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9 Hurtigruten Baltic Sea Cruise Reviews

We are just home from a trip to Norway which featured a fjord cruise on the Trollfjord. My parents took a fjord cruise 35 years ago and raved about the incredible scenery; once again, my mother was right. My parents also commented on the ... Read More
We are just home from a trip to Norway which featured a fjord cruise on the Trollfjord. My parents took a fjord cruise 35 years ago and raved about the incredible scenery; once again, my mother was right. My parents also commented on the less that wonderful food; I am starting to think that my mother was never wrong! The ship is very nice and run by a very able and efficient crew. The public areas were lovely and well appointed. Embarcation was simple and efficient. We had purchased a mini suite, cabin 691, as we wanted a view from our room. I did not do enough research before booking and discovered that the two windows, one in the sitting area and the other in the bedroom looked out onto a walkway. We quickly discovered that the view was two-way; it became apparent that unless we did not mind people looking in on us, we would not have a view from the cabin. We upgraded to a larger suite, 818, which was lovely and offered a "bump out window" with two comfortable chairs. We spent hours marveling at the incredible scenery. This larger suite had a safe in it which I appreciated; the mini suite did not. There was a shower and a tub and a large walk in closet. A curtain separated the sitting area which had a couch, table, two chairs, and a desk from the sleeping area. The storage was more than adequate and the bed was very comfortable. I was surprised that the towels were both threadbare and in some cases ragged. My husband used the exercise area but had to wait one day as all of the equipment was being used by the crew. There were no towels or water available in the exercise area which suprised me but may just be a European custom. The cost of the original cabin and the upgrade came to $13,500 which is pretty stiff for a six night cruise. I blame myself for not doing a better job of researching; our travel agent did not help us at all with this or with anything else for that matter. We traveled with another couple who had booked an outside cabin; they upgraded also and had the suite across the hall. We explored several towns on our own and took the excursion to see the Sammi. We enjoyed all of these trips and felt that we got to know something of the country other than Bergen and Oslo. We are not fans of huge cruise liners and looked forward to this smaller ship. We have taken four or five river cruises which we loved and expected this to be comparable. We got the coffee and wine packages and thought they were worthwhile. The staff was all very helpful and efficient but I would not describe them as particularly friendly with the exception of two of our waiters, one Greek and the other Swedish, who were a delight. We tipped them at the end of the trip but did not feel we needed to tip the other staff. I used the laundry area; you buy tokens at the customer service desk. Figuring out the directions was an adventure even with the translations. We do not cuise to eat but do enjoy good food; I love to cook and collect cookbooks from the coutries that we visit. My husband is Italian and food matters to him as well. The food on the Trollfjord was a great disappointment for me. Breakfast and lunch were buffet style as were the first and last dinners on board. The food was plentiful but with the exception of the outstanding desserts, it was not good. Perhaps Norweigian food is not to our taste but we had excellent meals in both Bergen and Oslo before and after the cruise. The menu both set and bufffet leaned heavily toward fish and the sauces tended to be cream based. One day we were excited to find lasagna on the buffet but it was swimming in fat and poorly seasoned. Again, I may be just too fussy. Although there was a piano and a dance floor, there was no entertainment. The bartender told us that the cruise line found it too expensive to provide entertainment. Perhaps the fact that the passengers are generally older factors into this. We had read about entertainment on board but that may vary with the season. Overall it was worthwhile for the amazing scenery but I would warn anyone to be smarter about cabin selection and the food. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
We booked our cruise in New York City with a Hurtigruten Representative on the Richard With. We were not told about several things in advance as follows: Wine Package Water package Free single supplement. Lack of entertainment of any ... Read More
