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: A Vibrant Capital - Montevideo
Fly from the UK to Uruguay's vibrant capital of Montevideo and enjoy an overnight stay. Montevideo boasts colourful cultural diversity coupled with a picturesque blend of colonial Spanish, Italian, and Art Deco architectural styles - all of which you'll get to explore on Day 2.
Day 2: Montevideo
Today, you can enjoy a tour through the vibrant city of Montevideo. Plaza de la Independencia is the main hub of the city and leads to the Ciudad Vieja old town with its colonial houses, art deco buildings, and fascinating landmarks such as Palacio Salvo and the Solis Theatre. Later, embark on MS Midnatsol and settle in before she sets sail on a polar adventure.
Days 3 to 4: Wildlife and Lectures - At Sea
Enjoy the first day on board! The Expedition Team will commence their lecture program covering history and the great explorers, marine biology, wildlife, oceanography, and climate change. Spend some time on deck, enjoy the sun and the warm temperatures, and keep your eyes peeled for wildlife as the ship makes its way south.
Day 5: World Heritage Highlights - Puerto Madryn
The first highlight on this expedition is your visit to the Valdez Peninsula. This is a nature reserve that has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. Situated on Argentina's barren eastern Patagonian coast; this oddly-shaped peninsula is home to some of the country's most dramatic wildlife habitats, elephant seals, Magellan penguins, southern right whales, and a great variety of birds. Puerto Madryn is famous as the gateway to whales, penguins… and also Welsh traditions. Founded by Welsh immigrants in 1865, it is now one of the most vibrant cities in Patagonia, with a beautiful coastal avenue overlooking the huge natural amphitheatre of Nuevo Gulf. Enjoy a wide variety of excursions including horseback riding, snorkelling with sea lions, kayaking with sea lions, whale watching, or a visit to Estancia San Lorenzo to encounter wildlife including rheas, guanacos, and elephant seals.
Day 6: Relaxing on MS Midnatsol - At Sea
Enjoy a day at sea; making the most of the ship's facilities and also sharing experiences and exchanging stories, photos, and films with your fellow adventurers.
Days 7 to 9: Pubs, Penguins and Perfect Wilderness - Falkland Islands
When MS Midnatsol arrives in the Falkland Islands, you'll experience everything from red buses and English pubs in the capital Stanley to penguins, hikes in the hills or along the coastline, or kayaking clear waters. New Island is an adorable inlet, complete with sandy white beaches and turquoise waters; if the sun was a little stronger it could easily be mistaken for a Caribbean island. You'll pass an old shipwreck on your way ashore to enjoy a day amongst penguins and seals. While you're here, you can join several excursions like history tours, bird watching tours, nature walks, and even a scenic plane tour to discover the Falklands by air in a classic island-hopping aircraft.
Days 10 to 11: Enjoy the Onboard Activities - Drake Passage
Days at sea are full of activity. Hopefully by now, the Expedition Team will probably have convinced everybody on board that science is fun! You'll enjoy first class edutainment and, once the ship crosses the Antarctic Convergence, you'll notice that the air becomes crisper and colder. From deck, you might start to catch sight of icebergs in the water and maybe whales too.
Days 12 to 14: Penguins, Icebergs, Seals and Whales - Antarctica
Antarctica is sure to overwhelm you; from the endless white horizons to oceans awash with glorious icebergs and whales. Maybe even more awe-inspiring will be your meeting with the huge colonies of penguins. They are not afraid of humans; you can look forward to true close encounters with this most charming of bird species. Step ashore to explore the impressive Antarctic scenery. From deck, there are great chances to spot whales. Enjoy close encounters with wildlife and glaciers, old whaling stations, and relics. You'll be in one of the most remote areas of the world and the wonderful experiences are non-stop. You'll step on land several times for unforgettable experiences. Among the locations you may well visit are Half Moon Island, Yankee Harbour, and Cuverville Island - home to a large colony of Gentoo penguins. Neko Harbour is beautifully located in the innermost part of Andvord Bay while Paradise Harbour lives up to its apt name - when the storms were at their worst, this is where whalers came to seek shelter. The high glacier walls in Wilhelmina Bay convey the mighty power of ice, from calving glacier fronts to floating ice.
Days 15 to 16 - The Beginning of the End of the Adventure - Crossing the Drake Strait
After exhilarating days in Antarctica and the Falklands, the final days on board are spent crossing the Drake Passage. Spend time with family, old friends, new friends, and the Expedition Team, and enjoy the farewell dinner on the last evening.
Day 17: The Southernmost Town in the World - Ushuaia
Arriving in Ushuaia, it’s time to say goodbye. You'll be transferred to the airport for your flight back to Buenos Aires for an overnight hotel stay.
Day 18: Buenos Aires to the UK
Transfer from your Buenos Aires hotel to the airport for your return flight to the UK.