We have for many years wanted to undertake the Norwegian Coastal Voyage from Bergen all the way to the Russian Border and back. We also wanted to arrive in Bergen by ship from the UK but alas cheap air fares have caused the demise of the ferry from Newcastle-on-Tyne-so we flew British Midland from London Heathrow to Bergen (Business Class)-very civilized. As this was to be a very special trip including the celebration of our 40th Wedding Anniversary we opted for the Owners Suite on one of the most recent Hurtigruten ships. There are in fact two owners suite's-we chose the one which has a slightly larger floor plan due to less space devoted to stairways.
Firstly we spent a night in Bergen at the Admiral Hotel with lovely views across the harbour to Bryggen before boarding our ship. However when we arrived at the Hurtigruten Terminal to board, we were met by the news that our sailing had ben delayed due to "technical issues"-in fact we ere delayed by 24 hours due to two out of the three bow thrusters having failed, and requiring replacement before sailing. Hurtigruten generously offered to refund 2/12 of our fare in recognition and this cheque for in excess of Â£3,000 was waiting for us at home on our return.
Once on board we were quickly shown to our beautiful suite which consisted of a large double bedroom, a very large lounge with dining table and chairs, 3 seater sofa and two large easy chairs, desk, fully stocked mini-bar and TV, plus a bathroom with full size bath, walk-in shower, WC, underfloor heating, and an entrance lobby with a second WC for "visitors".
The best feature of all was a marvellous "terrace" running half the width of the ship with proper ships deck chairs and table.
We opted for breakfast being served in our suite daily, with enough left over for lunch-so that we only visited the restaurant once a day-where we were allocated Table 1-by the window with a commanding view of the whole restaurant.
Food at dinner was good-with a different fixed no choice menu each evening, charmingly served by mainly Norwegian staff. The only time this arrangement differed was the first evening which was a "free-for-all" buffet which was most unpleasant due to some very aggressive fellow guests helping themselves to as much food as they could possibly eat!!
The ship was very well appointed with umpteen different lounges and quiet areas.
We only went on a few excursions as we wished to enjoy the luxury of the boat, albeit getting off the boat to visit the numerous ports of call was no problem at all. The midnight concert in Tromso Cathedral was a highlight, with the Midnight Sum shining brightly at 1.30 in the morning.Other excursions included bird watching at the North Cape, the Sea Eagle Safari and the only disappointment being the Lofoten Islands excursion which consisted of being driven by coach around the islands to a rather poor gallery, and to various parking areas full of camper vans from all over Europe.
We found all the staff very friendly, especially the lady who ran the gift shop, selling hand made Scandinavian souvenirs and craft items.
With the suite came two of the coffee cans which allowed you to unlimited tea and coffee throughout the ship.
We had lovely warm sunny weather for the first three days, but further north at Kirkenes it turned very cold (4 degrees centigrade at mid-day in late June) and the sea became very rough for 24 hours. I certainly would not like to venture along this coast in Winter!
After arriving back in Bergen we had 3 further nights at the Admiral Hotel which proved to be a comfortable and well located place to stay, before flying back to London Heathrow.
Overall a very enjoyable trip, albeit a very expensive one.