2 Hurtigruten Fram Europe - British Isles & Western Cruise Reviews

My husband and I had been on the Hurtigruten FRAM before, on a cruise from Iceland to Spitsbergen. It's a relatively small ship, built in 2007 specifically for cruises to the polar regions. The Fram officially accommodates 318 ... Read More
My husband and I had been on the Hurtigruten FRAM before, on a cruise from Iceland to Spitsbergen. It's a relatively small ship, built in 2007 specifically for cruises to the polar regions. The Fram officially accommodates 318 passengers, but on this voyage there were only 171, around two-thirds of whom were German speakers. The official language of the ship is English. We were the only Americans aboard, along with two intrepid Australian widows, some families from the UK, various other Europeans, three Japanese, and a single Argentine man. Check-in went relatively smoothly, considering that it had to take place aboard the ship. We had boarded from the pier in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, via "Polarcirkel" boats, i.e., Zodiac-like tenders. Luggage was delivered to our cabin in a timely manner, and after the mandatory safety drill we set sail down stunning Sondre Stromfjord. Except for suites, cabins aboard the Fram are very small. Okay, they're tiny. Ours was one of the cheaper ones and had a bed that converted to a couch by day. But there was adequate storage space for all our cold-weather gear, and the bathroom, though small, was quite acceptable and impeccably clean. This is an expedition ship, and no one is likely to spend much time in the cabin. On the other hand, the public rooms are both elegant and practical, with two well-used lecture halls, a large observation lounge, an attractive dining room surrounded by windows, and interesting, original art work. There was a musician aboard, otherwise not much in the way of evening entertainment. But the days were so full that few people were inclined to party at night. Prices for drinks were comparable to other cruise ships. Service was unobtrusive but excellent throughout. The reasons for choosing the Fram are clear: it sails to remote destinations; its company, Hurtigruten, has an excellent safety record; and the "Expedition Team," which includes scientists as well as people intimate with the area (including, in our case, a native Greenlander) is outstanding. This cruise would not be possible for someone requiring a wheelchair. Although the ship itself is handicap accessible (there was a woman in a wheelchair on our cruise to Spitsbergen), embarkation and disembarkation require a transfer in a Polarcirkel tender, due to the necessity of starting from Kangerlussuaq, Greenland's only international airport. For North Americans, the only real negative about the cruise is that you have to fly first to Copenhagen for the round-trip chartered flight to Greenland. The price for the chartered flight is included in the cruise fare. Wanting to avoid the craziness of flying from NY to Copenhagen, then round trip from Copenhagen to Greenland, and finally yet another transatlantic flight home to the U.S., I investigated various other ways of getting from the States to Kangerlussuaq. It essentially couldn't be done. When I mentioned to a member of the Expedition Team that this cruise would likely attract more North American passengers if there was an alternative way to reach the ship, I was told that the problem lies not with Hurtigruten but with the Greenland government. On Cruise Critic I have read criticism of the food aboard Hurtigruten ships. We found the food good but not great, with wonderful fish (especially all kinds of salmon), breads, cheeses, cold suts, salads, and a fabulous dessert buffet. Meat main courses are uninspired, to say the least; beef eaters would be disappointed. Lactose-free and gluten-free choices are available. All in all, Hurtigruten food is decidedly Scandinavian. On this cruise they occasionally offered traditional Greenlandic cuisine, including reindeer and Arctic char (but not seal or whale). As for the actual cruise along the west coast of Greenland above the Arctic Circle, it was an indescribable experience of glaciers, icebergs, spectacular scenery, and considerable contact with the indigenous people of Greenland, who today call themselves Greenlanders. There was a port stop every day, with opportunities for hikes of varying degrees of difficulty, kayaking (the early Greenlanders invented kayaks for summertime fishing), boat trips to small islands and to icebergs, fishing, watching demonstrations of traditional activities such as dog sledding, and of course exploring the towns and small fishing and hunting settlements. There were not many opportunities for shopping, although some lovely hand-crafted items were for sale in Sisimiut and some of the smaller villages. No T-shirts or coffee mugs except at the airport in Kangerlussuaq! The weather almost the whole week was perfect, with blue, incredibly clear skies, 24-hour sunlight, and high temperatures in the 40's and 50's. Only one day was marred by fog. Unfortunately, our much-anticipated stop in Ilulissat, a World Heritage Site, had to be cancelled due to the harbor being totally blocked by icebergs. On the other hand, weaving our way through bizarrely-shaped bluish icebergs as large as buildings made for a fascinating day. All of our stops were memorable, especially Uummannaq with its heart-shaped mountain and thousands of sled dogs, Qeqertarsuaq with its waterfall, and Eqip Sermia, a huge, productive glacier. We had several opportunities to meet Greenlanders, even being invited into individual homes for a "kaffeemik" (coffee and cake) in the tiny fishing village of Itilleq. Back in Kangerlussuaq waiting for our overnight flight to Copenhagen, we experienced one of the high points of the trip: a drive to the Greenland Ice Cap, the world's largest ice field outside of Antarctica. We were able to walk close to the icewall along paths through the tundra. I can highly recommend the Fram's cruise of Greenland as a unique and unforgettable experience of one of the world's most remote and unspoiled places. Read Less
