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26 Hurtigruten Baltic Sea Cruise Reviews

When I first booked this 'expedition ship/coastal ferry' I was concerned that the experience would not be good. But I was wrong. The Trollfjord was wonderful! Though not a true cruise ship in the American sense, it offers ... Read More
When I first booked this 'expedition ship/coastal ferry' I was concerned that the experience would not be good. But I was wrong. The Trollfjord was wonderful! Though not a true cruise ship in the American sense, it offers comfortable cabins with nice views and above all very good food. Dinner aboard is especially nice since the food quality and presentation was equivalent to a 5 star restaurant. I do want to mention my concerns after completing this trip from Kirkenes to Bergen. CONCERNS: 1. families with small children should be sectioned off far from the main diners as they are quite irritating to listen to. The restaurant is one room and you can hear small children anytime they make noise. Our cruise was only 34%booked so this seemed to be a problem with many meals. 2. Unlike every cruise ship in the universe, this one charges passengers to drink tap water for lunch and dinner. How aweful and stupid? Whoever came up with this idea needs to be fired. This presents a major inconvenience and the cruise line seems to think that because some restaurants charge for table water, that all passengers should suffer this additional charge. 3. Large suitcases will NOT fit under the bed and the room (even a standard suite) is not that big. The ship makes numerous stops, some as brief as 15 minutes along the coastal route and this is very interesting. Fascinating scenery even in snowy weather was one of the highlights. Prospective passengers should be aware that an expedition ship has no movies or show lounges or entertainment. The staff is very responsive. Cabins are cleaned daily and one should be aware that cleaning begins as early as 8am and ends at 3pm. So for aurora hunters who stay up all night, this can present a challenge unless you put your DO NOT DISTURB card on the door. Cabin showers are hot and perfect. The line provides face cloths (spotty delivery), face towels and bath towels as well as shampoo and bath gel. WARNING: travelers should prepare for rough seas in winter and sea sickness bags are provided. You will need them. Take either medications or other measures to mitigate this situation. Trollfjord can carry up to 822 passengers in 301 cabins. Most are European. We were in a standard suite with a small flat screen TV. CNN was one of the 7 channels present. There is a small minibar. Note that everything on this ship costs money. But we did get a free hat and coffee mug. Our suite was 701 adjacent to the bridge. The room also had a phone, hot water boiler, good lighting, large bed, chair, sofa, small table and 2 night stands.There was no problem getting an assigned table for 2 at the restaurant on deck 5. WIFI is free and may work well or not. There are 4 PCs on deck 8 and they are first come first served. No printer. WIFI is on deck 7 and deck 8 but not everywhere. Port side cabins get to see all the ports. Tap water in the bathroom can be drunk without problem. Room lighting is very good. There is a small closet with 4 hangars. I dont know why the ship designers failed to realize that with limited room, large suitcases should fit under the bed as they do on every other cruise line on which we have sailed. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
We had just returned from a cruise on P & O's Oriana in search of the Northern Lights. This trip had been less than successful not least because when we did see the lights for a brief 15 minutes in Alta, I could not capture the ... Read More
We had just returned from a cruise on P & O's Oriana in search of the Northern Lights. This trip had been less than successful not least because when we did see the lights for a brief 15 minutes in Alta, I could not capture the event on my bridge camera. We spotted a very good deal for a six night trip from Tromso to Kirkeness and back with Hurtigruten with free flights from Manchester to Tromso and two nights in the Radisson Blue in Tromso one at the start of the trip and one at the end. We were determined to see the Northern Lights on this trip having been disappointed on the 11 night Oriana trip. Having arrived in Tromso in mid afternoon we looked in a brochure in the hotel lobby to find possible trips in search of the Northern Lights. A company offering exactly what we were looking for was located in an office immediately behind the hotel so we called in and booked the trip at 900 krona each about £95 so not cheap. This was to be a five to six hour coach trip starting at 7.30 in the evening. Before we set off the weather did not look encouraging. We started with a short talk in the office where nearly a full coach load of expectant customers listened to the guide. He explained what the evening was all about and told us we would drive around may be even up to the border looking for the Lights.He also mentioned the weather was not good and we might struggle to find or see the lights and any one wanting to cancel could have a full refund. It was overcast and threatening rain. When we got on the bus the guide again reiterated that we would be lucky to see anything given the weather and anybody who wanted to cancel could have a full refund. Such a contrast to the P & O trip which under much the same circumstances there was never any suggestion before or at the start of the trip that we could cancel and get a full refund.Very disappointing. We got very lucky it has to be said as the clouds parted about twenty minutes in the the trip and the bus parked up and we all got off the bus and set up our cameras and started taking pictures. I had bought a new camera especially for this trip and was pleased that it worked well and I got some good shots. The bus then moved on to a second location where we got some nice night pictures across a lake but did not see clear sky. We then drive on for a good hour before the bus stopped at another location where again we had a good view across water to mountains and the lights of a small villages. This time after half an hour the clouds parted again and we got a glimpse of the Northern Lights amongst the stars. We had cocoa