to Antarctica.
The 12,700-ton, 318-passenger Fram was christened in Oslo in May.
Three Greenland itineraries of seven to 14 nights are offered
through mid-September. Fares for U.S. passengers include economy
air (a one-class Boeing 757-200) between Baltimore and
Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, on Air Greenland, a flight introduced in
May. Rates for a seven-night cruise begin at $4,001, per person,
double, for an interior cabin; $7,178, per person, in a junior
From Sept. 18-Nov. 23, the Fram undertakes an epic 66-night
journey from the Arctic to the Antarctic. Segments of this cruise
are also available. The ship offers Antarctica itineraries from
late November through February 2008.
In Europe, Norwegian Coastal Voyage is known as Hurtegruten,
meaning “fast route” in Norwegian. To avoid confusion, advise
clients that onboard the Fram, the line uses the name Hurtegruten.
All onboard purchases are billed in Norwegian kroner.