Cruise travel with Hurtigruten doesn't come cheap, and you'll end up paying extra for lots of things that many other less expensive cruise lines include in the price -- like room service, round-the-clock access to food, and even water.
With the purchase of "full board" cruise fare, you're entitled to breakfast, lunch and dinner in Deck 4's Restaurant Finnmarken at no extra cost. Breakfast (usually 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. with variations depending on the itinerary) and lunch (usually 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., also with variations) are both buffets with open seating; they can be a bit repetitive, offering items like eggs and bacon, cereal, yogurt, cold cuts, cheeses, breads, fish, caviar, fruit, and a variety of soups and cold salads each day.
It's definitely quality over quantity when it comes to dinner, which is set seating (at either 6:30 p.m. or 8:30 p.m.) with waiter service. (Exceptions on the northbound journey are the first and sixth nights, which are buffets with open seating.) Thanks to Hurtigruten's new Coastal Kitchen initiative, each night's meal is prepared using fresh ingredients sourced from local farms and fishermen in the ports the ship visits. The presentation is phenomenal to boot, but picky eaters won't be happy that there's only one set appetizer, entree and dessert each day. Examples include Hitra crab cocktail with salad, toast and Norwegian-style cocktail sauce; halibut with steamed cabbage, pickled onion, baked potatoes, carrots and butter sauce; and Tjukkmolkspudding (thick milk pudding) with sea buckthorn (a berry) and aquavit ice cream. On another night, the menu might feature Aaland Gard cheese with salad and cloudberry syrup; beer-braised beef with pearl barley, root vegetables and potatoes; and nyr cheese with berry compote. (Special dietary needs -- gluten-free, vegetarian, etc. -- can easily be accommodated with advance notice.)
Staff in the dining room are friendly but not the most attentive. Those used to cruising with other lines might be surprised at the amount of time it takes for drink orders to be taken and plates to be cleared between courses or trips to the buffet.
If you're craving something different or something after hours, other options are available for a fee at the 24-hour Morestuen Cafe, midship on Deck 4. You'll pay for the privilege of choice, however, and it's expensive. Ham, chicken and salmon sandwiches range in price from about $10 to $13, a meal of beef with baked potatoes and sauteed veggies will set you back more than $36, a hamburger costs about $25, and a half-liter bottle of water runs nearly $7.
For those with a sweet tooth, additional snacks can be procured at Deck 7's Babettes Cafe. Choose from berry tarts, giant chocolate chip cookies, meringues, cupcakes, ice cream, specialty coffee beverages, and other indulgent items that change daily. Prices aren't cheap, but they also won't break the bank. For reference, all coffee items hover around the $6 mark. One evening, after returning from the North Cape, the staff at Babettes offered hot chocolate and waffles with berries and cream. It came with a price tag of about $8.50, but it was certainly delicious. This venue is open every day, but there are no set hours.
The biggest gripe for every fellow passenger we asked is that drinks aren't included with dinner. If you want even so much as a swig of water, you'll have to shell out more than $4 for a bottle or purchase a $40 package that entitles you to one bottle at both lunch and dinner each day. (Or bring your own bottle.) Machines for free water are provided throughout the rest of the day (including mealtimes), but they're put away for dinner.
Room service is available for breakfast daily from 7:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.; menu items include orange juice, cheeses, meats, boiled eggs, bread, butter, jam and fruit for a fee of about $8.50. You can order via doorknob-hanger menus found in your cabin. Just be sure to hang them outside before 3 a.m. for delivery the following morning.