and biscuits and then set off back to Tromso, a two hour drive. The trip did exactly what it said on the tin and everyone arrive back at the hotel very satisfied. We boarded the Richard Witt a Hurtigruten Ferry in the afternoon. This is not a cruise ship but definitely the best ferry we had ever been on. Forget cross channel ferry this Hurtigruten ship is in a whole different category. The ship had started off in Bergen and Tromso was just one stop on a trip up to Kirkenes. Our cabin was small but comfortable for the three of us, two bottom beds and one pull down pullman. The bathroom was a good size. We had a half board basis which meant breakfast and an evening meal. Breakfast was a help yourself buffet. No sign of Noro Virus on this ship. The selection of food was quite good with eggs, not much bacon, the ubiquitous Norwegian meat balls and frankfurter style sausages plus lots of really nice bread, butter and margarine, cold meats and cheese. The ship called in at several small ports on the way up to Kirkenes but also had to miss some out because of rough weather. We stopped at Hammerfest on the way north, in the middle of the night, which was covered in snow and looked quite magical but too much light to see the sky which was overcast in any case. We had to miss out Havoysund before arriving at Honningsvag. We had been to Honningsvag a couple of years ago on a midnight sun trip on Grand Princess. Quite a contrast in the winter with thick snow everywhere. I bought a pair of ice spikes for my boots which made progress a lot easier for walking about. This was a three and a half hour stop which was rare because most port stops were only 15 minutes or 30 minutes so not really enough time to get off the ship and explore. The evening meals were of a good standard but there was no choice so you had to eat it or leave it. Fortunately we found all meals were tasty and enjoyable although there was an accent on fish dishes which we do not eat that often. One night we had a fish based buffet with king crab and lobster tales as the star. We missed out on the lobster tales as we were late getting to our table and they had all gone. There were plenty of crabs legs but it was hard work getting the meat out. There was also an halibut stew which was really really good. We got in to Kirkenes first thing in the morning and had three hours to explore. Quite a remote place and not particularly picturesque. We walked the mile in to town and then out again. A little disappointing compared to Honningsvag and Hammerfest. One evening during diner the announcement came over the speakers that the Northern Lights were giving a show in the sky. So 90% of the diners left their tables and rushed outside to look and take photos. We managed to get some good pictures even though the ship was moving along at about 15 knots. Even taking 4 to 8 second exposures produced a result and enhanced the green colour of the lights although stars ended up as squiggles but this did not spoil the pictures of the Northern Lights even showing a little of the curtain effect you sometimes get with the lights. Boarding and leaving the ship was very straight forward. No security, no x-ray machines a very laid back attitude. This is Norway, so they seem to have a laid back attitude towards security. Nice for the passengers but is it too relaxed? Cruise card as usual for onboard spend and when leaving or returning to the ship. Prices on board were sky high. A glass of red or white wine cost 82 kronas. A beer was about 72 kronas. The cheapest bottle of wine was about 40 kronas. They had a wine deal for the three nights at 1700 kronas. That's over £180 for three bottles of wine! We had a glass of wine a couple of times but it certainly cuts down your alcoholic intake for a cruise. Having a bottle of wine with a meal is usually a given for us on a cruise. To be fare, alcohol is very expensive on shore in Norway as well. We arrived back in Tromso at midnight and were off the ship really quickly with the luggage transferred to the hotel for us. Very efficient. We were in our room by midnight 30. All in all a very good experience. Would we do it again. Yes, but with a major cruise line like P & O or Princess or even Cruise & Maritime. Hurtigruten is a very good company and the Richard Witt is an excellent ship but she is not a cruise ship and prices on board are way too high even by cruise ship standards.   Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
It's clear from the Hurtigruten website, as well as reviews, that this is a coastal ferry not a cruise liner. in my view this is a very well appointed ferry with comfortable seating in all lounges. Cabins are snug, but we had plenty ... Read More
It's clear from the Hurtigruten website, as well as reviews, that this is a coastal ferry not a cruise liner. in my view this is a very well appointed ferry with comfortable seating in all lounges. Cabins are snug, but we had plenty of room on our N category cabin on deck 3. Reception staff and tour manager are helpful. At no point were we unable to find a seat in the lounges. The food is variable: eggs at breakfast are often cold, and the evening meal could never be described as hot: more likely tepid ad portions are small. Having said that, the quality of the food is acceptable and at breakfast and lunch there is plenty of choice and free seating. Evening meals are fixed menu. I'm not keen on fish so ordered the vegetarian option in advance. Apart from one meal, the veggie options were fine. The one exception was when I had mashed potato with a side of boiled potatoes! Do take lots to do though, as there is a lot of time spent on the ship. We took cards, board games and lots of reading. The scenery is lovely but there are the odd rainy or windy days where it's not pleasant out on deck. There are little ceremonies when the Arctic Circle is crossed in either direction - a bit of fun. Shore excursions we really enjoyed were the taste of Vesteralen: stunning scenery, snow hotel in Kirkenes where you can also see the huskies and reindeer, and the North Cape - travelling in convoy with a snow plough at the front. . The only let-down was Hammerfest which isn't really much of a tour and I'd suggest you do your own thing. Polaria in Tromso is very small: don't expect a large exhibition. It's easy walking distance from the ship so you can do it independently. We'd done Arctic Cathedral on a previous visit to Tromso, but those who attended the midnight concert enjoyed it. In Svolvaer make time to visit Magic ice Sculptures and the SS WW2 museum - both only 5 mins walk from the ship. Alcohol is prohibitively expensive: the cheapest wine I saw on the menu was the equivalent of £38 per bottle. If I had one grip, it would be that you can't even get tap water at the evening meal. Unless you buy wine, your glasses are cleared off the table. Buying wine includes a free water bottle though. However the tap water in the cabin is drinkable and we took our own kettle, tea and coffee and powdered milk, which is a lot cheaper than the coffee deal for £36 over 11 days.   Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
