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46 Hurtigruten Baltic Sea Cruise Reviews

I had been meaning to travel with Hurtigruten for some time and wanted to visit Norway in winter, having been in summer several times. Being on the Nordnorge felt like being part of a small community. The staff were really friendly and the ... Read More
I had been meaning to travel with Hurtigruten for some time and wanted to visit Norway in winter, having been in summer several times. Being on the Nordnorge felt like being part of a small community. The staff were really friendly and the food excellent. I don't eat meat and was offered fish or vegetarian options. The staff seemed genuinely interested to hear if I liked the choice. The buffet at breakfast and lunch was really good too. I just loved seeing the cargo load and unload and wave to the other Hurtigruten ships as they passed. I wanted a lazy holiday due to having a really busy job and the lack of onboard entertainment and short hop passengers sleeping in the bar which other reviewers have moaned about were just part of the sea voyage experience and a plus for me. We had storms and rain but these were not the fault of Hurtigruten! We also had some wonderful sunny days and snow too. Just great. I will be back. If, like me, you love the idea of sea travel but hate idea of a 'ballgowns at dawn' cruise this is the ship for you. Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
This was a first time "cruise" for us, so have no experience of other boats and cruises. We were travelling with the hope of seeing the Northern Lights but didn't really have any pre-conceptions about what to expect. So we ... Read More
This was a first time "cruise" for us, so have no experience of other boats and cruises. We were travelling with the hope of seeing the Northern Lights but didn't really have any pre-conceptions about what to expect. So we were very happy overall with Hurtigruten and the MS Finnmarken in particular. Having had the opportunity to wander around two of the other ships (MS Midnatsol and MS Lofoten) we would advise anybody to read the boat descriptions carefully before booking. Yes, the boats are different sizes but were quite shocked at the difference between MS Finnmarken and MS Midnatsol, both of similar size and age. Midnatsol struck us as being a "shopping mall". Very modern decor but not at all like a boat. Our guess was that MS Midnatsol had a little more lounge space and a larger usable deck area, but then the lounges were connected so could very easily have been noisy. MS Lofoten is tiny by comparison and on the days we were voyaging would have been somewhat rough. It is also worth stating that our voyage was apparently around 1/3 full so dinner was in one sitting only. We think we would have had a good voyage if the boat had been fuller, but not sure we would have enjoyed it quite as much. Check-in did not start well, giving a poor impression of Hurtigruten. Due to flights into Bergen we were very early at the port, and we did know in advance that we would only be able to check in our bags a short time after we got to the terminal. However this was chaotic as the transfer bus from the airport dumped a large group of people before the baggage drop started, and the baggage drop was run by only one person. You are then stuck with your hand baggage as the few lockers in the terminal used coins and neither the counter or the cafe had any change. The actual check-in was quite smooth but again after a long queue as although there were more staff on check-in we happened to come back around the same time as an airport bus. Our cabin was larger than expected having plenty of storage space and room to place our two suitcases, although two larger ones might have been a problem. Clean and well located. We managed to find our way around fairly quickly making use of both sets of stairs to navigate. The introductory buffet on the first night set the scene for the excellent food that was to come. The breakfast and lunch selections were a little repetitive, but never a complete repeat and a wide choice. Being British we were disappointed with the choice of vegetables with main courses, so made use of the vegetarian option quite often. The restaurant was aware of different food issues and had labels out for vegetarian and gluten free options. There was entertainment on board. A very versatile pianist in the evenings, although the majority of the passengers seemed to disappear to their cabins after dinner. We understand that there is NOT normally any entertainment on Hurtigruten now-a-days (cost savings), this being a special for Christmas and New Year. Excursions were reasonable well described and were planned well. Driving to the North Cape in a convoy behind a snow plough was probably the most unexpected. We enjoyed the Husky adventure at Kirkenes too. The weather could have been a bit better in terms of wind/waves but even allowing for that, the ship always seemed to be running just a bit late. This wasn't a problem for the ports with longer stays, but did mean that there was little opportunity to pop ashore when there was only a 30 minute stop scheduled. The number of stops was mostly fascinating. We weren't disturbed by any of the stops in the night and it was good seeing the smaller ports, villages, towns up close. Swimming pool, sauna and Jacuzzi's were all very good; we're just disappointed that we didnt start using them until the trip back. December was very dark however. At Kirkenes the sun was scheduled to rise for 1 minute only which isn't quite as bad as it sounds because pre-dawn light meant there were up to 8 hours of good visibility a day. We would probably recommend taking the full 12 trip Bergen-Bergen, but if considering something shorter due to dates / cost, getting off at Trondheim on the way south cuts out some truly boring days (and a lot of open sea). If only going one way, the schedule North is much better than the schedule South. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
This year, instead of hunting out Winter Sun for our New Year's break, we decided to go to the other extreme and look for snow, ice and Northern Lights. We booked a 12 day Bergen/Kirkenes/Bergen round trip on Hurtigruten's MS ... Read More
This year, instead of hunting out Winter Sun for our New Year's break, we decided to go to the other extreme and look for snow, ice and Northern Lights. We booked a 12 day Bergen/Kirkenes/Bergen round trip on Hurtigruten's MS Nordlys. Hurtigruten ships are not Cruise ships - they are ferries. But ferries with 'extra's'. There is little in the way of formal entertainment, but our ship had a very knowledgeable 'Tour Leader'. He was responsible for bookings for and co-ordination of shore excursions, as well as organising onboard activities. He had a dry sense of humour and spoke fluent English, French, German and Norwegian, switching comfortably between each depending on the Nationality of the guest. He also made announcements in multiple languages as we approached each port to tell us more about the destination, and announcements when there was something interesting to see outside (eg crossing the arctic circle, sea eagle ahead, spectacular rock formations, other Hurtigruten ships!). On New Years Eve the ship missed a couple of ports in the Lofoten Islands so that we could spend the evening in Hurtigruten's home port of Stockmarknes. We had a gala buffet for dinner and then they opened up the Hurtigruten museum especially for us to make an evening visit. At the museum they have a 'retired' ship in dry dock and it was quite eery exploring this ship in the dark. All guests were invited to celebrate the turn of the year out on the 'sun' deck with a glass of complementary fizz. The local fireworks were spectacular. Some guests were quite disturbed by the shortness of the days and the lack of light. For my part I had expected it to be worse. We were lucky that the days we spent North of the Arctic Circle were clear so we had the best light possible. OK it was never bright, but for 3 or 4 hours there was as much light as you would get on on overcast day in England, and when you are out enjoying snowey activities such as Husky Sledding it feels even lighter. Northern Lights are almost guaranteed at this time of year if the sky is clear. We were lucky enough to see them on 3 nights. They make an announcement if the officers on the bridge spot Northern Lights in the sky, so you have no excuse for missing them. Having said that, they weren't as spectacular as I was expecting, and to the naked eye lacked the vivid colours that you get when you photograph them. This may have been due to the full moon. The ship was very quiet - only around 200 passengers on the Northbound journey, which was enough to be sociable but meant that there were no crowds. On the way south there were less than 40 passengers. We could have had a table each at dinner!   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Just back from a cruise up the coast of Norway from Bergen to Kirkenes on the Hurtigruten Trollfjord. Had a very fine time: comfortable cabin, decent food (and the kitchen very obliging about accommodating vegetarians and ... Read More
Just back from a cruise up the coast of Norway from Bergen to Kirkenes on the Hurtigruten Trollfjord. Had a very fine time: comfortable cabin, decent food (and the kitchen very obliging about accommodating vegetarians and semi-vegetarians), lots to do, fabulous staff, gorgeous country, beautiful scenery. May I suggest, though, a couple of ways that this experience could be made perfect (rather than just very good): 1.The gym: there's a small but decently equipped gym on board (fine for my limited requirements, anyway) which is, however, not available for passengers' use all the time. Why not? Because of the size of the gym and the limited range of equipment there were several occasions when I wanted to use the gym within the hours designated for passengers but couldn't because it was full - with a queue of folk waiting. Can't see why it isn't available for use all the time so that early birds (5 a.m. onwards) like me, or others who like to exercise late at night, couldn't use it whenever they wanted to. 2. Hot drinks: we bought a Hurtigruten mug to entitle us to all-day tea and coffee refills - well worth it. But hot chocolate wasn't included in the deal. Again, why not? I can't imagine that the provision of hot chocolate as well as coffee and tea would put too great a hole in the Hurtigruten bottom line. In fact, I'm sure that if hot chocolate were part of the deal many more people would buy the mugs, not to mention that it would be a very positive PR move.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
We have travelled with Hurtigruten before on their costal round trips a couple of times. We enjoyed these very much so we decided to take the plunge and go for one of the explorer voyages. We booked direct and received confirmation ... Read More
We have travelled with Hurtigruten before on their costal round trips a couple of times. We enjoyed these very much so we decided to take the plunge and go for one of the explorer voyages. We booked direct and received confirmation suggesting a two flight journey each way. When the paperwork arrived we had a three flight journey each way spanning a total thirteen hours not including first airport pre flight time. Arrival at Svalbard on night in the Raddison Blu hotel. Arrived around midnight, checked in and went to room. Our hearts sank! Annex accommodation comprising of a small unit. Main bed was a sofa bed large enough for one. Second bed was either a top or bottom bunk bed. Room, furniture and fittings looked tired, but at least clean. Curtains as thin as tissue paper so would not keep out midnight sun.No coffe, tea or milk provided. Transport to ship satisfactory. Embarkation a little long winded with queuing of around 40 minutes or more for some. Cabin was as expected. On deck three with window. A little small and very compact, but more than adequate. Clean and comfortable and v good housekeeping. Dining. Breakfast and lunch were buffet style with an excellent selection for all. Dinner was a mix of buffet or fixed menu. Again very good with alternative for vegetarians etc. Tea coffee and cookies available 24/7 No children's club or facilities due to nature of voyage. Non advertised or expected. Evening entertainment was very low key. Again due to type of voyage and other activities ongoing. Polar bear spotting or landings. Disembarkation. Well organised and efficient. Summary. For a once in a lifetime voyage to see the wild Arctic, this would be difficult to better. A wonderful experience on a well run efficient ship. Excellent crew and staff including all expedition team who were extremely knowledgable. A wonderful experience let down by the first night hotel accommodation and the more than expected number of flights to reach our destinations. Possibly a little on the expensive side.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
