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88 Hurtigruten Baltic Sea Cruise Reviews

Good points- the ship is well maintained and the public areas are nicely done. The Observation lounge was particularly nice. The 3 course evening meals were good, though you don't get a choice. Breakfast buffet choice was ok, but ... Read More
Good points- the ship is well maintained and the public areas are nicely done. The Observation lounge was particularly nice. The 3 course evening meals were good, though you don't get a choice. Breakfast buffet choice was ok, but not spectacular. Not so good - our cabin was tiny, with fold up beds. There is only 1 very small drawer, though wardrobe space was ok. Small bathroom, but clean and well maintained, shower was ok with plentiful hot water. Hair dryer is rubbish and gets very hot to hold. We were on deck 5 so had large window, but onto boat deck, so you have passengers outside. We were unlucky with weather as grey and gloomy for much of our trip, so scenery looked bleak at times rather than beautiful. Our first night on open sea was very rough, so beware if you suffer sea sickness, though it is very smooth on the inland waters. Also, be aware that there are often stops through the night and the thrusters really make the ship vibrate, so try and avoid cabins near there if you want a good night's sleep. On one night we had someone using an angle grinder outside our room at 2.15am which wasn't very customer friendly! Some of the staff are a little surly and are not that helpful if you have a problem, though their English is excellent. Waiting staff in restaurant were not particularly quick and were very slow at clearing tables at breakfast, so you often had to hunt for a table. We were only half board and be warned, prices are extortionate, with a 500ml can of beer costing about £8. However, this is not dissimilar to mainland prices, so Norway generally is very costly.The only entertainment is a singer in the bar most evenings, who was ok, but he had the same repertoire every night! It's a very quiet ship with mostly elderly passengers, so quite relaxing, but could be boring for some. You have to carry your own suitcases ashore (though they are loaded on for you on arrival) They had steps rather than a ramp to disembark, so this must have been very difficult for some of the elderly or infirm. I didn't see anyone offering to assist? The tour director is fun and his announcements were often entertaining. All announcements were in Norwegian, English and German, though not always in that order. Had we seen the Northern Lights it all would have been worthwhile, but as mentioned, we were unlucky with the weather and it snowed heavily at Tromso which is where we were hoping to get a glimpse, so overall it was a little disappointing for the money we spent. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
The travel arrangements were fine and as travellers who usually book everything independently, it was good to discover that Hurtigruten seem to have everything down to a fine art. They also give you plenty of information before you leave ... Read More
The travel arrangements were fine and as travellers who usually book everything independently, it was good to discover that Hurtigruten seem to have everything down to a fine art. They also give you plenty of information before you leave home. We arrived on time at the ship, MS Richard With, where our cabin was ready for our occupation immediately. The cabins are small but very comfortable and have everything you need. It was very clean. The shower room was tiny and if you were a large person you might find the shower difficult. Luckily this was not the case for us. Food was generally of a high standard and we found the staff in the dining room pleasant and helpful. We had booked breakfast and dinner only, thinking we might be off the boat some days. When we were on board we had light snacks from the cafe area, which were very good indeed. The "coffee" deal is worth doing. You buy a thermos mug and then refill with tea or coffee of your choice at any time of day or night. After a couple of days it will pay for itself. We spent a lot of time out on the deck (in chilly February)with a hot drink in hand. I think the excursions are expensive generally, but then Norway is expensive. So we took off on our own when there was time to walk around a stopping place. It is worth doing some homework before you go so that you use the time wisely. The one exception was booking to go dog sledding in Tromso (the evening excursion post disembarking) which was fabulous. We experienced the northern lights from the ship in the Lofotens and again from our husky drawn sled near Tromso. Both times it was magical. Especially as the other nights had been cloudy and snowy and we didn't think the skies would clear, but they did. Out on deck at night it is eiry but wonderful. The water was like a mill pond in the shelter of the fjords and the snow made it easy to see the landscape, dotted with the lights from the fisherman's cottages on the water's edge as we glided by. Heading north you only see the Lofoten Islands at night and though this was beautiful, I would have liked longer here. The southbound journey brings you back during the day. Another time I think I'd make a stop here. All the crew are friendly, polite and welcoming, and they all seem to speak English really well. The tour guide and his assistant seemed to be working very hard all the time but were never without smiles. They provide a daily itinerary that lists the ports to be stopped at, the excursions available, and the sights to be passed along the way. We were sorry to leave the ship but Hurtigruten had booked us into a very comfortable hotel in Tromso, which was 2 minutes walk from the boat and itself on the water front. The return journey home was easy and uneventful. Again Hurtigruten had covered everything in terms of transfers and connections. I think this would be of particular comfort to a lone or first time traveller. They have it down to a fine art. Well organized trip. Lovely clean and comfortable ship. Stupendous scenery. I would just love to go again... and take a bit longer over it. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
We received an email offer from Hurtigruten, 12 day round trip on full board inc flights in an outsi de cabin on deck 8 (top deck) for £2500. We had never cruised before so decided that this offer was worth trying out. First ... Read More
We received an email offer from Hurtigruten, 12 day round trip on full board inc flights in an outsi de cabin on deck 8 (top deck) for £2500. We had never cruised before so decided that this offer was worth trying out. First impression of the ship was good. Nice public areas and friendly staff. Our room was 802 (would reccomend this room to everyone). We found this room to be spacious enough for the two of us and the location on the ship was great, 20 seconds from being outside on deck 9 and the closest room to the outside hot tub, which we did use. This room passing passengers as it was the end of the corridor. We were close to the bar and entertainment all on Deck 8 but we never heard anything from our room. Food, as the majority of other have said, was fish based but good quality. If you do not like fish make sure you let the staff know as they will ensure an alternative is available. The staff work hard to please. While we were on board there was a military exercise, resulting in 40 + military personnel on board, they got into the restaurant before paying guests and were obviously very hungry, we didn't realise you could get so much food on a plate....lol. This meant that some of the choices were not available to folk coming into the restaurant after them. Having spoke to others it seems this is not uncommon so be warned get in early if they let you know an exercise is going on. If you are going to see any of the ports visited on route, be warned that if they are running late you may not get time to get off or if you do it may be very rushed as they will still leave on time. Even if you do pull in on time we felt very rushed and were constantly clock watching as the ship will leave on time if you are not back.For Hurtigruten the priority is the cargo, as a passenger you are an aside. This does not mean they do not look after you but this is not a typical cruise ship, The reason we went on this trip at this time of year was because we wanted to see the Northern Lights. We were fortunate, as we left Tromso, to see the lights for approx 1.5hrs. There were only a few of us on deck and we assumed others would know from the announcements that were suppose to be made if the lights appeared but no announcement was made and very few of us had the opportunity to see the lights. There were a lot of disappointed guests in the morning when we mentioned that we had seen them. Would we do this cruise again?.......No, but we enjoyed the experience. However,we would go to northern Norway again and fly to Kirkenes and stay there to see the lights and have some time to enjoy the town and other activities on offer in that area. Another reason we have decided we are land lovers is the 4 days & nights of Hurricane and gale force winds and 50ft seas. If you are looking for an excellent sea sickness tablet we would highly recommend joy riders - they were amazing!!! Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
Our first cruise. We chose October to suit our budget, but probably not the best time of year. Its the stormy season - and did we know it at times. The frequent passages in the open sea were challenging - passengers could hardly stand up ... Read More
Our first cruise. We chose October to suit our budget, but probably not the best time of year. Its the stormy season - and did we know it at times. The frequent passages in the open sea were challenging - passengers could hardly stand up and were staggering around the dining area with plates of food, lurching from table to table and we were sliding around the bed/bunk at night. An experience for the able-bodied but not so good for those less so. The weather (high winds) also prevented the ship from going up some of the most picturesque fjords (very disappointing)Food was very good & plentiful - largely fish-based with reindeer etc. (pretty healthy). We booked the 'Rib Safari' to see the huge Saltstraumen whirlpool. I have seen bigger whirlpools in my bath-tub. The tidal conditions have to be right before it occurs (3 or 4 times a day). All we saw was a slight ripple on the surface and were told 'That it where it was a few hours ago'. This is not made clear in the write-up when they want your money, very disappointing. Suggest you don't book it until you know the tidal timetable. We did get distant glimpses of sea-eagles. The crew were very helpful & polite with English widely spoken. We booked separately Norwegian airline for the flights at about a third of the Hurtigruten cost. You do have to make your own way to & from the airport to Bergen Hurtigruten terminal, but there is an excellent public bus service for 190 NOK return - leaving a 15 minute walk at the Bergen end (or a taxi). Overall a good holiday, but not a cheap one.Other tips:- If possible avoid deck 5 - the promenade deck with everyone walking past your window and blocking your view. Book on the starboard (right) side of the ship to avoid noise from the loading deck whilst in port at night. Go for the £32 coffee cup deal offered as you board, giving 24 hour unlimited tea & coffee. At £3-50 a cup of coffee, you are soon better off. If we go again, we will spend an extra day or so in Bergen, lots to see & do there, including a cable car ride up the nearest mountain for views over the city. If you go in winter, take ice cleats/crampons/spiked boots as all the pavements are like skating rinks. Don't forget continental plug adaptors. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
This was our first cruise and were impressed with the facilities. The Midnatsol looks to be one of the newer ships in the fleet and it had some nice touches like a top deck jacuzzi, sauna (with a view) and small gym (with a view). A ... Read More
