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12 Hurtigruten Finnmarken Baltic Sea Cruise Reviews

This was a first time "cruise" for us, so have no experience of other boats and cruises. We were travelling with the hope of seeing the Northern Lights but didn't really have any pre-conceptions about what to expect. So we ... Read More
This was a first time "cruise" for us, so have no experience of other boats and cruises. We were travelling with the hope of seeing the Northern Lights but didn't really have any pre-conceptions about what to expect. So we were very happy overall with Hurtigruten and the MS Finnmarken in particular. Having had the opportunity to wander around two of the other ships (MS Midnatsol and MS Lofoten) we would advise anybody to read the boat descriptions carefully before booking. Yes, the boats are different sizes but were quite shocked at the difference between MS Finnmarken and MS Midnatsol, both of similar size and age. Midnatsol struck us as being a "shopping mall". Very modern decor but not at all like a boat. Our guess was that MS Midnatsol had a little more lounge space and a larger usable deck area, but then the lounges were connected so could very easily have been noisy. MS Lofoten is tiny by comparison and on the days we were voyaging would have been somewhat rough. It is also worth stating that our voyage was apparently around 1/3 full so dinner was in one sitting only. We think we would have had a good voyage if the boat had been fuller, but not sure we would have enjoyed it quite as much. Check-in did not start well, giving a poor impression of Hurtigruten. Due to flights into Bergen we were very early at the port, and we did know in advance that we would only be able to check in our bags a short time after we got to the terminal. However this was chaotic as the transfer bus from the airport dumped a large group of people before the baggage drop started, and the baggage drop was run by only one person. You are then stuck with your hand baggage as the few lockers in the terminal used coins and neither the counter or the cafe had any change. The actual check-in was quite smooth but again after a long queue as although there were more staff on check-in we happened to come back around the same time as an airport bus. Our cabin was larger than expected having plenty of storage space and room to place our two suitcases, although two larger ones might have been a problem. Clean and well located. We managed to find our way around fairly quickly making use of both sets of stairs to navigate. The introductory buffet on the first night set the scene for the excellent food that was to come. The breakfast and lunch selections were a little repetitive, but never a complete repeat and a wide choice. Being British we were disappointed with the choice of vegetables with main courses, so made use of the vegetarian option quite often. The restaurant was aware of different food issues and had labels out for vegetarian and gluten free options. There was entertainment on board. A very versatile pianist in the evenings, although the majority of the passengers seemed to disappear to their cabins after dinner. We understand that there is NOT normally any entertainment on Hurtigruten now-a-days (cost savings), this being a special for Christmas and New Year. Excursions were reasonable well described and were planned well. Driving to the North Cape in a convoy behind a snow plough was probably the most unexpected. We enjoyed the Husky adventure at Kirkenes too. The weather could have been a bit better in terms of wind/waves but even allowing for that, the ship always seemed to be running just a bit late. This wasn't a problem for the ports with longer stays, but did mean that there was little opportunity to pop ashore when there was only a 30 minute stop scheduled. The number of stops was mostly fascinating. We weren't disturbed by any of the stops in the night and it was good seeing the smaller ports, villages, towns up close. Swimming pool, sauna and Jacuzzi's were all very good; we're just disappointed that we didnt start using them until the trip back. December was very dark however. At Kirkenes the sun was scheduled to rise for 1 minute only which isn't quite as bad as it sounds because pre-dawn light meant there were up to 8 hours of good visibility a day. We would probably recommend taking the full 12 trip Bergen-Bergen, but if considering something shorter due to dates / cost, getting off at Trondheim on the way south cuts out some truly boring days (and a lot of open sea). If only going one way, the schedule North is much better than the schedule South. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
My husband and I have never taken a cruise because we have no interest in being on a huge ship with thousands of people, Vegas-type floor shows, all-you-can-eat Midnight Buffets, large numbers of partying, art auctions and dressing for ... Read More
My husband and I have never taken a cruise because we have no interest in being on a huge ship with thousands of people, Vegas-type floor shows, all-you-can-eat Midnight Buffets, large numbers of partying, art auctions and dressing for dinner. I gave up booking a coastal Norway 'cruise' years ago because I could not find any which did not include these things. Then I came upon the Hurtigruten website, which goes to great lengths to explain it is NOT a 'cruise', but a coastal VOYAGE on a WORKING ship. Anyone considering a Hurtigruten trip needs to read up on what their trips are and understand the BIG difference. Their website goes to great lengths to educate people on what to expect, so do your homework and make sure its what you want. We booked the northbound 7 day journey from Bergen to Kirkenes, and in seven days it stopped at about 35 ports at all hours of the day and night. Some of these stops are a few minutes, some a few hours, and ran the gamut from large cities to tiny fishing villages. A variety of excursions are available at some stops but not all---most of the longer ones involve disembarking at one port and meeting the ship at another. The public areas of the ships allow for great scenery-watching in a variety of lounges with comfy chairs and sofas. There are about 3 large screen tvs throughout the lounge areas and all of them were crowded during the World Cup games. The dining room included large windows which also allowed great views during meals. There is a library and small childrens' playroom on board. The ship's outdoor pool and jaccuzzi were extremely popular, as was the indoor sauna! The water was more than warm enough and at the back of the ship, they're protected from the wind. There is wi-fi onboard (free) but it is spotty and does not include bandwith for doing anything other than emailing, browsing, etc. (Forget uploading all your photos!) The Wi-Fi virtually disappeared north of Tromso which really is NO surprise that far north. Food: We booked full-board but its expensive so think carefully about adding this if your budget is strained---NOTHING is inexpensive in Norway but you could certainly take your own breakfast foods onboard if you stocked up before boarding and when in certain ports (we enjoyed the grocery store in Trondheim in particular!) In addition, if you took a voltage converter and a hot pot, you could