We booked our cruise in New York City with a Hurtigruten Representative on the Richard With. We were not told about several things in advance as follows: Wine Package Water package Free single supplement. Lack of entertainment of any kind on board. (In fact we were told that there was live music in the lounge.) As soon as you step on board the ship you are given a hard sell about the wine/water package. DO NOT BUY THEM. They are a very poor value. Incredible that you have to buy water. This should be provided by the cruise company. They have a policy to force you into this water deal. Staff stopped several passengers who had purchased water bottles off board. The wine package is expensive, not great wine choices and too much anyway to drink. But the water package is included gratis in the overpriced wine package. Everyone whom we spoke with was upset about the policy of not providing water and the fact that no details were provided in advance about this policy. I suggest that people do bring their own water on board. If enough people complain and bring on their own water, the company will have to abandon this absurd policy. Other friends wanted to accompany us but wanted their own rooms. When we enquired, we were not told that there was a free single supplement that could have been applied. As the ship was less than booked, it was Hurtigruten's loss as our friends did not book the trip. There is no entertainment on board. We were told the exact opposite so the representative was not up front about this. Off Board trips varied in interest and all were expensive. Most of them can be done independently by passengers when docked at ports. Some of several hours duration are better done with the company. Staff was very helpful and always available. The director of programs tried to bring us interesting films and provide history about the locations visited. But there should have been more of this provided. There are 2 hot tubs on deck and a very nice Sauna. So if you book, plan ahead and ask about all of these things. Plan to do some of the excursions on your own. You can always book guided tours on board as they were never full. If you just like cruising and are not very active, you can just stay on board. This was not our choice. Cabin and housekeeping were fine. Standard cabin, very small to share but well organized. Food quality varied. No choice for supper and most meat dishes were poor in quality. Fish sometimes dry and covered in sauce. Buffet breakfast and lunch were average to good. Good fish choices but usually only boiled eggs offered for breakfast. Last supper excellent as was a seafood buffet of extremely fresh and well prepared seafood. Overall, the cost of the trip without excursions was good. If you buy the excursions, the value goes way down. And unless you are sedentary, staying on board is extremely boring. I believe that you can plan to disembark in a port and pick up another or the same ship on the return. Worth enquiring about. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
It's not comfortable.people need to be under no illusion. The ship is a Ferry! But I think the descriptions in brochure are very fair. We had the best outside cabin and the bunks are very narrow. The cabin is not somewhere we wanted ... Read More
It's not comfortable.people need to be under no illusion. The ship is a Ferry! But I think the descriptions in brochure are very fair. We had the best outside cabin and the bunks are very narrow. The cabin is not somewhere we wanted to spend any time. We went with hopes of seeing the Northern Lights and were lucky. There were glimpses from the ship. We were in Tromso overnight but did not pay £90 each for a trip to view them. We caught a local bus to a country park and saw the lights from there. £9 all in! The buffets on board are excellent but the waited on dinners are a waste of time. There's a lot of fussing and ceremony for tiny portions and usually cold ones. I would say book Breakfast and Lunch. Take snacks for evenings! You can take a Travel kettle and teabags etc.Also take mugs. The 'deal' of buying a mug and being supplied with endless tea or coffee is very expensive for a toilet roll inner sized mug!! The interesting part of the voyage is that the ship is really a working ferry and foot passengers and local people use it a lot. It does go into small inlets and ports that bigger ships can't reach. I think a Summer cruise would be more value for money because the wildlife and scenery would be visible!! Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
To sum up, I've put the summary first you can also read the more in depth view after, if the mood takes you. If you want reasonable size cabin with half decent facilities don't choose this cruise, unless you can afford the much ... Read More