We chose one of their more modern boats as my husband can suffer with seasickness so wanted one with the best stabilisers. We booked virtually the day the trip was released as we specifically wanted a cabin with a balcony and there are ... Read More
We chose one of their more modern boats as my husband can suffer with seasickness so wanted one with the best stabilisers. We booked virtually the day the trip was released as we specifically wanted a cabin with a balcony and there are only 5 on that boat. We booked MG 775 and friends booked M2 782 next door. We stayed a few nights in Bergen first so caught a cab down to the Hurtigruten terminal where we walked straight up to the check in desk no queues and checked in and were given our room keys and dinner seating and table. We had requested a table for the 4 of us by a window and that is just what we got and on the starboard side of the boat which is on the mainland side as you go north, not that you could see anything but lights at night. The safety presentation was supposed to start at 15.50 but in the end the video did not start till 16.10 but that was the only timekeeping issue we had with the. As soon as that was finished we could board. Cabins were not supposed to be ready till 6pm but at about 4.45 we went to see if we could find ours and it was ready and our bags were outside the door which was a bonus. The cabin was a big seating area with a sofa and two chairs as well as a low table. in the entrance way was a big wardrobe section, the safe though stood on end rather than on it's side - watch out for it as the lid swung down on my fingers causing a big painful cut that needed medical attention on board (very swift and well managed). There was a separate desk with a bottle of sparking wine and two champagne glasses and a bowl of fruit, in the wardrobe were dressing gowns and slippers. Our friends in 782 had similar perks but I understand that is not in all cabin grades. The bedroom was a separate 'room' divided by a curtain and had a porthole but you could lie in bed and see straight out of the glass wall that was one whole side of the cabin looking out over the balcony. We did not draw our room curtains or the main ones on that side in either cabin even at night as it was beautiful to watch the stars at night or see the floodlight ports. The downside was that you could not watch TV from the bed not a huge deal but my husband does like to do that. There were a couple of channels that showed a webcam from the front of the boat and others that showed it's position on route. The bathroom in 775 had a small bath with a shower over it and a hotel style hairdryer. According to their website the suites have internet access - I presumed that meant wifi but no you had to go and get a cable from reception... In this modern day with phones and netbooks not great at all. We did have a small netbook for downloading photos onto but it was as slow as dial up so gave up on that plan. Wifi was supposed to be on deck 5 towards the front of the ship but we found by the first set of stairs on deck 7 we could get good signal, so you would often find us sitting on the bottom steps there if we wanted access! The balcony was huge with two chairs and a small table, a few nights we sat out watching the snowy dark scenery float past with a glass of wine or two. LHR sell wine boxes just the size of your duty free allowance and Hurtigruten did not seem to mind that you brought it on board and stored it in our fridge/mini bar in our room. Sadly our cabin on day 2 developed rising damp in the carpets... and electrical issues so we had to move, we were offered a 'larger' cabin on the 8th deck but wanted the balcony so they moved us to 780 (and hoped to fix the issues before Tromso when someone had booked 780 so they were going into 775... 780 is quite a bit smaller in the lounge area and only had a shower not a shower over the bath as 775 did. However for going northbound at that time of year 780 is better as the main coast line is that side and the sunrises are also that side. The balcony was amazing as I could run out in my PJs if I wanted to take a quick couple of photos and run back in it was well worth it as you are so sheltered back there. Our friend's cabin 782 although not as large and just with a shower was great as well with the balcony for taking photos from, they could see both sides but not as clearly as you could from ours, sometimes the perfect side on view was what I wanted. We did not go for the wine package but did take the tea/coffee deal. The coffee was strong so I either watered it down a bit or drank tea (great selection inc some fruit teas). The mugs kept drinks really hot but were not huge. We attended the welcome on board talk which was good, no selling of trips that was another session which we did not go to as we had already booked what we wanted to do. The manager did say that you could not drink your own alcohol outside of your cabins and that the coffee mugs changed colour if you put anything else in them, which got a big laugh. Just for experimental purposes you understand I tried and can report it was as big a joke as we all thought. We explored the ship which had a small café, shop, bars and lounges, laundry (tokens from reception - 4 machines and 4 tumble dryers you got a detergent gel pouch in the cost) a small gym, men's and women's saunas and two outdoor Jacuzzis. We used one of them most nights despite the cold they were boiling hot and a lovely place to sit and watch the stars. One had a windbreak round it that we favoured the most, the dressing gowns and