This year marks the centenary of the first successful expedition to the South Pole, led by the Norwegian Roald Amundsen, aboard the Fram; coincidentally, it's also the 150th anniversary of the birth of his fellow-countryman, Fridtjof Nansen, who crossed Greenland in 1888 and whose example was an inspiration to Amundsen.
To celebrate this double event, Hurtigruten, a company whose maritime tradition in polar waters dates back to 1893 – the same year that Nansen set out on his ground-breaking Arctic expedition – have designed a number of voyages and activities to follow in the wake of the great explorers and which offer the chance to make 2011 a year of extreme adventure. Which one takes your fancy?
Climate voyage: from Reykjavik to Longyearbyen
At the end of July, the Hurtigruten exploration vessel MS Fram will set sail on an eight-day voyage from Reykjavik to the Svalbard archipelago. Following in the oceanographic tradition and spirit of discovery of Nansen, the trip will include a visit to Jan Mayen, one of the planet's most isolated islands. In addition to experiencing the wonders of the unspoiled natural scenery, the programme includes shore landings, lectures and discussions on the topical issue of climate and other subjects related to Nansen's work. Price start around ￡2,350.
From Spitsbergen to Bergen
In mid-September, the MS Fram – named after the remarkable ship used by both Nansen and Amundsen – will be making a 12-day voyage from Spitsbergen to Bergen, recalling the history of Fridtjof Nansen and Otto Sverdrup, the Norwegian captains of the original polar exploration vessel Fram. The itinerary combines a tour of the waters of the Arctic with a classic voyage along the coast of Norway. Prices start around ￡3,200.
The great ice-breakers: from Bergen to Kirkenes
In mid-October, the MS Nordkapp – named after the famous North Cape – will sail along the coast of Norway on a seven-day voyage from Bergen to Kirkenes. The historian and Scandinavian expert Arne Kertelhein will be aboard and will give talks on Polar history, with a special emphasis on the history and achievements of the pioneers Nansen and Amundsen. Prices start around ￡960.
Amundsen Centenary at the South Pole
On the 14th of December 1911, Roald Amundsen and his team of men finally reached the South Pole. To mark the centenary, the Hurtigruten exploration vessel MS Fram will be sailing the waters of the Antarctic and there will be specially programmed activities aboard in celebration. Prices for this special centenary cruise start around ￡4,900.
Tromso Polar Museum
The Hurtigruten winter programme includes the an excursion to Tromso, known as the capital of the Arctic. The city is home to a special Polar Museum, inaugurated on June 18th, 1978, 50 years after Roald Amundsen disappeared while on a rescue mission in search of Umberto Nobile and the crew of the airship Italia. This year, the museum will be celebrating the Nansen-Amundsen double anniversary with special exhibitions on Amundsen's discovery of the North-West Passage and other tales of the great polar explorers. Price around ￡35.