To sum up, I've put the summary first you can also read the more in depth view after, if the mood takes you. If you want reasonable size cabin with half decent facilities don't choose this cruise, unless you can afford the much larger cabins at much larger prices. If you are after fine dining don't choose this cruise, we found the food very good but may not be to everyone choosing. If you are after entertainment in the evening don't choose this cruise, there isn't any apart from piano man in the bar. If you want Hurtigruten to fuss after you don't choose this cruise, it's not in the Norwegian make up to be concerned that you are enjoying yourself and being looked after they are not bothered. If something goes wrong don't expect an apology so don't choose this cruise. If you are adventurous and want something totally different you want amazing scenery Summer or Winter within a stones throw, choose this cruise. You can get 24 hours of sun in the Summer and 24 hours of darkness in the winter so in winter you won't see so much of the amazing scenery. In the Winter you may be lucky and see the Aurora Borealis. You may also get rough seas 40ft waves and 80mph winds and you will get freezing cold temperatures along with a trip into the Arctic Circle. The choice is yours! would we go again, the answer is yes! but we would try and get a two for the price of one offer if they come up, then it would be value for money at £888 each for 6 nights, compared to other cruises it's expensive. Hurtigruten are relying too much on the scenery, summer and winter and selling it as a working ferry but they want cruise liner prices without delivering the service. They need to go on some customer service courses or experience another cruise line to see what's on offer. The management certainly need to change their attitude, the staff on the ship were always very polite and helpful. We booked a trip on the M/S Nordkapp the Voyage North for our 40th wedding anniversary we did not expect anything but hoped we might get a bottle of wine on the night of our anniversary. We should have known better, this would not be the trip of a life time. At the time of booking I paid Hurtigruten to have a car pick us up at the airport and take us to the ship I advised them of the flight number and arrival time, touchdown 20:00 hrs, and what time I expected to exit the terminal 20:30hrs. When we reached Bergen and stepped out of the terminal on time, no car, nothing, we waited and waited, going in and out of the terminal in case we had missed someone carrying a notice with our name on, nothing. I phoned the number provided several times and got no reply. Eventually someone did answer only to hang up on me when I explained why I was phoning. Then an employee from the Flybusen company asked if we had a problem I explained to him and he said it happens all the time with Hurtigruten, people missing the departure of the ship. with his help we got a bus to the Hurtigruten terminal and just made the departure at 22:30. Because we were late we got none of the information given to other passengers. after a expensive coffee we decided to go to bed. We knew the cabins were not going to be palatial but we expected them to be clean! that was another mistake, when I pulled down the bed I was going to sleep on I looked at the pillow and it was filthy it looked like someone had played football with it and the actual pillow in side the case was stained yellow all over really gross. We were both so tired by this time I just threw the pillow against the door to block out the light coming in through the gap at the bottom of the door, I'm still not sure if any of the bedding was changed before we got there all the sheets were creased but that may be because the beds fold up with the bedding trapped against the cabin wall, how the pillow was so dirty I don't know. When we awoke in the morning we were able to see what we missed on our arrival in the cabin, well it was a sorry sight tatty to say the least, we had one chair to sit on which was far from new, the the top of the back of the chair was frayed where so many hands had gripped and rubbed along it with stuffing coming out, with the seat section well worn, along with the very worn carpets. Then we come to the bathroom, adequate, but small and old, the shower worked with just enough water to feel clean. Toilet seat was broken moving around very much when the sea was rough, a skill just to sit on it in such conditions, then there was the sink, when first we looked, it seemed as though it had not been cleaned but it was just old and stained, with the surface all crazed with small cracks making it look worse. We had booked the trip in the hope of seeing the Northern lights, no guarantees, and as luck would have it we did not, they said we had the worst storm in ten years, staying in Trondheim for an additional 12 hours to let the worst of the storm to pass, so for most of the cruise it was very overcast, these are small ships 11,000 tonnes compared with the big cruise liners of 100,000 + tonnes. Once we had gained our sea legs the rough weather was not a problem in fact it was different, something to talk about, you must expect bad weather in the North Sea in the winter months if you want gentle cruising don't choose this trip. Hurtigruten do say they are a ferry for the Norwegian people which they are, 11 ships, constantly going up and down the coast stopping at 34 ports on the way North and the same again coming South. We missed out on 14 of the ports due to the adverse weather conditions but it was not a big deal, many of these were