make instant soup, ramen noodles and tea/coffee. Ice is available in any of the bars and they also gave us the bag to put it in---not every cabin has an ice bucket but you could certainly use the sink. We had NO problem drinking the tap water on the boat and it was fine. The food in the cafe (open 24 hrs) was good and included salads, sandwiches, pastries made onboard (quite good!) and pizzas. A 12" x 9" ham and veg pizza was about $10, and bottled sodas about about $5 (USD) Our full board included breakfast, TONS of protein (bacon/sausages/scrambled and soft or hard-boiled eggs, various cereals including hot oatmeal/porridge, cold meats and cheeses and TONS of pickled herring and salmon), with a small bit of fresh fruit and veg. Various types of breads, ALL of them excellent, especially toasted. Their jellies/jams and marmalades were heavenly! Also included were coffee/tea and apple or orange juice. Lunch was usually a mostly-cold typical Norwegian buffet, again with tons of seafood, cold meats/cheeses and salads, with usually about half a dozen hot dishes. We enjoyed lunch the most since we're not seafood lovers. Dinners included local ingredients and the night's menu was placed on the table at breakfast so you knew what to expect. Again, mostly seafood but we simply told the dining room manager that we wanted no seafood and were served venision, etracote (steak) and lamb instead. There was always a soup of the day at both lunch and dinner. These were very well-prepared and we enjoyed them. The night before we docked at Kirkenes there was a HUGE seafood buffet with King Crab, Mussels and every kind of fish. And just ONE sitting instead of the usual two so the lines were longer. There was plenty to eat including ham and turkey so we had no problem finding enough things we liked. They also included several SPECIFICALLY gluten free and vegetarian items at every meal. If you're including dinner in your booking, you should think about whether you want first seating (about 6 or 6:30) or second (about 8 or 8:30). If you don't specifically ask for either the early or late seating, one will be assigned to you at check-in. if you're doing excursions you will want the later seating, although they keep track and know if you're getting back late you'll be at the second seating. Include any meal preferences in your original booking and check with the dining room hostess on your first day to make sure its been recorded. And check at breakfast what the dinner entree will be, and if its not to your liking, tell the dining room hostess. Now about the water/beverage/wine 'packages': This is a source of contention with a majority of reviewers on any number of travel websites. At lunch and dinner the dining room will not serve you tap water, nor can you bring in beverages not bought on ship (including soft drinks) We learned that you take your mug (if you bought one or it came with your cabin as ours did) to lunch and dinner and perhaps you walked in with it empty or already filled with something else. Ditto a water bottle you previous bought on the ship (and had previously emptied) We talked to other people who bought a few bottles of soft drinks on board, drank them, bought other softdrinks on shore and simply refilled the ship's bottles and took them to meals. We aren't huge wine-drinkers so we sampled no wines onboard. There were two kinds of beer sold in the bar/cafe, and they were about $15 for a 20 oz. glass, both Norwegian brands. Other random issues: Probably 90% of the ship's passengers were German---and about 99% of the passengers were over 55---only a few small kids. The Finnmarken has about 250 cabins and had consistently around 500 passengers all week during our voyage. Various day-trippers and locals going from point A to B. Lots of observation areas including several lounges with large-screen TVs. Keep in mind in you have a small cabin, which most passengers do, you're going to be hanging out in one of these areas to best view the scenery. Some of these people literally camp out ALL DAY right by the windows and only move for meals---but they leave coats and jackets on the chairs when they're gone. This can be frustrating if the ship is full and you'd like to sit by a window. The ship is seemingly obsessed with hand sanitizer. That includes requiring you to use it when you arrive for meals and placing it right by the gangway when you disembark and board. It might seem like a pain but to my knowledge they have not had the epidemic of the Norovirus like other cruise lines. If you go in summer (June/July in particular), there are almost 24 hours of daylight---the cabins include black out shades but light still comes in around them, so consider taking nightime eye shades. There are people on deck at ALL hours of the night because of this, but they are mostly watching scenery, taking photos etc., and none of them were loud of obnoxious. Regarding laundry, they had about 5 washers and 5 dryers which automatically dispense soap----free to use but read the directions on the wall first because they're very different from US machines. Two ironing boards with irons as well. Was great to pack only a carry-on and do laundry twice in our time onboard! Items you MUST take: Binoculars, sunscreen, moisturizer (the climate is VERY dry), earplugs (if you're a light sleeper), voltage adaptor, camera, clothes for every season including a medium-weight jacket (yes even in summer!), things you can LAYER make the most sense, but I'd recommend a hat and gloves all year! A rain poncho and as previously discussed, possibly a hot pot. There's also a detailed guide with all sorts of info about the various stops and scenery which you can buy onboard---its expensive so I'd try and find one of Ebay first. There were storage rooms for luggage and elevators going to all decks. The dining room staff was young and almost all spoke EXCELLENT English--many of them sounded American---all announcements are made in Norwegian, German and English, and handouts are printed in the same way. Excursions are handled in the same manner. The entire ship was spotless and the exterior windows were washed daily. Because Hurtigruten's vessels are significantly smaller than almost all other cruise ships, they go into places which the larger ships' passengers never see. The midnight sail into the tiny Trollfjord was outstanding and worth staying up for---a real classic case of a very competent captain 'strutting his stuff' and everyone loved it. Bottom line: Hurtigruten voyages are not 'cheap', and the ship is not luxurious by any means---if you need to be entertained by more than comfortable accomodations, adequate food, jaw-dropping scenery, interesting excursions and perhaps a book, YOU NEED TO BOOK ON A NORMAL CRUISE LINE. Some of the excursions were outstanding, specifically Geiranger Fjord/Trollstigen Pass, Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim, Lofotr Viking Feast, the Bird-watching Safari in Gjesvær (where we saw hundreds of Puffins, Kitiwakes, Sea and White-tailed Eagles and other birds as well as seals) We really loved the "Taste of Lapland" excursion with the Sami couple where we learned of their culture and got to pet their reindeer. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
