My husband & I, lured by promises of the Northern Lights, booked the northbound Hurtigruten cruise from Bergen to Kirkenes departing 23rd December 2011. We also booked an excursion to the North Cape. We arrived at Bergen Airport where we stood for 50 minutes in the cold waiting for the transfer bus. On boarding The Richard With, we were made to use disinfectant hand-gel, we were informed this was standard procedure. Once on board things seemed to get better. A nice but basic outer cabin and facilities much as expected as we had done the summer round trip 5 years ago which we both enjoyed, hence the re book.
Our voyage started well, we had booked half board which includes a breakfast buffet and evening meal..The buffet was O.K. but the evening meal was a 3 course set menu with vegetarian option, and some of the worst food I have ever been served. We were once more expected to use hand-gel on entering the dining room. These precautions did not stop us from both being ill and eventually we stopped eating on board & bought food ashore. As The Richard With is a working ship we were due a 24 hour stopover in Alesund from Christmas Eve to Christmas Night to allow crew a festive break. By Christmas Night the weather had turned to a hurricane, which we obviously couldn't sail in so we remained in port a further 18 hours until it was calm enough to proceed. To make up time we then skipped a number of stops including Trondheim and arrived in a small port called Harstad. After leaving here we turned around & limped back as an engine had broken. we then spent a further day & half waiting for a spare part to be flown from Denmark. By now it was quite obvious we were not going to complete the voyage. We got as far as Tromso where we were put up in a hotel & flown home very early the next day. No North Cape (trip refunded) no Northern Lights! We visited only 7 out of 34 stops! Hurtigruten refunded only the equivalent of 2 days cruise.
What they DON'T tell you is that the coast is often cloudy, so if you REALLY want to see the NORTHERN LIGHTS book a long weekend to Tromso & go on a light hunting trip where you will be taken inland. We returned to Tromso 2 weeks ago & did exactly that. We had a fantastic time, saw The Lights twice and all for a lot less money!