Hurtigruten is an excellent informal cruise experience on a working ship plying the ports north of Bergen to almost Russia. Most of the journey is sheltered from rough sea by a line of islands. The weather is unpredictable and we were lucky. The temperature at the North Cape was warmer than England. We had about 300 passengers, mostly very friendly retired people from England,some Norwegians (their pensioners have a discount), some Germans, French , Australians and USA. Many were very keen on unusual birds, such as sea eagles.( we saw them). The more experienced travellers used the cruise websites for booking the cruise because the Hurtigruten sales office can be difficult to engage and the websites can offer better prices.
The ship stops several times a day, including the night. The night stops on the north journey are visited in the daylight in the south journey.There are lots of expensive excursions. We could book them the previous night once we knew the weather forecast. We were lucky at the North Cape excursion because there are few clear days each year and there was one when we visited it. The midnight musical concert at Tromso was excellent too. The shipping line is thoughtful in offering transport from the airport to the ship for passengers and luggage. Unfortunately there was a problem when we arrived at Bergen airport when one person checked all the ship's luggage. It took about an hour to check in our luggage. The coach transport worked well,taking us to the ship.
Hurtigren offer several 'special offers' once you arrive. You can buy drinking water at meal time for about £22. Ignore that. They offer free ordinary water at meal time. They also offer a wine deal when they will give you an appropriate wine each day for £350. They could be useful if you can afford a bottle a day because the cheapest bottle was about £35. Few took this offer. They also offered a coffee deal when you paid about £30 ( I am guessing) for a mug and the coffee could be replenished in the cafeteria anytime. Since you have free coffee each meal time we thought was this was sufficient.
The cabins are tiny but cleverly arranged with one bed which folds into the wall and the other bed converts to a seat. The food is good with a a buffet breakfast and lunch and with a served dinner at 6.30pm or 8.30pm. The emphasis was on fish dishes. Anything alcoholic was very expensive in Norway. In fact everything was expensive in Norway. However we could bring alcohol into our cabins. The experienced travellers took advantage of buying duty free oportunities at the Bergen Airport as we arrived. We liked the idea of offering duty free at arrival. We signed up for a lecture series about Norway held in the ship conference room. This was an hour lecture each day about different aspects of Norwegian life. These were interesting and the lecturer could advise us about anything. This was an easy way of meeting fellow travellers because we changed our dinner seats to chat to different individuals each night.
We knew that we had a hotel room at the end of the holiday, the Neptun. This was fine although the bedroom was small. Many of us from the ship were booked there. We had an excellent dinner at the Pascal bistro at the hotel. We can recomend that. The breakfast was good too. The pleasant surprise was that Hurtigruten provided us with transport from the hotel to the airport. This was our first cruise. It was lovely.
Bergen was a beautiful city now suffering a lot from litter ans graffiti. If you time is short we recommend the short mountain train trip to the Floyen, overlooking the port. Expect some rain.
Easy to explore on foot. The first hotel you encounter from the quay ( a Rica one I think) has an interesting free permanent modern art exhibition.The cathedral was worth seeing although not open when we visited.