This was our first cruise and were impressed with the facilities. The Midnatsol looks to be one of the newer ships in the fleet and it had some nice touches like a top deck jacuzzi, sauna (with a view) and small gym (with a view). A lot has been said already by others that I need not repeat but for us the positives were: 1) the room, though small (we had a basic inside cabin) was well equiped and had enough storage to put everything away. 2) the staff were friendly and polite (and hard working) 3) the atmosphere on board was good. The majority of passengers were German so as English speakers there were fewer other people to talk to 4) Excellent dinners in the restaurant. Fish biased as you would expect but great. And we found the portions just fine. We didn't spend time in Bergen as that was where we were flying from but that looked like a nice place to spend a day. Also would love to have spent an evening, or evening a few hours in the evening, at Trondheim as that looked like the most interesting town. What was not quite so good (and in some cases being picky here...) 1) Internet was free but sooooooo slow that it was almost unusable. 2) We docked at some places very quickly and there was no time to get off 3) We were running behind schedule for much of the time but would still depart a dock on time. This meant that if we had a 45/60 min stop, in theory, somewhere we often had only 20 mins to get off run around and get back on for the scheduled departure time. 4) breakfast was inconsitent and not very interesting at all. The choice of breads and pastries was poor and the hot selection was, on most days, a bit weird. so normally stuck to fruit and cereal (i.e. did not leave the dining room hungry!). A let down as dinner was so good. Overall the "most beautiful voyage" was not quite up to expectations which was in part due to the time of year and weather. We had a couple of days on board with nothing much to see ".... we are just passing the Seven Sisters which are seven peaks, x metres high etc.... but you cannot see it due to the weather!!" So a chance to kick back and relax! So now that I am home I am not raving about the trip based on what I saw and tell people to maybe check other months. Having said that we had a ball, really enjoyed ourselves - hanging out on the ship / exploring towns when we could and relaxing. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
We traveled with Vantage on the Grand Norwegian Coastal Voyage September 1 15, 2011. Our ship was the MS Nordlys which was severely damaged by fire the day after we departed the ship. Two crew members were tragically killed during the ... Read More
We traveled with Vantage on the Grand Norwegian Coastal Voyage September 1 15, 2011. Our ship was the MS Nordlys which was severely damaged by fire the day after we departed the ship. Two crew members were tragically killed during the blaze. What a sad memory at the end of a wonderful adventure. We have traveled with Vantage in the past. In 2007 we did Imperial Russian Waterways, Moscow and St. Petersburg with Vantage and had a wonderful experience. FLIGHTS Since we live near Boston, we expected to travel direct to Europe from Boston. Such was not the case. Vantage arranged for us to travel to Dulles, Copenhagen, and Bergen. This added to our travel time, especially on our return. We will never again come through Dulles from Europe with hopes of making an on time connection. Copenhagen is a very large and busy airport and the walk to our connecting flight was very long. Anyone with the slightest problem walking should ask for help. A Vantage rep met us in Dulles at the start of the trip to be sure we were all set with boarding passes, etc. It was a nice touch. WEATHER - We traveled September 1 15. The temperatures were in the 50s and 60s during the day and probably down to the high 40s at night. Our first few days in Bergen were very rainy. We were told this was very normal. It became sunnier as we traveled north. Sturdy shoes, umbrellas, and water repellant wind breakers were best. Appropriate layering for wind, on deck, rain, and varying temperatures kept us plenty warm and dry. THE HOTEL - We arrived at the Bergen airport right on time and were met by Eva Stiegler, our Vantage Program Manager. She was brought up in Bergen. Her English was flawless. Our luggage was whisked away to the bus, we exchanged some money and off we went. The Radisson Blu Norge Hotel was perfectly situated close to everything. Our luggage was unloaded from the bus for us and delivered to our rooms. The rooms were clean and bright and a good size with desk and easy chair, 2 single beds, a coffee maker and iron and ironing board. The furniture was a little dated but well cared for. Free wifi was available. Breakfast was a large buffet with all kinds of choices from meats and cheeses to an egg station to fruits, cereals, juices and coffee and tea. Delicious. We had dinner in the hotel with our group of 49. The menu was preset white asparagus soup, chicken with mushroom, and apple cake with ice cream and coffee also a free glass of beverage, wine, soda, etc. Throughout the trip, Eva would arrange for any diet accommodation from allergies to likes and dislikes. The only down side to the hotel location was the large amount of street noise into the early morning hours. Eva distributed earplugs to us so we could sleep. Evidently there are nightclubs nearby and both their music and customers extend to outside. We were so tired that nothing would have disturbed our sleep but when up, we did hear the noise and Im sure some people are disturbed by the it. BERGEN - Bergen is a wonderful city. We wish we had planned the pre-extension here. Not only is the city beautiful, but there is so much more to see than we originally thought. The funicular, fish market, and countless historic buildings and museums could easily use several days. THE SHIP - The Nordlys far exceeded our expectations. It was beautifully maintained and all the public rooms were lovely. The dcor had lots of brass colored metal, Norwegian art and tasteful colors. The dining room was large. At dinner we had an area reserved for Vantage so we didnt have to struggle to find a place to sit. Large windows gave a great view as we sailed along. Linen tablecloths gave an air of formality to the room and made meals a special occasion. Our room was small but very efficient. It was a category U cabin on deck 6. Our traveling companions were on deck 5 which was the promenade deck. They wish they did not have passengers walking outside their cabin. The cabins themselves were identical. The 2 single beds were perpendicular to each other and one made a sofa during the day and the other folded up against the wall. The beds were comfortable. The cover was a duvet. There were 2 wool blankets in the closet - great for sitting on deck. There was sufficient closet space. There were about a dozen hangers but we always bring extras. The closet rods go front to back in rather than left to right which may finding things slightly more difficult. The bathroom is small. I thought the shower was much smaller than on large cruise ships and the floor was always wet. Heat in the bathroom was in the floor so it helped the water evaporate. There are no facecloths and bars of soap are not provided. There is a dispenser of liquid soap at the sink and a combo of liquid soap/shampoo/conditioner in the shower. There is a hair dryer in the bathroom. I would suggest bringing your own soap, shampoo, and conditioner. It was chilly on deck. There were chairs and lounge chairs for sitting. A small area on each side was protected by glass and was heated. One side was reserved for smokers. There are plenty of public rooms with great windows. On the top deck there was entertainment in the bar every evening. We had 2 talented female musicians from Bulgaria who sange and played keyboard, violin and saxophone. There was no wireless internet service available on the Nordlys. There were 3 computers for passenger use which was so slow we were not charged to use it. I believe this varies by ship. There were 2 washers and 2 dryers available. It cost about $4.00 to do a load of wash including the soap which was automatically dispensed by the washer. The dryers were free. The staff was wonderful and friendly. FOOD AND DRINK The food was very good. Breakfast and lunch were always buffet. Breakfast included coffee, tea, juices, fruits, cereals, meats, cheeses, hard or soft boiled eggs, bacon or sausage, all kinds of bread, fish, and a hot special daily fried eggs, pancakes, etc. Lunch always included a soup which was delicious, salads, meats, fish, stone crabs, cray fish, mussels, shrimp, cheeses, fruit, and one or two hot entrees. Dessert had many fancy jellos, fruit, cakes and fruit and custard sauces. Dinner was a set menu posted daily. Most nights the main course was fish. Eva made arrangements for anyone who had special likes or dislikes or allergies to be accommodated. We had arctic char, salmon, pollack, reindeer, chicken, and cod. One evening there was a seafood buffet which included cold water lobster, king crab, salmon, scallops, shrimp, and a multitude of other choices. Sauces and vegetables were also very tasty. Small boiled potatoes were often served. Desserts were fine not amazing and included cakes, puddings, and ice cream. Dinner coffee was served in one of the forward observation rooms. This made it easier for the crew to get ready for the second serving of dinner. There was a full wine and drink menu on the table at lunch and dinner. Drinks were very expensive. Except during meals there was a charge for coffee. A coffee deal is offered. For about $40 you can buy a coffee cup which is refillable in the coffee shop whenever you want it. We each bought one but I thought the coffee was deplorable and seldom drank it although it could also be used for tea. Eva took us to liquor stores to buy wine which we kept in our rooms. We werent supposed to bring our own wine into the dining room or public spaces but we usually filed our coffee cups with wine and walked into the dining rooms. A box of wine in the state liquor stores cost about $80. Sometimes at lunch we would put some crackers and cheese into a plastic baggie and save it for cocktail hour in the afternoon. VANTAGE AND THE TRIP As I said before our Program Manager Eve was wonderful. At the beginning of the trip she talked about what to expect and about the optional tours offered by the ship. We went to the midnight concert at the Arctic Cathedral in Tromso and the Sea Eagle tour. We love both. I cant speak to any of the others. However, Eva did provide previous passenger ratings so we had some idea of which ones were enjoyed most. She gave us talks on Norwegian history, life in Norway, trolls, and the Norse Gods. She gave us tastes of Norwegian pastry, candy, Aquavitt and chocolate. She showed us movies about heavy water, the Amundsen expedition to the South Pole, Max Manus (Norwegian WW II resistor) and Cool and Crazy. She arranged a pizza party on our last night in Bergen. Every town we visited we had a walk of the area. Her knowledge of each town and its history was amazing. She offered us her computer if we needed to make contact back home. Wireless was available to her. I cant go into every town and tour we had but they were all great. I loved Trondheim. The tour to the North Kapp was amazing. We were luck enough to have perfect weather and could see forever! The tour to the Rokenes Farm in Harstad was memorable. Enroute we stopped at an ancient chapel and had a moment of silence in honor of 9/11 (we were there on that day.). We even saw some Northern lights. They were minimal and very pale in color but even a hint of them was more than we expected. The ship celebrated our crossing of the Arctic Circle and the Trollfjord with fun events. In between town and stops the scenery was lovely either the sun shining on the fjords and villages or the rain and clouds hanging over the tree and mountain tops and glaciers. It was all lovely. We toured with an amazing group of travelers. There wasnt any one of us who complained. We all liked each other and helped those who needed assistance. Wed do the trip again in a minute! Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
a newish boat - tiny cabin with just enough storage space for one - we lived out of our suitcases stowed under the bed. The outside cabins with portholes appeared a bit larger but not really value for money. Mainly continental ... Read More
