Hurtigruten Expeditions introduces African West Coast cruising

MS Spitsbergen to explore four African countries from late 2022

Six weeks after announcing plans to expand its expedition cruising program to the Galapagos in 2022, Hurtigruten Expeditions has revealed the African West Coast as its next new destination.

Launching for the 2022/23 season, Hurtigruten will add four new countries – Cape Verde, The Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, and Senegal – to its global program, in doing so becoming the only expedition cruise line sailing in the region.

Hurtigruten says it is responding to guest demand for more warm water destinations, adding the West Coast of Africa unique archipelagos – the Bissagos Islands and Cape Verde – to its list of new destinations.

Cape Verde Islands, Santo Antão village | Credit: Ulrich Hollmann (supplied)

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The 13-day itinerary encompassing the four countries will be reached aboard MS Spitsbergen based out of Dakar, Senegal one of Africa’s most bustling cities.

Cape Verde and Bissagos Islands itinerary, aboard MS Spitsbergen

Alongside Hurtigruten Expeditions’ first-ever African expedition cruises, the company will also introduce a series of itineraries to the Canary Islands and Madeira for the 2022/23 seasons.

“2022 will be one of the most adventurous years for Hurtigruten Expeditions,” said Hurtigruten Expeditions CEO Asta Lassesen. “We will start the year by launching our Galapagos operations in January, and at the end of the year, we will introduce our first African cruises.

“We are very excited about expanding to new unique destinations, which complements our Caribbean and South American expedition cruises and strengthens our global position.”

“We know our guests want to explore many different parts of the globe, and our ambition is to offer the world’s most exciting destinations that can best be explored by our small ships.

“With the Bissagos Islands and Cape Verde, we offer a truly unique and off-the-beaten-track destination that is perfect for an expedition adventure like no other,” said Lassesen.

Hippopotamus | Credit: Mint Images/Getty images (supplied)

Hurtigruten Expedition’s first African adventure will depart on 27 November 2022 – the first in a series of expedition cruises to visit Cape Verde and the Bissagos Islands. One of the world’s most untouched destinations, the Bissagos Islands will offer guests a combination of distinctive wildlife and diverse landscapes as they spend four days exploring the 88-island archipelago that is home to hippos, dolphins, crocodiles, sea turtles, manatees, and 500 species of birds.

Guests will explore Cape Verde and the Bissagos on board MS Spitsbergen. With fewer than 200 guests, the ship also features Hurtigruten Expedition’s signature state-of-the-art Science Center that includes a wide range of Citizen Science research projects that guests are encouraged to participate in during their trip.

MS Spitsbergen, Hurtigruten Expeditions | Credit: Karsten Bidstrup

Cape Verde offers a distinctively different scenery compared to the Bissagos. Hurtigruten Expedition’s itineraries spend four full days visiting ports and destinations that no other cruise ships include. The ten rugged volcanic islands that make up the country boast a unique blend of African and Portuguese influences. Besides colonial churches, palatial mansions, and old forts in many of the cities and towns spread out across the archipelago, the islands are also a birdwatcher’s haven with many migratory and endemic species crisscrossing the islands. Other wildlife includes whales, dolphins, and sea turtles.

The itinerary also includes a day in Banjul, the capital of Gambia, the smallest country in mainland Africa. All cruises out of Dakar include land-based adventures as part of the itinerary. Before departure, guests will explore the island of Gorée, where they will experience the colourful colonial houses, baobabs, and palm trees and immerse in the dark history of this former slave island. A city tour of Dakar is included on the disembarkation day, where guests will experience the charming multi-faceted city while discovering its historical moments and driving along the corniche.

Pico do Fogo Cha das Caldeiras, Cape Verde (supplied)

Hurtigruten Expedition’s new African cruises will depart Dakar on 27 November, 9 and 21 December 2022, and 2 and 14 January 2023.

While the Canary Islands and Madeira are known tourist destinations among European travellers, Hurtigruten Expedition’s cruises will show a different side of these islands, focusing on great hiking, national parks, and cultural walking tours. Wildlife includes whales, dolphins, and various birds. Madeira is also home to endemic and invasive plant species, with one optional excursion allowing guests to identify and remove invasive species with a local naturalist. The five 10-days sailings to the Canary Islands and Madeira will depart in November 2022 and between January and March of 2023.

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