Sailing in Old World Style

Hurtigruten offers new cruises in Sweden

By: Marissa Tinloy

Hurtigruten, previously named Norwegian Coastal Voyage, is now offering a series of spring and summer cruises on Sweden’s famous Gota Canal. The two-, four- and six-day itineraries, found aboard a choice of three restored vintage ships, sail from the country’s second largest city, Gothenburg, to its capital in Stockholm.

Onboard the meticulously renovated late 19th and early 20th century vessels, guests can enjoy the rich history of the canal in the comfort of a modernized ship. The MS Diana, Juno and Wilhelm Tham each offer 25 to 29 cozy cabins, complete with bunks and a washbasin, as well as a bar, library and lounge, each with the ambience of bygone eras.

The Gota Canal cruise focuses on the waterway’s history, navigating its manmade locks, stunning lakes and lush Swedish landscape. In fact, the six-day cruise covers one river, three canals, eight lakes, 66 locks and two seas.

Throughout the journey, passengers have the opportunity to disembark and explore the area’s towns and cities, including visits to a number of museums, monasteries, and castles.

In Trollhattan, an area which was nearly impossible to access by water before the completion of the lock system in the 19th century, passengers visit the region’s Canal Museum and watch a film on the history of the waterway. At Algens Berg’s Royal Hunts Museum, visitors learn about the area’s geology, flora, fauna and wildlife, especially the elusive Swedish elk. In Motala, which is often considered the capital of the canal, guests can visit both the Motor Museum and the site where Baltzar von Platen, the canal’s creator, founded Motala Werkstad and catalyzed the development of Swedish industrialism.

Passengers also have the opportunity to visit a variety of Swedish castles, including Lacko’s 13th-century De la Gardie Palace on Lake Vanern; the ruins of the ancient Stegeborg Castle; and King Gustav Vasa’s Gripsholm Castle in Vadstena.

Adventurous travelers can swim in Lake Roxen at the Locks of Berge, visit the medieval Vreta and Monastery, and then wrap up the journey with ancient punch sipped in the Birka Viking City on Bjorko Island, a World Heritage site.

The two-day cruise aboard the MS Diana ranges from $565 to $730. Both the four- and six-day cruises are available aboard all three vessels. The four-day ranges from $1,275 to $2,425 and the six-day $2,075 to $3,095. Prices are per person, based on double occupancy and include daily breakfast, two-course lunches and three-course dinners.