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3 Hurtigruten Alaska Cruise Reviews

Most cruise ship companies offer Alaska cruises to Sitka, Ketchikan, Icy Strait Point and Hubbard Glacier but when I saw the itinerary of the Roald Amundsen and nice staterooms, and public areas, I was hooked. It had a starting point in ... Read More
Most cruise ship companies offer Alaska cruises to Sitka, Ketchikan, Icy Strait Point and Hubbard Glacier but when I saw the itinerary of the Roald Amundsen and nice staterooms, and public areas, I was hooked. It had a starting point in Nome, with stops at St. Paul, St. Matthew Island in the Bering Sea as well as Dutch Harbor and Unga Village in the Aleutian Island chain. Except for Dutch Harbor, those destinations were only accessible by boats, specifically Zodiacs. A week before sailing we received an e-mail from Hurtigruten, informing us that of unforeseen rule changes by the US government, the landings at St. Paul and Unga Village had to be canceled. Later we learned that only US Coast Guard Zodiacs were approved for landings in the US waters and not the Hurtigruten Nodiacs. The ship itself had a small outside deck at the bow and a slightly bigger one with 2 hot tubs and a pool at the stern. Additionally, Deck 11 at the top of the ship was designed to accommodate most of the passengers with great viewing opportunities. Unfortunately, the ventilation system for kitchen, engine room, sewage holding tanks were also located on Deck 11. This created a very unusual, sweet stench engulfing the entire deck and made it impossible for me to use it. The spacious lounge had comfortable swivel chairs in front of large windows. Unfortunately, they were always occupied by the numerous German passengers who fiercely defended them from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm. The Aune restaurant was designed for main cabin passengers in 2 seatings at dinner. Suite people had their own Lindstrom restaurant. During breakfast and lunch on the other hand, it was everybody for him/herself at Aune. With an inadequate number of restaurant staff, it meant you had to hunt for a table, clean it, get silverware, go in line for food and water, while hoping the table would not be occupied by another passenger on your return. How was the food? Glad you ask. I lost 10 pounds in 18 days with no physical activities what so ever. Our first stop was at St. Paul. I watched the crew trying to lower the tender. A fellow passenger and retired engineer, told me, it was obvious to him, they did not know what they were doing and they would never be able to accomplish the task. After an hour, an announcement was made, because of high sea and gale force winds, it was to dangerous to launch the tender and get the passengers safely into the boats. I estimated the waves about 2 to 3 feet with wind speed that still aloud people to be very comfortable on the outside decks. At Sand Point problems occurred when on the entire ship, only one tender driver was trained to dock at the special launch dock on Deck 3 of the Roald Amundsen. One tender with the capacity of 80 people had to shuttle 530 passengers to the shore and back. This reduced the visiting time to only two hours. At the cruise harbors in Kodiak and Ketchikan the clever Roald Amundsen design of ground level access to the ship without a gangway hit a glitch. Because of the tide, the entrance of the ship was much lower than the harbor dock. A long gangway from Deck 6 with about 60% incline was the only way to embark and disembark. Additional stops were made at places that you could easily reach with a traditional cruise for a fraction of the cost and better organized. But Hurtigruten really wanted to top the disaster trip with an expedition leader that was uninformed, uninterested, unhelpful and dishonest. The leadership skills were so bad, that most of his staff disappeared for days. Sometimes they were sitting at the never used science center updating their Facebook status while passengers on the outside decks tried to get information what they were looking at. In Vancouver we were all happy to disembark. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
The airteam, at that time based out of Estonia, failed to consider the inadequate ground time necessary for our SEATAC to Vancouver flight connection and consequently had to change our reservations too late to get seats together. We are ... Read More
The airteam, at that time based out of Estonia, failed to consider the inadequate ground time necessary for our SEATAC to Vancouver flight connection and consequently had to change our reservations too late to get seats together. We are glad that Seattle office is now handling air reservations. Air North at Vancouver airport was in no way equipped to handle Hurtigruten's number of passengers. There was only one check-in counter operational for our flight to Nome which meant several hundred passengers standing for over an hour. Given the demographics of the passengers and the total lack of seating available, this was unacceptable and avoidable. We had a balcony cabin on deck 7 and it was comfortable. Unfortunately the AC did not work adequately and we kept our balcony door open partway the entire time from Nome to Vancouver. The buffet dining was disappointing and nowhere near the standard of Fram. Choices were limited with a lot of fish and the menu was repeated several times. Desserts were boring with only 3 choices - none of which showed any culinary joy. Wait staff were wonderful. There are water dispensers all over the ship, but unfortunately the pour is very slow and the sparkling water option was never hooked up. The Science Center is too large and other than seating the overflow from the lecture hall, is not used to capacity. The very costly Zeiss microscopes are shrouded by their covers most of the time and we found members of the Expedition Team seeming to be mostly preoccupied behind their desks on their computers. One sometimes felt intrusive and reluctant to disturb them with a question and we generally did not feel the same connection with team members as we did on the Fram. The biggest issue expressed by many of the ship's passengers was about the inability to do landings in the Zirkelboats and consequently bypassing two of the Aleutian islands that were on our schedule. The inability to use the boats for landings in US territorial waters was clearly known to Hurtigruten well ahead of time and that should have been conveyed to the passengers accordingly, in a timely manner. The general sentiment was that the price of this voyage was too high for what was delivered. In Dutch Harbor there was a long delay before the one life boat was ready to take passengers ashore and cut down on the amount of time allowed on land. This was due to the crew's unfamiliarity with the equipment. In addition, passengers had to wait one hour to board the launch to return to the ship. After many complaints, the Captain said he would allow two life boats if we had to anchor offshore at future stops. I believe that this ship, with a capacity of over 400 passengers, is not the best choice for Antarctica. We sailed there on a small ship with another expedition company and there were only 120 passengers which allowed for 3 plus landings per day. Since there is a limit to the number of people that can disembark at any one time, and given the long lines we experienced as well as some general disorganization with relatively large life boats on the Amundsen, I would imagine trying to get 400 people ashore in small Zirkelboat groups could be a problem. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