docked at when we would be asleep. The views of the Norwegian coast were stunning and that was the other reason for the voyage, which didn't disappoint us. My wife and I found the food to be generally very good breakfast was not always a big choice, if you slept in there was even less. Midday meal was between 12:00 and 14:00 help yourself a good selection of hot or cold dishes always plenty of fresh seafood which was really good. Evening meal, there were two sittings 18:00 and 20:00 although with I guess maximum 150 passengers when we were sailing, all could have been accommodated at one sitting and according to the specs, the ship has the capacity of 622 passengers with 456 beds (you have to guess the number of tatty the beds out of the total) If you do choose this type of cruise there is no entertainment to speak of, one man with a synthesiser cranking out a variety of tunes and songs in a bar that feels quite soulless but that's probably because it bankrupts you to have a few drinks in the bar and not many people were prepared to pay the Norwegian prices for booze, small bottle of beer £8.50 glass of wine £9.00 they say it's to stop the Norwegian youth from drinking but there were no Norwegian youth on the ship . What's wrong with giving international passengers duty free privileges, you have to pay by charging drinks to your cabin number, they also advertise duty free for travellers in the on board shop, so it could be done. That may have made the evenings more enjoyable, remember the further North you go in the winter months the shorter the days, it does afford a greater chance of seeing the Northern lights but it shortens the time for the views of the passing scenery so the evenings can seem to be quite long.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
1) It's a good choice to cruise North passed 80 degree. North Pole is 90 degree and the trip is still very far from that--realistically speaking. 2) Agreed with previous review(s) that luggage check on board of Fram is at least ... Read More
1) It's a good choice to cruise North passed 80 degree. North Pole is 90 degree and the trip is still very far from that--realistically speaking. 2) Agreed with previous review(s) that luggage check on board of Fram is at least chaotic, even with our flight luggage tags the cabin crew said they could not find our names and could not deliver them!? 3) Any passenger who don't understand English, Norwegian is the other choice of language offered at the introduction. Activity leaders later tried German and French for shore landings^^ Public Announcement System used English, German, Norwegian and in that order. 4) Our duty-free purchase of liquor at Longyearbyen was confiscated upon embarkment in order to sell alcohol during the cruise. 5) Everyone is provided with a wind-breaker which is very helpful. Nearly all the shore landings are wet-landing, and water-proof or rubber boots are essential. 6) Canteen staff are mainly Filipino or Southeast Asians, who also provided one night of entertainment. 7) On board, 45NOK for a liter of bottled water or a single whiskey in the bar. Recommendation: Clear ice can be picked up from the Glacier melting to mix with whisky and other drinks. Activity staff helped with that. 8) Special Cabin guests have free drinks at meals and regular guests need to pay even cold water. 9) Gratuity has been increased to 70NOK per person at our July-August 2012 cruise around Svalbard. 10) Blue whales, Polar bear and Glacier calving can be sighted if lucky. There is no snow-sledge for cruise expectation. 11) Except three served dinners, all breakfast, lunch and dinner are buffet inside a nice restaurant. One ending meal of BBQ on the deck provided the toughest meat ever. 12) Compared with Antarctica, the arctic cruise is much calmer and very little or nearly no sea-sick discomfort for oldies. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
We sailed from Bergen to Tromso, and were disappointed with our Hurtigruten experience. The food was very average and extremely over priced for the quality. The cabins were nice enough, although as a couple you stay in separate single ... Read More
We sailed from Bergen to Tromso, and were disappointed with our Hurtigruten experience. The food was very average and extremely over priced for the quality. The cabins were nice enough, although as a couple you stay in separate single beds unless you go for a deluxe cabin. The staff were not very helpful. Trying to book the trip to begin with was very difficult on the Hurtigruten website and we ended up having to call them from Australia to try to book the trip, the whole process took about 45 minutes on an international call. We were given incorrect information regarding meals on the boat, which the staff on the ship would not help rectify once we were there, and when we complained we were given the email address of head office and told to email them rather than speak to anyone on the actual boat! The port docking times were usually short (1 hour or less) with the occasional 3 hour stop. We stopped in Trondheim from 6am until midday - there is nothing open in Trondheim before 9am - not even McDonalds. The age group on our ship was very specific- all seniors, it seems the boat definitely caters for a specific demographic. The scenery on the trip was lovely, although difficult to see due to extreme weather conditions. We found the scenery on the train from Oslo to Bergen to be just as beautiful. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
