DATES / RATES
Rates are listed per person
|Start Date||End Date||From EUR||From USD|
|Dec 22, 2023||Jan 03, 2024||8,213
Rates are listed per person
|Start Date||End Date||From EUR||From USD|
|Dec 22, 2023||Jan 03, 2024||8,213
1: The vibrant capital of Senegal
expedition cruise starts in Dakar, Senegal’s colourful and
animated capital. Located at the tip of the Cape Verde peninsula,
it’s the westernmost city not only in Africa but in all the
Old World. Dakar is a low-rise, cosmopolitan place, famed these days
for its buzzing music and arts scenes. The city enjoys a laid-back
atmosphere, and you’ll see suit-clad businessmen rubbing
shoulders with barefoot market traders in this swirling kaleidoscope of
peninsula on which Dakar lies projects westwards into the ocean, and it
was formed when offshore volcanic islands were joined to the continent
by a land bridge. The exposure to humid winds off the sea keeps the
vegetation a bit greener than the otherwise desert-like landscape of
northern Senegal, hence its name, Cape Verde, meaning Green Cape.
find the beating heart of the Dakar in the district of Medina, with its
maze of streets, the bustling market of Marché
Tilène, and the imposing Grand Mosque. Also worth checking
out is Independence Square, which is laid out with gardens and
fountains and is home to numerous grand colonial buildings that hint at
the nation’s past.
expedition ship MS Spitsbergen will be waiting for you close to the
ferry dock. Upon boarding you’ll be greeted by the crew and
given a complimentary wind and water-resistant expedition jacket. After
you’ve settled into your comfortable cabin there’ll
be a mandatory safety briefing to make sure we’re all safe at
sea, and then it’s time for us to set sail and for the
adventure to begin.
your stay with a Pre-Programme
you’d like to extend your stay in Dakar at the beginning of
your adventure, we recommend booking our optional Pre-Programme.
arrive in Dakar a day prior to embarkation, and the optional
Pre-Programme includes one night in a hotel close to the city centre
and harbour. Spend the first day relaxing after your long journey and
make use of the hotel’s amenities, or participate in an
optional pre-bookable excursion, such as the Bandia Animal Reserve. The
next day after breakfast a transfer will connect you to a privately
chartered ferry to historic Gorée Island.
listed Gorée Island is the most interesting - if tragic -
site in Dakar. You’ll see colourful colonial mansions
alongside the infamous Maison des Esclaves, where slaves were kept
before transportation across the Atlantic. Despite its sobering
history, the island has many beautiful sights, including ancient baobab
trees, and you’ll be able to see artisans creating and
selling their crafts.
your day visit you’ll dive deep into the history of this
UNESCO World Heritage Site. Your guide will take you to the Maison des
Esclaves and museum, and lunch will be served in a local restaurant.
After this action-packed day your ferry will take you back to Dakar
port where MS Spitsbergen is waiting for you.
2: Bound for Cape Verde
cruise has begun and we find ourselves sailing almost due west in the
direction of the Cape Verde Islands. It’s a journey of around
360 nautical miles, meaning there’s plenty of time to get to
know our comfortable expedition Ship MS Spitsbergen, and to prepare for
get to know some of your fellow passengers, as well as our Expedition
Team - a friendly and knowledgeable bunch of people, hand-picked for
their expertise on our destinations. You may also want to check out the
Science Center, which is often where our team hang out -
there’s a range of hi-tech equipment here, and you can ask
about our citizen science projects that contribute to important
research and help us protect the natural places we love to visit.
acquainted with the Explorer Lounge & Bar, an informal place to
meet and chat, and sample delicious dishes in our onboard restaurant,
Aune - named after a family of Norwegian chandlers who equipped many
ships back in the days of historic exploration. For relaxation, try out
the hot tubs on deck or the panoramic sauna - you’ll love it.
we sail, there will be talks by the Expedition Team which could be on a
number of topics relevant to our travels, immersing you in the
knowledge that’ll enable you to get the most out of this
stop, the amazing Cape Verde Islands.
