Roald Amundsen Activities

Editor Rating
Very Good
Jorge Oliver

Entertainment & Activities

Expedition Experiences on MS Roald Amundsen

For all its larger vessel comforts, MS Roald Amundsen is an expedition ship at heart. In fact, when you enter the ship for the first time, you're greeted by the expedition crew in the Science Center instead of the hospitality staff behind the reception desk.

When MS Roald Amundsen is in the polar regions and other expedition-centric destinations, everything onboard is geared towards maximizing time ashore. In other parts of the world, the daily routine is similar to that of a regular cruise ship, with shore excursions and onboard activities.

Expedition landings are carried out in waves, with passengers divided into sub-groups of 12-16 people. All groups rotate, so everybody gets a turn at going first, and last. The order and assignment of the group is determined daily and shared in the evening port talk. This information is also found on the Hurtigruten app, which is also constantly updated in case that the times shift (and they often do). Expedition activities include include kayaking, snowshoeing, hiking, ice-cruising in the inflatable boats.

Boarding the boats is both fun and exciting. MS Roald Amundsen carries a fleet of 17 inflatable boats that are kept in a tender pit on Deck 3, so they don't have to be lowered by a crane. Passengers embark the inflatable boats via the Expedition Launch area on Deck 3, which serves as a briefing area and an assembly point for 36 passengers at a time. The space is fitted with scarlet webbing military aircraft-style seating and a giant screen that displays images of wildlife and polar landscapes.

In non-polar destinations or non-expedition destinations, the Expedition Launch area is also used for embarking passengers on tenders to go ashore.

One of the most pleasant experiences aboard MS Roald Amundsen was witnessing how the expedition staff did everything possible to accommodate guests with limited mobility so they could also enjoy expedition tours on inflatable boats.

Expedition Gear on MS Roald Amundsen

Your fare includes rental of a few expedition essentials, as well as one article you get to keep: a red Helly Hansen wind and waterproof jacket. This garment is top quality but is meant to be just an outer layer; you will need to bring a fleece or liner to wear underneath.

Rubber muck boots are also loaned to all passengers on expedition sailings or any itinerary that includes tours on the ship's inflatable boats. The boots are distributed early on, usually by the second day of your itinerary, and they are essential for wet landings. In Antarctica and Svalbard, their use is mandatory. Boot measurements follow the European system, with sizes ranging from 32 to 50 (roughly 2 to 16 in the US system). If you need a size smaller or larger than these, you'll need to bring your own boots. Your cabin has special closet space set aside to store the muck boots.

The ship also provides optional walking sticks for passengers, and you can use them on both expedition excursions organized by the crew as well as shore excursions that are handled by third-party tour operators in non-polar destinations. You're welcome to take the walking sticks to your cabin for use throughout your cruise or to use them only for certain shore activities. Dry suits are also provided for kayaking tours and come in sizes ranging from extra small (XS) to 3XL.

Anything else, is up to you to bring. For polar cruises, Hurtigruten recommends a packing list that including thermals, fleeces, warm socks, hats, gloves and hiking boots, among other items. It's also a good idea to bring binoculars, sunglasses with UV filter lenses, sun protection and extra batteries for your camera. You can also find many of these items for sale in the shop on Deck 6.

Zodiacs and Kayaks on MS Roald Amundsen

MS Roald Amundsen offers two types of expedition 'toys' on its sailings: inflatable boats (akin to Zodiacs, but slightly larger) and kayaks. The inflatable boats and the kayaks are stored right next to the tender pit on Deck 3, making the process of launching them very efficient.

The ship has a fleet of 17 inflatable boats that are deployed for boat tours and wet landings. These excursions are always included in the fare, but you need to make sure you sign up, especially in ports where more than one shore excursion is offered. Participation of children under 12 on these inflatable boat excursions is at the captain's discretion, so be sure to ask before signing up.

Kayak outings, on the other hand, are not included in your fare. Passengers who sign up for these activities have to attend a mandatory briefing and sign a waiver. Aside from the kayak hardware and paddles, Hurtigruten provides a dry suit loaner. All kayaks (except the ones used by the expedition staff guides) are two-seaters; passengers traveling solo or in odd numbers will be paired with a partner by the expedition guide, often using criteria like weight and height to determine a good match.