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
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
Hurtigruten—the largest cruise line you never heard of. Norwegian owned and operated, the line owns a fleet of 16 cruise ships, most of which travel up and down the west coast of Norway. The line also offer cruises to Greenland and ... Read More
Hurtigruten—the largest cruise line you never heard of. Norwegian owned and operated, the line owns a fleet of 16 cruise ships, most of which travel up and down the west coast of Norway. The line also offer cruises to Greenland and Antarctica. Our Cruise We took one of the 12-day Norwegian coastal cruises that both started and ended in Bergen, Norway, stopping about 30 times along the way. Most stops were of short duration, with no passengers exiting. There were about 10 longer stops where, at prices ranging from $40 to about $200 per person, we could take and "excursion" to see various attractions. One that we took, and the best by far, involved a fast, open air pontoon-like boat ride to a remote location to view sea eagles. Taking these excursions can easily add $500 to $1,000 per person or more to your cruise cost. There is very little to do on the ship except eat and sit around (inside or outside) enjoying the scenery, so you more or less have to take some of the excursions. The scenery varies from breathtakingly beautiful (fiords, mountains, farms, forests, small villages) to downright boring (barren hills, rocks and crags, not unlike the surface of the moon). The small villages and farming areas are quite picturesque. In addition to the excursion information furnished to passengers when they sign up for the cruise, there is a daily schedule of excursions, scenery sightings and shipboard activities (principally eating) posted by the tour director's desk, and copies are available for passengers to take. Our cruise began on September 1st and ended on September 12th. This was early enough in the season for us to enjoy unusually good weather. (We saw rain only three times, with only one of longer duration.) For the first three days, as we traveled northward, it was warm enough for passengers to sit on the open top deck in shirt sleeves. At "Nord Cap" (North Cape), the northernmost land point in Europe, the temperatures had dropped to the low forties, and a fierce wind created a wind chill factor much colder. It was surprising to us to see how modern and developed even the small villages are in terms of urban amenities and services—even at the top of the world in Kirkenes. The larger cities are like any other large city in Europe. There were many nationalities aboard the ship, but the passengers were overwhelmingly European, including Norwegians, Swedes, Germans and English. Announcements over the ship PA system (which were irritatingly frequent) were given in three languages—Norwegian, German and English. We encountered very few Americans on the ship (about 10), and at the dinner meal (the only meal served restaurant style; breakfast and lunch were served buffet), we were seated by ourselves at our reserved table.. Our Ship Our cruise was aboard the MS Midnatsol (Midnight Sun), the newest vessel (2003) in the Hurtigruten fleet. It is attractively decorated, with much use of wood in walls, floors and furniture, and in a style akin to updated art deco. The ship was kept spotlessly clean. It was easy to learn the layout and to get around in, with elevators and stairs between decks both fore and aft. The public areas are located on decks 5, 8 and 9. The dining room, gift shop and fast food restaurant are on deck 5. Deck 8 has an open lounge in the front, with windows extending up to the ceiling in deck 9. Three-quarters of deck 9 is an outside deck with chaise lounges, a bar and two jacuzzis. There is a larger bar and lounge on deck 8, with live entertainment after about 7 PM. Deck 8 also has a self-service coffee/tea bar—at five bucks a cup! At the start of the cruise passengers are offered an opportunity to purchase a "coffee/tea deal," where for one price you get a Hurtigruten metal mug and all the coffee or tea you want at the self-service bar for the duration of the cruise. We bought it, but I don't remember the cost. Unfortunately, the coffee was virtually undrinkable (somewhere between snake venom and battery acid), so I ended up with just a high-priced mug. My wife made out: she drank lots of tea from the large assortment of tea brands available at the self-service bar. Our cabin (inside; no windows; the cheapest) was small but very