Midnatsol is one of 9 ferries with cruise style facilities doing a round trip from Bergen to Kirkenes at the Russian border and back. The ship stops at a multitude of ports which you can see during waking hours at east once during the voyage. The ship loads and unloads cargo as well as passengers at most ports. The route is mainly between islands and the coast, but there are 3 notable bits of open water to traverse. Although the public areas are cruise style, the cabins are mostly as you would find on English cross-channel ferries. However, as so little time is spent in them, their basic nature does no matter much. Winter also has no single supplements for cabins and this is a real economy for myself and my friend who have winter holidays together.
Because of the beauty of the scenery this was my 3rd winter voyage out of 4 trips with Hurtigruten.
Hurtigruten offer many flights to Bergen from all over UK, and we must say that our KLM flights from Tyneside to Bergen via Amsterdam were most convenient. Included is a shuttle bus between airport and ship in Bergen. Embarkation is quick and easy - you just drop your suitcase and get pre-prepared cabin cards and table allocation in return. Almost all payments on the ship are by registering your cruise card and that took only 3 minutes to do at reception.
As this is a scenic voyage, there are few activities. Amongst those there were was a singing duo each evening and information films and events occasionally. (Most of these do not happen in summer). One bit of fun that happens on all voyage is crossing the Arctic Circle with a King Neptune ceremony for those who want to join in, and a certificate for all.
The public rooms have lots of space in the winter, but some of the seating becomes a bit uncomfortable after a few hours. Art and decoration is beautiful an imaginative. There is a small library and free internet access as well as a bar, snack bar and small souvenir shop. There are 2 jacuzzis on the top deck (outside) and a sauna (inside). Recreation is limited to walking around covered promenade deck 6 or open deck 9 (with helipad). There is a very small children's room which I have never seen occupied.
Meals are taken in a well decorated dining room with a buffet breakfast and lunch with a set evening dinner. Breakfast is open seating, but for the first time, we had allocated tables for Lunch buffet as well as the usual allocated tables for dinner.These were shared with others of the same nationality who we got on with OK. Service is generally good and the waiters are really friendly if you get to know them. Since I first went on this winter cruise 4 years ago, I have noticed that the variety of food on offer has been substantially reduced with less choice of cooked meats, fish and cheese. Dinner is also less imaginative with fish being served as a main course on 5 evenings running. There is no problem however in changing any Dinner course by telling the restaurant manager at breakfast time (menus are posted the evening before). The chef is excellent with dietary requirements for dinner, but you have to look after your self at buffets.
Cabins are serviced once a day with regular changes of bedding and fresh towel if you leave the old one on the sink or floor.
There is an opportunity for an excursion almost every day including dog-sledging, snowmobiles, bus tours and a Viking Feast. Seeing the Northern Lights is a bonus and they did appear once on this voyage, but you cannot count on seeing them. I have not rated ports as stops are from 5 minutes to 4 hours, and it is very much up to you whether you explore take an excursion or stay on the ship.
WE took this cruise for relaxation, scenery and a glimpse of Norwegian culture. It answered all of this admirably, and despite the obvious economies being made in the catering we enjoyed it very much once again.