On our Alaska sailing, two kayak tours were offered (in Misty Fjords and Tracy Arm). Each excursion lasted about an hour and the level of difficulty is moderate. We found that the kayak tours in Alaska were one of the highlights of the itinerary as well as one of the activities most worthy of the expedition label.

Theater and Lectures on MS Roald Amundsen

Enrichment lectures are the heart and soul of MS Roald Amundsen's onboard entertainment. Several lectures are given by the expedition team every day on topics ranging from glaciers and marine wildlife to geology, photography and history. These talks take place in the lecture hall at one end of the Science Center on Deck 6. The room can get quickly crowded, so it's advisable to arrive early so you may snag a good seat. Alternatively, the lectures are streamed to cabin TVs (in English with German and French subtitles), which is often a more comfortable way of watching.

The number of enrichment lectures varies every day, but you can expect to see at least three or four different lectures offered on any given day. On port days, the expedition staff also organizes an interactive lecture titled 'What did we see today,' where passengers are encouraged to share photos and video of any wildlife sightings. The amount of daily lectures can sometimes be overwhelming, especially on sea days, but it is normally possible to attend all lectures if you're so inclined. Additionally, it's not uncommon for members of the expedition staff to hold informal (and often spur-of-the-moment) lecture-like conversations, usually prompted by questions or comments from passengers.

Hurtigruten is also well-known for offering several citizen science projects. Most of these projects are connected to apps that anybody can use, regardless of what ship they are on (or even if you're not sailing), but using the apps with an onboard expert is both fun and educational. Examples include iNaturalist, a database that allows users to upload images of flora and fauna that can become research-grade material; Happy Whale, a whale tracking app that allows you to upload photos of tail flukes and dorsal fins; and a NASA cloud survey.

Moreover, some expedition team members incorporate their PhD research into guest activities. For instance, you have the opportunity to go out in a tender with a marine biologist to collect phytoplankton and then examine the plankton under the microscopes in the Science Centre back on board.

One of the coolest features of MS Roald Amundsen's science offerings is the Blueye underwater drone. This gadget is deployed whenever conditions permit, and beams footage back to the ship from as deep as 490 feet screens aboard the ship.

Daily Things to Do on MS Roald Amundsen

Enrichment lectures make up the lion's share of onboard activities on MS Roald Amundsen. But outside of the realm of science and education, the crew organizes other more playful events that include trivia, arts and crafts, and culinary demonstrations. There is no cruise director aboard MS Roald Amundsen; often the hotel director will share this role with the senior members of the expedition staff.

The easiest way to find out what's going on aboard MS Roald Amundsen is via the Hurtigruten app, especially since scheduled times can and do change often on expedition itineraries depending on a number of factors (weather, etc.). But it's also helpful to attend the daily port talks. Large screens are also displayed on Deck 6 by the Science Center and you can also access this info via your in-cabin television set.

Hurigruten's environmental policy means that the daily program is never printed and distributed throughout the cabins. But you can request the reception desk staff to print out a copy for you if you wish.

Nightlife on MS Roald Amundsen

Nightlife is neither a highlight nor a priority on MS Roald Amundsen. There is no casino or theater on board the ship. Most passengers tend to head straight to their cabins after dinner, although there is a 'late' edition of the next day's activities lecture at 8:30pm for cruisers who dined earlier.

Any and all afterhours activity will generally take place in the Explorer Lounge on Deck 10. The vibe here is decidedly laid-back, with most folks enjoying a nightcap and spirited conversations. During some evenings, a cocktail pianist will add a pleasant and non-invasive instrumental soundtrack to the lounge.

During our sailing, the expedition staff staged a one-man performance of an acted-out reading of Roald Amundsen's autobiography 'The South Pole: An Account of the Norwegian Antarctic Expedition in the "Fram", 1910-1912.' Beyond this, there wasn't much nightlife aboard the ship, nor a demand of it.