a newish boat - tiny cabin with just enough storage space for one - we lived out of our suitcases stowed under the bed. The outside cabins with portholes appeared a bit larger but not really value for money. Mainly continental breakfasts, with eggs, chipolata sausages - not really up to English standards, but reasonable. other meals mainly fish and pork, one shellfish buffet and reindeer meat once. Great soups, bread, salads and desserts. We had reserved settings for quite a few meals which meant we were forced to sit with people even if we didn't care for their company - also some people forced to sit at a table for 2 even if they wanted to sit by other people.No choice of menu at most dinner times- mainly fish which was sometimes like cardboard - probably defrosted - shame as there should have been plenty of fresh fish in Norway. Missed chicken and had lamb only twice. The staterooms were great, plenty of space and seats, lovely sundeck and 2 outdoor hot tubs - not for the faint hearted, but well used, sauna and gym were great. The bar was expensive +++ - entertainment by a couple of singers so-so, but welcome as a diversion at the end of the day. 21£ for a mug with unlimited tea and coffee from the cafeteria/bar - but as it cost 2£ for a single cup it seemed worth it to buy the mug. £5.70 for a 1/2 pint of beer which was half filled with foam! We went on a lot of the tours to break up the day - the city tours were a waste of money, as well as the one to the Russian Border. The best were to the Svartisen Glacier, though you had to walk a mile to get to it from the bus, The Geiranger Panorama was good too. Not to be missed is the Midnight concert in Tromso Cathedral, The North Cape, and the Sea Eagle Safari. People who did a walking tour of Trondheim were disappointed, as well as the trip into Hammerfest. We went to the Lofoten Islands - it got dark early and was raining, so was awful esp as the guide couldn't speak English. Couldn't go on the Vega trip (out of season - shame)- others said the trip to Svolvaer and the Atlantic road trip were good - though the guide had limited English on the latter which wasn't so much fun. Met some great people, read a lot of books - they had a small library to which I added a couple of books. A very expensive trip, but worth it in the end. The ship was clean, cabins cleaned every day. The waiters were a bit rude sometimes - someone asked for jam -and he said - its there, cant you read, and on another occasion one of them was ride to another guest in front of us - affluence breeds ennui and arrogance! Check your bills carefully - we ended up being overcharged by over 1200K - 120£ - and so did almost everyone else. The barman charged us for the more expensive drinks instead of what we had actually bought, and one doesn't usually expect this in a crowded bar, so you tend to sign the cruise card chit without checking - big mistake, only put right at the end after a load of hassle and queuing. 6 nights would have been perfect - but we'd have missed the concert and the sea eagle safari so comme si comme sa In all a good experience and I would recommend it to people who don't want too much in the way of entertainment etc - one has to be mindful of the fact that it is but a glorified ferry and not expect too much. We felt that we could have done with spending 2 nights in Bergen or Kristiansund which looked like vibrant fun places Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
My husband, 2 yr old son and I just returned from a 12-day Norway voyage on Hurtigruten's Richard With. Cabins - We splurged and booked a mini-suite so we'd have more room with our son, and this gave us more than enough ... Read More
My husband, 2 yr old son and I just returned from a 12-day Norway voyage on Hurtigruten's Richard With. Cabins - We splurged and booked a mini-suite so we'd have more room with our son, and this gave us more than enough room to move around. You can request a crib at check-in if you need one (they will only fit in a suite), though rental is hefty at $25 per day. We decided to share a bed. Our mini-suite was well laid out, with a curtained off area containing a comfy queen bed. This allowed us to put our son to bed, and still have the main area to enjoy the evenings together. Suites have a TV and minibar which was handy for milk and other snacks for our son. A lovely fruit basket was provided to us when we boarded in Bergen, and was refreshed again in Kirkenes. We were also given Hurtigruten coffee mugs, allowing us access to coffee/tea at no charge 24/7 throughout the voyage which was handy and saved us some money. We had cabin 636 which we felt was one of the best located on the entire ship (640 is just as well located and significantly larger). We were below the quiet outdoor deck area and on the starboard side, so we didn't hear any loading/unloading of people, cars or cargo which took place on the port side at each stop. Announcements - Announcements are frequently made over the sound system in Norwegian, English and German (for our southbound voyage they added Italian) which we could hear clearly in our cabin even with the speaker on our phone turned off. We were worried they would wake our son during naps or after bedtime, but the ship generates enough white noise of its own so it wasn't a problem. Cruising with a toddler - Hurtigruten cruises are not really targeted for families with children, meaning there is no babysitting, organized activities or kids meals provided. We knew this in advance and planned accordingly, and made sure we brought along our own books, toys, craft supplies, DVD player and snacks. The ship does have a nice play room with a play house, slide, and a big bin full of toys and Lego duplo blocks, so this was where we spent a lot of our time on board. There were only two other families traveling with kids for the full 12 day voyage but they were infants. But many other toddlers and young children came and went for shorter periods throughout the voyage so there was always someone new for our son to play with in the play room. Keeping our 2 yr old busy took some creativity on our part, but he loved being on the ship. Ports - With a toddler, we were often headed off first to the local playground. The best playgrounds for preschoolers were often located in daycares which are open for use when the kids aren't using them. In one of the ports, daycare staff welcomed our son to join a class of kids. The older kids immediately played host to my son and made him feel comfortable and welcome. These playgrounds turned out to be highlights of our trip - not only did our son get to blow off steam, but we had the opportunity to meet many Norwegian children and to chat with fellow parents and daycare workers who were unbelievably friendly and welcoming. Excursions - We prefer to venture out on our own, so we only participated in one excursion in Trondheim to the Folk Museum in the northwest of the city. We really enjoyed this outing. My husband and I enjoyed the different buildings and our son loved running around and visiting with the resident pigs, cows, rabbit and sheep. Meals - Breakfasts and lunches were always buffet style with open seating in the dining room. Being Norway, fish was obviously a feature of every meal, but there was a lot of selection, including vegetarian and meat options, and the quality of food was excellent. Dinner was a combination of buffet and set meals, some open seating and some at assigned tables. We preferred the buffet meals because of the wider selection of foods, but the set menus were good too. On set menu nights, one appetizer, one main course and one dessert were available and the food was delicious. My husband is allergic to fish and seafood, and I don't eat meat, so our server always provided us with an alternate meal on nights where they were required. Our son would usually eat the same thing as us at dinner but on nights when there wasn't anything to his taste, the chef would whip up some spagetti bolognese or fried rice. One night we purchased a pizza from the cafe and brought it to the dining room for him to eat, and on a few occasions we asked for bread in the dining room and whipped him up a peanut butter sandwich (we always bring along a jar just in case). Traveling with Hurtigruten is not like traditional cruising - there are no organized activites (aside from organized shore excursions you could purchase), no entertainment (aside from a duo singing with a keyboard in the 7th floor lounge in the evenings). If you are looking for a super luxurious experience and midnight buffets, this is not the cruise for you. But if you are looking to experience gorgeous scenery, lovely people, good food and comfortable surroundings, Hurtigruten is it. We've traveled on the Oasis of the Seas and other large cruise ships, but we enjoyed this experience much more. We found this to be far more personal and allowed us to visit small towns the larger ships would never be able to access. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
We booked our Hurtigruten cruise with our local travel agent and about 2 weeks before departure, our travel documents arrived. We booked the 12 day round trip from Bergen - Kirkenes - Bergen. Our trip started in Oslo. We spent a day of ... Read More
We booked our Hurtigruten cruise with our local travel agent and about 2 weeks before departure, our travel documents arrived. We booked the 12 day round trip from Bergen - Kirkenes - Bergen. Our trip started in Oslo. We spent a day of sightseeing but wish we had allowed 2 or 3 days for Oslo. The next morning, took a morning train, the Norway in a Nutshell. This is highly recommended with beautiful scenery seen by trains, boat and bus. It takes all day and we were so glad we did it. We arrived in Bergen in the evening and spent the next day and a half sightseeing. Around 3PM we arrived at the Hurtigruten terminal to board the Nordkapp. After checking our large suitcases we were directed to a large waiting room. After not too long of a wait, we were allowed to board and were told our cabins would not be ready until around 6PM. We were able to get into the cabin and drop off our carry on luggage right before the dinner buffet. We met a lovely couple from Australia and had dinner with them. Our first cabin did not have enough shelves for our clothes, plus a window that was about 2 feet deep, so not too good for seeing out. So after about 5 days were allowed to upgrade to a cabin on the 6th Deck which was really great. The beds are really comfortable and there was plenty of room for our larger suitcases. In case you do not want to keep the large suitcases in your cabin, there is a storage room where you can take them to. The ship has a tour director who announces upcoming ports and things of interest to see. There was a large panorama lounge on the 7th Deck for relaxing and seeing the scenery or for reading. There are buffets for breakfast and lunch, with a set time for dinner. If you do not like a lot of fish (like me) you can ask for a vegetarian meal, as long as you let them know by noon. Each meal had an appetizer, main course and dessert. We never went hungry! We booked three excursions. The first was a Geiranger excursion. The Nordkapp went down the Geiranger Fjord, then we disembarked by tender to the small town of Geiranger. We then boarded a bus that went up into the mountains, where we were able to look down and see our ship heading back to Alesund to pick us up. The scenery was beautiful, with a lot of sheep in the meadows. The second excursion was to the North Cape. At Honningsvag, we boarded a bus that took us through very unusual scenery. We saw a lot of reindeer on the mountain sides. After stopping at the North Cape visitor center, we took a lot of photos. That day the weather was very cold and windy. We then headed to a Sami camp and took photos of a Sami with his reindeer. There was a small souvenir shop there. Our third excursion was a tour of the Lofoten Islands. They are very beautiful with dried fish hanging on people's homes. Also, there are large racks where the villages can dry their fish. Every day, there are Hurtigruten ships leaving Bergen to make the round trip to Kirkenes and back to Bergen. It stops at 34 ports going north, and 34 ports going south. What ports are made during the night, are usually made during the day time on the trip back. Some ports are only for 15 minutes, some 30 minutes, and a few are 2 or 3 hours or more. The ship blows it's horn 5 minutes before leaving. The entertainment is the scenery which is always changing. I took loads of pictures of lighthouses, some are very beautiful, and some are really small. Most people were either out on the decks or in the Panorama Lounge. There was one guitar player in the evening that was really good. There is a small Cafe if anyone would be hungry. It is also for the locals who board the ship from port to port. The Gift shop was small, but held a lot of items and there were always sales going on. There is an internet room, but the connections are really slow. It took us 40 minutes to log on and write one email while we were in Kirkenes! There is also a small kid's play room. Getting off the ship, even if it is for 30 minutes or less and just watching the cargo being loaded and unloaded is very interesting. We saw farm implements, potting soil, frozen fish and even kitchen cabinets! Disembarkation is like most cruise ships, we had to leave our luggage outside our cabin by 9AM, and be out of our cabin by 10AM. So we just stayed in the Panorama Lounge until the ship reached Bergen. Then, we were dismissed by our cabin deck, which we were one of the first. We then caught a taxi to our Bed and Breakfast. This was a great trip and highly recommend it to anyone who does not need to be pampered every day and can be independent. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
