Unveiled in 2007, the 12,700 ton Fram is one of the newest and most modern expedition cruise ships sailing regularly to polar areas such as Antarctica and the Arctic destinations of Greenland and Spitsbergen. Stout and sturdy, the Fram was specifically designed for travel to the polar regions with a strengthened hull that that allows it to navigate through sea ice. The Fram is operated by Norway-based Hurtigruten, a pioneer in Arctic travel that is perhaps best known for a fleet of cruise ferries that sail along the Norwegian coast. The Fram offers an expansive outdoor observation terrace at its bow that lets passengers get up close to sea ice and wildlife during polar voyages. Located on Deck 5, the bow-front observation area is accessible via promenades along both sides of the vessel. Another expansive outdoor observation area can be found at the top of the Fram on Deck 8. The Deck 8 observation deck features a raised standing area that allows passengers to get an unobstructed view of wildlife in the water. The observation area on Deck 8 of the Fram wrap along both sides of the vessel towards the middle of the ship. Passengers can make a complete circle of the observation area on Deck 8. One deck down from the forward-facing observation area on Deck 8 are mid-ship seating areas with teak chairs and tables. Deck 7 also is home to two outdoor hot tubs. An outdoor shower is located just steps away from the two hot tubs on Deck 7. Moving torward the back of the Fram’s top decks, passengers will find more observation areas with lounge seating. An over-sized chess set located on Deck 7 is one of the few deck-top amusements on the Fram. Dubbed the Sun Deck, the outdoor portion of Deck 7 includes a large area at the stern with teak tables and chairs. As with other vessels operated by Norway-based Hurtigruten, the Fram is registered in Norway and flies the Norwegian flag from its stern. Like other expedition cruise ships, the Fram carries motorized rubber boats that are used to land passengers in remote locations and for coastal touring. Two of the Fram’s motorized rubber boats are larger models that can carry up to 11 passengers on waterborne excursions. The Fram has a large mud room on Deck 2 where passengers change into muck boots needed for wet landings from motorized rubber rafts. Muck boots are available for rent for 120 Norwegian kroner per week (about $15). A large door on Deck 2 of the Fram is designed for easy loading and unloading of the ship’s motorized rafts and other large objects. The Fram’s interior public areas include the expansive Qilak Observation Lounge. Located at the top front of the vessel, the Qilak Observation Lounge features floor-to-ceiling glass windows that offer views over the bow. High-powered monoculars for spotting wildlife are located on both sides of the Qilak Observation Lounge. A central gathering point for passengers during the day and night, the Qilak Observation Lounge features comfortable, Scandinavian-influenced furniture. The Qilak Observation Lounge is home to the ship’s main bar, which is open from midday through the late evening. The Fram bar stocks several special whiskys that were aged in barrels on the ship during its early sailings to the Arctic and Antarctica. The Fram carries several Arctic-themed beers from the Tromso, Norway-based Mack brewery, which long has billed itself as the northernmost brewery in the world. The Qilak Observation Lounge has a dance floor that is the venue for a crew show on each voyage. A small library area at the entrance to the Qilak Observation Lounge houses books on polar explorers and wildlife in several languages. In addition to the Qilak Observation Louge on Deck 7, the Fram has several public lounge areas on Deck 4. The Fram’s location, speed and other voyage information is broadcast on a screen located on Deck 4. Known as the Arcade, this small area near the ship’s restaurant on Deck 4 is home to displays on polar exploration. The Arcade features a model of the original Fram — the historic vessel that legendary explorer Roald Amundsen used to sail to the South Pole in 1910. Glass cases in the Arcade house items from the original Fram’s historic sailings in the Arctic and Antarctica. A psalm book carried by a crew member on the original Fram during a polar expedition is among the exhibits in the Arcade. Swivel chairs in the Arcade are bolted down for safety during rough seas. The Fram has a single restaurant where passengers meals are served. Located at the back of Deck 4, the Imaq Restaurant serves breakfast and lunch in a buffet style. Dinners vary between buffet seatings and table-served seatings depending on the ship’s daily schedule of landings. With the exception of coffee and tea, drinks are extra on the Fram and start at 19 Norwegian kroner (about $2.30) for a soda and 28 Norwegian kroner (about $3.40) for a beer. The Fram offers wine packages starting at 1,800 Norwegian kroner (about $220) for eight bottles. The package also brings free, ship-made mineral water in carafes during dinner. The center of the Imaq Restaurant features a buffet area used during breakfasts, lunches and some dinners. Coffee and tea are available in the Imaq dining room and elsewhere on the ship at no extra charge. Another interior lounge area is located on Deck 4 near the ship’s reception desk. Dubbed the Nunami Lobby, the lounge area near the ship’s reception features a faux fireplace and comfortable, Scandinavian-influenced furniture. The Fram’s Reception desk is located on Deck 4. Adjacent to the Reception Desk is the Expedition Desk where passengers can sign up for extra-charge excursions such as glacier walking and kayaking. Near the Reception Desk on Deck 4 is a small computer