We just returned from a Hurtigruten cruise from Bergen Norway to Kirkenes, a six night, five day cruise. We wanted to see that coast and that midnight sun on June 21 for some time. Friends in Germany had told us, “Not much rain in ... Read More
We just returned from a Hurtigruten cruise from Bergen Norway to Kirkenes, a six night, five day cruise. We wanted to see that coast and that midnight sun on June 21 for some time. Friends in Germany had told us, “Not much rain in Norway.” It was overcast and rainy the whole time. The fjords were beautiful. The rock formations were stunning even without the sun. We hadn’t booked any excursions, but planned on walking around the towns. Of course the weather wasn’t Hurtigruten’s fault. The ship offered a baptism by Neptune. Neptune “baptized” us all week! The ship made a big marketing deal of the midnight sun. Come to the top deck, camera-ready and special drinks for sale at midnight. We looked out our port-hole for the sun. No show, just overcast! We were there; the sun was somewhere in hiding. A number of travelers on the ship were disappointed in the company’s squeezing of every possible kroner out of us. Coffee was free and plentiful for breakfast. But to have it any other time, you were encouraged to buy a COFFEE PACKAGE. You got a small mug and paid the equivalent of $60 for five days of unlimited coffee. I mean, really, who drinks $12 worth of coffee a day? And no water at the table for lunch or dinner. Of course, you could buy mineral, sparkling water. Our friends traveling with us tried to bring their water from the room. It was confiscated by the smiling dining room greeters with the hand-sanitizing squirt. I heard one staffer say, the only thing free on the ship is the air. And the squirt! On the plus side, the staff were friendly and helpful at every opportunity. The Wifi was reliable in the public sections suggested. The food was good. The buffets had plentiful choices for breakfast and lunch. The dinner offerings were artfully presented and pretty tasty. They allowed a limited amount of wine in your luggage. I was glad they didn’t check. My litre and a half went a bit over. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
My husband and I have never taken a cruise because we have no interest in being on a huge ship with thousands of people, Vegas-type floor shows, all-you-can-eat Midnight Buffets, large numbers of partying, art auctions and dressing for ... Read More
My husband and I have never taken a cruise because we have no interest in being on a huge ship with thousands of people, Vegas-type floor shows, all-you-can-eat Midnight Buffets, large numbers of partying, art auctions and dressing for dinner. I gave up booking a coastal Norway 'cruise' years ago because I could not find any which did not include these things. Then I came upon the Hurtigruten website, which goes to great lengths to explain it is NOT a 'cruise', but a coastal VOYAGE on a WORKING ship. Anyone considering a Hurtigruten trip needs to read up on what their trips are and understand the BIG difference. Their website goes to great lengths to educate people on what to expect, so do your homework and make sure its what you want. We booked the northbound 7 day journey from Bergen to Kirkenes, and in seven days it stopped at about 35 ports at all hours of the day and night. Some of these stops are a few minutes, some a few hours, and ran the gamut from large cities to tiny fishing villages. A variety of excursions are available at some stops but not all---most of the longer ones involve disembarking at one port and meeting the ship at another. The public areas of the ships allow for great scenery-watching in a variety of lounges with comfy chairs and sofas. There are about 3 large screen tvs throughout the lounge areas and all of them were crowded during the World Cup games. The dining room included large windows which also allowed great views during meals. There is a library and small childrens' playroom on board. The ship's outdoor pool and jaccuzzi were extremely popular, as was the indoor sauna! The water was more than warm enough and at the back of the ship, they're protected from the wind. There is wi-fi onboard (free) but it is spotty and does not include bandwith for doing anything other than emailing, browsing, etc. (Forget uploading all your photos!) The Wi-Fi virtually disappeared north of Tromso which really is NO surprise that far north. Food: We booked full-board but its expensive so think carefully about adding this if your budget is strained---NOTHING is inexpensive in Norway but you could certainly take your own breakfast foods onboard if you stocked up before boarding and when in certain ports (we enjoyed the grocery store in Trondheim in particular!) In addition, if you took a voltage converter and a hot pot, you could make instant soup, ramen noodles and tea/coffee. Ice is available in any of the bars and they also gave us the bag to put it in---not every cabin has an ice bucket but you could certainly use the sink. We had NO problem drinking the tap water on the boat and it was fine. The food in the cafe (open 24 hrs) was good and included salads, sandwiches, pastries made onboard (quite good!) and pizzas. A 12" x 9" ham and veg pizza was about $10, and bottled sodas about about $5 (USD) Our full board included breakfast, TONS of protein (bacon/sausages/scrambled and soft or hard-boiled eggs, various cereals including hot oatmeal/porridge, cold meats and cheeses and TONS of pickled herring and salmon), with a small bit of fresh fruit and veg. Various types of breads, ALL of them excellent, especially toasted. Their jellies/jams and marmalades were heavenly! Also included were coffee/tea and apple or orange juice. Lunch was usually a mostly-cold typical Norwegian buffet, again with tons of seafood, cold meats/cheeses and salads, with usually about half a dozen hot dishes. We enjoyed lunch the most since we're not seafood lovers. Dinners included local ingredients and the night's menu was placed on the table at breakfast so you knew what to expect. Again, mostly seafood but we simply told the dining room manager that we wanted no seafood and were served venision, etracote (steak) and lamb instead. There was always a soup of the day at both lunch and dinner. These were very well-prepared and we enjoyed them. The night before we docked at Kirkenes there was a HUGE seafood buffet with King Crab, Mussels and every kind of fish. And just ONE sitting instead of the usual two so the lines were longer. There was plenty to eat including ham and turkey so we had no problem finding enough things we liked. They also included several SPECIFICALLY gluten free and vegetarian items at every meal. If you're including dinner in your booking, you should think about whether you want first seating (about 6 or 6:30) or second (about 8 or 8:30). If you don't specifically ask for either the early or late seating, one will be assigned to you at check-in. if you're doing excursions you will want the later seating, although they keep track and know if you're getting back late you'll be at the second seating. Include any meal preferences in your original booking and check with the dining room hostess on your first day to make sure its been recorded. And check at breakfast what the dinner entree will be, and if its not to your liking, tell the dining room hostess. Now about the water/beverage/wine 'packages': This is a source of contention with a majority of reviewers on any number of travel websites. At lunch and dinner the dining room will not serve you tap water, nor can you bring in beverages not bought on ship (including soft drinks) We learned that you take your mug (if you bought one or it came with your cabin as ours did) to lunch and dinner and perhaps you walked in with it empty or already filled with something else. Ditto a water bottle you previous bought on the ship (and had previously emptied) We talked to other people who bought a few bottles of soft drinks on board, drank them, bought other softdrinks on shore and simply refilled the ship's bottles and took them to meals. We aren't huge wine-drinkers so we sampled no wines onboard. There were two kinds of beer sold in the bar/cafe, and they were about $15 for a 20 oz. glass, both Norwegian brands. Other random issues: Probably 90% of the ship's passengers were German---and about 99% of the passengers were over 55---only a few small kids. The Finnmarken has about 250 cabins and had consistently around 500 passengers all week during our voyage. Various day-trippers and locals going from point A to B. Lots of observation areas including several lounges with large-screen TVs. Keep in mind in you have a small cabin, which most passengers do, you're going to be hanging out in one of these areas to best view the scenery. Some of these people literally camp out ALL DAY right by the windows and only move for meals---but they leave coats and jackets on the chairs when they're gone. This can be frustrating if the ship is full and you'd like to sit by a window. The ship is seemingly obsessed with hand sanitizer. That includes requiring you to use it when you arrive for meals and placing it right by the gangway when you disembark and board. It might seem like a pain but to my knowledge they have not had the epidemic of the Norovirus like other cruise lines. If you go in summer (June/July in particular), there are almost 24 hours of daylight---the cabins include black out shades but light still comes in around them, so consider taking nightime eye shades. There are people on deck at ALL hours of the night because of this, but they are mostly watching scenery, taking photos etc., and none of them were loud of obnoxious. Regarding laundry, they had about 5 washers and 5 dryers which automatically dispense soap----free to use but read the directions on the wall first because they're very different from US machines. Two ironing boards with irons as well. Was great to pack only a carry-on and do laundry twice in our time onboard! Items you MUST take: Binoculars, sunscreen, moisturizer (the climate is VERY dry), earplugs (if you're a light sleeper), voltage adaptor, camera, clothes for every season including a medium-weight jacket (yes even in summer!), things you can LAYER make the most sense, but I'd recommend a hat and gloves all year! A rain poncho and as previously discussed, possibly a hot pot. There's also a detailed guide with all sorts of info about the various stops and scenery which you can buy onboard---its expensive so I'd try and find one of Ebay first. There were storage rooms for luggage and elevators going to all decks. The dining room staff was young and almost all spoke EXCELLENT English--many of them sounded American---all announcements are made in Norwegian, German and English, and handouts are printed in the same way. Excursions are handled in the same manner. The entire ship was spotless and the exterior windows were washed daily. Because Hurtigruten's vessels are significantly smaller than almost all other cruise ships, they go into places which the larger ships' passengers never see. The midnight sail into the tiny Trollfjord was outstanding and worth staying up for---a real classic case of a very competent captain 'strutting his stuff' and everyone loved it. Bottom line: Hurtigruten voyages are not 'cheap', and the ship is not luxurious by any means---if you need to be entertained by more than comfortable accomodations, adequate food, jaw-dropping scenery, interesting excursions and perhaps a book, YOU NEED TO BOOK ON A NORMAL CRUISE LINE. Some of the excursions were outstanding, specifically Geiranger Fjord/Trollstigen Pass, Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim, Lofotr Viking Feast, the Bird-watching Safari in Gjesvær (where we saw hundreds of Puffins, Kitiwakes, Sea and White-tailed Eagles and other birds as well as seals) We really loved the "Taste of Lapland" excursion with the Sami couple where we learned of their culture and got to pet their reindeer. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
12 night Classic round trip voyage, Bergen to Kirkenes to Bergen  March 17th 2014 to March 28th 2014  Cabin 557 I accompanied my parents on this voyage, they had done the same trip in 2008 in June. i was therefore very well informed ... Read More
