We always wanted to see the Northern lights and we were not disappointed on this trip. Hurtigruten would appear first and foremost to be a ferry company with a cruise element tacked on. the Finnmarken, one of their newer ships is a solid and stable ship; even in open water the ship sailed comfortably, on time (making 32 stops in six days). some of the en route stops were no more than fifteen minutes and as many as four in one night, but this schedule did not interfere with our sleep. docking alongside a snow covered "warehouse" to drop off or pick up was really quite "entertaining".
The public interface on board, tour guide, waiters and cabin cleaners all seemed to be Norwegian and with the exception of the tour guide, we found the staff generally cool and a little unwelcoming, but not enough as to spoil our experience. the suite was adequate for its title, but nothing like a suite on a more dedicated cruise ship. problems with no towels and a missing bathrobe required four visits to reception before we got satisfaction. Again this did not detract from our trip other than being mildly irritating. the absence of hot water from out shower took over a day to resolve with the mixer tap eventually being replaced.
on our journey, the ship, with 680+ cabins on board had fewer than 200 passengers as we left Bergen, by by nature of a ferry, others came and went along the route. we pondered the thought of the ship being full in season and the impact that might have on service levels.
Buffet breakfasts and buffet lunches were fine, yes a lot of fish, but prepared in interesting ways and supported by meat options. fixed, no choice dinners were disappointing and on two occassion, virtually inedible. avoid the wine package and coffee package unless to want to leave the ship Â£400+ lighter. despite wording to the contrary, people were taking their own alcohol on board but not necessarily consuming it anywhere other than their cabin.
we were a little perturbed when weekend revellers joined the boat for the Trondheim / Tromso leg of the journey, determined to have a good time, they were loud and "invasive" in whatever lounge they turned up in, but that is hardly Hurtigruten's issue, we just moved away!
So, yes we did see the lights! our shore excursion to dog sled was cancelled due to lack of snow. BEWARE that unless you want to book another excursion you will get a refund but in Kroner. if you then take it back home to exchange it, you'll lose as much as 18% of its value! so the recommendation is too book excursions on board, especially if changing conditions are likely to lead to cancellation.
this cruise IS expensive, but relative to the Norwegian cost of living, when compared to cruises elsewhere in Europe, the price is pretty comparable. we enjoyed the cruise, despite the niggles and got to see the lights. we are unlikely to cruise this route again but agreed that we would go back to Alaska with NCL tomorrow if we could.