Ship, MS Midnatsol, is one of the newest and largest ships in Hurtigruten's fleet. She had just been in the dockyard for a minor refurbishment - evidence of newly laid carpets but no obvious remaining jobs to be completed. Ship is elegant and comfortable in the public areas with very interesting art collection.
Cabin was a U grade Ocean View with a large porthole. Travelling as a single so one bunk was always kept as a sofa. Limited storage space; would have been a struggle for 2 on an eleven night trip. Single bunk was comfortable with a good reading light. Bathroom typical of most ships; compact but functional but with the added bonus of a heated floor.
Dining Ship was not full so single seating in main dining room, breakfast was free seating, other meals were nearly all at your assigned table. Breakfast and lunch were buffet and dinner was generally a set menu. I enjoyed all the set menus and didn't feel the need to ask for a change. (Menu is published in advance and you can request something different if you really don't fancy the set dish). Good blend between fish and meat main courses. Alcohol is very expensive. Tea and coffee is served after lunch and dinner in the lounge, other times you have to purchase hot beverages or purchase the refill cup. I like tea so I took my travel kettle with me.
Crew Very proactive Norwegian crew, happy to help and talk about their country. Tips are optional.
Travelling Companions For this winter trip few people were using the ship as a ferry most were 'cruising' or onboard for a conference. About 200 were doing the Northbound trip like me, about the same number again doing the round trip. We were joined by a stargazing group of about 100 for the middle section and a conference group for 2 nights. Majority of cruisers were British but with a fair number of German and French speakers. (Excursion to the North Cape had 2 full english speaking buses, one partially full german and one partially full french bus).
Weather Generally sunny during the day but cold. At night very cold and with the ships speed and windchill down to equivalent of -25 degC. Layers and a good hat and gloves are a must. Lots of snow falling when leaving Kirkenes so plane had to be deiced and a bit late as a result.
Photography Hurtigruten had a professional photographer, Simon, on board for this trip. Simon helped everyone to take better photos but particularly of the Northern Lights which obligingly came out for three consecutive nights. Absolute highlight of the trip.
Entertainment Duo played most nights in the lounge but the main draw for this trip was being out on deck watching the sky.
Ports 34 Ports are visited on this trip, I explored in Bergen, Alesund, Trondheim, Bodo, Tromso, Honningsvag (for North Cape) and Oslo. Quick Review here since most of the ports aren't in the drop down list. Bergen, have visited twice before so went up the funicular to look over the city in the snow and spent time at the art gallery. Alesund, ship excursion to walk around the town to see the Art Nouveau buildings and the museum. Trodheim, Ship City tour including very beautiful Nidaros cathedral. Bodo, just strolled around the town to stretch my legs. Tromso, Ship city tour including Polaria and Arctic Cathedral. Honningsvag, Ship excursion to snow swept North Cape. Oslo, Munch Museum and shopping.
Overall Wonderful trip, Northern Lights were way beyond expectation, Ports were interesting, Food was much better than expected. Would I travel again - yes and I'd like to go in the middle of the winter to see the Arctic Night. Expensive trip even with no single supplement in the winter season but worth every penny.