12 night Classic round trip voyage, Bergen to Kirkenes to Bergen  March 17th 2014 to March 28th 2014  Cabin 557 I accompanied my parents on this voyage, they had done the same trip in 2008 in June. i was therefore very well informed ... Read More
12 night Classic round trip voyage, Bergen to Kirkenes to Bergen  March 17th 2014 to March 28th 2014  Cabin 557 I accompanied my parents on this voyage, they had done the same trip in 2008 in June. i was therefore very well informed what to expect from a Hurtigruten voyage. The fact that this was not a glitzy cruise suited me fine! i loved the casualness of the whole trip. The ship was nowhere near full, but even if it had been at capacity, there were plenty of areas to sit quietly, to read, play cards, have a quiet drink etc. Quite often i would walk the entire circuit of the outside deck and not see anybody at all! The ship was spotlessly clean, warm and comfortable. My cabin on deck 5 with a window, was also clean, warm and comfortable, not luxurious, but perfectly adequate. The shower was particularly good with endless hot water and powerful too. The food was excellent. Fab breakfast, hot and cold buffet style, as was the lunch. Dinner was waiter service with the set menu listed in the morning. If any of the set menu was not to your liking, you could ask for an alternative without any problems at all. Restaurant staff were exceptional, all Norwegian. The only criticism would be that tap water was not available at meal times. Oh, and that i put on 4 pounds in weight! This voyage called in at 34 ports, with varying docking times from just 15 mins to 4 hours. Hurtigruten's ships are working vessels, and are used to transport goods up and down the coast, as well as the post. It was so interesting watching the expert loading and unloading etc on the short stops. The longer stops where we could get off and visit were great, particularly Alesund, Trondheim and Kirkenes. The onboard tour manager, Peter, was very informative, and had a great sense of humour too. We did two excursions out of the many available, have to say they are not cheap! we did the huskies sled ride at Tromso, which was brilliant, a really good long ride, and also the trip to North cape which was so dramatic as a blizzard was in full force at the time! I do believe we had all four seasons in our trip weather wise which just added to the atmosphere. We hoped we would get to see the Northern lights, and we were not disappointed, albeit only once. They were the icing on the cake of a fantastic trip which i would love to do again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
We started and ended in Bergen, NO. sailing for 12 days. Perfect! PEOPLE: varied group of many different nationalities and countries. They were well traveled and most were over 50 years of age. THE SHIP: Our room was well located with ... Read More
We started and ended in Bergen, NO. sailing for 12 days. Perfect! PEOPLE: varied group of many different nationalities and countries. They were well traveled and most were over 50 years of age. THE SHIP: Our room was well located with large window and about mid-ship, level 3: room 336. We were on the same level as we disembarked and one level below the restaurant so we didn't need to use the elevator to go to the dining room. Our room was quiet and there wasn't a lot of traffic past our door. The room was larger than we expected and reasonable. There were black-out curtains so we could sleep in spite of the sunny days and nights. The BATHROOM was a typical ship bathroom and the shower was adequate. Deck 8 was the Panorama area and we spent a lot of time there. usually we could get a good chair. Two COMPUTERS were there as well. We could usually get one to use and they worked at a reasonable speed. There was a LAUNDRY ROOM on our level as well. there was no charge for the washer, dryer and soap! The machines did a nice job cleaning our clothing. THE FOOD: breakfast and lunch were served as buffets. The selection was varied and plentiful. I missed having fresh fruit for breakfast-----there were apples and oranges, but I would have liked more: IE: pineapple, melons. There were a lot of dried fruits, but I prefer the fresh. The Coffee Cup purchase was not necessary. If our weather had been cold and rainy, it may have been beneficial. We felt it was a waste of money! The evening meals were exquisite! They were tasty, and beautifully served. However, there was no coffee served with dessert! We had to leave the dining room to get the coffee afterward. We like to drink our coffee/tea with our dessert. EXCURSIONS: Our first excursion was from Alesund to the Geiranger Fjord. The staff seemed to be inexperienced at managing a large group to go off the boat in a tender. We had to rush to finish our tour and the ship needed to wait for us to return---the case to take a ships' excursion! Our second tour was in Skarsvag to the fishing village. This was a good tour and we learned a lot. The third tour was in Tromso to the Arctic Cathedral to the midnight concert. Loved it! The last tour was to Vesteralen from Harstad. This too was a good tour with lots of information. I would recommend booking several tours just to get off the boat and learn more about the region. It is easy to leave the ship and walk in the little villages, but often we didn't really know what we were seeing. SHIP ACTIVITIES: We knew there wouldn't be a lot of entertainment and that was fine. The saxophone player and the pianist were fine. We expected more information from "Naturalists". It would have been nice to have these on Deck 8 during the day to point out what we were seeing. Our trip into the Trollfjord was incredible! Our captain truly knows how to maneuver the ship! On Deck 8 thee were nice 2-volume coffee table books about the cruise ports. Sadly, there was only 1 volume of the 2 volume set (missing the second book) in English. We loved getting this background to understand better what we were seeing. Extra activities were fun: the men's choir from Trondheim serenading us for breakfast; the fresh prawns from a fisherman; King Neptune Baptism and cod liver oil as we crossed the Arctic Circle just to name a few. ECONOMY: The high prices of everything in Norway were discouraging. We like to go off the ship and enjoy a pastry and coffee in ports. We just weren't comfortable doing this during this cruise. All in all, We had a wonderful trip. I would recommend the Finnmarken on the Hurtigruten Cruise Line as a great experience!   Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
We always wanted to see the Northern lights and we were not disappointed on this trip. Hurtigruten would appear first and foremost to be a ferry company with a cruise element tacked on. the Finnmarken, one of their newer ships is a solid ... Read More
