We booked our Hurtigruten cruise with our local travel agent and about 2 weeks before departure, our travel documents arrived. We booked the 12 day round trip from Bergen - Kirkenes - Bergen.
Our trip started in Oslo. We spent a day of sightseeing but wish we had allowed 2 or 3 days for Oslo. The next morning, took a morning train, the Norway in a Nutshell. This is highly recommended with beautiful scenery seen by trains, boat and bus. It takes all day and we were so glad we did it. We arrived in Bergen in the evening and spent the next day and a half sightseeing.
Around 3PM we arrived at the Hurtigruten terminal to board the Nordkapp. After checking our large suitcases we were directed to a large waiting room. After not too long of a wait, we were allowed to board and were told our cabins would not be ready until around 6PM. We were able to get into the cabin and drop off our carry on luggage right before the dinner buffet. We met a lovely couple from Australia and had dinner with them.
Our first cabin did not have enough shelves for our clothes, plus a window that was about 2 feet deep, so not too good for seeing out. So after about 5 days were allowed to upgrade to a cabin on the 6th Deck which was really great. The beds are really comfortable and there was plenty of room for our larger suitcases. In case you do not want to keep the large suitcases in your cabin, there is a storage room where you can take them to.
The ship has a tour director who announces upcoming ports and things of interest to see. There was a large panorama lounge on the 7th Deck for relaxing and seeing the scenery or for reading.
There are buffets for breakfast and lunch, with a set time for dinner. If you do not like a lot of fish (like me) you can ask for a vegetarian meal, as long as you let them know by noon. Each meal had an appetizer, main course and dessert. We never went hungry!
We booked three excursions. The first was a Geiranger excursion. The Nordkapp went down the Geiranger Fjord, then we disembarked by tender to the small town of Geiranger. We then boarded a bus that went up into the mountains, where we were able to look down and see our ship heading back to Alesund to pick us up. The scenery was beautiful, with a lot of sheep in the meadows.
The second excursion was to the North Cape. At Honningsvag, we boarded a bus that took us through very unusual scenery. We saw a lot of reindeer on the mountain sides. After stopping at the North Cape visitor center, we took a lot of photos. That day the weather was very cold and windy. We then headed to a Sami camp and took photos of a Sami with his reindeer. There was a small souvenir shop there.
Our third excursion was a tour of the Lofoten Islands. They are very beautiful with dried fish hanging on people's homes. Also, there are large racks where the villages can dry their fish.
Every day, there are Hurtigruten ships leaving Bergen to make the round trip to Kirkenes and back to Bergen. It stops at 34 ports going north, and 34 ports going south. What ports are made during the night, are usually made during the day time on the trip back. Some ports are only for 15 minutes, some 30 minutes, and a few are 2 or 3 hours or more. The ship blows it's horn 5 minutes before leaving.
The entertainment is the scenery which is always changing. I took loads of pictures of lighthouses, some are very beautiful, and some are really small. Most people were either out on the decks or in the Panorama Lounge. There was one guitar player in the evening that was really good.
There is a small Cafe if anyone would be hungry. It is also for the locals who board the ship from port to port. The Gift shop was small, but held a lot of items and there were always sales going on. There is an internet room, but the connections are really slow. It took us 40 minutes to log on and write one email while we were in Kirkenes! There is also a small kid's play room.
Getting off the ship, even if it is for 30 minutes or less and just watching the cargo being loaded and unloaded is very interesting. We saw farm implements, potting soil, frozen fish and even kitchen cabinets!
Disembarkation is like most cruise ships, we had to leave our luggage outside our cabin by 9AM, and be out of our cabin by 10AM. So we just stayed in the Panorama Lounge until the ship reached Bergen. Then, we were dismissed by our cabin deck, which we were one of the first. We then caught a taxi to our Bed and Breakfast.
This was a great trip and highly recommend it to anyone who does not need to be pampered every day and can be independent.