Hurtigruten aptly states that aboard their ships Mother Nature provides the entertainment. On our sailing there was a lone pianist in the Deck 8 lounge, but the presence of a musician or combo onboard is not 100 percent certain. During shoulder seasons (January - March, October - December), naturalists and historians come aboard to make presentations on subjects ranging from the Northern Lights to Norwegian Christmas traditions.
Midnatsol Public Rooms
Midnatsol means "midnight sun," and the ship's decor beautifully embodies this theme. Even staircase landings are tiled in polished marble inlaid sunbursts. Oranges, reds, browns and yellows predominate throughout the ship. From the moment you enter the five-deck atrium, dominated by a stunning 49-ft. painting in "midnight sun colors," you are struck with the warmth and brightness of the interior design. I was also delighted at the large collection of original Norwegian artwork, extremely extensive for a ship this small; it took a couple of days to take it all in. The major public decks are Deck 5 and Deck 8. Deck 5 is dining central, with the main restaurant all the way aft and a 24-hour cafe midship. Deck 5 is also the location of the ship's small gift shop.
Midnatsol has two bars, but one of them is only open during the warmest summer months. The main -- and for most of the year, the one and only -- bar, and its comfy little lounge, are located midship, just forward of the library and Internet cafe and aft of the two-deck observation lounge.
Critic's Caveat #2: Norway heavily taxes alcoholic beverages, so be prepared for a bad case of liquor sticker shock. Wine, beer and mixed drinks go for between $7.50 and $10 a pop (at current exchange rates), and though wine and the excellent Norwegian beers are ample pours, Norwegian law forbids pouring more than 40 ml of hard liquor in a glass. (By comparison, an airline bottle of alcohol contains 50 ml.) The good news is that Hurtigruten allows passengers to bring their own alcohol aboard to enjoy in their cabins.
Midnatsol Spa & Fitness
Midnatsol has no pool. In its place a large sun deck functions, weather permitting, as a platform for passengers to recline in lounges to watch the drama of the fjords and islands parading by. There is a sauna and small gym, and many passengers can be found early in the morning circling the ship on Deck 6 at speeds ranging from hare to tortoise to snail.
A number of shore excursions are offered, catering to four languages: Norwegian, English, German and French.