12 night Classic round trip voyage, Bergen to Kirkenes to Bergen  March 17th 2014 to March 28th 2014  Cabin 557 I accompanied my parents on this voyage, they had done the same trip in 2008 in June. i was therefore very well informed what to expect from a Hurtigruten voyage. The fact that this was not a glitzy cruise suited me fine! i loved the casualness of the whole trip. The ship was nowhere near full, but even if it had been at capacity, there were plenty of areas to sit quietly, to read, play cards, have a quiet drink etc. Quite often i would walk the entire circuit of the outside deck and not see anybody at all! The ship was spotlessly clean, warm and comfortable. My cabin on deck 5 with a window, was also clean, warm and comfortable, not luxurious, but perfectly adequate. The shower was particularly good with endless hot water and powerful too. The food was excellent. Fab breakfast, hot and cold buffet style, as was the lunch. Dinner was waiter service with the set menu listed in the morning. If any of the set menu was not to your liking, you could ask for an alternative without any problems at all. Restaurant staff were exceptional, all Norwegian. The only criticism would be that tap water was not available at meal times. Oh, and that i put on 4 pounds in weight! This voyage called in at 34 ports, with varying docking times from just 15 mins to 4 hours. Hurtigruten's ships are working vessels, and are used to transport goods up and down the coast, as well as the post. It was so interesting watching the expert loading and unloading etc on the short stops. The longer stops where we could get off and visit were great, particularly Alesund, Trondheim and Kirkenes. The onboard tour manager, Peter, was very informative, and had a great sense of humour too. We did two excursions out of the many available, have to say they are not cheap! we did the huskies sled ride at Tromso, which was brilliant, a really good long ride, and also the trip to North cape which was so dramatic as a blizzard was in full force at the time! I do believe we had all four seasons in our trip weather wise which just added to the atmosphere. We hoped we would get to see the Northern lights, and we were not disappointed, albeit only once. They were the icing on the cake of a fantastic trip which i would love to do again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
My husband and I have recently returned from a Bergen / Kirkenese / Bergen cruise on the Nordnorge. Everything about this cruise was amazing. The food was incredible with plenty of choice at the breakfast and lunch time buffets. As fish ... Read More
My husband and I have recently returned from a Bergen / Kirkenese / Bergen cruise on the Nordnorge. Everything about this cruise was amazing. The food was incredible with plenty of choice at the breakfast and lunch time buffets. As fish lovers we were in heaven (for both breakfast and lunch) but there was always a brilliant selection of other food including vegetarian and gluten free. The set evening meal which I have seen criticised in other reviews was local food. What else would you want to eat? Stay in England or go to Spain if you want English food! The evening menu was published each morning and you were able to ask for an alternative if a course did not suit your taste, It's hard to highlight an individual meal but the seafood buffet has to be the one - even though it was temporally abandoned when the Northern Lights were announced! The staff were so friendly and hard working. The cabins were clean with really comfortable beds. The ship's decor was beautiful and everywhere was spotlessly clean. The two jacuzzis were just wonderful. Health and Safety precautions were discretely in place and the general day to day organisation including disembarkation arrangements was impressive. I had read reviews where people had complained about the short stays in some ports but this just how Hurtigruten works. When it was just a short stay in a port it was always fascinating to watch the loading and unloading of goods and passengers. Clearly Hurtigruten is an important part of the Coastal Community and it was a privilege to be able to observe this part of Norwegian life. When the boats were in port for longer you had time to explore towns by yourself or take part in one of the well organised excursions. Our experiences of the Alesund Art Nouveau tour, the North Cape visit, Husky Sledging in Kirkenes and the Midnight Concert in Tromso were all excellent. I would recommend them without hesitation. Unlike more traditional cruises (which do not appeal to us) there was very little on board entertainment. Why would you want entertainment with all that wildlife and scenery? The Artic Circle ceremonies were fun, the DVD presentations informative and the Norwegian Sushi demonstration was delicious! What more can I say? Would just love to return! Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
My wife and I have just returned from a wonderful holiday chasing the Northern Lights with Hurtigruten it was superb.The weather was super 10 days of sunshine which helped to highlight the magnificent scenery we encountered throughout the ... Read More
My wife and I have just returned from a wonderful holiday chasing the Northern Lights with Hurtigruten it was superb.The weather was super 10 days of sunshine which helped to highlight the magnificent scenery we encountered throughout the cruise.The crowning glory was our sightings of the Aroura Borealis on no less than 5 consecutive nights varying from fleeting glimpses to 2 nights of full blown spectacle a never to be forgotten experience. The ship was beautifully maintained and all the lounges had excellent seating.The cabins were on the small side but comfortable, the food was good with plenty of choices at breakfast and lunch,and evening meals were varied.We read the details of the cruise before we booked and were fully aware that the boat was working boat with frequent ports of call sometimes during the night was meant some noise at times.The staff were really good very pleasant and helpful.I realise that everything was in our favour, but it was a great holiday and would wholeheartedly recommend it.Our only complaint is regarding one of the off boat trips which my wife took which was the sled ride from SoTromso.She found the sled extremely uncomfortable it did not seemto be on runners unfortuneatly following the ride she suffered with her back for a couple of days.When we went on the trip to see the ice Hotel in kirkenes she thought the sleds there were much more substantial. So if people were contemplating a sled ride Kirkenese would be recommended. Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
We had a fantastic trip and loved every moment. Sure it's not an ocean cruise ship, more like a ferry in terms of accommodation, but we knew this before we left and it was all part of the adventure. We knew the cruise was called ... Read More
We had a fantastic trip and loved every moment. Sure it's not an ocean cruise ship, more like a ferry in terms of accommodation, but we knew this before we left and it was all part of the adventure. We knew the cruise was called "Hunting the Light" but had read the reviews before we left and knew that not all trips would see the Northern Lights. However we observed them 5 times on the trip, the first day being Christmas Day - it was amazing and the best Christmas Present ever. We observed sea eagles on the trip and also minke whales from the front of the ship whilst sailing up one of the many fjords. We took an excursion to the North Cape which was well worth the experience despite it being dark when we got there, (due to the disappearance of the sun for the Arctic Night) to stand there at the top of the Cape felt like a real achievement. However our postcards, which we posted from there, to receive the North Cape stamp, did not arrive until almost two weeks later and the stamp was hardly visible, bit disappointed. This is a working ferry service which serves the north of Norway therefore passengers should be aware that we made 65 scheduled stops, some for approximately 15 minutes through the day and night, but the captain seemed to do this with the utmost ease and minimal noise. On longer stops you can get off the ship and explore the towns. For some passengers this was disappointing as they were closed for shopping having locked up for the Christmas Holidays, not a problem for us as we strolled the streets and viewed the different Christmas decorations. Our best buy before we left home was a pair of ice spikes for our boots which were invaluable when walking in some of the towns as the paths and roads were very icy. At Kirkenes, the most southerly point of the trip, we took the dog sledding experience, very exhilarating if not a little whiffy and extremely bumpy, wouldn't have missed it as it was all part of the experience. Friends went on the snowmobiles and were absolutely thrilled that they took another excursion, night snowmobiling a couple of days later which they said was well worth the money. There were plenty of excursions on offer for the cruise, they were expensive, but again we had done our research before leaving home and knew that the cost of most things in Norway would be far more expensive than in the UK. Travelling back south we also took the midnight concert excursion to the Arctic Cathedral in Tromso. It was snowing which really added some ambience to a wonderful Arctic experience. The tour guide on the Richard With was Anna Olivia Wallinder, what a lovely person. Full of enthusiasm, knowledge and a speaker of many languages. She even coerced passengers into singing in a Christmas Choir, performing to the passengers and crew on Christmas Eve and to a sister ship in dock with us on New Years Eve, another memorable experience. In fact, all of the crew on the Richard With worked very hard, were very helpful and made us feel welcomed. Cabins were small, we had only 1 wardrobe and not really enough storage space for all our thermal indoor and outerwear, but comfortable and adequate for the journey. However next time I will take some lighter summer wear as well as winter wear as the Richard With indoors was very warm and with the winter clothing on, far too warm to be comfortable (I had to buy a tshirt from the North Cape to wear for a couple of days). Food in general was good, a bit samey sometimes but I find this on a lot of cruise ships when catering for large numbers, self serve buffet for breakfast and lunch with hot and cold selections and a set meal for dinner, which consisted of three courses of mainly Norwegian dishes. Some meals were not to my taste and the staff were helpful in offering me an alternative. There is no dress code for dinner and most passengers arrived very casual but tidy which created a very relaxed atmosphere, with the exception of New Year's eve where most passengers wore their only "dinner outfit". We did find the that our internal time clock did get disorientated due to the Arctic night, only about 3 hours twilight at lunch time. But then again we had researched this so weren't totally shocked by the lack of light, but we were extremely grateful and humbled when we saw it again. Embarkation and disembarkation were reasonably smooth, although there was a short delay before boarding. The terminal missed out by not opening the café as most passengers had arrived a couple of hours earlier and a drink would have been much appreciated. I think there was a machine but instructions were too complicated for us to work out and many of us did not have small amounts (coins) in Norwegian Krona to use. All in all a fantastic Christmas & New Year Adventure which we would highly recommend for anyone who wants an alternative to an Ocean Cruise, getting dressed up for dinner and having entertainment on board. Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
I was part of the Astronomy Voyage on this 12 day on the Hurtigruten Cruise so will break into 2 parts. Cruise- The embarkation process from the Hurtigruten building was painful. We were advised to be there from 2-4pm and staff would be ... Read More