slippers were perfect for that. The food in the restaurant was good, breakfast and lunch free seating and a bit of a scrum at times. Dinner was two seatings and buffet on the 1st and last nights. If you pressed P1 on your phone you could hear all the announcements in your cabin day and night including in the middle of the night if the NL were spotted. The weather for our whole trip was perfect hardly a cloud in the sky day or night and they were spotted every night but the first one. So cue a mad rush up to deck 9, what I did not realise is that unless they are strong displays they look a bit like funny cream clouds that at time had a green tinge to them. Through your camera with a long enough exposure you got green! Although with the boat moving and the long exposure not great pictures. Some nights we could see them from our balcony's so no mad dash upstairs as we would watch from there. Every day the team on board would post a brief for the next day with times and things to watch out for and would announce when you could see them and on what side. We were only late into a couple of ports and only by a few minutes but we always left on time so if you do get off make sure you are back in time! In some ports it felt like Norway was closed for the winter so as much as we enjoyed it I would not do it again at that time of year. They had a brilliant pianist and singer in one bar and we sat and listened to him a couple of times. When we past by the entrance to Trollfjord and through a really really narrow gap the ship stopped and floodlight the land on either side which was beautiful. We took a couple of excursions the North Cape one - I will review that separately but it was amazing the weather was stunning and the views breath-taking! We also took the Viking feast one again I will review separately good but not amazing, our guide though on that was outstanding we learnt so much from him on the coach journeys. With hindsight we would have done the trip in Bodo to the aircraft museum as there was not much to see or do there. Overall a fun trip, if I was being honest I am not sure I would do it again in the winter to see the NL just go to Tromso and be there as many days as you can. We wanted to see the fjords so would want to go back in the summer and rent a car and explore that way. Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
We travelled on Richard With and had a wonderful time Hunting the Light. We had five nights of sightings and have some super photographs that we are well satisfied with. The passage to Kirkenes and back is not a cruise - it is a journey ... Read More
We travelled on Richard With and had a wonderful time Hunting the Light. We had five nights of sightings and have some super photographs that we are well satisfied with. The passage to Kirkenes and back is not a cruise - it is a journey on a well appointed ferry and must not be confused by those booking the trip. There is no cruise style entertainment at all - coffee is served in a bar up on Deck 7 where a pianist plays - that is all that happens, the rest is up to you and your fellow passengers. it is a wonderful visual experience but you must know what your are booking if you wish to avoid disappointment. Stops at ports are short and sweet - some as short as 20 minutes, some extend to 6 hours at the most. The food is wonderful if you like open Scandinavian type buffets - we do so it is great - but if you do not eat fish or are a vegetarian, your choice is limited. Dinner is served with no choice expect if you pre-warn and book a veggie type meal. Here comes the warning! Now the line are not serving tap water in flasks as they have done for years but are now asking you to buy mineral water to drink in the Dining Room. You get free mineral water if you have bought a wine package at Norwegian prices but not if you do not. Buying a minimal amount of water can add up to £60 to your on board account. This is not shown in the brochure nor is it told to you on booking. 'Be Warned' and expect to pay to have a glass of water with your meals. The staff are very pleasant and helpful. Their main role has been for many years running a state supported ferry service for the Norwegian traveller - they are not cruise passenger orientated, they are efficient and dedicated to make everything run to time. It is a superb experience both in winter and summer - but I urge anyone booking to know what it is they are booking and not complain if it turns out to be different to what they expext. Do your research and ask all the questions. Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
Our vacation began in Amsterdam, where we spent two days, then flew to Bergen aboard a KLM airliner. We had researched and prepared for our cruise for a long time, watching Norway through available webcams before we left, checking weather ... Read More
Our vacation began in Amsterdam, where we spent two days, then flew to Bergen aboard a KLM airliner. We had researched and prepared for our cruise for a long time, watching Norway through available webcams before we left, checking weather forecasts. Nothing could have prepared us for the 9C-13C weather we had for the duration of our trip, July 13 to July 24. In retrospect, our last minute decision to throw a warm winter coat in our luggage was a wise one. Thank God we did. After arriving in Bergen, we were picked up by the Hurtigruten bus (I bought a transfer) but the driver never bothered to check our vouchers. Check-in at the cruise terminal was very quick and efficient, as is the Northern custom. We received our documentation, cafeteria information, our bags were taken and delivered directly to our cabins. Orientation and safety program upstairs. We were hoping to go out and see the city, especially the Floyen mountain funicular, but we didn't end up having any time for that. Our first lunch aboard was excellent: abundant varieties of seafood, smoked fish, salads, etc. Dessert was memorable throughout. The first thing my husband did was buy Hurtigruten mugs for coffee and tea. We hadn't planned on it, but weather told us what to do, and it turned out to be another wise choice: we used them thoroughly every day of the cruise. The many Germans, few Australians, Norwegians traveling locally--all seemed to use them too. I had prebooked four excursions: Geiranger fjord, Scenery and Huskies, Bird