Virtual voyage: NRK to film nine-day cruise around Svalbard this summer for ‘Minute By Minute” broadcast next February

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Bad news : Travel companies soon won’t be able to say a cruise around Svalbard is something only an adventurous few experience as NRK is planning to film a nine-day voyage this summer for the latest installment of its famous “Minute By Minute” series that is scheduled to be broadcast next February.

A crew of 26 people will rig Hurtigruten’s M/S Spitsbergen with cameras on all corners and edges, establish a control center on the rear deck, and use drone cameras for the broadcast expected to last about 13,000 minutes. 

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The planned route of the cruise around Svalbard by the M/S Spitsbergen in August, which is scheduled to be filmed by NRK an broadcast in February. Map by Hurtigruten.

“We are doing it in early August when Svalbard is at its most beautiful,” said Thomas Hellum, head of the “Minute By Minute” series, in an article published Tuesday at NRK’s website. “In addition there is still the midnight sun, which allows us to film around the clock. We will try to convey a wonderful experience that few of our viewers can afford or have the opportunity to participate in.”

For those hoping to actually be on the 335-passenger ship to experience the virtual experience in real life, the only circumnavigation by the M/S Spitsbergen in August is scheduled to begin with a flight from Oslo on Aug. 6 (the ship departs from Longyearbyen the following day). News of the planned broadcast is prompting a surge in bookings as the least expensive cabin class (72,800 kroner – or 7,493 Euro – per-person for a double occupancy cabin) was sold out as of about 1:30 p.m. Wednesday. As of press time, available cabins ranged in price from about 79,800 kroner (8,208 Euro) to 183,350 kroner (18,870 Euro) per-person for double occupancy.

Since its debut in 2009 the “Minute By Minute” series has ranged from a long Arctic train trip to a three-month web broadcast of a bird feeder to an eight-hour telecast of a fireplace that earned (not entirely flattering) global headlines. A number of mainland cruises have also been featured, with a 2011 Hurtigruten voyage from Bergen to Kirkenes being a highpoint with 2.5 million viewers (half of Norway’s population) and setting a world record for the longest broadcast at 134 hours.

Unlike the previous series, the Svalbard cruise will not be broadcast live because large parts of the archipelago don’t have existing telecommunications access and NRK doesn’t have the budget to provide its own transmissions, Hellum said.

“But we will produce it as if everything is going directly,” he said. “Nothing will be cut off. Everything will be shown, both boring and exciting.”

Viewers will be able to see what happens both on and off the ship during the cruise, Hellum said.

“We want to convey the nature experience, the landscape and the wildlife,” he said. “In addition, we will go ashore and see the rest of the story,” he said.

The M/S Spitsbergen, promoted as ideal for Arctic conditions due to its modest size and modern equipment, was put into service in 2016. NRK will travel on an ordinary cruise, which means the itinerary and route will depend on weather, wind and ice conditions.

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