If a cruise along the coast of Norway is on your bucket list, there's no better line to sail with than Hurtigruten. Norwegian to the core, it started out as a line that carried people and freight between various ports in Norway, but it has since evolved into a type of cruising hybrid that an increasing number of Americans find downright intriguing.
Although it's one of just four vessels in the Hurtigruten fleet to be built after the turn of the 21st century, Finnmarken is still a working ship, carrying cruisers, cargo, mail, cars, daytripping backpackers and other passengers who might only be onboard for a couple of days (or hours) as they travel between ports along Norway's coast -- both northbound and southbound. There are constant comings and goings, with several port calls taking place in the dead of night, sometimes for as little as 15 minutes until something (or someone) is brought onboard or offloaded.
You won't find a spa to pamper you, a kids club to keep your children occupied or enough entertainment options to make your head spin. (In fact, there are no entertainment options at all.) But a sailing on Finnmarken will leave you feeling like you've explored a fair portion of Norway in elegant surroundings, at a reasonable price, without exhausting yourself. (After all, what's the point of needing a vacation after your vacation?) Food onboard is excellent -- even if the offerings are limited and somewhat repetitive -- and the line's new Coastal Kitchen menu provides a great way to get a taste of fresh, local fare.
You'll pay a hefty sum for a cruise on Finnmarken, and you'll receive fewer onboard bells and whistles for the price. But, overall, the cost is nothing compared to what you'd pay for a land-based stay in Norway, which is one of the priciest countries to visit. If it's a peek at breathtaking scenery you're after, you'll get it in spades, along with exciting cuisine, elegant accommodations and a friendly environment where nearly everyone speaks English.