3: Christmas Eve at Cape Verde most African island
DECEMBER - CHRISTMAS EVE
holiday in Cape Verde
you’ll enjoy Christmas Eve on Praia, the vibrant capital of
the archipelago. Cape Verde is a strongly Roman Catholic country due to
its Portuguese colonial roots, and that’s reflected in the
way Christmas is celebrated on the islands. Cape Verdeans will spend
today with their families, feasting on traditional delicacies,
exchanging gifts, attending mass, and going Christmas carolling, much
the same way as catholic Portuguese people will be doing today.
is the largest island in the archipelago, with almost half of all Cape
Verdeans living here. It’s the perfect introduction to Cape
Verde as there’s a little bit of everything, including the
vibrant capital of Praia, the UNESCO-protected Cidade Velha, sandy
beaches, green valleys and craggy mountains. It’s also
reckoned to be the most African island culturally, and music is woven
into the fabric of life here.
in 1460 by Portuguese sailors, Santiago was the first Cape Verde island
to be settled, with Ribeira Grande - now called Cidade Velha - the
first European city in the tropics. Humid enough to support profitable
agriculture the island became a hub for settlers, and nowadays around
150,000 people live here. The capital, Praia, is a modern and dynamic
city that attracts immigrants from the rest of Cape Verde and the
on Santa Maria Bay, at the southeastern tip of Santiago, Praia is built
on several hills. The historical centre is on the natural platform
known as Plateau, and almost everything of historical interest can be
found here. The main square, known as Praça Alexandre
Alburquerque, is the obvious focal point, with the Old Palace of the
Council, the Presidential Palace, and the 19th century church of Nossa
Senhora da Graça all to be found here.
north of the main square is the central market, one of the busiest
places in town and the best spot to absorb the African soul of Praia.
Most of the museums are also located around Plateau, including an
ethnography museum and an archaeological museum where you can see
artifacts recovered from shipwrecks around the islands.
lighthouse of Maria Pia, at the southern entrance of the bay, has
fantastic views of the city. Take a walk there and along the way
discover the beaches of Gamboa and Prainha, and the popular beach of
Praia de Qebra-Canela.
we set sail from Santiago and head for Boa Vista, we’ll hold
our own traditional Norwegian celebration onboard the ship.
4: Christmas Day on Sahara Island
DECEMBER - CHRISTMAS DAY
holiday in Cape Verde
Day is also a public holiday in Cape Verde. People travel to other
islands to visit relatives and everybody exchanges gifts with their
loved ones. On this particular Christmas, the spectacular desertic
landscapes of Boa Vista will be a gift to your senses!
Vista is the easternmost island of Cape Verde and one of the most
sparsely populated. Ringed by reefs and littered with dunes,
this flat, barren and desert-like island is closer to the African
mainland than any of its neighbours. The rugged coastline, with its
pristine beaches, is perfect for soaking up the sun, but for centuries
it was a deadly trap for ships in search of a safe harbour as the
numerous wrecks along the coast testify.
the rugged beauty of the Sahara-like oases, the miles of empty beaches,
the eastern wetlands and the productivity of the coastal waters have
created a haven for biodiversity, with several endemic species. Boa
Vista and its surrounding waters are a vital layover for many migratory
birds, and between June and October the beaches see thousands of
loggerhead turtles nesting, while humpback whales often come here in
the winter to breed offshore.
parched environment of Boa Vista made life hard for the first permanent
settlers. Mostly, these were African slaves, though with no easy way to
escape from the rugged coast they had more freedom than elsewhere in
the archipelago. Cattle farming came first, followed by salt production
in the 17th century. Fishing and pottery became the mainstays of the
island’s economy until the advent of tourism in recent years.
island capital, Sal Rei, with its low rise buildings and palm-filled
squares, is built around the natural harbour between Boa Vista and the
small island of Ilhéu de Sal Rei.
we set sail from Boa Vista and head for Santo Antão,
we’ll hold our own traditional Norwegian celebration onboard
5: Mountain paradise of Cape Verde
to what many say is the most spectacular of the Cape Verde isles.Once
you’ve seen them, it’s difficult to forget the
awe-inspiring mountains here and some even say the island’s
rugged peaks, canyons and gorges are up there with the
world’s most dramatic landscapes. Today, you’ll get
to decide for yourself how true this is.
highest point on the island is Tope da Coroa, which at 6,492 ft. is the
second-loftiest mountain in the archipelago. Santo Antão is
big and craggy, and its inhabitants are concentrated in just a few
scattered settlements. The rugged topography doesn’t lend
itself to agriculture, so most of the island is naturally preserved as
a wilderness sanctuary. For hikers and nature lovers, Santo
Antão is Cape Verde at its best.
main town, Porto Novo, is a pleasant place full of smart new buildings,
small beaches, neatly tended gardens and promenades with beautiful
views over the channel between Santo Antão and the island of
São Vicente. But the reason most visitors come here is
because it’s the main gateway to the island’s
of the most amazing natural features are the island’s
ribeiras - deep and narrow canyons with almost vertical walls. Join an
optional culture and nature tour and you’ll enjoy
awe-inspiring views as we drive over the ridges and along the ribeira
floors. Or, if you feel like being more active, participate in an
optional nature walk to get the most from Cape Verde’s best
island trails you’ll walk past groves of mangoes and almonds,
and pass through small hamlets clinging to the sides of hills. The
locals roast their own blend of coffee here, and you may catch a whiff
of it as you pass through the villages.