We always wanted to see the Northern lights and we were not disappointed on this trip. Hurtigruten would appear first and foremost to be a ferry company with a cruise element tacked on. the Finnmarken, one of their newer ships is a solid and stable ship; even in open water the ship sailed comfortably, on time (making 32 stops in six days). some of the en route stops were no more than fifteen minutes and as many as four in one night, but this schedule did not interfere with our sleep. docking alongside a snow covered "warehouse" to drop off or pick up was really quite "entertaining". The public interface on board, tour guide, waiters and cabin cleaners all seemed to be Norwegian and with the exception of the tour guide, we found the staff generally cool and a little unwelcoming, but not enough as to spoil our experience. the suite was adequate for its title, but nothing like a suite on a more dedicated cruise ship. problems with no towels and a missing bathrobe required four visits to reception before we got satisfaction. Again this did not detract from our trip other than being mildly irritating. the absence of hot water from out shower took over a day to resolve with the mixer tap eventually being replaced. on our journey, the ship, with 680+ cabins on board had fewer than 200 passengers as we left Bergen, by by nature of a ferry, others came and went along the route. we pondered the thought of the ship being full in season and the impact that might have on service levels. Buffet breakfasts and buffet lunches were fine, yes a lot of fish, but prepared in interesting ways and supported by meat options. fixed, no choice dinners were disappointing and on two occassion, virtually inedible. avoid the wine package and coffee package unless to want to leave the ship £400+ lighter. despite wording to the contrary, people were taking their own alcohol on board but not necessarily consuming it anywhere other than their cabin. we were a little perturbed when weekend revellers joined the boat for the Trondheim / Tromso leg of the journey, determined to have a good time, they were loud and "invasive" in whatever lounge they turned up in, but that is hardly Hurtigruten's issue, we just moved away! So, yes we did see the lights! our shore excursion to dog sled was cancelled due to lack of snow. BEWARE that unless you want to book another excursion you will get a refund but in Kroner. if you then take it back home to exchange it, you'll lose as much as 18% of its value! so the recommendation is too book excursions on board, especially if changing conditions are likely to lead to cancellation. this cruise IS expensive, but relative to the Norwegian cost of living, when compared to cruises elsewhere in Europe, the price is pretty comparable. we enjoyed the cruise, despite the niggles and got to see the lights. we are unlikely to cruise this route again but agreed that we would go back to Alaska with NCL tomorrow if we could. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
We are not regular cruise types. We like small boats and have only cruised before on the Mekong, Brahmaputra, Ganges and Irrawaddy rivers. We originally booked to travel on Hurtigruten's MS Nordstjernen (400 pax capacity) but found ... Read More
We are not regular cruise types. We like small boats and have only cruised before on the Mekong, Brahmaputra, Ganges and Irrawaddy rivers. We originally booked to travel on Hurtigruten's MS Nordstjernen (400 pax capacity) but found ourselves instead on the MS Finnmarken (1000 pax capacity), as the Nordstjernen had been replaced. We weren't happy about this, but there was nothing we could do about it. I was filled with foreboding about cruising with 998 pushy Europeans but I have to say it was a far better experience than I expected. First, it wasn't full. My guess is there were about 600 people on board, but that was enough for us. Secondly, there is lots of deck space so I guess that, even when full, there is enough room for people to disperse. The main thing about Hurtigruten is that it is neither a ferry nor a cruise boat. It hovers somewhere between the two. Consequently, you have the shore excursions and 'cruisy feel' of a cruise, on the one hand, combined with regular stops along the coast that you would associate with a ferry. Some of these stops are very early or very late and because Hurtigruten is primarily a ferry, the sightseeing schedule has to fit around its regular stops. We booked the 6D Southbound cruise, from Kirkenes to Bergen. The 'Breakfast at the North Cape' excursion would have been so much better if it had been at lunchtime; the place was shrouded in mist and we saw next to nothing. This is quite common, according to the people who live there. Other excursions took place at equally odd times (one of the Lofoten options leaves in the late afternoon and gets back after 10.00pm) and we found this all quite tiring. The weather was pretty ordinary throughout our cruise, which put pressure on the internal lounges. The 'towel on the sun-lounger' syndrome was alive and well so if you wanted a seat with a view you needed to get up early and grab a spot. Overall I think it is well run, considering it is trying to be all things to all people. I have two negative comments. First, the dinners are pretty ordinary, compared to the extensive buffet breakfasts and lunches. It is a set menu, with a starter, main course and dessert. Several of the main courses were fish and at least two of the desserts were frozen solid. An improvement would be to offer a choice of main course so that non-fish eaters can have something else. The second gripe is about 'day-trippers'. On several occasions day-trippers went up to the Observation Lounge, where the best seats are located. They would hang around and jump in as soon as a place became available, almost pushing others out of the way. I think certain parts of the ship should be allocated to people who have booked either the 7D Northbound, the 6D Southbound or the 12D round trip. With regard to pricing, we booked a complete package that included all meals. We discovered on board that you can book 'cabin only' and pay for meals as you go. We would have been happy to take up this option as three big meals a day is too much at our age. Apparently this option is detailed somewhere in the small print. We were also told there is an expensive 'alcohol package' and assumed this was the only option. In fact, you can buy wine/beer by the glass and it is no more expensive than anywhere else in Norway. There's also a cafe on board that serves inexpensive hot meals/salads 24 hours a day - but there's no point using this if you have prepaid for all meals! The shore excursions were all good but the guiding varied enormously. Some were great, others would have cured insomnia. A big tick to Craig (related, we think, to Hagrid), who was our larger-than-life guide on the Lofoten Islands tour (Excursion 9B). Another excellent excursion was 10B (Vega Islands). A third highlight, for us, was the Atlantic Road (11C) and the Midnight Concert in Tromso (8C) was really good, but we were pretty knackered by the time we got to bed at 0200 in the morning. In general, we found the staff friendly and helpful and the cabin was way more spacious than I had expected. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
We Did the Hurtigruten from Kirkenes to Bergen in May, 2012. We had car and drove from Uppsala, Sweden to Kirkenes, about 1500 km. We had seen Geraingerfjord on previous trip to Norway, so we knew we would miss lesund and Gerainger. ... Read More
