MS Nordkapp is one of Hurtigruten's older ships having launched in 1996, but regular refurbishments have ensured it's got a fresh, clean, modern look (at least from Deck 4 up).
It's small and pretty basic -- ideal, in fact, for navigating the fjords and inlets of Norway's jagged, 1,250-mile coastline, which it does 365 days of the year, come rain, snow, sleet, hail or gales. Unlike some Hurtigruten ships, MS Nordkapp is dedicated to this stretch of the coast, stopping at 34 ports from Bergen in the south to Kirkenes in the far north and back, a journey time of 11 days. (Hurtigruten encourages passengers to do the entire round trip, but you can just do one way.)
Life onboard is simple: Eat, get ready for an excursion, get back onboard, eat, listen to a lecture and an early night. During longer periods of navigation, you'll find people dotted all over the ship looking out, cameras in hand, admiring the natural beauty of this stunning landscape and looking for wildlife, such as eagles, orcas and whales.
A sailing on MS Nordkapp is very much about the destination, so do not expect any frills. Yes, the higher-grade cabins do have modern conveniences (TV, mini-fridge) and there is excellent Wi-Fi. But you won't find such typical cruise ship add-ons as room service, nightly shows, a cruise director or even a swimming pool (there are two hot tubs, wonderful on a freezing polar night).
Note, too, that you can "upgrade" your experience depending on the fare type you buy. A Basic fare gets you just that, the basics. Select fares allow you a choice of cabin and include Wi-Fi, coffee (not specialty) and tea. Platinum is the highest fare and gets you into a mini-suite, plus includes such things as specialty dining and private airport transfers.
Where the ship does punch way above its weight, though, is food: There is just one dining room and a specialty restaurant, but both are outstanding -- the freshest of freshly caught shellfish, local meats and vegetables, local desserts with a story attached, wine pairing and top-notch service. It's like eating in a fine dining restaurant on land without the bill (note, however, Norway is expensive and that is reflected in the cost of alcohol).
Aside from wildlife spotting, excursions are the main source of entertainment on a MS Nordkapp sailing, and they are many and varied. Some of our favorites included staying in a snow hotel, snowmobiling at night, husky sledding, horseback riding and kayaking. We love that there's something for most ages and all abilities.
Who's sailing depends partly on when you're sailing, so over the winter period, you will find Germans, Swedes and French with the odd smattering of Americans, Canadians, Japanese and British. The average age is around 60/65+, and most people are traveling in groups or couples, so it feels more international. Come summer, the age skews downwards and you'll get more families.
Norwegians use it year-round as a jump-on, jump-off service and as a car ferry (which it still is).
Norwegian is the first language, but everyone without exception speaks perfect English and all announcements are in both languages.
Included with your cruise fare:
Main dining room
Use of the gym, sauna and hot tubs
Coffee and tea (in MDR)
Not included with your cruise fare:
Gratuities (cash only, in Norwegian kroner)
All drinks beyond dispensed water, tea, coffee and select juices in the buffet
There is no dress code. Hurtigruten does offer a suggested packing list: for winter, thermal underwear, waterproof jackets and trousers, hiking boots, waterproof gloves, a hat and dark glasses. You should also bring a swimsuit for the hot tubs -- even in winter. In the summer bring a hat, sunscreen, dark glasses and hiking boots.
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Amazing cruise along Beautiful Norway.
Exceeded my expectations.
First Time Cruiser