Sail Date June 2013
My husband and I did the 10-Day Norwegian Fjord Cruise on the Hurtigruten MS FRAM, and had a wonderful time! The ship, with a passenger capacity of 315 had just 166 passengers, so there were never any crowds or lines to do anything. I use ... Read More
My husband and I did the 10-Day Norwegian Fjord Cruise on the Hurtigruten MS FRAM, and had a wonderful time! The ship, with a passenger capacity of 315 had just 166 passengers, so there were never any crowds or lines to do anything. I use a wheelchair for mobility. The FRAM handicap cabins are very well suited for someone in a wheelchair, with grab bars over the beds (two single beds), plenty of room in the bathroom with plenty of grab bars, a shower seat, and an automatic door in and out of the cabin. The rest of the ship, with the exception of the uppermost outside deck, is accessible, and there is a toilet on deck four -- the main deck where the main dining room, coffee shop, customer service desk, and meeting rooms are located. Other reviews of Hurtigruten cruises complained about the food. We found the food to be of exceptional quality. Yes, it is Norwegian -- meaning there are lots of fish dishes, fish served in a variety of ways, for every meal. And potatoes, usually plain boiled, but also prepared in other creative ways. There are lots of vegetables, salads, fruits, cheeses, and lovely whole-grain breads and rolls,soups, and desserts. Most of the meals were buffet style -- think "smorgasbord" and maybe you'll appreciate more the way they're served. Norwegians seem to really like the buffet style, and we heard no complaints about the food at all. During the course of 10 days we had lamb, beef, reindeer, fowl, fish, shrimp (and prawns), and all sorts of side accompanying dishes and never felt "bored", or unhappy with our selections. Most sit-down served meals were dinners, including a lovely Captain's Dinner with filet mignon as the centerpiece. If you need to be entertained 24/7, then this cruise is not for you. There are no formal "shows", or movies, or activities. In the evening there was a pianist, and some passengers did sing-alongs and a bit of dancing, but that was about it. There was one night when the crew entertained, as well. Otherwise, the entertainment is the spectacular scenery on every side of the ship, the fjords of western Norway. If you need "shopping guides" then this cruise is not for you. There are shore lectures -- which actually talk about the history and geography of the ports you'll visit, and describe some of the sites you might see, whether you take ship tours or go off on your own. But no "hard sells" for anything. If you need food 24/7, then this cruise is not for you. They have 3 meals a day, and there is plenty of food to be had at each meal (and we did take away some fruit and desserts to snack on later in our cabin), but otherwise there is no other food service. If you need alcohol 24/7, then this cruise is not for you. There is a full-service bar, which starts serving alcohol at 3 p.m. Otherwise there is free coffee and tea available all the time, and soft drinks and bottled water for sale. You CAN bring alcohol on board, but only for consumption in your cabin. There is no "hard sell" for drinks, either. The server circulates, but usually we had to call her to the table, rather than having her at our elbow, wanting to know if we wanted something. If you have children, then this cruise is not for you. There are no special children's programs, babysitters, or services for children. I did see a couple of high chairs...but there were no children on this cruise at all. One a couple of port days (I stayed on the ship for the entire cruise) there were some families allowed on board -- families of crew members who lived at those ports, but they left the ship when the ship moved to the next port. The passengers were mainly folks ages 45 and older, quiet, sedate, refined. Mostly British, some Norwegian, some French, a few of us Americans, and a smattering of other nationalities. The language on board is English, and since there was a large contingent of French, everything "formal" was also announced in French. Because there were so few of us, everyone seemed to find a few folks with whom they were compatible, and spent lots of time together, chatting, and sometimes going off on excursions together. All the crew were pleasant, eager to be helpful, friendly, and went out of their way to help with whatever anyone seemed to need. While on the cruise the volcano erupted, closing airports. Many of the people on the ship were "stranded", but the cruise line worked feverishly for those passengers who had booked air travel with them, to be sure they were somehow accommodated. We had booked our own air, and even we were asked if we needed assistance (we didn't). We LOVED our cruise, and hope to cruise again with Hurtigruten, soon! Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
Fram Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 3.9
Dining 3.0 3.4
Entertainment 2.0 2.8
Public Rooms 3.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 2.0 3.4
Family 1.0 3.4
Shore Excursion 4.0 4.1
Enrichment 4.0 3.8
Service 4.0 4.1
Value For Money 4.0 3.4
Rates 4.0 3.8

Find a Fram Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click