We Did the Hurtigruten from Kirkenes to Bergen in May, 2012. We had car and drove from Uppsala, Sweden to Kirkenes, about 1500 km. We had seen Geraingerfjord on previous trip to Norway, so we knew we would miss lesund and Gerainger. The Finnmarken is a newer ship and we had 3rd deck cabin. It had two single beds which folded down from the wall. There was ampel storage plus the ship had clothes washers and dryper. Them supplied the soap and softener. Food was average. Plentiful breakfast and lunch bufferts, and sit down finner with no menu choice. Dinner alternated between fish and meat. I understood you cloud request a vegetarian finner at noon . Some of the passagers who were on for the entire 13 day trip complained about lack of variety. Drink prices like every thing in Norway was incredibly expensive. When we drove thru Finland we stocked up on beer, soft drinks and snacks. There was.a small refrigerator in the room. There were about 400 passengers on board. About 10% were English speakers, and the rest from Europe. The ship staff spoke English and announcements were in Norwegian, English and French. The best part of the trip was the scenry. We took the Sea Eagles excursion and it was great. In looking at the timetable, we knew port times would be short. My biggest regret was not having more time in cities like Tromso. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
MS Finnmarken is one of Hurtigruten's newer vessels and exceeded our expectations in terms of space, cleanliness and food quality. We'd never cruised before and didn't want to have to dress up for dinner, etc, and this ship ... Read More
MS Finnmarken is one of Hurtigruten's newer vessels and exceeded our expectations in terms of space, cleanliness and food quality. We'd never cruised before and didn't want to have to dress up for dinner, etc, and this ship fitted the bill. It's a working ferry, catering for the local population wishing to travel from one port to another as well as tourists and the shp called at over 30 ports although some stops were too short to disembark or they were in the middle of the night. We flew from Gatwick to Bergen to join the ship and took the Classic Round Voyage to Kirkenes and back, taking 12 days in all. When we arrived at Bergen we were ushered on to a coach for the pre-paid transfer to the ship. The checking-in procedure took quite a time as there was so many of us and once we got into the waiting area we had to hang around for an hour before we could go on board but once that happened our bags were outside our door. Cabins: We were pleasantly surprised at the size of our standard outside cabin which was on the highest deck. The porthole was large and rectangular with curtains and a blind. The two single beds can be folded during the day, one completely against the wall and the other converts into a seat but as there was still enough room to manoeuvre we kept them both down as beds. The cabin had a fridge and a TV, despite being told neither were provided, there was plenty of storage space including a double wardrobe, lots of shelving, a large space under the fridge for cases, and a desk with 2 electrical sockets. Two pillows, a duvet and blanket for each bed were provided. The bathroom contained an excellent shower, toilet and basin with double cabinet over. Liquid soap/shampoo dispensers were in the shower cubicle and over the basin, there's a small washing line and waste bin, and the bathroom has underfloor heating so underwear dried quickly. Food and Drink: The food was excellent. Breakfast and lunch are buffet-style with plenty of choice and you can sit where you like. Dinner is a set menu which is displayed outside the dining room at breakfast time. If you don't like the look of any of the three courses all you have to do is mention it to the staff and they will do their best to provide an alternative. Pick up their interesting booklet which should be on the table outside the dining room called "Coastal Flavours". This lays out the menu for each day and the history behind it. The food at dinner is cordon bleu style and absolutely delicious. Although there's a lot of fish, there's also meat so plenty of variety. As we were half board we weren't entitled to attend lunch but one day when the sea was due to be very rough we asked if we could swap dinner for lunch and there was no problem at all. Alcohol in Norway and on the ship is extremely expensive. Fortunately, Hurtigruten is probably the only cruise line which allows passengers to take alcohol on board so we had our full duty-free allowance with us! If you like tea and coffee it's a good idea to purchase their "coffee deal". For £28 you get a thermal Hurtigruten mug which you can fill with tea or coffee 24/7. It sounds a lot but when you pay £4 per cup it's a good deal over 12 days. On-Board Entertainment: Not a lot. Most evenings there was either a pianist or singer in one of the bars but as we're never interested in evening socialising it didn't bother us. Fitness Activities: There's a well equipped gym and sauna on board. There's also a swimming pool on the open deck which my husband braved and a hot tub which he enjoyed leaping into after emerging from the pool. It wasn't so good coming out of the hot tub though into the arctic winds! Excursions: It's advisable to pre-book excursions because as well as guaranteeing a place on a trip you want to experience, it's also cheaper than waiting until you're on board. We did dog sledding in Tromso, in what turned out to be a blizzard! Although we enjoyed it, I wouldn't recommend this if you have any sort of back problem because going over bumpy ground on a wooden sled isn't a comfortable experience! The huskies are amazing dogs and can't wait to take off and make a terrible row when they're excited and about to start running. We also visited the North Cape (recommended), the Snow Hotel at Kirkenes near the Russian border which is a very odd place. There are 22 bedrooms but you'd have to be mad to want to stay there. The toilet and washing facilities are in another building which would put a lot of people off, not to mention the obvious low temperature. On-Board Information: The Tour Manager did a wonderful job of telling us what was happening every day. Information sheets were available every afternoon outlining the programme for the following day. The sheets detailed the times we were due to arrive at and depart from various ports, any interesting information on the sights we passed, and when we were due to sail on stretches of open sea (important to know when to have the pills and wrist bands available!) We sailed in March which is the worst month for rough seas so we were told! On the first day we picked up free booklets on the available excursions and the routes we were sailing. These were very interesting and worthwhile having. In addition to written information the Tour Manager made various announcements over the intercom during the day so we didn't miss anything. He spoke Norwegian, English and German fluently and could have made a living out of being a stand-up comedian. The Northern Lights: We didn't really see them, despite being in the right place at one of the best times according to the experts. We couldn't see any change in the colour of the sky although when people took long exposures there was green in the picture so I suppose the lights were there. We had a ceremony each time we crossed the Arctic Circle but I won't go into details as I don't want to spoil the surprise!! Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
