New York, NY, May 2009 — For anyone who has ever thought of exploring Norway and its multitudes of grand fjords, quaint villages and historic sites – Richard Bangs’ recently released documentary, “Adventures with Purpose: Quest for the Viking Spirit,” offers a wonderful peek at the country’s incredible diversity, stunning scenery and historic culture. In a near perfect distillation of Norway’s Viking heritage, Richard Bangs, renowned as the father of modern adventure travel, delves deeply into the country’s historic roots, while choosing one of the most authentic of Norwegian modes of travel – aboard a ship. And not just any ship — but the vessels that have served the many towns and villages along Norway’s west coast for more than 100 years – a Hurtigruten ship. Bangs sets out to discover how Norway transitioned from a history that included terrifying raids and a somewhat violent predilection into its modern reputation as a progressive nation standing for peace and conflict resolution. He and his production team visited cities and villages steeped in history, including Alta, Bergen, Fram, Kirkenes, Tromso and Trondheim, showcasing Norway in all its beauty while following the paths taken by centuries of Norwegians.
Bangs’ journey begins in Oslo, where the story of Viking history begins and where many Hurtigruten guests start their journeys. One of the highlights of his visit to the city is the Fram Museum, celebrating the most famous of polar vessels, the Fram, built in 1892 , and used by Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen on a three-year expedition around Greenland and by Roald Amundsen on his South Pole Expedition in 1909-11.
The documentary then depicts the path of the sea-loving Vikings, sailing through the Lofoten Islands, first populated 6,000 years ago by inhabitants surviving on fishing and hunting. Stunning footage shows off the ancient sights of several cities: in Trondheim, the Nidaros Cathedral, whose high alter stands on the spot where it is believed St. Olav lay secretly buried for a year following the Battle of Stiklestad in 1030; in Bergen, the city’s old harbor front, known as Bryggen, which was once dominated by the Hanseatic League and served as a major trade center; and Alta, with its World Heritage site rock carvings dating back from 4200 BC to 500 BC. Other highlights on Bangs’ journey include visits to Lofotr, where he sails aboard a Viking long ship replica; Kirkenes, situated on Norway’s Barents Sea in close proximity to the Russian border; Tromso, boasting the world’s most northerly university; Sognefjord, Norway’s largest fjord; and Flam, an arm of the fjord surrounded by steep mountainsides, roaring waterfalls and yawning valleys.
Hurtigruten offers similar journeys of exploration – in much more comfortable vessels than those used by the Vikings. Seven-day northbound journeys, six-day southbound sailings or 12-day roundtrip voyages are offered daily, year round at cruise-only fares starting at $705 to $2,014 per person, double. Travelers can combine their cruises with land stays by opting for Independent and Escorted Vacation packages, ranging from 11 to 18 days, adding such cities as Oslo, St. Petersburg and Copenhagen. These packages are priced from $2,795 to $14,269 and include air, hotels, meals, etc.
Host and co-executive producer Richard Bangs has spent 30 years as an explorer and communicator, and has led first descents on 35 of the world’s rivers, including the Yangtze in China and the Zambezi in Southern Africa. “Adventures with a Purpose – Quest for the Viking Spirit,” began airing in early May and is slated to continue to be shown by PBS stations, PBS-HD and Create Network in the top 50 major TV markets including NY, Boston, LA, Chicago, Atlanta, DC, Dallas and San Francisco, as well as hundreds of medium and smaller markets. Viewers should check their local listings. It can also be ordered from Small World Productions at www.AdventuresWithPurupse.TV or by calling (800) 866-7425. DVDs included the one-hour documentary and more than two hours of value-added footage. Cost is $24.95 plus shipping.
Hurtigruten is a world leader in expedition cruising, sailing to the most remote of destinations including Antarctica, Greenland and the Arctic’s Spitsbergen. For more information about the cruises, pre- and post-cruise explorations and optional excursions, brochures and reservations can be obtained from Hurtigruten Inc., (800) 323-7436 or (212) 319-1300; fax (212) 319-1390; for brochures (800) 582-0835, 24 hours a day; www.hurtigruten.us.