As first time cruisers we deliberately went for short trip from Bergen to Tromso. There was a bit of unnecessary queuing at Bergen to get on, but otherwise eveything went like clockwork. I can't fault the ship - friendly and ... Read More
As first time cruisers we deliberately went for short trip from Bergen to Tromso. There was a bit of unnecessary queuing at Bergen to get on, but otherwise eveything went like clockwork. I can't fault the ship - friendly and helpful staff, clean, comfortable and no pressure to do anything. We're not ones for entertainment, preferring to relax and chat, and this trip was ideal. We loved the fact that it stopped in lots of places, even if not for long enough to get off at all of them, and some were nightime stops so we had to choose between sleep or seeing another place. The constant stops also meant people coming and going, including locals. We went on a couple of trips off the ship, to the Viking Museum on the Lofoten Islands and dog sledding at Tromso, both of which were great. The former was a real adventure as the wind and driving snow was so bad the coach driver wasn't sure if he could get back to the ship. We even tried reindeer stew which was pretty tasty (sorry Rudolf!) Food on the ship was good, but not huge choice. We love fish, but if you didn't it could be a problem. One thing I was worried about was sea sickness, but the ship was stable, even during a Force 8 gale. Most of the trip is in sheltered waters, but it does occasionally go out into the wilder seas. We choose one of the bigger, newer ships as we heard the older ones do not cope nearly so well in the storms. Our hope was to see the northern lights but the weather was not good, and at times there was so much cloud and blizzards we couldn't see anything from the ship - but we can't blame anyone for that. Would definitely recommend it and are now planning to do the next leg from Tromso to Kirkenes to try to see the lights and also to return during the summer. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
Our first cruise, I had always wanted to go on a Northern Lights cruise (hubbie not so enamoured as likes the warmth.) Booked on line, not daunted by the fact that hadn't heard of the booking company. Fully expected a ... Read More
Our first cruise, I had always wanted to go on a Northern Lights cruise (hubbie not so enamoured as likes the warmth.) Booked on line, not daunted by the fact that hadn't heard of the booking company. Fully expected a "cruise",i.e. travelling in style, calling in at places of interest, booking on the boat etc. Bit let down on several counts, i.e. not informed that the ship was a ferry/cargo boat and that it would be calling in at thirty or so ports to pick up both passengers &/or cargo. Rather basic cabins (not having taken a cruise before we obviously didn't know what to expect!) Cramped conditions but, hey ho, one doesn't spend a lot of time in the cabin. We did both suffer from minor skin irritations ? bugs (ugh) and had to buy anti-histamine cream. On boarding ship with suitcases, no assistance available to lug these up rather narrow metal stairs (due to height of quayside) therefore wouldn't advise anyone with even slight disability to consider this. Wise to ask about this before booking! & to mention any infirmity. Food ok but could be repetitive and be prepared for the fact the fish is mainly on the menu. No choice of menu for dinner which was disappointing! We did have a shock on discovering price of drink & meals out.. beware! Plus points - very clean ship (apart from suspect bugs in cabin!) charming staff and a brilliant Hurtigruten tour manager who worked long hours and was a mine of information. Read Less
Sail Date February 2011
Midnatsol is one of 9 ferries with cruise style facilities doing a round trip from Bergen to Kirkenes at the Russian border and back. The ship stops at a multitude of ports which you can see during waking hours at east once during the ... Read More
Midnatsol is one of 9 ferries with cruise style facilities doing a round trip from Bergen to Kirkenes at the Russian border and back. The ship stops at a multitude of ports which you can see during waking hours at east once during the voyage. The ship loads and unloads cargo as well as passengers at most ports. The route is mainly between islands and the coast, but there are 3 notable bits of open water to traverse. Although the public areas are cruise style, the cabins are mostly as you would find on English cross-channel ferries. However, as so little time is spent in them, their basic nature does no matter much. Winter also has no single supplements for cabins and this is a real economy for myself and my friend who have winter holidays together. Because of the beauty of the scenery this was my 3rd winter voyage out of 4 trips with Hurtigruten. Hurtigruten offer many flights to Bergen from all over UK, and we must say that our KLM flights from Tyneside to Bergen via Amsterdam were most convenient. Included is a shuttle bus between airport and ship in Bergen. Embarkation is quick and easy - you just drop your suitcase and get pre-prepared cabin cards and table allocation in return. Almost all payments on the ship are by registering your cruise card and that took only 3 minutes to do at reception. As this is a scenic voyage, there are few activities. Amongst those there were was a singing duo each evening and information films and events occasionally. (Most of these do not happen in summer). One bit of fun that happens on all voyage is crossing the Arctic Circle with a King Neptune ceremony for those who want to join in, and a certificate for all. The public rooms have lots of space in the winter, but some of the seating becomes a bit uncomfortable after a few hours. Art and decoration is beautiful an imaginative. There is a small library and free internet access as well as a bar, snack bar and small souvenir shop. There are 2 jacuzzis on the top deck (outside) and a sauna (inside). Recreation is limited to walking around covered promenade deck 6 or open deck 9 (with helipad). There is a very small children's room which I have never seen occupied. Meals are taken in a well decorated dining room with a buffet breakfast and lunch with a set evening dinner. Breakfast is open seating, but for the first time, we had allocated tables for Lunch buffet as well as the usual allocated tables for dinner.These were shared with others of the same nationality who we got on with OK. Service is generally good and the waiters are really friendly if you get to know them. Since I first went on this winter cruise 4 years ago, I have noticed that the variety of food on offer has been substantially reduced with less choice of cooked meats, fish and cheese. Dinner is also less imaginative with fish being served as a main course on 5 evenings running. There is no problem however in changing any Dinner course by telling the restaurant manager at breakfast time (menus are posted the evening before). The chef is excellent with dietary requirements for dinner, but you have to look after your self at buffets. Cabins are serviced once a day with regular changes of bedding and fresh towel if you leave the old one on the sink or floor. There is an opportunity for an excursion almost every day including dog-sledging, snowmobiles, bus tours and a Viking Feast. Seeing the Northern Lights is a bonus and they did appear once on this voyage, but you cannot count on seeing them. I have not rated ports as stops are from 5 minutes to 4 hours, and it is very much up to you whether you explore take an excursion or stay on the ship. WE took this cruise for relaxation, scenery and a glimpse of Norwegian culture. It answered all of this admirably, and despite the obvious economies being made in the catering we enjoyed it very much once again. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
On January 29th 2011 we went on the Hurtigruten Classic Round Voyage sailing from Bergen to Kirkenes and back to Bergen.We booked direct with Hurtigruten by phone. They did offer flights and transfers from Gatwick, but we booked ... Read More
On January 29th 2011 we went on the Hurtigruten Classic Round Voyage sailing from Bergen to Kirkenes and back to Bergen.We booked direct with Hurtigruten by phone. They did offer flights and transfers from Gatwick, but we booked independently online with Norwegian Airlines and saved over £600. When we arrived in Bergen we boarded the Hurtigruten bus and paid for our fare. It took us to the Hurtigruten Terminal where we had to wait for the Trollfjord to return. When all the passengers had disembarked we were allowed to go aboard. We were aware this was not your regular cruise ship, but you would never have guessed it as it was much better than the previous cruise ship we went on. We were in cabin 706 on deck 7 in a small corridor that led to the Bridge. The cabin had a very large window, a most comfortable large bed adequate drawer and wardrobe space and a shower/toilet. Very comfortable and warm. The toilet had underfloor heating. We set sail at 10pm that night and started our journey northward. As it was dark we didn't see anything until the next morning when we drew the curtains and saw some beautiful scenery. We stopped at 34 ports , some for 2-3 hours some of the smaller ones for just 15 mins. The announcements were made when we were about to stop in 3 different languages. The dining room was large and breakfast was a buffet style as was the lunch. In the evening we had our set tables and were served by a very obliging team of waiters and waitresses. Nothing was too much for them. The breakfast consisted of eggs, bacon,sausages, fried potatoes,meats, cheeses, fish, cereals, porridge, fruit and lovely bread rolls, marmalade and jam. Tea and coffee was self service. Lunches were again buffet style with a selection of different salads, hot and cold meats, fish, soup, pate, vegetables and the most mouthwatering desserts you can ever imagine with a choice of up to 6/7 items. Dinner was a little bit more formal with some very good food, although we did not eat the reindeer meat offered.(Kept thinking about Rudolph!) We were offered an alternative by the ever helpful staff. This was a very relaxing cruise for us sitting about doing nothing, looking at the wonderful scenery that passed by, occasionally reading. There were quite a few passengers cruising and a number of passengers that were using the ship as a ferry to get to different ports. The embarking and disembarking at the ports was done with great precision and the ship docked at all the ports on time. As we went through the Arctic Circle we all were given a Hurtigruten woolly hat which was needed as the weather started to get colder and more snow was seen. The best thing about this cruise was you were not badgered to spend any extra money as you are on regular cruise ships, and not pushed to go on any excursions..it was your choice. There was no 'standing on ceremony' every night in the Dining room. People were dressed casual tidy and smart (Leave the jewels at home !) The Northern Lights came out 4 times as we sailed North of Tromso.The scenery was spectacular. The ship was brilliant as was the crew. The only problem (which was soon put right when we stopped at a port) was that they ran out of Teabags !!! possibly due to the high number of British people on board. I can honestly say this was the best cruise we have been on, and would love to return to Hurtigruten and visit Greenland to see the Polar Bears... Thank you Hurtigruten and the crew of the Trollfjord for making out cruise so memorable. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
Not many reviews have been written on the ships belonging to the Norwegian Hurtigruten company, so it was with some little ignorance and trepidation that we booked our Arctic Highlights 4-day cruise in an attempt to witness the often ... Read More