6: Adventure landing on an active volcano
ready for an exploration day. Fogo is dominated by a huge, active
volcano which at 9,281 ft. is the highest point in the Cape Verde
archipelago. It’s also one of the most challenging islands to
land on. There are no natural harbours or sheltered bays, just an
exposed coast rising from the ocean which climbs steeply from the sea
up to the summit of the volcano.
in shape, the whole island is in fact a giant active volcano. It last
erupted in 2014, wiping out two villages in the Chã das
Caldeiras crater, fortunately with no causalities. Centuries of
eruptions have left a landscape of dark lava flows, craters, ridges,
ash fields and collapsed calderas. Fogo literally means "fire" - an apt
description of the island for the people who live here!
Filipe is a pleasant town of cobbled streets only a short bus ride from
the dock. Take a stroll around the charming and historic centre, known
as Meia Laranja, and look out for the pastel church of Nossa Senhora do
Socorro, the lively Mercado Municipal and the remains of Fort Carlota.
without doubt the main reason we’ll attempt to land at Fogo
is to explore the stunning volcanic landscapes. Our optional excursion
will take you to the spectacularly beautiful Chã das
Caldeiras, where we’ll see the lava fields and have great
views of the caldera Pico Novo formed during a 1680 eruption. Be
warned, walking in the area around Mt. Fogo is definitely an excursion
for those with good stamina.
note, Fogo has only a small artificial dock north of São
Filipe, too small even for our ship MS Spitsbergen. As this is an
expedition cruise, we’ll do our best to safely get onto this
spectacular island but if this isn’t possible we’ll
seek out an alternative destination. A lot will depend on the weather,
and if the Captain deems conditions to be unfavourable we’ll
instead cruise around the island and observe from the deck.
7: Bound for the Bissagos Islands
we sail to Guinea-Bissau and the Bissagos archipelago - a journey of
some 500 nautical miles. We can look forward to experiencing this
diverse archipelago packed with tropical wildlife, as well as the
unique traditional culture of the people who live in the islands.
for your visit by listening to talks in the Explorer Lounge by the
Expedition Team on subjects such as the biodiversity to be found in the
islands, the history and culture of the Bijagos people and their
matriarchal society, or perhaps the wider historical context of
Portuguese exploration of West Africa and the impact of the slave trade
on the region.
plenty of time to relax and enjoy the air on deck as our expedition
ship sails south towards the coast of West Africa. Now could be the
perfect time to look through the photos you’ve taken so far,
get up to date with that travel blog you’ve been meaning to
write, or delve into some books in the onboard library.
forget there’s a professional onboard photographer to help
you improve your picture-taking technique. With so many wildlife
highlights and scenic landscapes coming up, now might be the time to
brush up on your skills.
8-11: Matriarchal societies in a biodiversity hotspot
DECEMBER - NEW YEAR’S EVE
will be on the Bissagos Islands on New Year’s Eve. A special
celebration will be held onboard the ship.
the isolated Bissagos Islands is one of the great African adventures of
discovery. Located off the Guinea-Bissau coast, the Bissagos
archipelago is a hotspot of biodiversity and the ancestral homeland of
the Bijagos people. Nowhere in West Africa does such a combination of
unspoiled nature and traditional communities live in such harmony as in
these remote islands.
Bissagos archipelago consists of twenty main inhabited islands and
almost seventy smaller ones. Declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in
1996, these tropical islands are renowned for their diversity, with
ecosystems including mangrove swamps, palm groves, rainforest, wooded
savannah woodlands, sandy beaches and coastal lagoons.
around 500 different kinds of birds, several species of sea turtles,
crocodiles, some amazing snakes including black and green mambas,
elusive manatees, and the unique saltwater hippos - which can best be
spotted in November and the beginning of December - there’s
plenty of wildlife calling the Bissagos Islands home.
pristine environment has long been populated by the Bijago people, a
matriarchal society organised in clans. With a population of around
33,000, Bijagos society is ruled by women and guided spiritually by
female priests. What’s more, women are the owners of the
homes they live in, and manage the religious, political and economic
lives of their communities.