Previously very impressed with Hurtigruten, having travelled with them to Antarctica and had an amazing time. I have followed the story of their new ship, the Roald Amundsen, and was looking forward to this expedition cruise, taking a ... Read More
Previously very impressed with Hurtigruten, having travelled with them to Antarctica and had an amazing time. I have followed the story of their new ship, the Roald Amundsen, and was looking forward to this expedition cruise, taking a more adventurous Inside Passage route, on this innovative vessel. My husband and I were amongst the first to book, about 18 months ahead. The flight from Vancouver to Nome to join the ship was very scenic, but it was clear on landing that the weather was dictating events. The sea state had hindered the disembarkation of the homeward bound passengers and at first it was doubtful we would be able to embark that evening at all - the good people of Nome were preparing to put us up! As it happened we did make it on board but it was a little chaotic: we did not get the ‘suite check-in’, the cruise card machine wasn’t functioning properly, cabins weren’t ready, luggage was arriving separately, we couldn’t sail that night, but hey - what an exciting start! Two weeks before setting out Hurtigruten had informed us that two of the more remote landings wouldn’t happen because of US regulations regarding use of the Zodiacs. They said it was a ‘minor change’ and reimbursed €200pp but in reality this was a very major change because it ruled out all ‘wet landings’ and any remote wild life encounters - the very things that provide those amazing memorable moments that define an expedition cruise. Our first ‘landing’ after an extended time at sea, was a substitute stop at Sand Point in the Aleutians which was poorly organised to say the least, provided none of the promised wild life encounters, and revealed how poorly prepared the crew and expedition team were to cope with 500+ passengers in one tender boat and a destination they knew little about. Many passengers were understandably very unhappy about it and to add insult to injury we were all given a dressing down by the Expedition Leader at the evening briefing for complaining about it. There was also a ‘failure to launch’ of tenders which was officially because of ‘high swells’ but it was clear to anyone with even the slightest knowledge of sea states that the swell wasn’t high at all. Thank goodness we didn’t need to abandon ship in rough seas..... The Roald Amundsen is a beautiful ship. The decor is stylish Nordic, the jacuzzis and pool on deck 10 are lovely, the walking track on 11 is great, inside AND outside gym equipment, beautiful sauna, lovely cabins and super comfy beds. The explorer lounge is very comfortable (though the day beds at the bow only give a view of the railings) There is a lecture theatre and scientific equipment on Deck 6 but the former is poorly designed and the latter is mostly wrapped in plastic covers. There is a shop which sells little of any use unless you are in the market for tanzanite jewellery or a new watch, or have forgotten to bring a jacket (but you are given one on board anyway......) There is a spa (didn’t use it). What is clear is that with a full payload of passengers almost all the public areas are too small. The Aune dining area is poorly laid out for both staff and passengers and was a chaotic place to eat. The a la carte Lindstrom was much better but not big enough to accommodate suite passengers except on alternate nights. It’s small menu, though good, did not change throughout the duration of the sailing. The Friedheim ‘street food’ restaurant had an even smaller menu, which was shortened further due to limited availability, and again did not vary for the entire time on board. The lecture theatre is high tech but too small and uncomfortable during use, with passengers spilling out into the adjacent area. It was possible to view proceedings here from the cabin TVs but only for lip readers because the sound didn’t come through. If the use of zodiacs had been permitted it would clearly have been a vey long process for the numbers on board to access and enjoy them. The pool on deck 10 was ‘closed for maintenance’ for almost all our sailing: it leaked into the (expensive) cabins below, whose occupants must have had a truly miserable experience. The optional excursions, predictably I suppose, were overpriced and underwhelming. Some were cancelled at short notice. Some passengers had been given the opportunity to book prior to leaving home and some had not. Some of the expedition team were very new and inexperienced, some of the more senior ones had rather poor presentation skills. Some were excellent. Given that many of their clients are professional, well educated and experienced travellers I feel this team could do worse than up their game. On our previous trip with Hurtigruten in Antarctica we were in awe of the team on board and couldn’t praise them highly enough. Sadly not the case here. There were some notable highlights: seeing sparing bears, multiple humpback whales, the Hubbard Glacier. All amazing. I appreciate that with this sort of sailing itineraries can change, but for poor planning and awareness of regulations to have such a major negative impact on an advertised cruise reflects very badly on Hurtigruten. The on board experience was significantly diminished by ambitious passenger numbers and ‘teething issues’ with the ship. This was, in my opinion, neither ‘expedition’ or ‘cruise’ and Hurtigruten should reflect very seriously on just how it could fail, on both counts, on such a spectacular route. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
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