center where passengers can surf the Internet for an extra charge. A caveat: The Internet is inoperable while the ship is in some polar regions. Just beyond the Reception Desk is an open area. A model of the Fram is on display in the Nunami Lobby near the Reception Desk. The Framheim lecture hall is one of two lecture rooms at the front of Deck 4 where passengers assemble for talks on polar history and wildlife. The Polhogda lecture hall is the second of the ship’s two lecture rooms. Often one hall is used for English lectures while the other features talks in German as many of the Fram’s passengers come from German-speaking countries including Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Also located on Deck 4 is the Bistro, a small cafe. The Bistro features a wall with maps of the ship’s route and displays about local wildlife. Games and puzzles area available in the Bistro for passenger use. The Bistro has a self-service area with free coffee and tea as well as snack items available at an extra charge. Sodas, beers and other drinks available at an extra charge are located in a refrigerator at the Bistro and can be purchased from a cashier station just behind the Reception Desk. The Fram also has a small ship’s store stocked with cold-weather clothing, toiletries and souvenirs. Bookmarks and other items imprinted with famous polar explorers such as Roald Amundsen are among the items available in the Fram’s store. Located on Deck 7 is a small fitness center with running machines, stationary bikes and a ping pong table. The Fram’s fitness center also has a small free weights area. One deck up from the fitness center in a nook at the top of the ship are his-and-hers saunas. The sauna area on Deck 7 features separate changing rooms for men and women with showers and lockers. Among the biggest of the Fram’s 128 cabins are its 14 Outside Suites, which feature a double bed, built-in desk area and separate sitting area. The built-in desk area of one of the Fram’s Outside Suites. Outside Suite bathrooms are relatively modest with a narrow shower. The sink area of an Outside Suite bathroom. Smaller than Outside Suites but still relatively large for the Fram are the ship’s 18 Outside Superior Cabins. The Fram’s Outside Superior Cabins feature a double bed with a sitting area and built-in desk area. Outside Superior Cabins have built-in side tables on each side of the bed. The built-in desk area in an Outside Superior Cabin. Outside Superior Cabins have large, built-in armoires located near the door. The built-in armoire in Outside Superior Cabins has room for hanging clothes, extra blankets and a small personal safe. A second built-in closet in Outside Superior Cabins has six shelves for folded clothing. Outlets in Fram cabins are configured for European-style plugs, so American passengers should bring adaptors. Minibars located in the built-in desk areas in Fram cabins are stocked with sodas, mineral water, beer, wine and spirits available for an extra charge. Hair dryers are located in a drawer in the built-in desk area found in Fram cabins. An Outside Superior Cabin bathroom. The shower area in an Outside Superior Cabin bathroom. In what is billed as an effort to be eco-friendly, the bathrooms on the Fram aren’t stocked with individual toiletries but instead have dispensers by the sink and in the shower that contain a single liquid that serves as both soap and shampoo. The bathrooms in Outside Superior Cabins have a generous storage area for toiletries. With the exception of six suites located at the rear of the Fram, the ship’s cabins don’t have balconies and often have round porthole-style windows. Nearly two-thirds of the Fram’s 128 cabins are Outside Cabins that feature a single bed and a separate sofa bed. The one shown here is slightly larger than normal as it is designed for disabled passengers. The bathroom of an Outside Cabin designed for disabled passengers, which is larger than standard bathrooms on the ship. The smallest of the Fram’s cabins are its 24 windowless Inside Cabins, which feature pull-down beds and sofa beds. LIke other cabins, Inside Cabins on the Fram have built-in desk areas and closets. The bathroom of an Inside Cabin. Designed for visits to remote locations, the Fram has a built-in gangway that lowers from its Deck 3 entry area. A check-in area is located near the entrance to the Fram on Deck 3. A single central staircase rises through the middle of the Fram from Deck 2 to Deck 7. The Fram also has two passenger elevators located just across from the stairwell. Another small sitting area with two bolted-down swivel chairs is located on Deck 5 near the entrance to the ship’s outdoor Promenade. A statue of Arctic explorer Fridhof Nansen, who led an expedition to the polar ice cap on the original Fram, stands guard in the ship’s Arcade on Deck 4. In a nod to the rough seas that the Fram sometimes encounters on polar voyages, particularly during crossings of the Drake Passage to Antarctica, sea sickness bags are strategically located throughout the vessel. The Fram was constructed near Trieste, Italy at Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri’s Monfalcone shipyard. The Fram’s symbolic bell is located at the front of the vessel on its Deck 5 observation terrace. The Fram was christened in 2007 by Norway’s crown princess, Mette-Marit. Hurtigruten’s red-and-white logo is emblazoned on the Fram’s single funnel. The view of Spitsbergen in the Arctic from the Fram’s Deck 8 observation area. Coffee and tea are available throughout the day at no extra charge in the Fram’s Qilak Observation Lounge. The Fram has seven passenger decks. The 318-passenger Fram was specifically designed for travel to the polar regions.