MS Roald Amundsen Bars and Lounges

Aside from the restaurants, there are only two spots aboard MS Roald Amundsen where you can enjoy a drink, and they're both located on Deck 10: the Pool Deck Bar and the Explorer Lounge & Bar.

The former overlooks the infinity pool and hot tubs and can whip up a fun daytime vibe if the weather cooperates. Explorer Lounge & Bar functions as the ship's defacto bar, as the surrounding lounge area is spacious and comfortable. Drinks are sold a la carte and there is no option to buy a drink package. Prices are reasonable, however; the cocktail of the day goes for €6.

While not a lounge in the strictest sense of the word, the Science Center on Deck 6 also features inviting lounge space. There's always a happy buzz in this area, with people coming and going to talks, stopping for coffee or reading in the comfortable chairs.

Your MS Roald Amundsen cruise includes beer, wine and soft drinks during meal times, but you can also enjoy craft cocktails and premium wines at the ship's two bars. True to Hurtigruten's Norwegian origin, Aquavit is prominent, but there's also a varied selection of wine, spirits and beers.

Our Picks

For a Chat with the Expedition Staff: The expedition staff aboard MS Roald Amundsen is not allowed to consume alcohol per company policy, but you can still strike up captivating conversations while you enjoy your own beverage. The Science Center's lounge areas are ideal for this, as you will usually find many members of the expedition staff hanging out here.

For a daytime libation: On sunny sea days, the Pool Deck Bar is the place to be. The views here are charming and the area exudes a casually cool atmosphere.

For a cozy cocktail: Explorer Lounge & Bar is inviting at any time of day, but evenings hold a special appeal with an elegant yet unassuming vibe that's perfect for a pre-dinner drink or a nightcap.

Public Rooms

Pools and Hot Tubs on MS Roald Amundsen

MS Roald Amundsen has one small infinity pool and two hot tubs -- all located aft of the ship on Deck 10. The ship spends most of its time in polar regions, so the hot tubs tend to be more popular among passengers, although the infinity pool is also heated. The hot tubs and the pools are warmed using recovered heat from MS Roald Amundsen's engines.

On our sailing, the warm May weather of Southeast Alaska meant the infinity pool was busier than usual, and the lounging area around the pool was also quite popular. The crew organized a few special events in this space, like salmon quesadilla or Norwegian waffles cookouts that added to the pool deck's appeal.

Outdoor Decks and Viewing Space on MS Roald Amundsen

MS Roald Amundsen is a ship purposely built to enjoy the surrounding scenery and features no shortage of indoor and outdoor viewing spaces and vantage points. The ship's size is particularly advantageous as it provides more decks than most expedition vessels, giving you access to different heights from which to take in the landscape.

The ship's one and only outdoor wraparound deck is found on Deck 11, while the pool area on Deck 10 is the optimal outdoor viewing space aft of the ship. Deck 6 also has good viewing portside and starboard spots as well.

During our sailing, however, the Observation Deck on the front of the ship on deck 7 was by far the most popular outdoor viewing space, offering commanding views of the unfolding scenery. Another advantage in this spot is that the members of the expedition staff were always available to provide useful context and help passengers spot wildlife.

Indoors, the ship's main public areas also serve as outstanding vantage spots to admire the scenery. The Explorer Lounge on Deck 10 tops the list, with seating all around the windowed perimeter and a row of comfortable day beds facing forwards, under sloping glass. This area can hold about 240 guests, so crowding is rarely an issue.

All three restaurants on board also feature generous panoramic windows, so there's virtually not a bad seat in the house.

Then there's the cabins. Having all outside rooms aboard MS Roald Amundsen ensures you'll always have your own private space to enjoy the landscape. Unsurprisingly, the ship's balcony cabins offer the best views, but even the oceanview cabins provide decent observation areas.

The ship's high passenger capacity can sometimes make finding an optimum viewing area challenging, particularly during popular moments like the sailout on embarkation day. A good portion of Hurtigruten's passengers are also passionate photographers, so they are very likely to monopolize the best spots (and will typically spend hours on end at said spots, especially at dawn and dusk).

Services and Wi-Fi on MS Roald Amundsen

MS Roald Amundsen's reception desk is located midship on Deck 6 and it's open 24/7, the expedition desk is also located on Deck 6, between the reception desk and the Science Center, and it's usually staffed by two expedition crew members.

