Hurtigruten's 'Whisky Project' sends booze on a cruise

MS Fram with Scotch whisky

ABOVE: Two 150-liter barrels of single-malt Scotch whisky await loading on MS Fram. INSET BELOW: Enjoy a wee dram from the Fram.

You may have heard about the Norwegian tradition of shipping acquavit to the Southern Hemispherre and back before bottling. That spiritous seafaring tradition is still observed, but Hurtigruten--the Tromsø-based Norwegian coastal-ferry and cruise line--has just added a twist (and no, we're not talking about a twist of lemon):

  • This year, Hurtigruten's expedition ship, MS Fram, will carry two 150-liter barrels of single-malt Scotch whisky across the northern and southern polar circles, the zero meridian, and the equator for aquavit-style aging.

AMS Fram Expedition Whisky bottleccording to MS Fram's captain, Arild Harvik, the goal of the "Whisky Project" is to improve the spirit's already excellent qualities through wave action, temperature changes, and sea air during the whisky's nine-month cruise.

The barrels were loaded onto MS Fram in Hamburg last October. In July, after a voyage of nearly 125,000 km or 78,000 miles, the cask-strength whisky will be bottled directly from the barrels in a limited edition of no more than 200 bottles.

Each bottle will come with a whisky diary and certificate, and it will be sold in MS Fram's shop beginning this fall. (Passengers will also be able to sample the "MS Fram Expedition Whisky" at the onboard bar.)

This spring, you can cruise with the casks.

To whet your appetite for the well-traveled tipple, Hurtigruten is offering two whisky-themed cruises on MS Fram this spring:

Both voyages start in Bergen, Norway, and will be accompanied by a Scottish lecturer and whisky expert.

For more information, click the itinerary links above or visit

BELOW: A barrel of single-malt Scotch embarks for a nine-month cruise on Hurtigruten's MS Fram

Hurtigruten MS FRAM and whisky

Photos: Hurtigruten USA.
Source: Gillies & Zaiser for Hurtigruten USA.

A new river-cruise line: Emerald Waterways


ABOVE: Emerald Sky (above) and its sister ship, Emerald Star, will debut with Emerald Waterways in 2014.

In Europe, river cruising is attracting a growing number of experienced ocean cruisers who, having visited the more popular coastal ports, are eager to sample the Continent's inland waterways. New ships make their debut on European rivers every year, and every now and then a new cruise line comes along. In 2014, the fresh-faced kid on the block wll be Emerald Waterways (a new brand of Scenic Tours, which also operates Scenic Cruises).

Emerald Waterways will have two brand-new, custom-designed ships--Emerald Sky and Emerald Star--that are intended to meet the expectations of longtime ocean cruisers. For example, each ship has a heated outdoor swimming pool with bar, gelato station, and retractable roof. At night, the swimming pool transforms into a movie theatre with upholstered seats.

Suites feature "indoor balconies," which are recessed balconies with glass floor-to-ceiling windows that drop to railing height at the touch of a button. Even the standard cabins are larger than the staterooms on most river ships. All rooms have free Wi-Fi, which is available throughout the ship.

You'll find two restaurants on Emerald Sky or Emerald Star: the main Reflections dining room, and--at breakfast and lunch--an outdoor restaurant in the bow called The Terrace. Complimentary wine, beer, mineral water, soft drinks, tea, and coffee are served at lunch and dinner.

Other amenities include a bar-lounge with floor-to-ceiling windows, a sun deck with a pop-up "sky bar," a golf putting green, a giant chess set, a fitness area, a massage-therapy room, a hairdresser, and a souvenir shop.

In 2014, Emerald Waterways is offering five cruise itineraries on the Danube, Rhine, and Moselle, with voyages of eight to 15 days. (One of the itineraries is a 15-day Christmas Markets cruise.)

Something else worth mentioning: Emerald Waterways cruise fares include airport transfers and all tips for onboard services and shore excursions.

For more information, including fares and special offers for bookings before October 31, 2013, visit

More photos:


Emerald Waterways swimming pool and bar
ABOVE: Swimming pool and bar.

Emerald Waterways suite balcony
ABOVE: The view from a suite's private balcony.


Photo renderings: Emerald Waterways.

LA BELLA VITA cruise review: Venice to Mantua

LA BELLA VITA in Venice, Italy

ABOVE: La Bella Vita on the Riva di San Biagio in Venice.

In May, we took a six-night cruise from Venice to Mantua aboard La Bella Vita, a hotel barge of European Waterways. The cruise took us through the Venetian Lagoon and up the Po Delta via the Po River's network of tributaries and canals, with stops in cities such as Chioggia, Ferrara, and Mantova (Mantua).

We've published an in-depth cruise review and a blog-style cruise photo diary at To enjoy them, please click:

La Bella Vita cruise review

La Bella Vita barge cruise photos