Since MS Midnatsol set sail on her maiden voyage on 15 April 2003 along Norway's coastline, she has become a favourite with guests. In common with the three previous Hurtigruten ships that bear the name (translating as Midnight Sun) she boasts a bright and colourful decor, alongside a collection of artwork that draws inspiration from the sunny Norwegian summer. On-board delights include her two-storey Panorama Lounge above the bow, which is flooded with light from floor-to-ceiling windows. There's also her 23 chic suites, many with balconies, which are available for a little more luxury if you wish.
The Northern Lights and the Midnight Sun are the highlights of many trips on MS Midnatsol, along with the laid-back and friendly on-board lifestyle. The casual dress code is equally matched by the simplicity of the cabins. The focus is very much on what you can experience ashore and the sights you can enjoy from on the deck as you travel around Norway and beyond.
The ship's open sun deck is the ideal place for chilling out in the sun during warm days at sea. The two Jacuzzis and sunbeds have a bar close at hand for refreshments. Unwind with a book in the library, keep in touch with home in the Internet cafe or simply watch the world go by in the Observation Lounge. You can also keep fit in the gym or enjoy some downtime in the sauna. A small playroom is available for fun times, if you're travelling with children.
The dining options showcase local Norwegian flavours and international cuisines, and change with the season. Restaurant Midnatsol serves a tasty buffet for breakfast and lunch with Norwegian specialities such as salmon, meat dishes, shellfish, and other fish to savour. Evening brings two sittings and a daily-changing menu of flavoursome starters, main courses and desserts to choose from. You can also pre-order from the a la carte menu of dishes. Midtsommer Cafe is open 24/7 and offers a selection of pre-prepared food options alongside fresh made-to-order choices including burgers, pizzas and chips.
MS Midnatsol has a trio of places to relax with a drink. The Pool Bar is open during the summer, while indoors on Deck Eight you discover Mysterier Bar and Paradis Bar. Each bar is well-stocked with your favourite tipple alongside a selection of wines, beers and mixed drinks.
The entertainment on MS Midnatsol is very low-key. Daytimes occasionally feature lectures and presentations from visiting historians and naturalists who bring to life the destinations and wildlife you may encounter on your cruise. Intermittent live music and piano playing sets the scene in the evening.
Day 1: Legendary Lisbon - Lisbon, Portugal
Fly from London to Lisbon, transfer to MS Midnatsol. Lisbon is a legendary city with centuries of history, built on seven hills along the shores of the River Tejo. Take some time to visit world famous sites like Belém Tower and Jerónimos Monastery. Immerse yourself in culture at Calouste Gulbenkian Museum and National Museum of Contemporary Art, or enjoy the colourful marine life at Oceanarium.
Days 2 to 3: Towards volcanic beauty - At sea
Your ship sails west towards the volcanic archipelago of the Azores. These nine islands form the western frontier of Europe, and each has its own unique character. Take your seat at one of the expert lectures to prepare you for your upcoming visit. Spend a little time chatting with your fellow travellers or simply enjoy the ship's facilities and the deep relaxation of being at sea.
Day 4: The green island - Ponta Delgada, São Miguel Island
Step ashore today at São Miguel, the largest of the nine islands. The island is also known as the 'green island' thanks to being studded with lakes and rolling hills, mountains and green plains. The island’s capital is the charming university town of Ponta Delgada. Join an excursion to the Sete Cidades Massif to see a volcanic crater and lake-filled caldera, and tour the magical landscape of cones, pumice deposits, and lava domes. The scenic Lagoa das Sete Cidades is a highlight of this protected landscape and is considered one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Portugal.
Day 5: Colourful Starting Point for Atlantic Crossings - Horta, Ilha do Faial
Colours on Ilha do Faial are not limited to green vegetation, blue sea, and white houses. Take a look at the breakwater which is covered in murals and paintings; local tradition believes good luck will follow sailors who leave their mark here before setting off across the Atlantic. Head inland for a walk in the Calderia, a nature reserve awash with beautiful flowers. Visit the award-winning underground Volcano Museum to learn about the formation of the islands. Or enjoy a refreshment at Peter Café Sport, which opened in 1918 and has served as a hub for whalers, sailors, and even spies.
Day 6: The purple island - Angra do Heroismo, Terceira
Visit the lovely and historic capital of the archipelago - Angra do Heroismo on the island of Terceira. Angra was founded in the 15th century and prospered thanks to being the perfect stopping place for traders from the New World. Admire the historic 16th-century fortress of São João Baptista. Beyond the edge of town, with the Serra de Santa Barbara massif looming in the west, the island showcases a wild and hilly scenic landscape.
Day 7: Madeira bound - At sea
Enjoy another idyllic day at sea, taking in the fresh salt air, relaxing with a drink or a book, and keeping your eyes peeled for wildlife in the living ocean that surrounds the ship.
Day 8: The magic of golden sand - Porto Santo
Today you'll arrive at Porto Santo, which has long been called 'one long beach, with a bit of land attached'. The volcanic sand of Porto Santo is said to have curative powers, prompting visitors from all over to world to flock to this remote island. Enjoy a visit to these golden beaches during your time ashore. The rugged interior of Porto Santo is perfect for exciting excursions, walks, and also has a lot to offer history buffs - after all, a little-known explorer named Christopher Columbus made his home on the island´s capital of Vila Baleira.
Day 9: The garden of the Atlantic - Funchal, Madeira
The ship drops anchor today on the island of Madeira. Also known as the 'Pearl of the Atlantic', Madeira is a veritable floating garden in the Atlantic, boasting rare and lush plant and animal life. The Laurissilva Forest, which dates back to the Tertiary period, is home to evergreen species that were dominant in Europe 20 million years ago, but today are only found here and a few other isolated places. Explore Funchal, a modern and cosmopolitan city that offers inviting cafes, interesting shops, cobblestone streets, and a magnificent natural setting.
Day 10: Relax and reflect - At sea
The day is yours to do as you please. Relax on deck or indoors, learn more from the expert lecture series, and compare memories with your fellow explorers as your ship sails towards the Canaries.
Day 11: El Teide and History - Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Santa Cruz de Tenerife is bustling and boasts stylish modern architecture, while the interior of the island is dominated by Teide National Park and the El Teide volcanic peak – the highest point on Spanish soil. Join an optional excursion to this spectacular volcano or visit the lovely 15th-century architecture and active artistic community at San Cristóbal de la Laguna.
Day 12: Beauty Off the Beaten Track - San Sebastián de la Gomera, La Gomera
San Sebastián de la Gomera is an oasis in the Atlantic that draws far fewer visitors than the other Canary islands. The steep ravines and narrow valleys of the landscape caused the islanders to develop a unique way to communicate over distances: a loud whistling, called el silbo. The island´s main attraction is the incredible scenic beauty of its inland areas such as the magical Garajonay National Park, a dense laurel forest that captures the fog drifting in from the surrounding sea. UNESCO declared this area a World Heritage Site and a visit to this landscape is highly recommended.
Day 13 to 14: A relaxed journey north - At sea
Heading north, the ship sails for Portugal´s mainland. The on board lecturers will host a series of interesting presentations to put your trip in perspective. You'll also have a final chance to relax and reflect with new friends about the adventures of the past weeks.
Day 15: Cruising up the Tejo - Lisbon
Early risers will be rewarded with a lovely view of Lisbon as the ship cruises up the Tejo river. Your cruise comes to an end as you disembark MS Midnatsol and transfer to airport for your return flight to London.