efficient. It included one fulltime single bunk style bed and a sofa that converted into a second bunk style bed. Both were hard but comfortable. There was a mirrored ladies make-up station, a small TV with 8 cable channels, a closet and other storage. The shower was small but quite adequate, except for its propensity to oscillate between hot and cold. For $350 more we could have had the same cabin with a window, but we decided against it because we knew from prior cruises you spend so little time in your cabin. Eating on the Ship The food we ate was in stark contrast to the sumptuous fare we had on an Oceania cruise to the Caribbean two years ago. Norwegian food, like the Norwegians themselves, is hardy. There was heavy emphasis on seafood and (usually seasoned) boiled potatoes at nearly every meal. Cold cuts, cheeses, pickled fish and beets and regular pickles were featured at breakfast and lunch, which were served buffet style. There was also coffee and tea available. The coffee was fresh made and very good, unlike the coffee at the self-service bar. Various mostly forgettable desserts were available with lunch and dinner. To my great disappointment, pastries were never served, even at breakfast. The dining room is decorated like the rest of the ship, with neo-art deco furnishings. The silver service is spartan, usually only four or five pieces. The tables are covered with attractive oilcloth tablecloths, with heavy paper napkins. Hardy. Both lunch and dinner have two seatings, with reserved seats at both. Tables are assigned by table number, and we always sat at the same table. Water in a spring-capped bottle is served at lunch and dinner, if you had purchased the "water deal" at the start of the cruise. There is also free water available, but you would have to wait for refills. A "wine deal" was also available at the start of the cruise, whereby you would receive one bottle of wine at each dinner, specially picked by the head chef to accompany the menu. We passed on that deal since my wife doesn't drink wine. I probably wouldn't have purchased it anyway because of the high cost. On the wine menu, prices started at $65 per bottle and ranged on up to about $115 per bottle. I don't believe these were particularly premium wines, either. Only the dinner meal is served by the staff, restaurant style. But even then they work the tables in order, starting at the first table with each course. At breakfast and lunch you serve yourself and the staff merely cleans up or takes special orders for the bar. I should say here that the staff were nearly all very friendly and accommodating, and most could speak Norwegian, German and English. One peculiar and unsavory practice at each meal occurred when you were through eating. The waiter or waitress would scrape any leftover food off your plate onto another dirty plate while standing at your table. As with other cruises and tours we have taken with people from other countries, we were again amused and entertained by the European custom of eating with both handknife in the right and fork in the left—making it seem to take twice the effort. No doubt Europeans are just as amused at our style of eating. Costs No comment on our cruise would be complete without a note about the high costs in Norway. To start with, our Bergen hotel (the Neptune) which we stayed in two nights, one each at the beginning and end of the cruise, cost $300 a night! It was in the process of being redecorated, but not really upgraded. I would compare it to an older Holiday Inn Express. We understand that the cost of living in Norway is among the highest in the world. Believe it. After checking in to our hotel we went for a walk abound Bergen, a truly beautiful city. We stopped at a cafe with outdoor seating overlooking the bay and fish market (a big tourist attraction). I had a hamburger and beer and my wife had a small pizza and a coke. Total cost: $85! Welcome to Norway. My wife looked at some gorgeous knit sweaters, but at $300 and up we had to pass. As might be expected, costs on the ship are even higher. For example, at one dinner we ordered Pepsis at $7.20 each, and at another meal I ordered a local beer which cost over $8. One of the reasons for the high costs is Norway's sales tax, which is 25% on almost everything! Conclusion Despite any negative comments above, we thoroughly enjoyed our cruise. If we had to do it again, we would probably take the 7-day instead of the 12-day cruise. One of the factors that influenced us to go for the 12-day cruise was the very high cost of our airfare—almost $2,700. This cost would have been the same with either cruise. Moreover, we would have had the added cost of airfare and associated costs from Kirkenes to Bergen if we had taken the 7-day cruise. We had to take a three-legged 24-hour flight as it was (Bergen to Amsterdam to Detroit to Denver) just to keep the fare under $2,700. Another leg would have made it even worse. Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
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