I was part of the Astronomy Voyage on this 12 day on the Hurtigruten Cruise so will break into 2 parts. Cruise- The embarkation process from the Hurtigruten building was painful. We were advised to be there from 2-4pm and staff would be available to assist. I arrived at 3pm and there was no one there till 5pm and we didn't get through the check in process till 6pm. There were minimal seats and no refreshments available so there was lots of standing around waiting. Safety briefing was comprehensive. Cabin was very clean and comfortable. Mattress was not, but a new topper was put on the bed once I asked reception.The beds were very narrow for someone use to sleeping in a queen size bed. Standard or room cleaning very high. Towels in bathroom were small and very worn. Only wall soap provided which was a bit harsh. Hair dryer provided. No tissues provided which would have been nice and no tea/coffee making facilities in cabin which would have been nice. You can purchase a mug which entitles you to free tea/coffee from the lounges at any time, but it would have been nice to have one in cabin when you get up. I don't drink coffee, but was told it was satisfactory and the tea provided was Twinings brand, and a good variety of choices. Food was exceptional. Breakfast was a buffet style with lots of choices of both hot, cold, fruit, cereals and yoghurt. Hot chocolate was exceptional. My only complaint was there was no toaster to toast the beautiful choices of bread there were. Lunch was a buffet as well with both hot and cold choices. Dinner was a set menu and table service. There was only once choice but if you didn't eat something and let them know prior in the day, they will make you something different. Only having one choice bothered some, but was fine with me. Lots of fish on offer!! They had a traditional Christmas buffet one night which was beautiful with lots of seafood and traditional Norwegen foods. Staff were very helpful and always friendly. Everyone from the captain to the housekeeping staff said good morning when they passed. Excursions were a mixed bag. Lots were not available and they need to update their list. Some were very expensive for the length of time they were and seemed very rushed. All were costly. The 2 outstanding ones were the trip to the Northern cape (which has a great gift shop) and the dog sledding. We had lots of fresh snow that afternoon and falling as we did it which was beautiful. Entertainment- well there isn't much to speak of. There was a singer in the upstairs bar and TV's in the lounge area, but was nothing other than this. The ship has a large auditorium where they could have put on an evening movie for those wanting to do something other than drink or talk. Astronomy Voyage- Dr John Marsden was the astronomer on board. This man is passionate about his profession and was a dynamic and interesting speaker. Some things tended to go over my head at times, but for the most part it was informative and interesting. The trip was coordinated by Inger Carter who is a native of Norway and provided us with lots of useful information on Norway and the life of its people that we would otherwise not have got. She also took those in the group on a short walking tour of the area when stopped in port. Often things had to be shuffled around to fit in with other groups who were on board and she did this brilliantly by keeping all of us informed of any changes. A job very done by all and we were lucky enough to see the northern lights 4 nights in a row. In a nutshell, this was a trip of a life time. It was not cheap, but I think as an experience, it was worth it. It would have been nice to see some extra touches like shampoo and tissues in the bathroom as the suite's had and tea and coffee making facilities in cabins. They definitely need to improve the check in process.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
We started and ended in Bergen, NO. sailing for 12 days. Perfect! PEOPLE: varied group of many different nationalities and countries. They were well traveled and most were over 50 years of age. THE SHIP: Our room was well located with ... Read More
We started and ended in Bergen, NO. sailing for 12 days. Perfect! PEOPLE: varied group of many different nationalities and countries. They were well traveled and most were over 50 years of age. THE SHIP: Our room was well located with large window and about mid-ship, level 3: room 336. We were on the same level as we disembarked and one level below the restaurant so we didn't need to use the elevator to go to the dining room. Our room was quiet and there wasn't a lot of traffic past our door. The room was larger than we expected and reasonable. There were black-out curtains so we could sleep in spite of the sunny days and nights. The BATHROOM was a typical ship bathroom and the shower was adequate. Deck 8 was the Panorama area and we spent a lot of time there. usually we could get a good chair. Two COMPUTERS were there as well. We could usually get one to use and they worked at a reasonable speed. There was a LAUNDRY ROOM on our level as well. there was no charge for the washer, dryer and soap! The machines did a nice job cleaning our clothing. THE FOOD: breakfast and lunch were served as buffets. The selection was varied and plentiful. I missed having fresh fruit for breakfast-----there were apples and oranges, but I would have liked more: IE: pineapple, melons. There were a lot of dried fruits, but I prefer the fresh. The Coffee Cup purchase was not necessary. If our weather had been cold and rainy, it may have been beneficial. We felt it was a waste of money! The evening meals were exquisite! They were tasty, and beautifully served. However, there was no coffee served with dessert! We had to leave the dining room to get the coffee afterward. We like to drink our coffee/tea with our dessert. EXCURSIONS: Our first excursion was from Alesund to the Geiranger Fjord. The staff seemed to be inexperienced at managing a large group to go off the boat in a tender. We had to rush to finish our tour and the ship needed to wait for us to return---the case to take a ships' excursion! Our second tour was in Skarsvag to the fishing village. This was a good tour and we learned a lot. The third tour was in Tromso to the Arctic Cathedral to the midnight concert. Loved it! The last tour was to Vesteralen from Harstad. This too was a good tour with lots of information. I would recommend booking several tours just to get off the boat and learn more about the region. It is easy to leave the ship and walk in the little villages, but often we didn't really know what we were seeing. SHIP ACTIVITIES: We knew there wouldn't be a lot of entertainment and that was fine. The saxophone player and the pianist were fine. We expected more information from "Naturalists". It would have been nice to have these on Deck 8 during the day to point out what we were seeing. Our trip into the Trollfjord was incredible! Our captain truly knows how to maneuver the ship! On Deck 8 thee were nice 2-volume coffee table books about the cruise ports. Sadly, there was only 1 volume of the 2 volume set (missing the second book) in English. We loved getting this background to understand better what we were seeing. Extra activities were fun: the men's choir from Trondheim serenading us for breakfast; the fresh prawns from a fisherman; King Neptune Baptism and cod liver oil as we crossed the Arctic Circle just to name a few. ECONOMY: The high prices of everything in Norway were discouraging. We like to go off the ship and enjoy a pastry and coffee in ports. We just weren't comfortable doing this during this cruise. All in all, We had a wonderful trip. I would recommend the Finnmarken on the Hurtigruten Cruise Line as a great experience!   Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
Have just returned from our first Hurtigruten voyage and unlike other cruise lines, cannot fault them at all! We were on a 12 day/11 night cruise from Bergen up to Kirkenes and then back down to Bergen on M/S Trollfjord. The scenery was ... Read More
Have just returned from our first Hurtigruten voyage and unlike other cruise lines, cannot fault them at all! We were on a 12 day/11 night cruise from Bergen up to Kirkenes and then back down to Bergen on M/S Trollfjord. The scenery was outstanding and the further north we travelled, with the snow covered mountains, made this holiday magical. It was so interesting to call into all the little ports watching the locals getting off and on; seeing provisions being loaded; and of course going ashore wherever possible. Excursions were on offer but we preferred to do our own thing apart from one up to the Russian border. We treated ourselves to a mini suite which had a limited view obscured by a lifeboat but this was no problem. The suite consisted of a corner seating area, twin beds, fridge, TV as well as a small bathroom with shower, toilet, wash hand basin and hairdryer. The water was always hot and we had the added luxury of a heated floor. Some of the little perks of the mini suite were a bottle of fizz on arrival, fresh fruit every day, complementary thermos mugs (for filling up with tea or coffee), dressing gowns & slippers, kettle etc and a visit to the bridge. The fridge was handy for storing our duty free wine in as cost of drinks on board was astronomical! This was permitted as long as you didn't drink your own alcohol in public areas. The public areas were spacious and there was a large panoramic lounge which was lovely just to sit in and watch the world go by. The dining room again was spacious and breakfast and dinner were buffet style and you could sit where you want. The food was delicious with plenty of choice - the sweets were to die for! Dinner had allocated tables with two sittings, at 6.30pm and 8.00pm and there was a set menu although if you didn't like what was on the menu, there was always an option.Entertainment was virtually nil apart from a singer most nights but this was no problem as there was always plenty to do talking with other guests etc. There was a ceremony up on deck to celebrate crossing the Arctic Circle which was fun; a Russian came aboard with giant crabs for us to see and on another occasion we were given a sample of Norwegian cod liver oil washed down with schnapps! Other useful facilities were a self service launderette and Internet access. A daily news letter was printed which was very helpful and various other leaflets were available too. Of course the highlight of this voyage was the chance to see the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) and our wish was fulfilled on several occasions. This was fantastic despite being woken in the middle of the night to go on deck to see them! I think what we liked most about this holiday compared with other cruises, especially Ocean going ones, was the lack of entertainment; being pestered by waiters all the time trying to sell drinks; not having to dress for dinner in the evenings and to be amongst like minded people interested in everything we saw. I would thoroughly recommend Hurtigruten. We are now looking into going on one of their smaller ships, M/S FRAM, possibly in 2014, either round the British Isles or the Canary Isles/Madeira and the Azores. Read Less
Sail Date April 2013
Thursday, March 7 Arrived a couple of days earlier so was over jet lag. I was part of a tour group so had some options for the cruise that were included in the price of the "tour." If I ever return (and I hope I will, ... Read More
Thursday, March 7 Arrived a couple of days earlier so was over jet lag. I was part of a tour group so had some options for the cruise that were included in the price of the "tour." If I ever return (and I hope I will, I'll go as an independent traveler. We boarded the ship MS Polarys at 6:00 pm after a day of sightseeing in Bergen. We were on Deck 5 which is the "promenade" deck. Only OV and Inside Cabins, and we had OV. The cabin was actually bigger than we expected, and we were soon unpacked and deposited our large suitcases with Reception to be stored for the duration of the cruise Dinner the first night was a buffet with open seating. Friday, March 8 - 'lesund We settled into our daily routine. Breakfast and lunch were buffets with open seating. Breakfast items included soft and hard boiled eggs, sometimes a fried egg, a variety of cereals, oatmeal, different breads, several kinds of fruit, salad items (lettuce, tomatoes and other similar things), fish, meat and lots of cheese options plus orange juice, apple juice, coffee and tea. Lunch included soup, some hot foods such as cooked fish and potatoes, an assortment of salads and fish and meats and caviar, fruit, many kinds of cheeses, breads and different desserts along with coffee and tea. Dinner was a set menu, and there were two seatings. We had early seating. Dinner began with bread, a starter, then a main course of meat or fish with vegetables, ending with dessert. Coffee and tea were served in one of the lounges after dinner. We stopped long enough this first full day for a walking tour of 'lesund. Dinner: Clipfish bolinhos with ruccola salad, free range chicken with barley risotto and chocolate fondant with pear sorbet. Saturday, March 9 -- Trondheim We took a bus tour with a stop at the Nidaros Cathedral. This was part of our tour package. Entrance to the cathedral was extra, but I paid it. Unfortunately I only had about 15 minutes in the cathedral. Dinner: Cauliflower soup, baked filet of trout with root vegetables and panacotta. Sunday, March 10 - Arctic Circle and Lofoten Islands The big event was crossing the Arctic Circle. King Neptune poured ice down down the back (inside clothing) of anyone who was brave enough. I just watched. Dinner: Selbu Bla on baby-leaf salad with cloudberry syrup, braised ox fillet with vegetable stew and red wine jus, brown betty with caramel sauce. Monday, March 11 - Troms' My friend and I went dog sledding while in port at Tromso on a Hurtigruten excursion, and it was just wonderful. Dinner: Seafood buffet that included reindeer stew. This meal was my only disappointment of the trip, but I did like the reindeer stew. Tuesday, March 12 - Honningsv'g and the North Cape We took a Hurtigruten excursion to the North Cape. Stunning snow covered landscape on our 45-60 minute bus ride. I had seen many photos of North Cape and was not disappointed. It was very windy since the cape is at the top of cliffs that plunge 1000 ft. down to the sea. And very cold. But worth it. Dinner: Green pea soup, grilled stock fish with potato puree and cheesecake. Wednesday, March 13 - Kirkenes which is the turnaround port. We took a bus tour which was included in our tour package to a snow hotel that also had a small reindeer park. We had extra time so we went to the nearby Russian border, and I walked about 