MS Roald Amundsen features a well-stocked shop opposite the main reception desk on Deck 6.

Helly Hansen outdoor gear dominates the wares, but you'll also find souvenir merchandise, basic toiletries and some environmentally conscious items like notebooks made from recycled plastic.

Tip: If you don't find an item in your size, be sure to ask the store dependent. Space is limited in the shop and some of the merchandise might not be out on display.

All prices onboard are in Euros. You will be asked to register a credit card which will in turn be linked to your cruise card for any onboard purchases at the store or elsewhere on the ship (bars, spa, etc.). Your account will be debited in euros and the rate of exchange will be the one validated by your credit card company.

Wi-Fi service is included aboard MS Roald Amundsen in all cruise fares. The quality of the Wi-Fi is decent and should allow you to check/send email and post content on social media sites. Streaming, however, is generally unreliable. There are no additional Wi-Fi packages available for passengers looking to get faster internet service.

Hurtigruten has an app that only works aboard the ship and once connected to the Wi-Fi network. The app itself is easy to navigate and it's an essential tool to stay informed of all the activities aboard the ship as well as shore excursion times and updates to the schedule. It also displays the menus for all the restaurants, which is particularly useful in Lindstrøm as this venue has no printed menus available.

Spa & Fitness

Spa and Sauna on MS Roald Amundsen

There is a small spa on MS Roald Amundsen, located on Deck 7 opposite the gym. The spa has three treatment rooms and offers massages and facials, using products made by Darphin, Kalahari, Guinot, pHformula and ECRU New York. Treatments are charged by time and can be booked via the Hurtigruten app or directly at the spa's reception.

True to Hurtigruten's Nordic heritage, there is also a sauna aboard MS Roald Amundsen. Located in Deck 10, it's free to use for all passengers, and reservations are neither required nor available. It can comfortably seat at least 20 people, and has separate changing rooms, lockers and showers for men and women located either side of the sauna room.

Tip: Thanks to its location on Deck 10 and an expansive panoramic window that covers the length of the sauna room, the sauna is an excellent place to take in the views while you relax after returning from an expedition outing.

Fitness and Gym on MS Roald Amundsen

MS Roald Amundsen's Fitness Center is located opposite the Spa on Deck 7 and is open from 6am to 10pm. It's somewhat small considering the passenger capacity of the ship, but during our Alaska sailing it was never full or crowded. The gym features TechnoGym equipment -- bikes, running machines and rowing machines, as well as free weights and yoga mats. There's a small area for matwork at one end. The gym is always unsupervised.

There is also a walking/jogging track on Deck 11 with a total length of 490 ft (150m). Here you will also find outdoor gym equipment on either side of the ship's funnel with instructions on how to use the equipment.

For Kids

Is MS Roald Amundsen Family Friendly?

MS Roald Amundsen doesn't enforce a minimum age, but many of the destinations where the ship sails to have age restrictions. For instance, the minimum age to travel to Antarctica is 5 years (in accordance with IAATO). Moreover, participation of children under 12 in small-boat landings is at the discretion of the captain, regardless of the destination.

In sum, the ship is not quite built for children. Some of its lectures and programs (like the Citizen Science Program) can be appealing to younger cruisers, especially if there is some synergy with the topics they are studying in school. And we did see a handful of families during our sailing. But in general, the ship caters to an older demographic. The restaurants don't feature a children's menu and the ship doesn't have children's playrooms or babysitting services. The infinity pool on Deck 10 is also not adequate for child play.

Activities & Entertainment

  • Amundsen Science Center
  • Enrichment Activitites
  • Gym
  • Hot Tub (2)
  • Nightly Music
  • Onboard Lectures
  • Outdoor Gym
  • Pool
  • Sauna
  • Wellness Spa*
  • Young Explorers - Kids Program
  • * May require additional fees

    Find a Roald Amundsen Cruise

    Any Month

    Get special cruise deals, expert advice, insider tips and more.By proceeding, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

    © 1995—2024, The Independent Traveler, Inc.