Have just returned from our first Hurtigruten voyage and unlike other cruise lines, cannot fault them at all! We were on a 12 day/11 night cruise from Bergen up to Kirkenes and then back down to Bergen on M/S Trollfjord. The scenery was outstanding and the further north we travelled, with the snow covered mountains, made this holiday magical. It was so interesting to call into all the little ports watching the locals getting off and on; seeing provisions being loaded; and of course going ashore wherever possible. Excursions were on offer but we preferred to do our own thing apart from one up to the Russian border.
We treated ourselves to a mini suite which had a limited view obscured by a lifeboat but this was no problem. The suite consisted of a corner seating area, twin beds, fridge, TV as well as a small bathroom with shower, toilet, wash hand basin and hairdryer. The water was always hot and we had the added luxury of a heated floor. Some of the little perks of the mini suite were a bottle of fizz on arrival, fresh fruit every day, complementary thermos mugs (for filling up with tea or coffee), dressing gowns & slippers, kettle etc and a visit to the bridge. The fridge was handy for storing our duty free wine in as cost of drinks on board was astronomical! This was permitted as long as you didn't drink your own alcohol in public areas.
The public areas were spacious and there was a large panoramic lounge which was lovely just to sit in and watch the world go by. The dining room again was spacious and breakfast and dinner were buffet style and you could sit where you want. The food was delicious with plenty of choice - the sweets were to die for! Dinner had allocated tables with two sittings, at 6.30pm and 8.00pm and there was a set menu although if you didn't like what was on the menu, there was always an option.
Entertainment was virtually nil apart from a singer most nights but this was no problem as there was always plenty to do talking with other guests etc. There was a ceremony up on deck to celebrate crossing the Arctic Circle which was fun; a Russian came aboard with giant crabs for us to see and on another occasion we were given a sample of Norwegian cod liver oil washed down with schnapps!
Other useful facilities were a self service launderette and Internet access. A daily news letter was printed which was very helpful and various other leaflets were available too.
Of course the highlight of this voyage was the chance to see the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) and our wish was fulfilled on several occasions. This was fantastic despite being woken in the middle of the night to go on deck to see them!
I think what we liked most about this holiday compared with other cruises, especially Ocean going ones, was the lack of entertainment; being pestered by waiters all the time trying to sell drinks; not having to dress for dinner in the evenings and to be amongst like minded people interested in everything we saw.
I would thoroughly recommend Hurtigruten. We are now looking into going on one of their smaller ships, M/S FRAM, possibly in 2014, either round the British Isles or the Canary Isles/Madeira and the Azores.