10 or 15 ft. past the gate. The guard house was another 200 ft. or so away so I dared not go further. We stopped in Vardo about a hour after we left Kirkenes. Several "crazy" people had a dip in the icy water! I watched from the open deck at the back of the ship. Dinner: Barents salad with seafood and spicy mayonnaise, venison medallions with sauteed vegetables and potato puree, then raspberries with sour cream for dessert. We'd seen very faint Northern Lights one night on the journey north, but they were spectacular this night. It was another experience of being outside on a moving ship and freezing while gazing in amazement at the sky. We were told they were seen another night, but we didn't hear the ship's announcement. Thursday, March 14 - Hammerfest and Troms' We arrived in Tromso at 11:45 p.m. and were whisked away by bus on a Hurtigruten excursion for a midnight concert in the Arctic Cathedral. One woman played the organ and piano, another played several kinds of flute, and one woman with a beautiful soprano voice sang. The concert included traditional Norwegian and Sami pieces as well as one Bach. It was just lovely. Dinner (earlier that night): Aquavit-cured reindeer topside with herb salad, Arctic char with asparagus and potatoes, North Norwegian blueberry parfait. Friday ,March 15 - Vester'len and Lofoten islands I took another Hurtigruten excursion. We got off the ship in Harstad. First, we visited a lovely medieval stone church and then had about a 2 hour drive across the countryside along a couple of lovely fjords. We rejoined the ship two ports later at Sortland. Dinner: Potato and leek soup, steamed haddock roulade with steamed vegetables and baked amandine potatoes and then rhubarb and strawberry soup (which was more like a pudding) with puff pastry and sour cream. Saturday, March 16 - Arctic Circle, Seven Sisters We did not get off the ship again but enjoyed the comforts of being warm and onboard. Today we crossed the Arctic Circle on our way south. Dinner: Viking Wraps with marinated and seasoned smoked salmon, sour cream and lettuce, Classic Pepper Steak with Hasselback potatoes, The Ship's Ice Cream Bombe with fresh fruit. Sunday, March 17 - Trondheim and Kristiansund Dinner: Hurtigruten's classic fish soup with freshly caught fish, BBQ-marinated Pork Neck with root vegetables and lime posset. Monday,March 18 - Bergen, disembarkation Buffet breakfast and lunch. We didn't disembark until 2:30 p.m. but had to be out of our cabins by 10:00 a.m. Disembarkation went well, and we were soon in our hotel for the night before flying home the next day. General Observations First, this was not a traditional cruise. The ship was about 450 ft. long and 65 ft. at the beam. The Hurtigruten ships remain working ships carrying cargo, vehicles and port-to-port passengers. We stopped at 64 ports at all hours with repeats on the way south. Sometimes we were only in port 15 minutes. There was no entertainment except a guy who played the piano and sang in one of the lounges. The voyage is about the scenery, and it was magnificent. Just when I'd think it couldn't get better, it would. The word I kept using was mystical. People gathered day and night in one of several lounges, mostly in a large forward lounge on Deck 7 with big windows. Yes, it was cold -- very cold. But that only added to the experience, plus I went prepared with thermal underwear, heavy socks, snow boots, ski pants, a buff, a knit cap, my new coat lined in fake fur and heavy gloves. I also took disposable hand warmers which I sometimes put underneath the buff on my face. The best buy I made was Yaktrax ice grippers that fit on the bottom of my boots sort of like tire chains. I was still careful walking on the snow and ice, but they gave me good traction. There is nothing formal about these cruises. No dress up clothes needed at all. I first heard of the Norway Coastal Voyages in the mid 1990s and had wanted to go ever since. The trip was worth the wait. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
Background information We were four Americans and two Norwegians traveling together. Two of us (Americans), did the round trip, the other four only did the north bound voyage and got off the ship in Kirkenes. The Norwegians had never been ... Read More
Background information We were four Americans and two Norwegians traveling together. Two of us (Americans), did the round trip, the other four only did the north bound voyage and got off the ship in Kirkenes. The Norwegians had never been on any kind of cruise before, although, they had been to many of the ports and either drove or flew to them. The four Americans had been on many previous cruises (Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, South America, Panama Canal, Alaska), but never on Hurtigruten. Travel to Port of Embarkation Before our voyage, we spent a few days in Oslo, and decided to take the train to Bergen the day before the Midnatsol left Bergen. The train ride was wonderful -- beautiful scenery the entire time. Bergen is a fairly compact town. The taxi line at the train station was fairly long, so we decided to walk to our hotel (Scandic Strand on Strandkaien) which is in the historic wharf area -- it took about 10 minutes. That night we walked over to the Hurtigruten Terminal (took about 10 minutes) to get information on what to do the next day. We learned that we could drop off our bags between 1:00 and about 2:00 or 2:30. Once the ship arrives in port, though, they don't accept luggage until it's time to check in at around 4:00. By the time we checked in, our luggage was waiting for us outside our cabin doors. There was a buffet dinner available the first night. The ship didn't leave Bergen until 10:30 PM. Ship Information The Midnatsol is one of Hurtigruten's newer ships. It has several, beautifully appointed public areas, and a two story viewing lounge in the front of the ship on decks 8 and 9. The gift shop was well stocked with many enticing items to purchase! Prices were the same as any Norwegian land based shop. The ship has a small gym, sauna, and two fantastic Jacuzzis that were kept at a nice and warm temperature. We were in the Jacuzzi every day and loved it. There are two outside deck areas. On deck 6, you can walk completely around the ship. The only problem is deck 6 also has smoking areas, so it's a problem if you are sensitive to cigarette smoke. Deck 9 has three outside sections available to cruisers: the middle section is where various activities take place like fish filleting demonstrations and a visit from King Neptune after crossing the Arctic Circle. The next section has the two Jacuzzis, two outdoor showers, and a "cabana" to hang your jacket and things while in the Jacuzzi. The back section of deck 9 is a large, open space which is great for watching the scenery, and for us, the Northern Lights. There's also heat generated from the smoke stack, so you can warm up a bit if it gets too cold. Stateroom We stayed in an inside cabin, on Deck 7 near the atrium elevators. The cabin was adequate: two twin beds - one bed folded up against the wall if you wanted more floor space, and the other bed could be converted into a sofa. There was a desk, small table, shelves and adequate closet space. The best part about our cabins (708 and 714) was access to the public space in the atrium. There was a bench and several chairs, so that space became our "living room". The wireless internet also reached that area, so we could call home on Skype or surf the internet while watching the scenery through the large floor to ceiling windows. While on the ship we also toured other cabins. The full suites were large and nicely appointed. Dining Breakfast was open seating and a typical Norwegian buffet with eggs, oatmeal, fish, cheese, fruit, breads, jellies, and things of that sort. The main entre selection varied (eggs, pancakes, and some other items), but the rest was the same every day. Lunch was also a buffet, but it varied if it was at a fixed time in your assigned table, or open seating. We found the dining staff to be accommodating -- there were six of us traveling together, and at first we were assigned to different dining times and tables. It was no problem getting us all at one table. Our voyage was pretty full, so they may not always have fixed lunch times. Out of the 12 nights, we had a buffet three times (one of the buffets was a seafood extravaganza with lobster, crab, shrimp, crawfish, mussels, and all kinds of wonderful food), and the other dinners consisted of a three course Norwegian meal of deer, reindeer, pork, beef, chicken, or various kinds of local fish. Coffee and tea were served during breakfast and lunch, but not during dinner. We did buy the Hurtigruten coffee mug, so we were able to have coffee or tea from various places on the ship any time we wanted. I like hot chocolate, so I brought my favorite hot chocolate mix and filled my mug with hot water before going to the Jacuzzi. Activities I had read there are limited activities on Hurtigruten ships other than the fantastic scenery. We were on what was marketed as a New Years Cruise, so several times there were concerts in the lounge on deck 8. They had a pianist, flutist, and several opera singers. Our round trip voyage also overlapped with an opera tour to Oslo, and starting with the southbound stop in Tromso, there were one hour opera concerts just about every day. The library had some board games, jig saw puzzles, reading books, and a TV. There was also a small kids play area on deck 5. At times there were some organized activities such as a fish fillet demonstration, visit from King Neptune with the traditional ladle of ice, and cod liver oil after returning across the Arctic Circle (we got to keep the cute mermaid shaped, Hurtigruten engraved spoon). Entertainment Yes, the main entertainment is the scenery, and it kept us busy most of the time. There was a dance floor in the main bar, and every evening there was a piano player who played a variety of tunes. Port and Shore Excursions We were docked in most ports for too short of a time for excursions. We'd get off the boat and walk a short distance, and then get back on before the boat left. Some of the stops were for longer, and we took several excursions: Viking Feast in Stamsund, Midnight Concert in Tromso, and Dog Sledding in Kirkenes. Our Tromso dog sledding ride was cancelled because of poor weather conditions. The Viking Feast was nice, although a lot of time was spent on the bus. We got off in Stamsund, were driven to the replica of a Viking Hall, where a Viking king, wife, and a couple of slaves fed us a traditional Viking feast, complete with ample quantities of meade. It was a fun evening and as a special bonus, we saw some faint northern lights there. The bus then drove us to Svoaler where we met the boat. The midnight concert was enjoyable, and consisted of an organist/pianist, cellist, and singer. Since we also had free concerts on the ship, it probably wasn't worth the extra money on this voyage to go to the concert. The highlight was the dog sledding in Kirkenes. The excursion is at the same place as the Ice Hotel where they also have some reindeer. We had ample time to tour the Ice Hotel and see the reindeer and puppies. You go for a sled ride around a fairly large lake. We were in Tromso for New Years Eve, and they had the most spectacular fireworks display I have ever seen. The fireworks were everywhere and the best place to see them was on deck 9 of the Midnatsol. They were shot from the ship, and from numerous houses, businesses, and parks throughout the area. It was incredible and a great way to ring in the New Year. I'd definitely go on a New Years voyage with Hurtigruten again! Disembarkation We took the full round trip voyage, so our disembarkation was in Bergen and the process was very easy. We had to have our suitcases placed near the elevators by 10:00 AM and out of our cabins by 10:30 AM. There are plenty of lounge areas, so there was no problem finding a comfortable place to be. Plus, there was always the passing scenery to view from either inside the ship or on deck. Once we got to Bergen at about 2:30 PM, we were called by deck level to disembark. Our suitcases were waiting for us on the conveyor belt. Disembarkation was organized and simple. We collected our suitcases and then walked to the train station where we stored our bags in a locker. There was also the choice to take a charted bus to a hotel, train station, or airport, and taxis were also available. Summary We had pretty high expectations for this trip, and they were definitely exceeded. We'd been to Norway in the summer, so we knew a bit about the geography, but the beauty in the snow was spectacular. The Midnatsol is a beautiful ship, and we thoroughly enjoyed our twelve days on her. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
The MS Lofoten is a lovely old ship (48 years old). The key word here is "old" -- it creaks and rattles a bit, it is faded in parts, it has no stabilisers, it has "no" many things and that is why people choose it. The ... Read More