****17-day Grand Norway Vacation 4/21-5/7/09**** Summary:Fabulous!!!!  The city visits were great.  The train to Bergen wonderful.  The scenery was spectacular every day all day.Overview The voyage is billed as "The Most ... Read More
****17-day Grand Norway Vacation 4/21-5/7/09**** Summary:Fabulous!!!!  The city visits were great.  The train to Bergen wonderful.  The scenery was spectacular every day all day.Overview The voyage is billed as "The Most Beautiful Voyage in the World" and it would be very difficult to take issue with that statement.  Check out the book of that name published by Hurtigruten (ISBN 82-993154-3-1).  It provides detailed maps and descriptions of the voyage.  We bought it on board for about $20. Four of us (2 couples) left Washington Dulles on 4/21/09 for an overnight flight to Frankfort with connection to Oslo from there.  Our flight was delayed for over an hour at Dulles because of weather problems in the New York City airspace through which we were routed.  We arrived in Frankfort about an hour late, but made our connection to Oslo. Travel Note:  When checking in we were given the opportunity to upgrade to Economy Plus on both of the United Airlines transatlantic flights and we upgraded.  It made a tremendous difference.  4 to 5 inches more between seats is very significant! Oslo Found the Flytoget train at the Oslo airport with no problems and took it to the Oslo Central Station.  We used a cab to get to the Thon Stephon hotel.  Because of fatigue we had dinner at the hotel.  Everything is very expensive in Norway.  A hamburger and beer cost about $25.  Hotel was fine.  Breakfast (included) at the hotel was fantastic.  Free internet was available. Because of limited ambulatory capabilities, we took the Oslo Highlights tour from H&M tours.  It was $210 Kr ($30) with the Oslo pass.  We enjoyed the tour very much.  It was just enough for us.  We walked through the Vigeland Sculpture Park, stopped at the site of the new ski lift construction and visited the Viking Museum.  3.5 hours total.  We had lunch at an outside cafe right at the harbor.  We took a trolley to get back to the hotel, but we didn't communicate well enough with the trolley operator and ended up far from our hotel so we took a cab back.  We went to the Grand Cafe for dinner.  Very nice, but very expensive - about $70pp.  Note: the hostess at the Grand Cafe implied we had to check our jackets, but many other patrons didn't.  I think we got hustled for the check fee! Oslo to Bergen Train The train ride was an absolutely wonderful ride with spectacular and varied scenery.  The trip took about 5 hours.  We were in a very comfortable car that included hot drinks.  For some unknown reason, our companions were seated 6 cars back and didn't have the included drinks.  We all booked together - strange. MS Finnmarken We embarked on the MS Finnmarken from Bergen on 4/24/09 and returned to Bergen on 5/5/09. Ship: The Finnmarken is a beautiful, well appointed, well maintained and clean ship. There are lots of different places to hang out on decks 4, 7 and 8. General Internet No wireless capabilities were available.  The internet on board is excruciatingly slow and unreliable.  It costs 60 NOK ($9.00+) for 60 minutes.  You can not plug in a thumb drive, so you can't work off line and then connect and send emails in a blast format.  You must compose and send while connected using your minutes. I was not able to get much done with 60 minutes.  The connection bandwidth is only 256K and is actually slower since the bandwidth is shared. There is free internet access in the library in Kirkenes.  USB ports are available so you can prepare pictures and messages ahead of time. ID Cards At embarkation, we were issued ID cards (no picture taken).  If you wish to use the ID card as an on-board credit card, you must activate the ID by having it linked to a credit card.  This process could be done at the table where they sell wine upon boarding or you could do it later at the reception desk. You must show your ID card when entering the dining room for all meals and for disembarking and re-embarking at each stop.  You must plug an ID card into a socket next to the cabin door to activate the electricity in the cabin.  This becomes problematic if you want to charge camera batteries while you are dining or off the ship since each person needs their ID to dine or leave the ship. Charging batteries The cabin outlets are 230V.  There is one receptacle in the bathroom that can be switched from 230 to 115V for use with a razor or battery charger (Note: this receptacle only has power if the bathroom light is on!).  However, I strongly recommend bringing a converter.  The regular receptacles are round and accept a two prong plug, each prong being a cylinder with rounded tip (normal European receptacles I presume). Note: See ID cards above.  You can, upon request, obtain a special "electricity card" that you can substitute for you ID card to activate the electricity in your cabin.  This will allow you to charge batteries etc. while you are at the restaurant or off the boat. Food and drink: Food As has been reported elsewhere on CC, breakfast and lunch are served buffet style with about a 2.5 hour window for each.  Dinner is served and there may be more than one seating depending on the number of passengers aboard.  Meat and fish alternate as the entrEe for dinner.  The buffets are clearly European in style and content.  There was lots of cold meats and fish available for breakfast and heavy soups and hot entrees for lunch.  We had no complaints. Water program- The water program, described in earlier discussions of Hurtigruten cruises, has been discontinued.  You can buy a bottle of water for 19 NOK (approx $2.85), but our group found the tap water very good.  They also have flavored water for a higher price. We bought a couple of bottles of water from the snack bar so we would have water in the room and take on excursions and then refilled from the tap as needed. You have to ask to get your water glass refilled at all meals.  The staff is always busy so you have to get their attention and ask.  They are always very nice about it.  You can get your own at breakfast and lunch, but it would be awkward to do so at dinner since it is a served meal. Soft Drinks- Expensive!  Aproximately $5 for a .6 liter bottle of Pepsi Max (local version of Diet Pepsi). Alcoholic Drinks: Expensive:  A .6 liter draft beer cost approximately $10!  We did not buy any wine, but many did and I assume it is proportionately expensive. Cabins: We were pleasantly surprised with the amount of space in the "regular" cabins (deck 3).  There are two closets, each with two hang bars running front to back as opposed to the more common left to right (or visa versa depending on your preferences).  Each hanging bar will hold 5 or six garments.  Ample hangers were provided in our cabin.  Lots of shelf space behind doors and lots of open shelf space too. When the two bunks are in the down position for sleeping, there is still about 2 feet of aisle space between the bunks.  This was much more than we had visualized from looking at the pictures on the Hurtigruten web site.  A convenient shelf serves as a night stand and holds the phone.  The beds were comfortable.  Each bed has a duvet and there are two extra blankets in the closet. A large niche under a shelf provided enough room for our large 29" suitcase within which were placed one of our carry-on bags.  