Traveling to the arctic circle and seeing the Norwegian Fjords has always been one of our travel wishes and we were attracted to the Hurtigruten air inclusive offer from Newark to Bergen including all transfers and a night in a very nice centrally located Bergen Hotel. Even adding the RT air from Atlanta to Newark, the cost was a bargain. The SAS flights to Bergen on SAS was enjoyable.
We booked a 12 day trip to northern Norway, through the arctic circle all the way to Kirkenes to see the snow hotel.
There were some interesting stops along the way to take in breathtaking views from above Geirangerfjord, do some sightseeing in Trondheim, Hammerfest and some other picturesque coastal towns and even a moving midnight concert in a beautiful large modern church.
Hurtigruten goes to some length to point out that this adventure is not a cruise in the strictest sense but a coastal voyage. Passengers, although well attended to by a professional and accommodating crew and staff are only one aspect of this enterprise. The ship is also a ferry taking on day trippers and cargo. It is possible to use it as a car ferry too. Some passengers booked only half the voyage and then fly back to Bergen.
The cabins are tiny by American standards but adequate and who wants to be in a room anyway when there is an ever-changing magnificent landscape to be seen at all hours of the day. April is a great time to sail the Norwegian coast; no summer crowds and the lighting is beautiful. The ship has very attractive lounges, bars, and other spaces including an area with floor to two story ceiling panoramic windows at the bow for watching the magnificent mountain scenery. The ship passes through narrow waterways and for most of the way the coasts on either side are always visible.
Some of the ports are visited briefly and it is not possible to get off the ship but it is still fun to watch all the activity in this newly prosperous country (thanks to oil drilling off the Norway coast).
The trip included full board. Buffet breakfasts and lunches would satisfy any traveller as long as you like seafood. There was always wonderfully prepared and tasty fresh fish and all kinds of cold appetizers such as herring, smoked white fish and salmon. The desserts were to die for.
There are a few hokey shipboard activities that were fun like the Norwegian fishermen spring ritual involving cutting out the tongues of cod fish and the christening of passengers as the ship passed into the arctic circle (including being doused with ice water by Neptune and taking a swig of cod liver oil) and a demo on shrimp expert peeling. All of which were much more fun than a Las Vegas type cruise show any time.
I must mention that the Hurtigruten line is very diligent and helpful. We had a very early flight out of Bergen arranged by them and the regular airport service was not available on Sunday morning. We were prepared to pay our own way by taxi to the airport (not a cheap ride). When we arrived at the airport, the cab driver gave us a voucher to sign since unknown to us, Hurtigruten made the arrangements. That says it all