Safari, and North Cape Southbound. We enjoyed them all, though there turned out to be no visibility in North Cape it was still very much worth it. The husky farm showed an informative film about the dogs, then let us pet them and take pictures. They are surprisingly friendly. The bird safari took us by boat to a cliff where we saw puffins, sea eagles, cormorants. Geiranger fjord was spectacular, even with the wind and rain. The real highlight, of course, is the fjords. Even in bad weather they are spectacular. Took over a thousand photos on camera and iPhone. The weather created some choppy moments, especially when the ship goes out into open sea. I had read about it but to experience it is another matter. On the return trip, southbound, we got lucky. The sun came out and deck 9 became a popular spot to bask in the Northern sun. The scenery turned more green-blue and yellow all around. We crossed the Arctic Circle twice, saw the sun at midnight, and on the way back to Bergen, with nicer, warmer weather at our backs, were able to go ashore more and see some smaller towns, when MS Midnatsol was making stops for an hour, half-an-hour at a time. The towns in these ports are wonderfully picturesque. The crew works very hard on the ship. A few days into the cruise we realized that the waitresses from the restaurant also clean the cabins during the day, and work 22 days in a row. They came from parts of Europe, nearby Sweden to distant Slovakia. Hilde and Bjorn were in charge of excursions and daily flyers (collect all 35 ports of call). They were very helpful, suggesting what to wear and what to expect on certain excursions. Hilde knew every landmark, making the trip much more informative than a mere pleasure cruise. At the end, we stayed on for three more days in Bergen. The weather warmed up (24C) without a drop of rain. I booked a one-day Norway In A Nutshell excursion. If you have the chance, go on this one. It takes you to the one-of-a-kind Sonjo fjord , via three trains, bus, and boat. You will not see anything this spectacular. We explored Bergen for two days, visiting Grieg's house in Troldhaugen, a beautiful place to learn more about Norway's Dvorak. Another wonderful experience was buying a one-way ticket up Mount Floyen, walking down on foot, with its unforgettable views and natural scenery, weather permitting. The art museums in Bergen are a great place to see first-rate works without the crowds in Amsterdam, for example. The only negative of the whole trip would have to be the NOK, the Norwegian crona. Everything in Norway is going to be very expensive if you're using dollars. We just wanted to salute Hurtigruten and MS Midnatsol for the unforgettable cruise and a give a big thank you to everybody who made it a special one for us. Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
I had been keen to do the Classic Voyage for its visual attractions, for many years, but was somewhat reluctant about the whole cruising experience. As part of a package to southern Norway in May 2011 I was able to sample 2 days (one ... Read More
I had been keen to do the Classic Voyage for its visual attractions, for many years, but was somewhat reluctant about the whole cruising experience. As part of a package to southern Norway in May 2011 I was able to sample 2 days (one night) aboard Hurtigruten's MS Richard With. That impressive experience, coupled with good prior research, taking advantage of special travel offers and a seasoned traveller's perspective, convinced me to undertake the full 12-day "Classic Voyage", Bergen-Kirkenes-Bergen, this time on MS Midnatsol, the line's flagship. I departed Bergen on May 19. This is by far a very favourable review but as in so much of life, very little is perfect. So I am bound to note to readers of this thread that there was one glitch, relating to the on-board non-recognition of a ship-board credit previously guaranteed (see later very positive outcome). Also, as a technical professional looking at the nature of such a working operation, I believe there are some daily passenger-flow issues which might bear some review - particularly with regard to improving meal-time flows - even though that experience was by no means anything other than highly enjoyable. I think readers who are familiar with ship travel and more particularly Hurtigruten's operations and raison d'etre need no deep detailing here of such. I should simply like to reflect on how well I feel the whole experience was made for me. Firstly, and importantly, I feel the fact that these vessels are Scandinavian-crewed (whilst undoubtedly adding to the certainly expensive cost-base) is a very important factor: unfailingly polite and pleasant staff were always keen to answer, with useful insight, questions on the local environments, lifestyles and general shipboard operations. Secondly, and shiptype-specific, I don't think any review substitutes for actual visual impact: these boats are often jokingly referred to as coastal ferries. In fact they appear to be as plush and well-maintained as top cruise liners - merely much smaller. Very well-structured cabin layouts and outside cabins are generally view-favourable, though as in all ships there will be a few restrictions. And some prior research on the company's very informative website helps in that regard, anyway. Thirdly, and vessel-specific, I wish to congratulate the crew of MS Midnatsol on their operational thoroughness. Trying to be both local servant and cruise operation in one is a very tricky operation to balance and allowing for the former coming first, I think, on my assuredly very studious observations, they do - and did - a wonderful job on my cruise in May. And the range of shore excursions (yes, not cheap, but then very little in Norway is, obviously) was both wide-scoped and in my experiences, thoroughly and wonderfully executed. Finally, and most impressively, when a glitch happens for a passenger (see earlier comment) it is comforting to see willing efforts from ship through to administration on shore to help resolve the matter. Mine seemed to me somewhat minor but wonderfully, it ended up being resolved by the UK-based International Sales Manager who was prompt, enthusiastic and informative in his dealings with to my mind at least, a rather minor passenger in the importance chain. So, I would urge anyone who does want something a little different in the way of a cruise in northern coastal Europe, with more localised in-depth experiences, to give Hurtigruten careful consideration. You would be very unlucky to have anything other than a most rewarding voyage and experience - visually and operationally. And special credit to Mr Magne Gjervig (Midnatsol Hotel Manager), Ms Hild Hagen (Midnatsol Tours Manager), Mr Geir Eriksen (Midnatsol Captain) and Mr Karnail Gill (Hurtigruten UK). Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
