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            New York, February 2009 -- “These sailings have been developed to offer our active travelers a real close-up encounter with this breath-taking piece of the frozen world,” say Hans Rood, Hurtigruten's vice president of global sales.  And due to the overwhelming interest in this remote archipelago deep within the Arctic Circle, Hurtigruten, a leader in expedition cruising, has announced the addition of the completely renovated 120-passenger MS Expedition to its air-inclusive Spitsbergen cruise-tours.  The new ship will share duties with the MS Polar Star on the 12-day "Grand Arctic Expedition," one of three Spitsbergen itineraries offered by Hurtigruten.  A nine-day adventure sails along the west coast while a 16-day version, along the 12-day, circumnavigate the island.  Early-booking prices range from $5,686 to $14,584 per person, double, a savings of up to $1,806 off original fares of $6,499 to $15,999.

The MS Expedition -- built in Helsingør, Denmark in 1972, underwent a complete rebuilding and modernization last year.  The newly renovated ship features spacious and comfortable common areas including a panorama lounge, expedition lounge, restaurant, library, bar, fitness room and sauna.  All cabins are outside and have their own window or porthole in addition to private facilities.  Zodiacs are used for expedition landings as well as for navigating the narrow straits of the arctic landscape for up-close views of the glaciers and wildlife.

            Spitsbergen, the largest of the islands of Svalbard, is a seemingly isolated retreat from the rest of the world – with its stunning landscape of jagged peaks and arctic tundra and an abundance of wildlife ranging from polar bears, Svalbard reindeer and arctic foxes to whales, walruses and ringed and harp seals.  The nine-day “Arctic Adventure” and 12-day “Grand Arctic Expedition” itineraries both begin with overnight stays in Oslo and Longyearbyen, the Svalbard capital and ships’ departure point, followed by a four- or eight-day cruise along Spitsbergen’s northwest coast.  Sights along the route include the Russian mining town of Barentsburg; Prins Karl Forland Island National Park, with its massive glaciers; the Ny-Alesund research center, the world's northernmost settlement; Monaco Glacier in Woodfjord; and old whaling sites, spectacular fjords and, weather and ice permitting, across the 80° N.L. line.  Passengers on the more comprehensive 12-day voyage continue down the coast to Hinlopen Strait, where it is always winter; the glacier-enveloped Nordaustlandet, home to abundant populations of walruses and reindeer; and return via Edgeoya and Spitsbergen’s Southern Cape.  Early-booking fares range from $5,686 to $7,164; and $7,281 to $14,584, respectively.

The 16-day “Spitsbergen Ultimate Voyage” kicks off with a two-day stay in the Hanseatic seaport of Bergen before departing on the Flam Railway, taking in the stunning landscape of deep ravines and snow-capped mountains on the relaxed 12-mile descent to meet the MS Nordstjernen.  After boarding, the ship sails through Geirangerfjord, passing its famous Seven Sisters waterfalls, and stops in the modern city of Trondheim, where passengers may tour sights such as the well-known Nidarosdomen Cathedral, and the Lofoten Islands, above the Arctic Circle.  Other highlights include the scenic diversity of Bjarkoy - 365 islands comprised of everything from tremendous mountains to white sand beaches; the North Cape, where the midnight sun views are spectacular.  Guided tours in Longyearbyen precede lunch at the city’s historic Spitsbergen Hotel, followed by the sailing to Gravneset, known for its cultural monuments from the centuries-old whaling period and taking in sights common to the other two voyages.  Discounted fares range from $7,794 to $9,695.

Both itineraries include daily lectures from onboard naturalist guides, expedition leaders and Zodiac landings, round-trip flights from New York, all meals aboard and some on land, cabin category selected, shore excursions, transfers and port charges.  Add-on airfares of $100 to $350 are available from dozens of other U.S. cities.  Air taxes, optional excursions and gratuities are additional.

            Information, brochures and reservations can be obtained from Hurtigruten Inc., (800) 323-7436 or (212) 319-1300; fax (212) 319-1390; for brochures (800) 666-2374, 24 hours a day;

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