Our other carry-on slipped in on top, so we got 3 bags into the space.  Great! DW and I agree that this cabin provides more room then the standard cabins we've enjoyed on HAL.  Of course, there is not an option to have the beds together. Side Trips (Excursions):Geiranger Fjord to Alesund- Not to be missed!  We lucked out with beautiful weather.  It was a real hoot to see your ship sail away without you.  Of course, as we reached the top of the hill for our view of Alesund, there was the Finnmarken sailing back into Alesund!  Absolutely phenomenal scenery throughout the bus trip from Geiranger to Alesund.  We also stopped at a soft ice cream stand for the best soft ice cream I've ever had.North Cape- Also not to be missed!  Again, we were treated to crystal clear skies.  According to the guide, they only get about 15 such days each year!  The scenary from Honningsvag to the cape is gorgeous all the way.  On the way back, we stopped at a Sami home and souvenir stand.  The bus broke down, but the ship waited for us while a new bus was dispatched.  Got to know the guide real well.  Gregor was wonderful.Ice Hotel This excursion because the hotel melted!!!Lofoten We boarded busses in Svolvaer for this side trip.  The weather was not quite as good for this excursion, but we still enjoyed it thoroughly.  We visited a lovely fishing village with a very nice art gallery/gift shop.  We saw a 15-minute slide show of Lofoten scenery through the 4 seasons.  The scenery for the rest of the bus trip to meet our ship in Stamsund was varied and wonderful. Atlantic Road We added this trip when we found out the Ice Hotel was not available.  It was a good decision.  We boarded busses in Kristiansund, drove through the city, got on a ferry to cross the major fjord into Kristiansund.  There is an overland route to where we went, but it would have taken longer.  We stopped at a beautiful old stave church for a guided tour.  After touring through some spectacular valleys we arrive at a restaurant for a traditional dinner of baccalao, made from the dried cod fish we had seen in many places.  It was good, but we don't think we will be searching it out in local restaurants.  After dinner, we traveled over the bridges of the Atlantic Road stopping for pictures at one pull-off.  The rest of the trip was through gorgeous countryside to Molde where we rejoined the ship. For pictures, visit: picasaweb.google.com/rehildenbrand Read Less
Sail Date April 2009
Our holiday began by flying from Stansted airport in Essex, England and arriving at our starting departure point of Tromso in Norway's Arctic Circle. The flight was around 3.5 hours. The date is June 3rd, 2008. And the weather looks ... Read More
Our holiday began by flying from Stansted airport in Essex, England and arriving at our starting departure point of Tromso in Norway's Arctic Circle. The flight was around 3.5 hours. The date is June 3rd, 2008. And the weather looks surprisingly good! We had a choice of beginning our tour from the most Northerly point, close to the Russian Border at Kirkenes, however, we began in the City of Tromso. Remember, this is Summer and above the Arctic Circle, you have the best of the sunshine, - that is 24 hours a day, the sun isn't going to set! (Don't forget, Winter tours mean the opposite, 24 hour darkness!). It's an odd feeling waiting for sunset that never happens and having the difficulty in telling yourself why you should retire to bed, after all, it is approaching 1.30am! Luckily the windows on board have shutters and the port holes have 'black-outs' but for the first night at least, this is not going to be easy! The Cruise Liner ( in this case, the MS Finnmarken) also serves as a lifeline to those people who live in such remote areas and this becomes their post-ship, their ferry and a means of moving essential provisions along the inlets and fjords. For the first night it is additionally difficult to sleep as you feel that every couple of hours, the boat is about to dock, - and it does, sometimes for no more than 15 minutes, - not completely without noise especially if you have a cabin close to the thrusters or the rope lines. But you will get used to it, I assure you. The cruise makes it's way South through inlet and passageway, fjord and achapeligos, bordered by snow peaked mountains, sapphire blue Arctic seas and persistent sunshine. The sea has a very strange calm, rippleless effect as though it's made of syrup, - I'm told, it's cold - really cold and that's how the sea is up in the Arctic. Very unusual and the majority of the passengers found it equally bizarre yet somehow weirdly hypnotic!!. As the Cruise meets different ports of call, various interesting excursions are on offer, being sold on board or you can pre-book before you go. I'd wait and purchase on board, as you really need to see where you are, as some areas may not be what you imagine and some excursions could be ruined by bad weather. No matter where you are, however, this country is beautiful from start to finish, sometimes very mountainous, sometimes extremely remote, many times - amazing, you're spoilt for choice. If you love sea and mountains then this is a cruise for you, we had some magnificently good weather with continuous blue skies. But, I was told that this wasn't the norm and the high temperatures are not to be expected. Take a couple of warm and dry waterproof garments - and please, please take your sun tan lotion. It's not easy to get hold of it and it's hell expensive. Don't be caught out, when the sun shines, it's hot!!! The cruise travels further south and passes the Arctic Circle between Ornes and Nesna. This area is very remote! Surprisingly there are some large and well established communities above the Arctic Circle, which at first seems to beg the question, why would anyone want to live here? - but they do and on reflection, I would love to as well. But I would have difficulties in 24 hour darkness I think :-). As we travel more south and reach Trondheim, the sun lies gently upon the horizon but still does not set. A permanent sunset of gold and tangerine seas for 90 minutes - what a feast for the eyes! Trondheim was a lovely city yet I do prefer the smaller towns and settlements and it seems that every place no matter how small or large, has it's own magnificent display of suspension bridges crossing the fjords, dotted beneath by canary yellow, sky blue and rust red weatherboard housing .. this is Norway! Of all the towns and villages we visited on our cruise I must highlight a few of my favorites. Tromso with it's magnificent Arctic Cathedral and Mountain backdrop, Sandnessjoen - a lovely town of weatherboard houses and a quaint typical Scandinavian 'flavor' high street. Kristiansund, just south of Trondheim is a most beautifully positioned and colorful town perched on several islands upon a deep inlet and Molde, one of the most stunning places on out tour, in my opinion anyway. This resembles Geneva or maybe Montreaux by a fjord backdrop with a Ski resort in winter and a Jazz festival during the warm summer months. A must to visit and I would always return to Molde - a five star resort. We finally after 4 days at sea, arrive in our destination town of Bergen. I truly believe