Bijagos live a subsistence life, taking from nature only what they
consume each day. Fundamental to them is their animistic belief system,
which holds the natural world to be sacred. This approach, in which the
islands themselves are sacred and living, has helped protect the
archipelago from overdevelopment and exploitation.
simplicity of the Bijagos’ lifestyle is in sharp contrast to
the complexity of their beliefs. They move in a heavily sacralised
universe, wrapped in mysterious and secret knowledge that surrounds
their understanding of the cosmos. Not surprisingly, two of the most
iconic animals of the Bissagos islands, the saltwater hippos and the
West African manatees, are also part of the rich spiritual world of the
goal for the next four days is to explore the labyrinthine maze of
islands and narrow channels that make up the Bissagos archipelago. Our
expedition boats will enable us to get in among many of the smaller
channels, and we may be able to do shore landings on remote beaches
with the Expedition Team. In sheltered waters we might be able to
explore using the sea kayaks.
conditions will determine exactly when and where we can land and
explore, but whatever we do you can be sure you’ll enjoy the
rich ecology of the islands, observing the amazing wildlife, and
meeting the local Bijagos people in their traditional communities.
12: The smallest capital in Africa
is the island capital of Gambia. Located in the mouth of the river
Gambia and almost surrounded by mangroves, the city doesn’t
have much room for expansion. However, this limitation has been a bonus
for tiny Banjul, keeping the city far more relaxed and easygoing than
many of the bigger African capitals. Although some areas might be a bit
hectic, most of the city has a truly relaxed atmosphere.
1807, the British Abolition Act prohibited trading in slaves within the
British Empire, and the Royal Navy and the Army sought to enforce the
prohibition within their colonies in Africa. Gambia had long been one
of the most important hubs for the slave trade in West Africa, so a
garrison was established at Banjul.
grid-pattern of streets laid down in 1807 has survived to this day.
Though the original settlement has grown in size, the island is easy to
explore on foot. Start with the grid streets of the Old Town and see
the Anglican Cathedral before visiting the small National Museum, which
houses the best archaeological and ethnographical collections in Gambia.
Market, probably the liveliest place in Banjul, is also worth a stop.
Anything from food to fabrics can be bought here, including interesting
crafts and souvenirs. Come prepared and don’t forget to keep
your bargaining skills ready!
anyone interested in the history of slave trade, Kunta Kinte, the hero
of Alex Haley’s book Roots was born a few miles upriver from
13: The end of the expedition
expedition comes to an end as we dock at Dakar. It is time to say
farewell to MS Spitsbergen and all the crew and staff onboard the ship.
However, the cruise may be at an end, but there is still time to
explore Dakar and perhaps see some things you may have missed at the
after disembarkation you can join our Dakar City Tour, which takes in
the main sights of Senegal’s capital such as
Independence Square, the African Renaissance Monument, the cathedral
and the west and east Corniche.
the tour complete, you’ll be taken to a hotel where you can
spend the rest of the day relaxing in comfort. There will be a lunch
waiting for you upon arrival. After lunch you can relax in your
day-room, or use the hotel’s amenities, before later that day
starting your return journey back to your home country from the airport.
you’d like to stay longer in Dakar you’re welcome
to book some nights at the hotel.
MS Spitsbergen (Expedition, 156-guests)
MS Spitsbergen joined the Hurtigruten fleet in 2016. The ship features high technical standards as well as comfortable, modern public areas and cabins. The vessel's fresh Scandinavian design reflects a colour palette derived from the sea. She is modern and environmentally progressive, and further improvements have been planned that will reduce emissions and fuel consumption even more. The new ship's maneuverability and optimal size make her quite suitable for exploring polar waters.
(Click image to view Ship details)
Post-Programme in Dakar
after the cruise
- Transfer from Dakar airport to the ship on day of
- Dakar City Tour, day room at hotel in Dakar, including lunch
- Expedition cruise in a cabin of your choice
- Breakfast, lunch and dinner including beverages (house beer
and wine, sodas, and mineral water) in restaurant Aune
- Complimentary tea and coffee
- Complimentary Wi-Fi on board. Be aware that we sail in
remote areas with limited connection. Streaming is not supported.
- Complimentary reusable water bottle to use at water refill
stations on board
- English-speaking Expedition Team who organise and accompany
activities on board and ashore
- Range of included activities
- Experts on the Expedition Team deliver in-depth lectures on
a variety of topics
- Use of the ship’s Science Center which has an
extensive library and advanced biological and geological microscopes
- Citizen Science programme allows guests to assist with live
- Professional onboard photographer gives top tips and tricks
for the best landscape and wildlife photos
- Use of the ship’s hot tubs, sun deck and lounge
chairs, panoramic sauna, and indoor gym
- Informal gatherings with the crew such as daily recaps and
preparation for the day to come
- Escorted landings with small expedition boats
- Complimentary wind and water-resistant expedition jacket
- Expedition Photographers help with your camera settings
- Air travel
- Travel insurance
- Luggage handling
- Optional shore excursions with our local partners
- Optional small-group activities with our Expedition Team
- All planned activities are subject to weather and sea
- Excursions and activities are subject to change
- Please make sure you meet all entry and boarding
- Please make sure you meet all vaccination requirements
(global health insurance recommended)
- No gratuities expected