Not many reviews have been written on the ships belonging to the Norwegian Hurtigruten company, so it was with some little ignorance and trepidation that we booked our Arctic Highlights 4-day cruise in an attempt to witness the often elusive Northern Lights. We'd read that the Nordlys was commissioned in 1994, had a capacity of 475 passengers and that it was a working ferry."Hmmm" we thought, "back to basics then, a bit of an old tub". Well, how wrong our perceptions were. The Nordlys (and Hurtigruten) was refreshingly honest without the unsubstantiated marketing hype that has proceeded our cruises with Celebrity, P+O, Cunard et al. We'll run through some basics which may help in developing a more accurate picture of what to expect than we were party to. We flew out from Heathrow (at 07.30) with SAS to Oslo, coupled with another 2hr transfer flight to our embarkation port of Tromso. The H'row / Oslo flight offered us no complimentary beverages at all so be prepared for a 2 hours of no grub. For some reason on the internal transfer flights you are offered soft drinks, tea and coffee. We were met at Tromso airport by a Hurtigruten rep and very efficiently herded on to the coach transfer to our ship at the port. Being a working ferry, it was like waiting for a bus - and it was blooming cold. After about 25 minutes the boat pulled in and the chaotic check-in commenced, carrying our own luggage over the snow and ice, up the gangway to a very small reception desk for check-in. Not an impressive start but where did it say we would be waited on hand foot and finger? It didn't. But, the crew were very obliging and polite in helping us all out and this was generally the theme throughout our cruise. Our cabins were not ready immediately but we waited in the lounge to be informed, which was about an hour. The cabin itself was small - very small - and equipped with 2 single beds (one was the lower half of a bunk bed, where the top bunk was folded against the wall, the other was a sofa bed). The bathroom was small but, in fact, not that much smaller than the one we endured on our recent Azura cruise and the shower was 10 times better! The beds were quite firm (well Lynne said uncomfortably hard). Our cabin (note -not hyped up a Stateroom)was positioned on the 3rd deck and about two thirds down towards the aft. This meant you had fairly constant engine noise and other mechanical noises as the ship manouvred and docked throughout the day and night - remember it's a working ferry. We were half board and enjoyed a fairly substantial buffet breakfast of typical European fayre comprising cold meats, cheeses, fruit, cereal, rolls and bread, fruit juice etc together with some cooked items for us Brits. No queues, no fighting for tables, carrying your tray for miles. All very pleasant and freshly prepared and replenished. For lunch and snacks there is a small cafe but be warned of the prices - £4 for half litre of water, £5 for a coffee, £7 for a baguette. Ouch! The evening meals were taken at designated tables at either 6.30pm or 8.30pm. It was very re-assuring to be greeted by a supervisor at the door insisting on the use of a hand sanitisor. We enjoyed such things as fresh soup, freshly prepared fish (pollock, salmon, cod) and venison steak all presented from a set menu. One evening saw us tucking into a wonderful fresh seafood buffet including salmon, king crab, lobster, mussels, king prawns, cod etc. Indeed, the food generally was more than a match for the "exquisite and sumptuous 5-star gourmet fayre" Celebrity would have you believe you are in for. But another "Ouch" - £8 per glass of house wine. The decor is what you would call "traditional" with much use of wood (not veneer, P+O) brass and glass. The seating areas are comfortable with 2 bars, a very good observation lounge at the bow and a quiet area with library. And - BLISS - not a shred of that awfull intrusive piped music. No art auction. No constant announcements of yet another opportunity to part with your cash. Hooray, just the sound of gentle chatter. Hurtigruten offer excursions and they seem to be pretty well run, if not a little pricey. But again, they don't wax lyrical about them in a glossy brochure and there is no hard sell. We went to the Snow Hotel in Kirkenes and it was facinating as well as informative throughout. And all at minus 15 degrees too. There's little in the way of entertainment save learning how to tie knots and being introduced to freshly caught king crabs. Yes, we saw the Northern Lights - twice - and sightings are relayed over the ship's tannoy. You can also arrange to be phoned in your cabin if it's during the sleeping hours. But, don't go out in your nightey!! So, to recap, this is a no frills, honest to goodness cruise in a jolly hostile but very picturesque environment. Be sure to take your camera as the snow clad fjords present a marvellous outlook. It's a working vessel so there is some disturbance but it's certainly not intrusive. The staff and the whole ambience on board is one of helpfulness and welcoming. There are no pretentious promises that fail to live up to expectations. Indeed, this may even undersell itself. What a refreshingly welcome change. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
Oslo-Tromso 0915-1100 (Flight) £30 Tromso-Tronheim 0130-0615 (3 sleeps later) £200 (Inc Breakfast) Trondheim-Oslo 0930-1020 (Flight) £40 Right, this is all about the best trip I have ever taken. If you want scenery then ... Read More
Oslo-Tromso 0915-1100 (Flight) £30 Tromso-Tronheim 0130-0615 (3 sleeps later) £200 (Inc Breakfast) Trondheim-Oslo 0930-1020 (Flight) £40 Right, this is all about the best trip I have ever taken. If you want scenery then this is the best in the world, I am not joking! This trip is what I would call the "Lofoten" cruise. Every corner you take is another picture. Tromso is great to see the Northern lights and go up the cable car for great views of the city. The Artic church is very nice. (Oh, if you need to taste the best sandwich ever visit the bakery in front of the old church in the center of town. Also, do not leave Tromso without trying "Mack" beer, the Worlds most northern brewery.) I was supposed to get off at Bodo to get the train to Trondheim, but the cruise was so darn good, I begged to stay on board. Must see and do's in Trondheim, The cathedral and the crown jewels. Also take a walk over the old bridge. If your young go to a bar called "Down Town" The staff were great and very helpful with information on important facts. Rooms were comfy, my room 350 had all I needed (inc sockets) Book it, and you wont regret it, that is a promise! Take a spare battery for the camera! Read Less
Sail Date November 2010
we spent 6 days out of a 2 week trip on the soutbound voyage of the midnatsol from kirkenes to bergen (note- we got on in kirkenes). this was the first cruise for my family, which includes 2 daughters ages 13 and 17. i was very anxious ... Read More
we spent 6 days out of a 2 week trip on the soutbound voyage of the midnatsol from kirkenes to bergen (note- we got on in kirkenes). this was the first cruise for my family, which includes 2 daughters ages 13 and 17. i was very anxious about them having enough to do, about seasickness and about the food- but i needn't have worried about any of it- it was a fantastic experience for all of us. the scenery was spectacular, the ship was well appointed, i loved the frequent stops, the food was interesting and there was always something for everyone, and we had 2 wonderful excursions. a few other points: -the folks on board are mostly older- not sure why exactly. it is a great cruise if your mobility is handicapped because you can just sit and watch and be amazed- but i think it's great for families too. my daughters didn't make any friends which was a slight disappointment -the folks on board seemed to keep to themselves more than i'm used to with fellow travelers. also, many tables for meals seat 2 or 4 so you may not have to sit with anyone at meals. for us this was ok. -it's a casual ship- not dressing for dinner (loved that) -the food is european, with buffets for breakfast and lunch and a served set meal for dinner. the quality and presentation far exceeded my expectations. i also liked it that this cruise is not focused hugely on food, with midnight buffets etc. my daughters loved trying antelope and reindeer and other local cuisines. -it's more casual with service as well- between meals folks clean up their dishes etc. which again i liked -we did 2 excursions: the vega archipelago and the lofoten islands. the lofoton islands tour was by bus, and a bit long but interesting. vega was by boat and bus and is not to be missed. one down side of excursions i s they are held during the few extended and prime time port visits. we rarely visited towns where shops were open, which was a bit frustrating sometimes, but we loved seeing so many ports even for 15 minutes. -the weather, visibility and sea conditions for us were wonderful. i'm not sure if this is the norm or not for this time of the year, but no one experienced seasickness and there was good visibility for the majority of the time -norway is expensive, so additional snacks, beverages and alcohol can add up, but none of these things are necessary to purchase- there's plenty of food and water is served with every meal (i read some reviews that said you had to pay for water which is not true). there are also typically convenience stores close to ports so you can always pick up beverages and snacks -the size of this ship seemed perfect to me- you grew to know the staff and know your way around the ship. some of the public spaces were lovely. there was always room everywhere we wanted to sit. -be prepared for cool weather and lots of intermittent rain. the weather reports didn't sufficiently prepare us for the chilly weather, which was in the 60-70 range. -we had 2 adjacent double outside cabins which were small but perfectly sufficient. i might have chosen on interior quad with hindsight; we weren't in our room that much i can't say enough really about how spectacular the scenery was throughout the journey. it was often right up close, and even the most remote and desolate seeming landscapes always had a few red houses tucked in... i would highly recommend this trip to anyone that enjoys experiencing other cultures, loves watching magnificent views and is happy sitting and reading or occupying themselves (vs. being entertained). we spent time before the trip in copenhagen, and after in bergen, oslo and gothenberg, so we had some more cultural and urban experiences as well. this was our best family vacation yet- i hope other enjoy it! kirkenes- recommend staying at the thon hotel, but nothing much to do there as far as i can tell! Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
We bordered at Kirkenes and embarked at Bergen. Before driving on board the luggage was taken off the car and brought to the cabin by ship staff. It is not possible to go to the car after it has been left on the small car deck, approx 20 ... Read More
We bordered at Kirkenes and embarked at Bergen. Before driving on board the luggage was taken off the car and brought to the cabin by ship staff. It is not possible to go to the car after it has been left on the small car deck, approx 20 cars are accommodated. The cabins are small but sufficient. However, there is no minibar but the bars on board are very helpful and offer ice cubes. Wine and spirits are very expensive on board. Restaurants and other places on board are very nice. Staff is over all helpful and pleasant. At booking we were informed that the price included gratuities but in fact the staff expect tipping. Envelopes marked "tips" are available at several places and at the end of the trip several envelopes were discreetly passed to "favourites". Excursions are very well organized and if the weather is fine, good opportunities for sceneries. The guides speak excellent languages at least English,German and French and are in general very professional. The Norwegian coastline is very beautiful, probably the nicest in the world.The ship stops at 33 ports, very often for 15 minutes only. In other ports a little longer and it is possible to take a short walk.Hurtigruten is basically a passenger ferry and approx. 50% of the passengers are on board between a few ports only. Our journey took place at the end of July and in the middle of the summer. But the weather was unreliable, sometimes nice with warm sunbathing at sundeck but most of the time foggy and rainy. Finally, trip can be recommended. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
The world's most beautiful voyage is how the Hurtigruten cruise line bills the coastal voyage from Bergen to Kirkenes. They are so right! We were on the Midnatsol the same time as karoggra who posted a review titled, Best scenic ... Read More