My wife and I took the 12 night round trip cruise from Bergen to Bergen via Kirkenes on MS Nordnorge, departing Bergen on 17 March 2013. Our accommodation in Suite 636 was spacious and comfortable, considering this is a small working ship ... Read More
My wife and I took the 12 night round trip cruise from Bergen to Bergen via Kirkenes on MS Nordnorge, departing Bergen on 17 March 2013. Our accommodation in Suite 636 was spacious and comfortable, considering this is a small working ship and not a large, four star cruise liner. As experienced cruisers on RCCL our overall impression of the cruise was very good. Perhaps the only disappointment was wanting to stay longer at the various ports, due to the sheer magnificence of Norway. However, the cruise itinerary and Hurtigruten marketing information clearly state that this is a different type of cruise experience on a working ship. I find some of the very few negative reviews in this regard to be astounding and unfair to Hurtigruten as one knows what ones in for when booking. That includes the very high prices of food and beverage, which is not a Hurtigruten issue but the reality of Norway. This is not a luxury cruise liner experience. So, if you expect a variety of on-board activities, night life, lengthy port calls, catering to all ages and a continuous gastronomic overindulgence, this is not for you. So, why did we choose this cruise? We wanted something different, adventurous and a chance to meet Norwegians. We are over 50 nature lovers from South Africa, having cruised to many parts of the world, including twice to Alaska and wanted to embark on an adventure to see the Aurora Borealis and the magnificent Norwegian coastline. This was an expensive cruise but well worth it to us. Our entire experience, from arriving at the Hurtigruten terminal in Bergen, way before opening time and being let into the building by a Hurtigruten employee to escape the cold, the staff excellence, the cuisine, the spotless MS Nordnorge, the Norwegian people, the scenery and of course, witnessing a brilliant display of the Aurora Borealis whilst docked at Svolvaer and then for the next couple of hours, make this an unforgettable experience. Yes, expensive, but well worth it to us and highly recommended to the mature, experienced traveller. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
We always wanted to see the Northern lights and we were not disappointed on this trip. Hurtigruten would appear first and foremost to be a ferry company with a cruise element tacked on. the Finnmarken, one of their newer ships is a solid ... Read More
We always wanted to see the Northern lights and we were not disappointed on this trip. Hurtigruten would appear first and foremost to be a ferry company with a cruise element tacked on. the Finnmarken, one of their newer ships is a solid and stable ship; even in open water the ship sailed comfortably, on time (making 32 stops in six days). some of the en route stops were no more than fifteen minutes and as many as four in one night, but this schedule did not interfere with our sleep. docking alongside a snow covered "warehouse" to drop off or pick up was really quite "entertaining". The public interface on board, tour guide, waiters and cabin cleaners all seemed to be Norwegian and with the exception of the tour guide, we found the staff generally cool and a little unwelcoming, but not enough as to spoil our experience. the suite was adequate for its title, but nothing like a suite on a more dedicated cruise ship. problems with no towels and a missing bathrobe required four visits to reception before we got satisfaction. Again this did not detract from our trip other than being mildly irritating. the absence of hot water from out shower took over a day to resolve with the mixer tap eventually being replaced. on our journey, the ship, with 680+ cabins on board had fewer than 200 passengers as we left Bergen, by by nature of a ferry, others came and went along the route. we pondered the thought of the ship being full in season and the impact that might have on service levels. Buffet breakfasts and buffet lunches were fine, yes a lot of fish, but prepared in interesting ways and supported by meat options. fixed, no choice dinners were disappointing and on two occassion, virtually inedible. avoid the wine package and coffee package unless to want to leave the ship £400+ lighter. despite wording to the contrary, people were taking their own alcohol on board but not necessarily consuming it anywhere other than their cabin. we were a little perturbed when weekend revellers joined the boat for the Trondheim / Tromso leg of the journey, determined to have a good time, they were loud and "invasive" in whatever lounge they turned up in, but that is hardly Hurtigruten's issue, we just moved away! So, yes we did see the lights! our shore excursion to dog sled was cancelled due to lack of snow. BEWARE that unless you want to book another excursion you will get a refund but in Kroner. if you then take it back home to exchange it, you'll lose as much as 18% of its value! so the recommendation is too book excursions on board, especially if changing conditions are likely to lead to cancellation. this cruise IS expensive, but relative to the Norwegian cost of living, when compared to cruises elsewhere in Europe, the price is pretty comparable. we enjoyed the cruise, despite the niggles and got to see the lights. we are unlikely to cruise this route again but agreed that we would go back to Alaska with NCL tomorrow if we could. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
We are not regular cruise types. We like small boats and have only cruised before on the Mekong, Brahmaputra, Ganges and Irrawaddy rivers. We originally booked to travel on Hurtigruten's MS Nordstjernen (400 pax capacity) but found ... Read More