The MS Lofoten is a lovely old ship (48 years old). The key word here is "old" -- it creaks and rattles a bit, it is faded in parts, it has no stabilisers, it has "no" many things and that is why people choose it. The crew work hard at maintaining it. We found them cleaning the outside windows at 11 pm when we were in one port, and the cleaner on board seemed to be polishing the brass and sweeping spotless floors continuously. Heating on the ship was a bit erratic -- we were either far too hot or a little cold, again it is an old ship thing. The Lofoten is small and that is its greatest asset because provided you make an effort to join in, then you rapidly become part of its small family. I think that in high season with some 350 people on board, it might feel a bit over crowded and certainly the forward lounges (on two levels) could not house everyone if they wanted to see things from the front. There were 16 full-trip passengers plus anything up to 29 short trip port to port passengers and 34 crew - so there was plenty of space. Overall, the cabins are ok. We were lucky with our one which was excellent, those down in the bowels of the ship might feel a bit cramped and some might be noisy but I have no means of comparing these cabins to those on the larger Hurtigruten ships -- they might offer exactly the same experience and this might not be a small ship thing. I did go on a few of the larger ships whilst we were both in port and they were immaculately and tastefully decorated. Do you want to travel in a home or a hotel is really the question you should ask when choosing this ship which offers a "home". The food Dinner was well presented and very good and not over-facing in quantity. Lunch similarly was very good although the vegetarian hot meal option rarely looked (or tasted) inviting. The lunch salad buffet and numerous desserts were superb. Breakfast was ok but only barely so for vegetarians. Alcoholic drinks are ridiculously expensive (a Norway not a Hurtigruten thing) but you can drink your own alcohol in your cabin (absolutely not anywhere else in the ship). Whilst you can get water with your meal, the staff are not allowed to leave a carafe of water on your table unless you have paid 19 NoKr for it and there is no tap or jug of water for you to top up your glass yourself. This seems very peculiar and as a result I felt thirsty during most meals. The company has a policy of moving tourists meal times to accommodate trips (a perfectly reasonable thing) or to accommodate groups coming on board at a port to eat a meal (this seems to be a Norwegian custom) and the subsequent meal times were far too early. When you are going out on a Hurtigruten arrange tour, there is no facility for you to substitute a meal for a packed meal (which you could then eat when you were hungry and at a more appropriate time) and therefore you have to sneakily make something at the table and take it out with you. Ship's Services All ships have an on-board Tour Leader. Ours worked very hard to ensure that our trip went smoothly and that when there were hitches (such as not enough people to run a booked excursion) that an alternative was provided. Our cabin was cleaned promptly and well every morning whilst we were at breakfast. The time of year We chose to go in winter because we wanted to see the snow and the northern lights. We only saw snow up in the far north because Norway was unseasonably warm when we were there and we saw the northern lights on three evenings. Seeing either is a bit of a gamble and we won on this occasion. We understand why people repeat the trip in their "other season" and when time allows, we will do a summer trip. We might go on a larger boat because although it will have more passengers, it will have much more space and therefore might not feel as crowded (as we think the Lofoten might) when it is full. In summary This is not a cruise, it is a trip up and down the Norwegian Coast on a working boat which constantly loads and unloads passengers and freight. If you are looking for a traditional all-comforts cruise experience - do not go on this trip. We had a great 12 days which we thought was good value for money. We travelled with a great bunch of fellow travellers and thought that the service the Hurtigruten staff gave us was excellent. If you want to see pictures of the ship, food and other things related to our Hurtigruten trip, then go to patandpaulharvey.blogspot.com and then go to November 2012 Read Less
Sail Date November 2012
As Cruisers go this was our first trip, & having read reviews first we had a good idea of what to expect, & therefore unlike some reviewers who seemed to travel blind we had no really unexpected problems. We are not lie on the ... Read More
As Cruisers go this was our first trip, & having read reviews first we had a good idea of what to expect, & therefore unlike some reviewers who seemed to travel blind we had no really unexpected problems. We are not lie on the beach & roast types or sit in a floating 5000 bed hotel & not know when or where you are, & Las Vegas style shows no thanks, there thats told you so now you know us. Our booking of the trip was no problem, a 15 minute or so phone call & we were reserved, not the suite I would have liked,( in the end I was glad we didn't get one) but the cabin was outside deck 3 & turned out to be just right. Having received the booking info & brochure & advice about pre booking tours we had plenty of time to bone up on the choices & do just that pre book. The invoice had been paid, but no problem I received an amendment, coughed up the extra & all was set. I did have some questions but a quick phone call & all was answered. I did get worried when the tickets hadn't turned up but a quick call & all was ok. So off we go, Titan Air Charter was quick & simple ( Stansted is Stansted). On arrival in Bergen our transfer was straight forward, our luggage taken care of once on the coach, it would appear at our cabin next so no more humping it around. At the port we sign in & get our Cruise Cards ( needed for access) sit through a 15 minute H&S video & shown how to wear a very fetching bright RED survival suit. Once on board we don't wait long to get to our cabins, what would they be like ( we are virgins don't forget). First impression,just right like Goldilocks not too big, not too small. All you need a loo, a shower,handbasin, plenty of hanging space & cupboards. The single beds were large enough & comfortable with crisp linen & the window a good size. Our luggage turns up & we settle in. And above all the cabin was clean!!!!!!! Its a few hours to go before we sail & we have dinner & exploring to do first. There is no cabin tea & coffee, but what is called a "Coffee Deal" at approx £30 a head you can drink yourself to death on basic coffee & tea for the whole trip. So at £2.50+ a cup you can soon recup ( get it recup) your layout. One deal we didn't go for as we are not surnamed Rothschild or Gates, was the wine deal at approx £400 for a bottle of wine each night for the trip :)- Ok the trip was billed as Northern Lights & sure enough on leaving port that first night we have a good display at around 11.00pm and to be honest as far as we were concerned that was the best display of the trip, not to say that others saw better, but our stamina started to wane after late calls over the intercom for the first few days left us a wee sleepy. We get some pictures of later shows, but these were better picked up by digital cameras than naked eyes, to which they appeared as green blurs. But we did get the chance to see constellations & galaxies hidden by UK lights, revealed by Norwegian darkness. Ok, lets cut this down you're getting bored, we had 4 excursions, Trondheim City Tour with a very knowledgeable guide Anna, a very enjoyable Viking Feast with tasty basic food & a wealth of information, a trip to North Cape again an informative guide & video, & finally a trip to the Russian border, a little disappointing not a lot of Russians or guard towers, just a Russian liquid waste lorry. Now homeward bound, no more lights but a couple of Sea Eagles, Troll Fjord & what I consider the best a pod of 6 Orcas all be bit only seen for 5 minutes,but great. Ok 3 more things, the food & the tour manager,captain & crew The food, well 3 square a day was good, Breakfast was help yourself always porridge, cereals, fruit, yogurt, smoked & pickled fish of at least 6 varieties, & for hot boiled eggs, mini franks & meatballs & variously fried egg & bacon, scrambled eggs,cheese, rolls, bread , toast& other things I have forgotten. Lunch was always a cold table with poached salmon, smoked salmon,gravlax, sild in various sauces, salads, sliced cold meats, cheeses. Plus hot choices always a vegetarian choice , & 2 meat options with rice or potatoes & a vegetable, also sauces to accompany your meal. And to round off, usually 4 or 5 desserts sometimes with ice cream, & always cheese & biscuits plus fruit. Dinner was a fixed 3 course meal which alternated fish & meat more or less, you can get a menu if you go on line I'm not going all through it here. Portions were sufficient, say no more, but nearly always very good. (food is very subjective) being a chef I can appreciate what goes on back of house, & even more so in restricted circumstances. Please DO NOT moan about getting fish every night it's not true, man cannot leave on BURGERS & CHIPS alone. The Tour Manager Eskild Ognes, a very versatile & patient man, with good British sense of humour & learning skills, ( he learnt how to pronounce SAUSAGES in 3 minutes) you needed to be there!!! The Captain,Bridge & Crew although we did not interact that much were always polite & communicative, the waiting/cleaning staff always friendly & helpful. Our voyage ( it's not a strict cruise) was fun, hard work, ( a lot of looking/watching) & eating. Would we go again, YES please. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
We have for many years wanted to undertake the Norwegian Coastal Voyage from Bergen all the way to the Russian Border and back. We also wanted to arrive in Bergen by ship from the UK but alas cheap air fares have caused the demise of the ... Read More
We have for many years wanted to undertake the Norwegian Coastal Voyage from Bergen all the way to the Russian Border and back. We also wanted to arrive in Bergen by ship from the UK but alas cheap air fares have caused the demise of the ferry from Newcastle-on-Tyne-so we flew British Midland from London Heathrow to Bergen (Business Class)-very civilized. As this was to be a very special trip including the celebration of our 40th Wedding Anniversary we opted for the Owners Suite on one of the most recent Hurtigruten ships. There are in fact two owners suite's-we chose the one which has a slightly larger floor plan due to less space devoted to stairways. Firstly we spent a night in Bergen at the Admiral Hotel with lovely views across the harbour to Bryggen before boarding our ship. However when we arrived at the Hurtigruten Terminal to board, we were met by the news that our sailing had ben delayed due to "technical issues"-in fact we ere delayed by 24 hours due to two out of the three bow thrusters having failed, and requiring replacement before sailing. Hurtigruten generously offered to refund 2/12 of our fare in recognition and this cheque for in excess of £3,000 was waiting for us at home on our return. Once on board we were quickly shown to our beautiful suite which consisted of a large double bedroom, a very large lounge with dining table and chairs, 3 seater sofa and two large easy chairs, desk, fully stocked mini-bar and TV, plus a bathroom with full size bath, walk-in shower, WC, underfloor heating, and an entrance lobby with a second WC for "visitors". The best feature of all was a marvellous "terrace" running half the width of the ship with proper ships deck chairs and table. We opted for breakfast being served in our suite daily, with enough left over for lunch-so that we only visited the restaurant once a day-where we were allocated Table 1-by the window with a commanding view of the whole restaurant. Food at dinner was good-with a different fixed no choice menu each evening, charmingly served by mainly Norwegian staff. The only time this arrangement differed was the first evening which was a "free-for-all" buffet which was most unpleasant due to some very aggressive fellow guests helping themselves to as much food as they could possibly eat!! The ship was very well appointed with umpteen different lounges and quiet areas. We only went on a few excursions as we wished to enjoy the luxury of the boat, albeit getting off the boat to visit the numerous ports of call was no problem at all. The midnight concert in Tromso Cathedral was a highlight, with the Midnight Sum shining brightly at 1.30 in the morning.Other excursions included bird watching at the North Cape, the Sea Eagle Safari and the only disappointment being the Lofoten Islands excursion which consisted of being driven by coach around the islands to a rather poor gallery, and to various parking areas full of camper vans from all over Europe. We found all the staff very friendly, especially the lady who ran the gift shop, selling hand made Scandinavian souvenirs and craft items. With the suite came two of the coffee cans which allowed you to unlimited tea and coffee throughout the ship. We had lovely warm sunny weather for the first three days, but further north at Kirkenes it turned very cold (4 degrees centigrade at mid-day in late June) and the sea became very rough for 24 hours. I certainly would not like to venture along this coast in Winter! After arriving back in Bergen we had 3 further nights at the Admiral Hotel which proved to be a comfortable and well located place to stay, before flying back to London Heathrow. Overall a very enjoyable trip, albeit a very expensive one. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