that we were all shocked as the ship came up the fjord and approached Bergen in the distance. Imagine, the temperature was close to 28 Celsius, high 80's fahrenheit and the sea was shimmering with an array of colored yachts and power boats circling the ship. Along the coastline, hundreds of people sun bathing on the beaches - yeh, beaches, and the high tree lined slopes are dotted with hotels, multi colored housing, villas and a glorious mountain backdrop. You would honestly think that you were in Monte Carlo or Ventimiglia, not Bergen in Norway. They call it the 'Rainy City' and we were ever so fortunate - you won't be disappointed however, come rain or shine - or blizzard - this is a wonderful place. Full of history, full of interest and bars and restaurants galore, - this would be my true home from home for sure. Bergen - What a surprise finale... One must do, if nothing else in Bergen, take a funicular rail trip on the Floibanen, 320 meters above the town, a great trip, and you can walk back down if you wish. Of course there's the area of Bryggen, UNESCO world heritage listed, by the Wharf front and the famous and interesting Fishmarket area. Some much to do. The Cruise is operated by the Norwegian company, Hurtigruten, who know how to look after you. The staff are friendly and our thanks and compliments are made to everyone of the staff who worked so hard to ensure that our holiday was perfect. In fact, this was my Honeymoon, and I couldn't have wished for a more romantic setting. Good points: Excellent Cruise and Company, Great food and very comfortable. Most beautiful country and highly recommended to all, YOUNG AND OLD!! Negatives: Highly expensive country with a high cost of living. Examples of cost as at June 2008, on board or off the ship, very little difference... Cup of Coffee: 26 NOK (Norwegian Kronner), = £2.50, apx. US$5 A standard 40ml glass of Beer: 59 NOK, = £5.80, apx. US$11.50 A Bottle of Cote du Rhone Wine: 320 NOK = £29, apx. US$55. Take-Away Margaritta Pizza for 2: 240 NOK = £22, apx. US$42 Hotel Standard Breakfast for 1: 160 NOK = £15, apx. US$28 Two course 3 Tapas meal & Beer for 1: 350NOK = £33/ US$64 But despite this, a very worth while, once in a lifetime opportunity to see a very unspoilt part of the natural world in which we live. Before it's too late, may be?! Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
I took a 6-day trip on the Finnmarken from Bergen to Kirkenes at the Russian border at the extreme northern tip of Norway. This is not a conventional cruise as the ship stops at 22 ports to pick up and unload freight and it carries ... Read More
I took a 6-day trip on the Finnmarken from Bergen to Kirkenes at the Russian border at the extreme northern tip of Norway. This is not a conventional cruise as the ship stops at 22 ports to pick up and unload freight and it carries passengers between the smaller ports. The Finnmarken has about 250 cabins in one class. Most of them are comfortable but very small. I travelled alone and there was enough space for me, but I recommend that a couple take a mini-suite which is really just a large cabin. The food is good and copious. Breakfast and lunch are self-service with an enormous choice. Dinner is served but with no choice. In Scandinavian countries the evening meal is the least important meal of the day but it would be nice to have a choice. There are many large comfortable public rooms with where one can have coffee or buy a drink or a snack. There is no entertainment or gambling. The staff is made up of charming, mostly young, attractive Norwegians. There are many excursions. I recommend especially the Geiranger Fjord, the Svartisen Glacier and the North Cape The trip itself is extraordinary because not only does one see some of the most spectacular scenery in the world, but one also sees also the small fishing villages on the the coast and one gets an idea of everyday Norwegian life. There were families with children who seemed to be enjoying themselves and there is a playroom for very young children. The staff is charming but never obsequious. This ship is definitely not for people who are looking for a floating Las Vegas. Except for the size of the cabins and the lack of choice for dinner I found nothing to criticize. I recommend this cruise to people who like nature and are interested in the life in other countries, who want comfort but don't expect extreme luxury. Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
This cruise was very different from the cruises I've taken on HAL, Carnival and Royal Caribbean. The ship was comfortable, but offered almost no entertainment. Entertainment is provided by the ports and the views from your cabin ... Read More
This cruise was very different from the cruises I've taken on HAL, Carnival and Royal Caribbean. The ship was comfortable, but offered almost no entertainment. Entertainment is provided by the ports and the views from your cabin window or from the decks. There is a free bus from the area near the fish market in Bergen to the Hurtigruten pier. We took advantage of it. Boarding was a breeze. Large bag was checked, and I rolled my rolling back pack. We were told that our cabins would not be ready until about 4 PM, but we were welcome in the public areas. Actually, our cabins were available by 2:30 PM, which was fifteen minutes after we boarded. Shipboard announcements are done in Norwegian, German and English. Most of the passengers on this cruise were people who speak English as a first language. Three meals per day are provided, with two seatings for dinner. There are no formal nights at all, but most folks "cleaned up" for dinner every night. That might mean a clean shirt with the third wearing of the TravelSmith slacks, but it was fine. Food was not really very interesting to me, as I am a vegetarian. There was a lot of caviar and herring available, even at breakfast, and lots of other fish, too. If you are hungry between meals, there is a place to purchase snacks, salads, sandwiches and desserts, at rather high prices, even for Norway. Alcohol was extremely expensive on board. A glass of house wine, from a box, was about $12. Beer was about $10. We had purchased a box of Australian shiraz in Stavanger, and carried it aboard. We shared this wine before dinner and, sometimes, after dinner, and felt as though we saved a considerable amount of money. One evening, there was an entertaining event. We had crossed the arctic circle that day, and we were initiated by "King Neptune" that evening. The costumed ship employee inserted several cubes of ice down our backs, and we were given a certificate, signed by the captain, verifying our crossing. The certificate was dated for the wrong date. The ports were very interesting. I particularly enjoyed the music museum in Trondheim, and the Nordcapp experience. I would recommend this cruise, but not for those who wish to relax and be waited upon. This one is for those who want a "soft" adventure. Read Less
Sail Date September 2005
Finnmarken Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.2
Dining 4.0 4.2
Entertainment 2.0 2.8
Public Rooms 4.0 4.3
Fitness Recreation 3.0 3.3
Family 1.0 3.3
Shore Excursion 5.0 4.1
Enrichment 4.0 3.6
Service 3.0 4.2
Value For Money 2.0 3.7
Rates 3.0 3.9

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