We are not regular cruise types. We like small boats and have only cruised before on the Mekong, Brahmaputra, Ganges and Irrawaddy rivers. We originally booked to travel on Hurtigruten's MS Nordstjernen (400 pax capacity) but found ourselves instead on the MS Finnmarken (1000 pax capacity), as the Nordstjernen had been replaced. We weren't happy about this, but there was nothing we could do about it. I was filled with foreboding about cruising with 998 pushy Europeans but I have to say it was a far better experience than I expected. First, it wasn't full. My guess is there were about 600 people on board, but that was enough for us. Secondly, there is lots of deck space so I guess that, even when full, there is enough room for people to disperse. The main thing about Hurtigruten is that it is neither a ferry nor a cruise boat. It hovers somewhere between the two. Consequently, you have the shore excursions and 'cruisy feel' of a cruise, on the one hand, combined with regular stops along the coast that you would associate with a ferry. Some of these stops are very early or very late and because Hurtigruten is primarily a ferry, the sightseeing schedule has to fit around its regular stops. We booked the 6D Southbound cruise, from Kirkenes to Bergen. The 'Breakfast at the North Cape' excursion would have been so much better if it had been at lunchtime; the place was shrouded in mist and we saw next to nothing. This is quite common, according to the people who live there. Other excursions took place at equally odd times (one of the Lofoten options leaves in the late afternoon and gets back after 10.00pm) and we found this all quite tiring. The weather was pretty ordinary throughout our cruise, which put pressure on the internal lounges. The 'towel on the sun-lounger' syndrome was alive and well so if you wanted a seat with a view you needed to get up early and grab a spot. Overall I think it is well run, considering it is trying to be all things to all people. I have two negative comments. First, the dinners are pretty ordinary, compared to the extensive buffet breakfasts and lunches. It is a set menu, with a starter, main course and dessert. Several of the main courses were fish and at least two of the desserts were frozen solid. An improvement would be to offer a choice of main course so that non-fish eaters can have something else. The second gripe is about 'day-trippers'. On several occasions day-trippers went up to the Observation Lounge, where the best seats are located. They would hang around and jump in as soon as a place became available, almost pushing others out of the way. I think certain parts of the ship should be allocated to people who have booked either the 7D Northbound, the 6D Southbound or the 12D round trip. With regard to pricing, we booked a complete package that included all meals. We discovered on board that you can book 'cabin only' and pay for meals as you go. We would have been happy to take up this option as three big meals a day is too much at our age. Apparently this option is detailed somewhere in the small print. We were also told there is an expensive 'alcohol package' and assumed this was the only option. In fact, you can buy wine/beer by the glass and it is no more expensive than anywhere else in Norway. There's also a cafe on board that serves inexpensive hot meals/salads 24 hours a day - but there's no point using this if you have prepaid for all meals! The shore excursions were all good but the guiding varied enormously. Some were great, others would have cured insomnia. A big tick to Craig (related, we think, to Hagrid), who was our larger-than-life guide on the Lofoten Islands tour (Excursion 9B). Another excellent excursion was 10B (Vega Islands). A third highlight, for us, was the Atlantic Road (11C) and the Midnight Concert in Tromso (8C) was really good, but we were pretty knackered by the time we got to bed at 0200 in the morning. In general, we found the staff friendly and helpful and the cabin was way more spacious than I had expected. Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
We Did the Hurtigruten from Kirkenes to Bergen in May, 2012. We had car and drove from Uppsala, Sweden to Kirkenes, about 1500 km. We had seen Geraingerfjord on previous trip to Norway, so we knew we would miss lesund and Gerainger. ... Read More
We Did the Hurtigruten from Kirkenes to Bergen in May, 2012. We had car and drove from Uppsala, Sweden to Kirkenes, about 1500 km. We had seen Geraingerfjord on previous trip to Norway, so we knew we would miss lesund and Gerainger. The Finnmarken is a newer ship and we had 3rd deck cabin. It had two single beds which folded down from the wall. There was ampel storage plus the ship had clothes washers and dryper. Them supplied the soap and softener. Food was average. Plentiful breakfast and lunch bufferts, and sit down finner with no menu choice. Dinner alternated between fish and meat. I understood you cloud request a vegetarian finner at noon . Some of the passagers who were on for the entire 13 day trip complained about lack of variety. Drink prices like every thing in Norway was incredibly expensive. When we drove thru Finland we stocked up on beer, soft drinks and snacks. There was.a small refrigerator in the room. There were about 400 passengers on board. About 10% were English speakers, and the rest from Europe. The ship staff spoke English and announcements were in Norwegian, English and French. The best part of the trip was the scenry. We took the Sea Eagles excursion and it was great. In looking at the timetable, we knew port times would be short. My biggest regret was not having more time in cities like Tromso. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
The organisation was superb and I could not fault it. It is a warm and cosy ship and spotlessly clean. The cabin was meant for two people but I had paid for single occupancy and it was therefore just the right size - it would have been ... Read More