We recently returned from a cruise on the Nordkapp, going both north and then south on the ship, beginning and ending in Bergen, Norway. It was a wonderful trip with lots of beautiful scenery. My thoughts on the cruise: next time I will ... Read More
We recently returned from a cruise on the Nordkapp, going both north and then south on the ship, beginning and ending in Bergen, Norway. It was a wonderful trip with lots of beautiful scenery. My thoughts on the cruise: next time I will book a room on deck 3 or 4 in the middle of the ship. We were in a front cabin on deck 5. The outside deck was on deck 5 so there were people walking in front of the stateroom window. When we hit rough seas that cabin had much more movement than other areas of the ship. The rooms are small but clean and adequate. It was fun to stop in all of the little towns but some of the stops were only 15-30 minutes so there was no time to get off the ship. If you want nightlife, shows, casinos then this is NOT the cruise for you. The average age of the people on board was at least 70. The food was good. Buffet breakfast and lunch. Lots of different kinds of fish and lunchmeats and cheeses. Always hard and soft boiled eggs for breakfast. If you like fish and pickled herring then you will love the buffets. Dinner was sit-down....fish one night, meat the next night. We were with a tour group,and the chef was very open to accommodating food restrictions or preferences. Be prepared for very high prices...$10 for a glass of beer or wine with lunch or dinner. Buy the coffee mug for $40 but you get unlimited coffee or tea throughout the day. Otherwise you have to pay for each cup you might want during the day. The prices for the cruises the ship offers seem a little pricey. We went to the midnight concert (well worth the cost $70pp) and took the ATV ride to the Russian Border(lots of fun!). The best part was going through the Troll Fjord. Breathtaking!!!! I would recommend this cruise to anyone wanting to see beautiful,scenery and who does not care for large cruise ships with lots of people. Bring along books to read. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
Traveling to the arctic circle and seeing the Norwegian Fjords has always been one of our travel wishes and we were attracted to the Hurtigruten air inclusive offer from Newark to Bergen including all transfers and a night in a very nice ... Read More
Traveling to the arctic circle and seeing the Norwegian Fjords has always been one of our travel wishes and we were attracted to the Hurtigruten air inclusive offer from Newark to Bergen including all transfers and a night in a very nice centrally located Bergen Hotel. Even adding the RT air from Atlanta to Newark, the cost was a bargain. The SAS flights to Bergen on SAS was enjoyable. We booked a 12 day trip to northern Norway, through the arctic circle all the way to Kirkenes to see the snow hotel. There were some interesting stops along the way to take in breathtaking views from above Geirangerfjord, do some sightseeing in Trondheim, Hammerfest and some other picturesque coastal towns and even a moving midnight concert in a beautiful large modern church. Hurtigruten goes to some length to point out that this adventure is not a cruise in the strictest sense but a coastal voyage. Passengers, although well attended to by a professional and accommodating crew and staff are only one aspect of this enterprise. The ship is also a ferry taking on day trippers and cargo. It is possible to use it as a car ferry too. Some passengers booked only half the voyage and then fly back to Bergen. The cabins are tiny by American standards but adequate and who wants to be in a room anyway when there is an ever-changing magnificent landscape to be seen at all hours of the day. April is a great time to sail the Norwegian coast; no summer crowds and the lighting is beautiful. The ship has very attractive lounges, bars, and other spaces including an area with floor to two story ceiling panoramic windows at the bow for watching the magnificent mountain scenery. The ship passes through narrow waterways and for most of the way the coasts on either side are always visible. Some of the ports are visited briefly and it is not possible to get off the ship but it is still fun to watch all the activity in this newly prosperous country (thanks to oil drilling off the Norway coast). The trip included full board. Buffet breakfasts and lunches would satisfy any traveller as long as you like seafood. There was always wonderfully prepared and tasty fresh fish and all kinds of cold appetizers such as herring, smoked white fish and salmon. The desserts were to die for. There are a few hokey shipboard activities that were fun like the Norwegian fishermen spring ritual involving cutting out the tongues of cod fish and the christening of passengers as the ship passed into the arctic circle (including being doused with ice water by Neptune and taking a swig of cod liver oil) and a demo on shrimp expert peeling. All of which were much more fun than a Las Vegas type cruise show any time. I must mention that the Hurtigruten line is very diligent and helpful. We had a very early flight out of Bergen arranged by them and the regular airport service was not available on Sunday morning. We were prepared to pay our own way by taxi to the airport (not a cheap ride). When we arrived at the airport, the cab driver gave us a voucher to sign since unknown to us, Hurtigruten made the arrangements. That says it all Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
Since this was our first cruise ever, our experience may be different from some seasoned cruise travelers who may have different expectations of what a cruise is. As travelers we are fairly independent, like making arrangements for ... Read More
Since this was our first cruise ever, our experience may be different from some seasoned cruise travelers who may have different expectations of what a cruise is. As travelers we are fairly independent, like making arrangements for ourselves, and tend not to do bus-tours or group travel. We selected this cruise because we wanted to see the Northern Lights and this cruise provided the benefit of seeing gorgeous scenery in case the Lights didn't happen. We weren't in it for the ship, so a gussied-up ferry suited us well. For those of you who are deciding if a Hurtigruten cruise is for you, let me start by saying what it is NOT: uber-luxurious. There is no casino. The main entertainment was one guy playing an electric piano singing songs of the 50s - 90s in a mix of English and Norwegian each evening in the bar. There are two hot tubs on deck, a sauna and a very small workout room. There's reliable wifi near the internet cafe and they had 4 slow-ish computers for free usage. The Midnatsol holds 'only' 1000 people. I'd say 90% of the people on board (as cruisers, those not just using the boat as local transportation) were retired. It was mainly a mix of people from Germany, Norway, and the UK with a few North Americans. It's not cheap on board or on land in Norway - if you haven't been before, prepare for sticker shock. It's much more expensive than you think possible. A sandwich lunch for two with soft drink or bottled water is easily $50. All that being said, our cruise on the Midnatsol was absolutely wonderful. The staff were friendly and aimed to please. Even when disgruntled used-to-luxe cruisers complained ("the dinner portions are too small" was a gripe we heard from a couple of men) the staff smiled, apologized and brought a second plate of 1,000 calories for them. Breakfast and lunch are buffet and open seating, dinner is plated and served at your assigned table at either 6:30 or 8:30. The head waitress very pleasantly switched our seating time for the other one when we asked. Food at breakfast included eggs, potatoes, sliced meats, cheeses, smoked fish of at least 3 or more types, fruit, 3 juices, coffee, tea, homemade hot chocolate, rolls and several types of homemade breads, cinnamon rolls, and more I'm forgetting. Lunch included homemade soup, fresh green salads, pasta and bean salads, breads, sliced meats and cheeses, smoked fish, two or three hot entrees (some recycled from the night before but it worked), a hot vegetable or two, potatoes, fruit and at least 4 different types of homemade desserts. Our last evening was a seafood buffet banquet with shrimp, prawns, lobster, crayfish, mussels, crab, fish and more cooked several ways. Almost overwhelming and all delicious. Again, breakfast and lunch were buffet style so you could have as much or as little as you wanted. You won't go hungry and you won't be starved for choice. There was a reliance on cream sauces and dairy desserts at dinner, so the lactose-challenged should be aware, but vegetarians were well catered to and I overheard people asking for special requests at the reception desk that sounded like they wouldn't be a problem. Fish was served about every other evening. They had a decent wine menu (if you don't mind taking out a second mortgage on your house to pay for it). You could also buy a wine package for the trip. Our cabin was a mini-suite, and we were glad we spent the extra for it. Big marble bathroom, plenty of closet/storage space, mini-fridge, coffee & tea making facilities + two free all-you-can drink mugs, fruit+wine basket, television in the room, and a tour of the bridge. We were on deck 6, which was the promenade deck, meaning that people could see in the room, so be aware of that. We could control the temp in our cabin and the bathroom had underfloor heating. Bar soap, shampoo, lotion, shower cap, washcloth were all included, not sure they are included for smaller rooms. The shore excursions (we did 4) were all worth the money and very well organized. If you go in winter, don't miss the dog-sledding. It was a real highlight. The ship also provided fun diversions like the Arctic Circle contest and ceremony with King Neptune; fish chowder for the hardy souls up on deck at 11PM one night watching the Northern Lights dancing; a free lecture by an on-board astronomer for all passengers; and a local saxophonist playing up on deck. If you get seasick, bring something for it. The ship does have stabilizers but there are are times when you're out in the open sea and you will definitely feel it. We were lucky enough to see the Lights 5 nights of our 6 night trip. As amazing as they are, the scenery going by was just as spectacular. I wish we'd gone for the full round trip instead of just the north-bound journey, because you get to see all the sights during the day on the south-bound trip that you missed at night going northbound. Guess we'll have to go back! We'd definitely travel with Hurtigruten again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
MS Finnmarken is one of Hurtigruten's newer vessels and exceeded our expectations in terms of space, cleanliness and food quality. We'd never cruised before and didn't want to have to dress up for dinner, etc, and this ship ... Read More
