It's all in the name -- Hurtigruten. Norway's stunning coastal scenery is the entertainment. If you cruise in August, as I did, that scenery is visible about 20 hours a day and best seen from the deck. Whenever the ship stops in port, passengers gather outside to watch the comings and goings of cars, passengers and freight.
All Nordnorge's Norwegian coastal trips start or end in Bergen, a great city for walking. I discovered quaint cobblestone lanes lined with historic houses and neighborhood parks just a few blocks beyond the beaten tourist path of the harborfront. There's so much to see in Bergen that it's well worth a couple of days' stay pre- or post-cruise.
Trondheim is another port best seen on foot. The old warehouses beside the River Nid have been transformed into trendy shops, cafes and flats, similar to, but much less crowded than, those in Bergen.
A highlight of northbound cruises is Geirangerfjord, one of Norway's most scenic fjords. Passengers have a chance to see the Art Nouveau town of Alesund as well. On my southbound trip, we arrived in Alesund very late at night and had less than an hour to visit. Our brief teaser stop only made us want to reurn.
Nordnorge Public Rooms
Editor Rating Public Rooms 2.0
In addition to the large, aft sun deck on Deck 7, my favorite room for relaxing and taking in the view was the Torghatten observation lounge, also on Deck 7. Other passengers must have agreed, as the lounge was always filled with folks hoisting binoculars and scanning the passing fjords, islands and outcrops. I particularly liked the chairs that swiveled 360 degrees. Early in the morning, I was surprised to see sleepy backpackers curled up on the sofas -- until I remembered that not everyone had booked a cabin. The observation lounge is non-smoking. Smokers congregate in an adjacent bar.
During the day, the Stella Polaris Bar on Deck 4 becomes a second lounge. It's too dimly lit for reading, but the library/game room is only a few steps away. The library has four game tables (popular with chess players) and books about coastal steamers and Norway printed in several languages.
Up to 50 cars can be loaded on Deck 2, aft. This is the place where landing craft are stowed during Antarctica trips.
Nordnorge Spa & Fitness
Editor Rating Spa & Fitness 2.0
There is a small gym with half a dozen exercise machines on Deck 2. Separate men's and women's saunas are right next door. You'll need to ask reception for the key to use any of these.
A promenade encircles Deck 5 and is great for walking. On warm, sunny days, however, passengers line the deck willy-nilly with lounge chairs, creating an obstacle course.