The world's most beautiful voyage is how the Hurtigruten cruise line bills the coastal voyage from Bergen to Kirkenes. They are so right! We were on the Midnatsol the same time as karoggra who posted a review titled, Best scenic cruise in the world. The voyage is rarely on open sea so you have scenery on both sides of the ship most of the trip. My husband and I were traveling on a tour arranged by travel agency so we had a pickup from our hotel to the dock. We arrived about 6 p.m. after an all day Norway in a Nutshell® tour. Check-in took seconds and we boarded with our carry-on bags. The cabin cards were handed to us as we entered the covered walkway to deck 6. The deck 6 entrance is only used at Bergen. Our bags were waiting at the entrance to our cabin. Since we were doing a round-trip and started at the home port, baggage handling was done by the ship crew. Ship: We had an starboard outside cabin on deck 4. It was 2 cabins away from the atrium where the elevators are located. All the traffic on and off the ship on the voyage takes place on deck 4 by the elevators so it was very handy. The ship has its own gangway which opens up on the side of the side. Stand on deck 5 and watch the gangway open sometime. It is very interesting. There are two other openings in the side of the ship further down for cargo and cars. The ship doesn't have to rely on port gangways which take time. The ship is very efficient getting in and out of ports. Some stops were for only 15 minutes. I learned how they did that visiting the bridge. The cargo hold is designed for pallets so the forklift trucks would be whipping around on the dock unloading or loading. At Stamsund, we had over an hour stay so while we were out walking around the village, the forklift operators were unloading mattresses and building supplies. There is another elevator near the back of the ship serving decks 4 - 8. It is handy for those in the stern of the ship. Public restrooms are available near the dining room on deck 5 and near the main elevators on deck 5 and 8. There is a conference area on deck 5 which is used for presentations or conferences. It is not an entertainment venue. We did have three slide presentations on the ship: The Royal Family, National Day and National Costumes. We are onboard for National Day, May 17. There was a parade around deck 9 with flags, banners, and national costumes. Cabin: Our cabin was very functional. We had a cabin with one twin bed under the window and one perpendicular to it. The bed under the window made into a sofa during the day. The beds are hard but still comfortable. The covers are duvets with a quilted liner. It was too hot for me so I just used the sheet. There was one extra pillow in the room and we asked for another. There are two wool blankets to use on the outside decks. Yes, we needed the blanket when lounging topside some days. You receive one bath towel and one hand towel to start. If you want a clean towel, leave it on the floor. There are no washcloths. I bought a few with me. There is a mounted container of hand soap/shampoo by the sink and in the shower area. To save room packing, I used Twitter @HurtigrutenASA to find out that there was a dryer in the bathroom. There is. The cabin has desk area with small mirrored cubbies on either size of the big mirror. There is a plug by the mirror which we used to charge the camera batteries and iPad. You will need a converter and adapter for the European style plug. The hanging closet had two sections (his and hers) with 5 hangers in each section. The clothes hang front to back rather than side by side. There were two sections of shelving in the main closet and two more big shelves by the desk. The suitcases fit under the bed. The bathroom was very functional and I liked it better than some of the US market ships I have been on. There is a step up to the bathroom. There is a small step down to the shower. It is designed to have an angle to allow more room. The curtain is long enough to keep the water in the shower area. The shower head can be kept mounted on the pole or used as a hand-held. There is a retractable clothes line. The floor can be heated with the switch on the wall outside the bathroom. There is a big wall cabinet with shelves for all your toiletries. I still had space in it after stowing everything. There is a towel bar by the sink with wall mounted cup holders. I found out that the inside cabins do have TV as well as the suites. No TV in the outside cabins. It was not missed. The telephone has some radio stations that you can listen to. There are 4 washing machines on deck 4 close to the rear elevator. You purchase a token from reception and they give you the soap. The dryer is free. There are posted instructions in English. The machines are labelled in Norwegian. We did two loads for about $10. What to do: If you take the round trip cruise you will receive a 130-page book with colored photos and an explanation of what you will see broken down by days. It is a great resource to read about what you are seeing along the way. The Tour Director does make announcements as described in three languages, English is always the second one. She gave us a heads up to what scenic wonder was coming our way so we could get to observation lounges or the correct side of the ship. You can turn off the announcements on the phone in your cabin. As mentioned, there are many lounges without any waiters to bother you about drinks. If you want a drink, you go to the bar and get it yourself. There was a tray for self-busing of cups and glasses in most lounges. We liked the forward lounges on deck 8 and 9 and the library on deck 8. The library has games and some English language books left by passengers. The deck 8 and 9 lounges have windows on three sides so you had a great view of the scenery. Deck 9 lounge is actually open to deck 8 lounge. It does get a little warm up there so we preferred deck 8. Deck 9 had three major sections, the inside lounge, the outside deck with glass walls to protect from the wind and the back deck. We liked to lounge in the back. The chairs are not loungers so if you want to put your feet up, use another chair. There are many teak round tables and matching chairs near the doorway on deck 9. The smokers were usually in this area. Food: I was more impressed with the food than other reviewers. The food presentation at dinner was very impressive. Two chef teams took over the buffet area (in the center of the room) to dish up the food. One did the sauce, one plated the entree and sides and another added the garnishes. We received a booklet with the menus for the trip so we knew what night we would have the reindeer or the salmon. I am not a great fish eater but I did enjoy the meals. Granted the breakfast and lunch buffets didn't vary much but they had a different hot breakfast item daily and hot lunch items. I discovered the hot oatmeal and added dried fruit and granola stuff to it. There was soft and hardboiled eggs very morning. I liked the whole grain breads. They did have a breakfast pasty item each day. They had a 6-slice toaster if you wanted toast. We learned to grab juice and water from the machine and stake out a table for the open seating breakfast. Than we headed to the buffet to stock up. Keep in mind the buffet is designed for the European market so expect cheese and cold cuts on the breakfast menu. Where else can you have cottage cheese and herring for breakfast. My husband was delighted with the 4-5 cheese selections at breakfast and lunch. He reports that they were mostly soft, all delicious, but no cheddar. You won't find tacos, pizza, or hamburgers on the menu. If you want french fries, go to the snack bar and pay for them. The soups were excellent. I like smooth cream soups and these were excellent. Who knew asparagus soup could taste so good. The desserts were good and don't miss out on the slab ice cream at lunch. I didn't discover that until day 4! Coffee: The coffee came out of one of the machines where you press a button and you get a cup of coffee. It is strong! I would have a cup with breakfast and than take another cup out to the lounge. Coffee was not provided at the table for dinner. The coffee machine is located on deck 8 by the bar. After dinner you go for coffee. If you want coffee between meals, you pay 25 KOR ($3.85) for a cup. They do have a coffee plan which is good for an entire year! You pay 209 KOR ($32.20 at this time) for a red metal lined mug which allows you to get coffee or tea for the trip. If you were a commuter and traveled frequently, it would be a good deal. We opted not to do that and were fine with the free coffee after meals. Water: Although there are signs on the dining room table for purified water for 19 KOR, we found out that you just ask for tap water and they bring a carafe of water (no ice) to the table. They do that at lunch and dinner. I brought my own water bottle with me which I refilled from the bathroom sink. The water is nice and cold and tastes like bottled water. Tours: We went on the following excursions: (Northbound) Trondheim Folk Museum, Tromsø City Tour (Polaria and Arctic Cathedral), and (Southbound) Tromsø Midnight Concert [the ship arrives at 11:45 p.m.], Lofoten Islands countryside tour, Trondheim City Tour (includes Nidaros Cathedral). We might have gone on more tours but they are not cheap. My husband says, the Folk Museum could have been skipped. I did the Bridge Tour to see the Captain and the Bridge on day 11. I found it very interesting and worthwhile. That is posted in the daily program. Shopping: The gift shop on board has a very nice selection of Norwegian products. We ended up doing most of our souvenir shopping on board. There is a nice gift shop at the Polar Bear Club in Hammerfest right by the dock. By the way the public library is across the street and has free wi-fi. There is a nice gift shop and ice bar in Honningsvåg close to the dock. Internet Access: There are 4 computers on deck 8 by the library. There is a 40 KOR ($6.22) charge per hour of use. I used my iPad and iTouch with the wireless that is available in the public areas. It is satellite so the reception is dependent upon a good signal so don't expect much when in the fjords or when there are mountain ranges on both sides of the ship. The mountains do impact reception. Deck 8 or 9 is the best. There is no coverage in the cabins and deck 5 is not as strong as deck 8. Thanks to the purser who helped me get the wi-fi started on my new iPad. Staff: The staff are great. All are Norwegian and most switch effortlessly from Norwegian to English to German. The staff work 22 days on and then 22 days off including the captain. We did see some new faces over the course of the cruise. There is not a culture of tipping so we didn't have to worry about an add on for tips like most cruises. There is a big wooden bowl by the head waiter's desk at the entrance to the dining room. There is a small sign that it is for TIPS with Thank You in several languages. We left the rest of our Norwegian money in the tip bowl. The staff are helpful, have a ready smile, are efficient but are not fawning. Since the Hurtigruten line does ferry and cargo service besides us tourists, they have some systems that are not the same as a regular cruise line. What you won't see: no towel animals, no nightly program in your room, (pick it up in the announcement area on deck 8), no turn down service, no free between meal snacks, no singers and dancers (singer and keyboard in the lounge deck 8 in the evening), and no rah rah cruise director. What you will find is a comfortable trip in the midst of spectacular scenery with plenty of time to relax and read or look out the window. As Americans, we were in the minority. The prominent groups were Norwegian and German. The weather was good for most of the trip. The last few days were overcast with clouds hiding the mountain tops. We had clear skies for a good part of the trip and enjoyed the midnight sun. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
My sister, mom & I had a splendid time aboard MS Polarlys & only wish we had taken the complete journey North & South! All staff was very friendly & helpful. Views from both inside the Panoramic suite & outside on deck ... Read More
My sister, mom & I had a splendid time aboard MS Polarlys & only wish we had taken the complete journey North & South! All staff was very friendly & helpful. Views from both inside the Panoramic suite & outside on deck were breath taking. The variety and freshness of food was exquisite. The price of drinks in particular water and alcohol was in my view very expensive though. Alesund - A very pretty and picturesque town with its characteristic harbour and buildings. Trondheim - We had a very nice walk along the river and caught sight of the beautiful Nidaros cathedral Svolvaer - I would describe this town as the "perfect picture postcard town" it looks very surreal and quite beautiful. Tromso - We enjoyed the Fjellheisen Cable Car experience, the views of the city and surrounding mountains from the top of mount Storsteinen were spectacular and breathtaking. Honningsvag - Was the last town we visited before departing for England the history behind this town was of great interest with its church being the only original building still standing after the 2nd World war! A very enjoyable and memorable holiday. Thank you! Allison Barwell - Warwickshire England Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
I will place emphasis on the cruise portion. With a group reservation the tickets were waiting at the pier and we quickly boarded. Our cabin number was only then provided based on the chosen category. My cabin proved to be a problem ... Read More