MS Finnmarken is one of Hurtigruten's newer vessels and exceeded our expectations in terms of space, cleanliness and food quality. We'd never cruised before and didn't want to have to dress up for dinner, etc, and this ship fitted the bill. It's a working ferry, catering for the local population wishing to travel from one port to another as well as tourists and the shp called at over 30 ports although some stops were too short to disembark or they were in the middle of the night. We flew from Gatwick to Bergen to join the ship and took the Classic Round Voyage to Kirkenes and back, taking 12 days in all. When we arrived at Bergen we were ushered on to a coach for the pre-paid transfer to the ship. The checking-in procedure took quite a time as there was so many of us and once we got into the waiting area we had to hang around for an hour before we could go on board but once that happened our bags were outside our door. Cabins: We were pleasantly surprised at the size of our standard outside cabin which was on the highest deck. The porthole was large and rectangular with curtains and a blind. The two single beds can be folded during the day, one completely against the wall and the other converts into a seat but as there was still enough room to manoeuvre we kept them both down as beds. The cabin had a fridge and a TV, despite being told neither were provided, there was plenty of storage space including a double wardrobe, lots of shelving, a large space under the fridge for cases, and a desk with 2 electrical sockets. Two pillows, a duvet and blanket for each bed were provided. The bathroom contained an excellent shower, toilet and basin with double cabinet over. Liquid soap/shampoo dispensers were in the shower cubicle and over the basin, there's a small washing line and waste bin, and the bathroom has underfloor heating so underwear dried quickly. Food and Drink: The food was excellent. Breakfast and lunch are buffet-style with plenty of choice and you can sit where you like. Dinner is a set menu which is displayed outside the dining room at breakfast time. If you don't like the look of any of the three courses all you have to do is mention it to the staff and they will do their best to provide an alternative. Pick up their interesting booklet which should be on the table outside the dining room called "Coastal Flavours". This lays out the menu for each day and the history behind it. The food at dinner is cordon bleu style and absolutely delicious. Although there's a lot of fish, there's also meat so plenty of variety. As we were half board we weren't entitled to attend lunch but one day when the sea was due to be very rough we asked if we could swap dinner for lunch and there was no problem at all. Alcohol in Norway and on the ship is extremely expensive. Fortunately, Hurtigruten is probably the only cruise line which allows passengers to take alcohol on board so we had our full duty-free allowance with us! If you like tea and coffee it's a good idea to purchase their "coffee deal". For £28 you get a thermal Hurtigruten mug which you can fill with tea or coffee 24/7. It sounds a lot but when you pay £4 per cup it's a good deal over 12 days. On-Board Entertainment: Not a lot. Most evenings there was either a pianist or singer in one of the bars but as we're never interested in evening socialising it didn't bother us. Fitness Activities: There's a well equipped gym and sauna on board. There's also a swimming pool on the open deck which my husband braved and a hot tub which he enjoyed leaping into after emerging from the pool. It wasn't so good coming out of the hot tub though into the arctic winds! Excursions: It's advisable to pre-book excursions because as well as guaranteeing a place on a trip you want to experience, it's also cheaper than waiting until you're on board. We did dog sledding in Tromso, in what turned out to be a blizzard! Although we enjoyed it, I wouldn't recommend this if you have any sort of back problem because going over bumpy ground on a wooden sled isn't a comfortable experience! The huskies are amazing dogs and can't wait to take off and make a terrible row when they're excited and about to start running. We also visited the North Cape (recommended), the Snow Hotel at Kirkenes near the Russian border which is a very odd place. There are 22 bedrooms but you'd have to be mad to want to stay there. The toilet and washing facilities are in another building which would put a lot of people off, not to mention the obvious low temperature. On-Board Information: The Tour Manager did a wonderful job of telling us what was happening every day. Information sheets were available every afternoon outlining the programme for the following day. The sheets detailed the times we were due to arrive at and depart from various ports, any interesting information on the sights we passed, and when we were due to sail on stretches of open sea (important to know when to have the pills and wrist bands available!) We sailed in March which is the worst month for rough seas so we were told! On the first day we picked up free booklets on the available excursions and the routes we were sailing. These were very interesting and worthwhile having. In addition to written information the Tour Manager made various announcements over the intercom during the day so we didn't miss anything. He spoke Norwegian, English and German fluently and could have made a living out of being a stand-up comedian. The Northern Lights: We didn't really see them, despite being in the right place at one of the best times according to the experts. We couldn't see any change in the colour of the sky although when people took long exposures there was green in the picture so I suppose the lights were there. We had a ceremony each time we crossed the Arctic Circle but I won't go into details as I don't want to spoil the surprise!! Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
As we are getting married in the Caribbean in November, we decided we would try a small cruise with our twin 3 year olds. It was their first flight and cruise, and our first cruise. Having read the reviews beforehand we knew what to ... Read More
As we are getting married in the Caribbean in November, we decided we would try a small cruise with our twin 3 year olds. It was their first flight and cruise, and our first cruise. Having read the reviews beforehand we knew what to expect in terms of it being a working ship and not a luxury cruise. Departure from Manchester could have been problematic as Jet2 thought it prudent to sit a family of us with two very young children at the end of each aisle seat x 4. Fortunately for us and for the rest of the passengers a very helpful couple swopped seats and prevented a noisy journey. We were allocated Level 2 Port Side which was a little noisy but on balance the other decks may have suffered from people outside cabin windows with cameras for the northern lights. Cabins are small but you are not expected to be spending a lot of time in them but rather sitting in the public areas reading, knitting or surfing the internet and meeting other passengers. Food presentation and quality were excellent, the waiters were pleasant and helpful, ships crew overall accommodating. Restaurant Manager very good at changing our late sitting to an earlier one for the children's benefit. The Northern lights were observed every night we were on ship so it is fair to say we were lucky in terms of weather (no snow, rain, fog etc.) bright and sunny. Tea/coffee deal 250 krona, but the cafe was open 24 hours for refill so a good idea. Not really sure why people would object to using the handwash as this is for everyone's benefit to avoid illness. The childrens play area was also most welcome as there are no facilities really for children on board. Three or four static pc's on board for internet use (free of charge) or you can use the library/bar area for free wifi. No problems there. Radisson Blue Manageress very good - chatted with us in reception and gave us free orange juice whilst we waited for the bus to the airport. Receptionist also prompt and efficient in changing our room when we found we had been allocated two rooms on different floors! Radisson breakfast excellent. Tromso - The number 26 bus from Pepe's Pizza (round the corner) took us outside the cable car, cost 28 krona approx, cable car 300 krona for a family ticket. Ask for a street map from the receptionist at the hotel. Supermarkets do not sell wine and spirits and you have to visit a government shop to purchase. Overall a very pleasant experience as we met some lovely people from the Yorkshire Dales, Southport and Newcastle and we all got into the spirit of the holiday. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
Voyages in Search of the Northern Lights If your main purpose for travelling with Hurtigruten, is to see the Northern Lights, you could be in for a big disappointment. Hurtigruten provide a well oiled transportation system, linking the ... Read More
Voyages in Search of the Northern Lights If your main purpose for travelling with Hurtigruten, is to see the Northern Lights, you could be in for a big disappointment. Hurtigruten provide a well oiled transportation system, linking the many coastal villages and towns, throughout mid and north Norway. The shipping line is efficient, almost to obsession and makes it clear from the start, not to compare its smaller vessels, with the larger, traditional cruise ships. We stayed in an N class cabin, which was extremely comfortable, well designed, with a large outside window, definitely a plus, on the 11 night, round trip. The weather in Feb, can be variable, often changing minute by minute, the scenery is breathtaking, numerous stops on the way, allow you to sample the many Norwegian delights. As always, the unwritten travellers code applies, your attitude will dictate the mood of your fellow guests, crew and your overall experience. The Ship.............. Depends entirely on your requirements, we sailed on Polarlys, a ship, midway between the much smaller traditional vessel the Lofoten and the larger Midnatsol. You need to think carefully, if you are prone to sea sickness, stick to the larger ships with stabilisers. Hurtigruten under- play the chance of rough seas, believe me there are a number of open sea stretches, which if you are unlucky, will test your sea legs. The Polarlys rode the rough well, but did rock around a fair bit! I am an average sailor and coped by taking Stugeron and lying down, but this can be inconvenient, if your set evening meal, corresponds with heavy swell. Cabins.............. For a trip like this, an outside cabin is a must, the cheaper L class cabins can be a lottery, with small portholes and restricted views, the package is normally half board, a false economy, when you find out, just how expensive, extras work out on ship. N class cabins, although more expensive, work out better value in the end, with picture windows and the benefit of full board. We travelled in cabin N317, on deck 3, near reception, proving a very good choice. We had absolutely no complaints, all to a very high standard. If you do not travel well, choose the pull down bed adjacent the window and sleep with head facing forward. Meals............. Hard to fault, well thought out, with plenty of choice at breakfast and lunch. There are two sittings, to the set table, set evening meal, with no choice, except on the sea food buffet evening , vegetarians can pre arrange their requirements. On embarkation, you are advised which sitting you are on, normally 18.15 or 20.15. Some couples, might not find the arrangements satisfactory, but if you go in a larger group, as we were, things can be more relaxed. British travellers are in the minority, but thankfully, most Europeans speak some English, much to their credit! One disappointment, is the ridiculous cost of alcohol, which rather precludes drinking with your meal, the waiters were clearly embarrassed, at trying to sell, very poor wine, at anything from £40-£70 a bottle and beer at around £6 a half pint. We purchased ships, filtered water, at approx £2 a bottle most evenings. This appeared at odds with the policy of providing water with breakfast and lunchtime f.o.c. In my opinion, Hurtigruten could be making a big mistake. Not withstanding the general high cost of alcohol in Norway, ships charges were outrageous. Budgets................. The basic N class, 11 night round trip, is good value, if you are contemplating this voyage, it is a no-brainer, to cut the experience short. North bound from Bergen, allows plenty of time for excursions, South bound is extremely restricted. The costs however, can start to escalate, once on board and it takes a strong will, to contain expenses. Although you would expect a certain mark up , nothing prepares you for the Norwegian cost of living, compared with the UK, like for like, almost everything, is approx 3 times, the price. Excursions............. Do not be pressured into pre-booking excursions, the Hurtigruten experience, is more about travelling, on a day to day, passenger ferry, visiting the 31 ports of call. Hurtigruten, in fairness, have tried to accommodate the cruise fraternity, but have to work to a tight schedule, some of the excursions, as previous reviewers have pointed out, are very rushed, but Hurtigruten are not in the cruise ship business and probably shouldn't even try. One excursion, which I would not have missed (its not advertised in the book, but arranged locally, ask the tour guide on ship.) is to the fishing village of Skarsvag, on day 6, of the northbound voyage, from the port of Honningsvag. While all your fellow guests are being herded to 71 degrees north, you will experience a real Norwegian fishing village, a very humbling experience, I might add and not what you would expect. To Conclude.............. We wouldn't have missed this trip for the world, it was a privilege, in nearly all respects it fulfilled a dream, we did see the Northern Lights and shall never forget them. Travelling with friends, , allowed us to share the experience. We have travelled extensively and would place this trip at the very top. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
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