I will place emphasis on the cruise portion. With a group reservation the tickets were waiting at the pier and we quickly boarded. Our cabin number was only then provided based on the chosen category. My cabin proved to be a problem because it was next to the loading ramp and by the laundry room. There was little chance to change the cabin as all cabins were booked well ahead.       The Ms. Polarlys is a typical fleet ship with about 550 passengers as well as cargo and ferry service. The ship kept tightly to schedule and stopped at about 34 ports (same group) in each direction on the round trip voyage. Day and night schedule alternated. The departure date was on the Winter Schedule and just before the switch to Summer Schedule. This limited some stops and excursions.       All meals were included with the package. Breakfast and lunch were buffet and open seating. Dinner was a fixed (feature) menu with reserved seating. It would be very costly to purchase the meals on your own. The food was varied and typical Scandinavian with lots of fish but plenty of choices. Reindeer was presented, too. Cruisers with dietary concerns were accepted but the menu was limited.       The cabin was smaller than some ships but fine for me. I had a futon style bed by the window and fold down bed from the wall. There is a small desk. Power is controlled with the room's key card and there is both 220 and limited 110 ac power. Linen/towel service is on demand or weekly bed change. There are no televisions in the cabin. A phone with radio was in each room. For two people, the storage space might be tight. The bathroom was good and water temperature is great. In rough weather there is some water noise. My cabin had a window and seemed close to the sea (on deck 3).       Decks notes: Deck four has the dining room, snack area, Internet room (free for many users), tour desk, bar lounge, child play area, meeting rooms, shop and viewing seats. Deck three is the service desk, laundry and most of the gangway use. Deck five is the boat deck and outside viewing in some sections. Deck seven has the panorama lounge, bar lounge, library and more viewing areas.       Other passengers without cabins, slept on overnight portions, in the viewing lounge and the library. Some children were along but I might not be sure that all tourists would want their children along on this trip. Announcements were usually in four languages as needed: Norwegian, English, German and French. The currency on board is Norwegian Kroner or an arrangement with your credit card. Americans will be frustrated with what we see as high costs and as compared to our money and economy. English is commonly spoken.       The scenery is the prime entertainment. If you take photos, be prepared to shoot through glass (often dirtied by weather) or be dressed to go on the outside decks. The weather will have great effect.       The trip can be very relaxing in most cases with plenty of time to socialize and watch the "world's most beautiful" scenery pass by. Don't expect a fancy, upscale cruise line arrangement. This is a great trip for those who want the adventure and experience. I am sure that I did not tell all here so I may be able to help your questions but do the research, too. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
Great trip with Hurtigruten from Bergen to Kirkenes with a night pre-cruise in Bergen and one night post-cruise in Oslo. Ship, MS Midnatsol, is one of the newest and largest ships in Hurtigruten's fleet. She had just been in the ... Read More
Great trip with Hurtigruten from Bergen to Kirkenes with a night pre-cruise in Bergen and one night post-cruise in Oslo. Ship, MS Midnatsol, is one of the newest and largest ships in Hurtigruten's fleet. She had just been in the dockyard for a minor refurbishment - evidence of newly laid carpets but no obvious remaining jobs to be completed. Ship is elegant and comfortable in the public areas with very interesting art collection. Cabin was a U grade Ocean View with a large porthole. Travelling as a single so one bunk was always kept as a sofa. Limited storage space; would have been a struggle for 2 on an eleven night trip. Single bunk was comfortable with a good reading light. Bathroom typical of most ships; compact but functional but with the added bonus of a heated floor. Dining Ship was not full so single seating in main dining room, breakfast was free seating, other meals were nearly all at your assigned table. Breakfast and lunch were buffet and dinner was generally a set menu. I enjoyed all the set menus and didn't feel the need to ask for a change. (Menu is published in advance and you can request something different if you really don't fancy the set dish). Good blend between fish and meat main courses. Alcohol is very expensive. Tea and coffee is served after lunch and dinner in the lounge, other times you have to purchase hot beverages or purchase the refill cup. I like tea so I took my travel kettle with me. Crew Very proactive Norwegian crew, happy to help and talk about their country. Tips are optional. Travelling Companions For this winter trip few people were using the ship as a ferry most were 'cruising' or onboard for a conference. About 200 were doing the Northbound trip like me, about the same number again doing the round trip. We were joined by a stargazing group of about 100 for the middle section and a conference group for 2 nights. Majority of cruisers were British but with a fair number of German and French speakers. (Excursion to the North Cape had 2 full english speaking buses, one partially full german and one partially full french bus). Weather Generally sunny during the day but cold. At night very cold and with the ships speed and windchill down to equivalent of -25 degC. Layers and a good hat and gloves are a must. Lots of snow falling when leaving Kirkenes so plane had to be deiced and a bit late as a result. Photography Hurtigruten had a professional photographer, Simon, on board for this trip. Simon helped everyone to take better photos but particularly of the Northern Lights which obligingly came out for three consecutive nights. Absolute highlight of the trip. Entertainment Duo played most nights in the lounge but the main draw for this trip was being out on deck watching the sky. Ports 34 Ports are visited on this trip, I explored in Bergen, Alesund, Trondheim, Bodo, Tromso, Honningsvag (for North Cape) and Oslo. Quick Review here since most of the ports aren't in the drop down list. Bergen, have visited twice before so went up the funicular to look over the city in the snow and spent time at the art gallery. Alesund, ship excursion to walk around the town to see the Art Nouveau buildings and the museum. Trodheim, Ship City tour including very beautiful Nidaros cathedral. Bodo, just strolled around the town to stretch my legs. Tromso, Ship city tour including Polaria and Arctic Cathedral. Honningsvag, Ship excursion to snow swept North Cape. Oslo, Munch Museum and shopping. Overall Wonderful trip, Northern Lights were way beyond expectation, Ports were interesting, Food was much better than expected. Would I travel again - yes and I'd like to go in the middle of the winter to see the Arctic Night. Expensive trip even with no single supplement in the winter season but worth every penny. Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
Hi there, We have just returned from a cruise on the MS Trollfjord from Bergen to Bergen. We were first time cruisers and our party consisted of 3 people one of which was in a wheelchair. The cruise was fantastic and the staff helpful. ... Read More
Hi there, We have just returned from a cruise on the MS Trollfjord from Bergen to Bergen. We were first time cruisers and our party consisted of 3 people one of which was in a wheelchair. The cruise was fantastic and the staff helpful. Unfortunately my parents could not get off at many ports due to the extreme weather conditions (snow). Alot of areas had not been cleared hence being unable to get the wheelchair around. The excursions were fantastic and everything ran smoothly so we have not complaints at all. We were advised before hand that it was very expensive so prepared for the worst, not as drastic as we thought. The cruise had several nice touches i.e passing the arctic circle was a celebration so there were drinks and a gift, passing a specific Fjord you could purchase a beautiful gift mug etc The cruise was extemely enjoyable and the hilight certainly being the Northern lights - which we were lucky enough to see. I took pictures of everything and they were stunning, unfortunately, i managed to delete half of them and have no idea how so i was devastated when i tried to download them. If anyone has any photos of the Northerncape, snow hotel, huskies, Trondheim cathedral and Allesund, i would quite happily buy copies of them. Many thanks and happy cruising if you decide to go ahead. Gayle Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
We booked this cruise in the heat of August, and as the date approached and we experienced record cold and snow in the Washington, DC, area, we asked ourselves, "Are we crazy?" We flew to Bergen on February 27th, and stayed in ... Read More
We booked this cruise in the heat of August, and as the date approached and we experienced record cold and snow in the Washington, DC, area, we asked ourselves, "Are we crazy?" We flew to Bergen on February 27th, and stayed in a hotel there for two nights, touring the city, and Troldhaugen, Edvard Grieg's summer home, studio, and museum. We boarded the Richard With two days later, and set sail for the north coast of Norway, then eastward to the Russian border. Along the way we stopped at 34 ports, day and night. Then we turned around and sailed back to Bergen, stopping at the same 34 ports; those visited at night northbound were daytime stops southbound, and vice-versa. I must add here that we booked our trip through a Boston travel company, which provided air arrangements, the hotel stay in Bergen before and after the cruise, and a program manager/guide, who traveled with the 47 of us, presented a daily one-hour lecture on ports visited, Norwegian and Scandinavian history, politics, and geography, led optional walks in nearly every port, and attended to all our needs. We also had five Hurtigruten shore excursions included in the price. The ship is a working ferry, carrying cargo and cars from port to port, and day passengers as well. So it is not your typical cruise ship. We reserved a mini-suite, category Q. There are eight such mini-suites, plus two suites. All other accommodations are smallish cabins with two bunk beds - one is a couch that folds into a bed, the other is attached to the wall, and is pulled down to sleep on. When both are in the sleep position, there is about 18" between them, and not much more space. All bathrooms are identical - small, but with separate showers. There are 490 berths in all, with the capacity for an additional 200 day passengers, who can be found sleeping overnight in lounges or other public areas. Our mini-suite was adequate, a sitting area, and a typical cruise ship double bed, a dressing table, closets, and other storage. Benefits of paying extra for the suite included a mini-bar (we used the refrigerator for fresh fruit and beer that we bought ashore), TV set, champagne on boarding, a fruit basket which was refilled twice, a tour of the bridge (normally NK80) and a drink afterward, and membership in the coffee club. Unlike typical cruse ships, meals are buffet breakfast and lunch, and fixed served dinners. Any food in between mealtimes, including coffee, is available only in the cafeteria, and at a price. Having the coffee club membership allowed us to fill our coffee cups anytime, 24 hours, in the cafeteria, which is usually used by the day passengers. The other perk of having a suite allowed us to stay in our cabin on disembarkation day until the ship docked around 2:30PM; all other passengers had to vacate their cabins at 10:00AM. Speaking of food, it is plentiful, but not especially gourmet fare. The breakfast and lunch buffets have huge selections of cold meats, smoked fish, three kinds of herring, cheeses, and pate. There are several selections of hot foods, including mutton and cabbage, cod tongue, reindeer stew, and more conventional choices such as turkey cutlets, pork, and fish, both sauteed and sauced. There is also a daily soup at lunch. Dinners are three courses, no choices. One night might be a soup, fish with potatoes and vegetable, and dessert; another night might be seared scallop appetizer, lamb chops, dessert. All soups and most entrees were barely warm, all entrees were over-salted and over-sauced. Desserts were just OK. Service was attentive, but not solicitous. The scenery is the star of this voyage and it was breathtaking! Sailing in the fjords is like nothing I've seen before. Small villages all along the water, with mountains rising behind them. Snow cover everywhere. We encountered an Arctic storm in the Barents Sea, which rocked and rolled the ship for the better part of two days. Walking around was an adventure, and several people suffered from some degree of seasickness. Fortunately, (or unfortunately for our waistlines) my wife and I did not miss a meal. For the most part, though, the journey was quite smooth. Embarking and Disembarking at the various ports was easy - the built-in retractable gangplank made an easy walk ashore, and for security one only had to scan his key card on or off. While the ship is a working cargo ship/ferry, the public spaces are lovely - three lounges, a large outside space, a promenade deck which encircled the entire ship, a library, and an arcade made plenty of room for socializing, reading, playing games, or just watching the scenery. There are also two hot tubs, a small exercise room, and a sauna. Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
We took the 12 day 'Classic Round Voyage' from Bergen to Kirkenes and back at the end of January 2010, the main reason being in the hope of seeing the Northern Lights. Our ship was the Trollfjord, which is one of the newer and ... Read More
We took the 12 day 'Classic Round Voyage' from Bergen to Kirkenes and back at the end of January 2010, the main reason being in the hope of seeing the Northern Lights. Our ship was the Trollfjord, which is one of the newer and larger vessels (and identical to the Midnatsol), although the trip can be made in a number of the fleet's vessels that ply the coast carrying goods and passengers to numerous ports as well as accommodating their holidaying passengers. Embarkation is late in the afternoon, but rather than use a flight (from UK) arriving at Bergen the same day as embarkation, we flew to Bergen the day before in order to spend the evening in Bergen for a pleasant but expensive few drinks and meal, and most of the following day sightseeing before being picked up by the Hurtigruten coach at the hotel (the Strand) at 5pm and taken to the point of embarkation. I would recommend this if possible as Bergen is a pleasant town and well worth the visit, and a number of those we met on board expressed the view that they too wished they had done this. THE SHIP. The boat was bigger and smarter than I had envisaged for a working ferry. Although it doesn't compare with cruise lines - nor should anyone travelling by Hurtigruten expect it to be a 'cruise' in the excepted sense of the holiday - it is well appointed with a large and comfortable dining room, a large bar (with piano/singer in the evenings), cafe, gift shop, saunas, Jacuzzis, small gym, conference facilities, small library and large, comfortable observation lounges. As we were going for the whole 12 days and slightly concerned about the possible boredom factor, we booked a mini-suite to give us more room and comfort should we want to retire to our cabin. Although more expensive, we were glad that we did this as the cabin (no 691) was spacious, with seating area, television/CD player, a large comfortable double bed in a separate area and a good-sized bathroom with shower and hair-dryer. A bottle of fizz on ice was awaiting us on arrival, with a bowl of fresh fruit that was replenished daily, tea and coffee making facilities, and two of their unique coffee mugs that give free access to coffee throughout the trip (these cost 209 NK, or about £24, if bought separately). Also, the cabin was at the back on Deck 6, which is the only deck you can walk round on the outside, so any sightings of the Northern Lights, or need to get some fresh air was very easy as the door to the deck was only a few feet away from our cabin. Although the bar is large it was very much lacking in customers for pre-dinner drinks (coffee is taken there after dinner). This is not surprising at the prices charged. We had a beer each evening, but two .4 litre glasses cost the equivalent of £13.50. It certainly curtailed my usual beer intake! However, it is perfectly acceptable to take your own drink on board for use in your cabin (and as Norway is not in the EU you can take advantage of duty free prices). THE FOOD. As other reports indicate, breakfast and lunch are open-seating buffets, while dinner is a set meal (starter, main and dessert) taken at the same pre-assigned table each evening. Tables are generally for two or four, although at the time of the year we travelled the boat was only about a quarter full and most tables were occupied by a couple only. We were told on booking that there are usually two dinner sittings and we opted for the second sitting. However, as it was lightly booked there was only a single sitting. This was at 7 pm and a little early for us, but there was no problem in arriving at 7.30 or even 7.45 (although after that may have been a bit chancey for getting a starter!). As with everything else, the food does not compare with that available on traditional cruise liners, but subject to my comments below, most of it was perfectly acceptable. The most disappointing was breakfast, as although there is a good selection of cold items (fish, meats, cheeses etc), a few cereals and a limited fruit selection, the 'hot' dishes left a lot to be desired. Firstly it was virtually always the same - inedible rubbery scrambled eggs, small meatballs, tiny red sausages and some small chunks of fried potato. These were invariably tepid at best unless you were lucky enough to get a batch being brought straight from the kitchen (and even then they were only warm) This 'hot' selection got very boring over the voyage and it would have been nice to ring the changes with some grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, different sausages or variety of potato, beans, bacon etc. to make it interesting, but only once in 12 days did we get some baked beans to add some variety, and on three occasions there were pre-fried eggs, topped with a little bacon. These made a welcome variation, but again they were not hot and you had to search for one with a soft yolk. In addition there were two bowls of eggs, one marked 'soft boiled' and the other 'hard boiled', but although I tried a soft-boiled egg when the fried eggs were unavailable, on every occasion the yolk was hard. They might just as well have had a single bowl of hard-boiled eggs! In short, therefore, I was a little disappointed with hot breakfast, as with a bit of variation and better preparation it could have been so much better. Lunch was better, with a good selection of cold and salad dishes (including several varieties of fish) and two or three hot dishes as well as cheeses and a variety of sweets. There was also soup, but although I had it every day it was never more than warm. Similarly the 'hot' dishes tended to vary between tepid and warm more often than not, and were usually fairly plain, as were the accompanying vegetables (boiled potatoes/vegetables featured a lot!) Nevertheless, there was more than enough to satisfy, and being a buffet was able to be the most leisurely meal of the day. Although dinner was without choice, I understand that those who didn't like the main course (for example vegetarians) would be offered an alternative. The food was of excellent quality, especially the fish of which there was plenty (only one day didn't fish feature as either the starter or main meal). However, once again I found it was rarely served hot, and serving it on cold plates didn't help. Nevertheless, it was always good quality ingredients and attractively presented, although again the accompanying vegetable often relied on the plain, unimaginative boiled potato. The problem with the meals being less than hot seems to lie with the food being cooked in the kitchen (and probably the early batches wait in trays) before being brought out to a central serving counter in the centre of the restaurant where it is scooped into canteen-style trays. At lunchtime it then sits and waits in cooling containers, while at dinner it is then dished onto (cold) plates for waiters to distribute. Wine was available at a high cost (the cheapest bottles were just over £36, rising to over £55, although a 'wine deal' was available that gave a bottle of wine per night. I don't know how much this was other than to surmise it must have been eye-wateringly expensive!) However, despite previous reports mentioning a 'water deal' whereby water could be purchased, this must have been discontinued, as (tap) water with the meal was free. Most people I saw drank water with their meals! The service was efficient, although could be a mixed bag in terms of warmth and sociability. Some waiting staff were amiable, while one or two were straight-faced and lacking in warmth the whole time. One in particular (she must have been with them a long time as she appears in a photograph in the Hurtigruten museum at Stokmarknes) became a point of interest, as nobody saw her smile the whole of the trip! However, overall the service was good. THE STOPS. The ship stopped at many ports to unload/board freight and passengers. Often these stops were too short to leave the ship, but where it was possible it was nice to stretch our legs and walk in the winter snow that covered everywhere like a white fairyland. There are numerous organised trips available, although all were expensive for what they were. None particularly appealed so we didn't take any, and rather than taking an organised 'walking tour' of a town we preferred to do it ourselves at our own pace. Overall Despite one or two small negative points, we thoroughly enjoyed our trip. Although a few reports speculate that the full 12 days could be boring, it is OK if you are prepared for it and enjoy absorbing the scenery, which is spectacular. We found it OK. The 6-day cruise would have been too short and we were glad we were staying as we watched passengers disembarking at Kirkenes after what had seemed a very short voyage, although on arrival back in Bergen I was just about ready to leave. The main attraction, of course, is the scenery and it really is enchanting. I loved it in the winter, with the snow-covered landscape and the early or late sun glinting on the snow-capped mountains giving them varying pink, orange and purple hues as it rose or dipped behind the horizon, and the snow turning the little villages into Christmas card scenes. And to top it off we did see the Northern Lights. Not the spectacular, rolling multi-coloured lights that are shown on TV but the pulsating luminous, greeny and rather spooky lights on the horizon. All in all I wouldn't have missed it. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
I just got back from a January cruise on the Sir Richard With with my partner. Winter is a fantastic time of year if you enjoy the snow because the views are breathtaking and there are no crowds at all! The ship was only at about 1/6 of ... Read More
I just got back from a January cruise on the Sir Richard With with my partner. Winter is a fantastic time of year if you enjoy the snow because the views are breathtaking and there are no crowds at all! The ship was only at about 1/6 of its capacity and all the sites along the way were clear of crowds. Of course, the Northern lights were very special; saw them 3 time despite cloudy conditions through most of the artic circle. But by far the best thing about the Sir Richard with was 2 hot tubs on the back of the deck, which you could soak in the breathtaking views in comfort and style. Only complaint there is the the ship's railing were are eye level while in the tub, wish they though of that when they installed it! The ports have a fabulous opportunity to explore numerous towns and cities. The ship had a tourism desk that was a wonderful idea but poorly executed. They only had maps for 2 of the 11 ports we got off the ship, even though each of the town's tourist offices usually produces one. So make sure you research the port cities in advance. The internet on the ship is mind numbingly slow. The excursions sounded fun but we were more than happy to explore the towns on our own. Instead of booking the full trip, we booked 2 parts: Bergen to Tromsø (4.5 days) then stayed in Tromsø and caught the same ship as it returned south. To me, this was ideal as it provided a much needed break from the ship to go snowshoeing around the beautiful Tromsø area. In Tromsø, my partner and I stay at an absolutely gorgeous cabin with a fabulous Norwegian host family living across the street. They were ready to loan us snow shoes, skis, their car, even came to knock on our door when the Northern lights were out! Can't recommend them enough: http://www.holemarkgaard.no Lastly, for those that our interested in environmental impact, we learned from the ship's manager that it did dump its "grey water" waste out at sea as soon as they were far enough off shore. This surprised me because the WWF site had said Hurtigruten did not engage in this practice, but there you go. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
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