The organisation was superb and I could not fault it. It is a warm and cosy ship and spotlessly clean. The cabin was meant for two people but I had paid for single occupancy and it was therefore just the right size - it would have been cramped for two. The boat stopped at many ports because it is a working boat and nightimes could be really noisy with cars/cargo being unloaded . If you are thinking that a cruise on this boat is like being on a 'normal' cruise ship you would be wrong. Think- posh ferry instead and then set off with a sense of adventure with many like-minded people and you will have an amazing time. No entertainment, loud music, casinos etc, but lots of wonderful scenery and a totally realxing experience. if you are travelling in the winter- do not under-estimate how cold it can be - it had been -35 degrees at one point at the North Cape previous to our visit. We were very lucky with bearable temperatures- four layers of clothing- and we saw the Northern Lights! For anyone for whom photography is a must- I would advise them to spend a couple of nights in Tromso before boarding and catch a tour with one of the guides who will take you to the best place to view the spectacle. Taking photos on board a moving boat is more difficult even with a tripod but I still managed to get some good shots. I had read many articles on the best settings for my camera but the following gave me fantastic shots - use a wide angle lens set on the widest aperture, ISO daylight, and set on infinity. I used TV mode because the light changed so quickly it would not have been possible to keep up with changing the shutter speed. Also- take heat pads to go inside your gloves as your fingers can get frozen on deck in a matter of minutes. The Northern Lights are really elusive and are not always in bright colours as only the camera lens and not the lens in our eyes can always see the colour. So if you spot big trails of what looks like white moving cloud at night, take a photo! If the 'clouds' are green, it is actually the Northern Lights! Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
We received an email offer from Hurtigruten, 12 day round trip on full board inc flights in an outsi de cabin on deck 8 (top deck) for £2500. We had never cruised before so decided that this offer was worth trying out. First ... Read More
We received an email offer from Hurtigruten, 12 day round trip on full board inc flights in an outsi de cabin on deck 8 (top deck) for £2500. We had never cruised before so decided that this offer was worth trying out. First impression of the ship was good. Nice public areas and friendly staff. Our room was 802 (would reccomend this room to everyone). We found this room to be spacious enough for the two of us and the location on the ship was great, 20 seconds from being outside on deck 9 and the closest room to the outside hot tub, which we did use. This room passing passengers as it was the end of the corridor. We were close to the bar and entertainment all on Deck 8 but we never heard anything from our room. Food, as the majority of other have said, was fish based but good quality. If you do not like fish make sure you let the staff know as they will ensure an alternative is available. The staff work hard to please. While we were on board there was a military exercise, resulting in 40 + military personnel on board, they got into the restaurant before paying guests and were obviously very hungry, we didn't realise you could get so much food on a plate....lol. This meant that some of the choices were not available to folk coming into the restaurant after them. Having spoke to others it seems this is not uncommon so be warned get in early if they let you know an exercise is going on. If you are going to see any of the ports visited on route, be warned that if they are running late you may not get time to get off or if you do it may be very rushed as they will still leave on time. Even if you do pull in on time we felt very rushed and were constantly clock watching as the ship will leave on time if you are not back.For Hurtigruten the priority is the cargo, as a passenger you are an aside. This does not mean they do not look after you but this is not a typical cruise ship, The reason we went on this trip at this time of year was because we wanted to see the Northern Lights. We were fortunate, as we left Tromso, to see the lights for approx 1.5hrs. There were only a few of us on deck and we assumed others would know from the announcements that were suppose to be made if the lights appeared but no announcement was made and very few of us had the opportunity to see the lights. There were a lot of disappointed guests in the morning when we mentioned that we had seen them. Would we do this cruise again?.......No, but we enjoyed the experience. However,we would go to northern Norway again and fly to Kirkenes and stay there to see the lights and have some time to enjoy the town and other activities on offer in that area. Another reason we have decided we are land lovers is the 4 days & nights of Hurricane and gale force winds and 50ft seas. If you are looking for an excellent sea sickness tablet we would highly recommend joy riders - they were amazing!!! Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
Our first cruise. We chose October to suit our budget, but probably not the best time of year. Its the stormy season - and did we know it at times. The frequent passages in the open sea were challenging - passengers could hardly stand up ... Read More
Our first cruise. We chose October to suit our budget, but probably not the best time of year. Its the stormy season - and did we know it at times. The frequent passages in the open sea were challenging - passengers could hardly stand up and were staggering around the dining area with plates of food, lurching from table to table and we were sliding around the bed/bunk at night. An experience for the able-bodied but not so good for those less so. The weather (high winds) also prevented the ship from going up some of the most picturesque fjords (very disappointing)Food was very good & plentiful - largely fish-based with reindeer etc. (pretty healthy). We booked the 'Rib Safari' to see the huge Saltstraumen whirlpool. I have seen bigger whirlpools in my bath-tub. The tidal conditions have to be right before it occurs (3 or 4 times a day). All we saw was a slight ripple on the surface and were told 'That it where it was a few hours ago'. This is not made clear in the write-up when they want your money, very disappointing. Suggest you don't book it until you know the tidal timetable. We did get distant glimpses of sea-eagles. The crew were very helpful & polite with English widely spoken. We booked separately Norwegian airline for the flights at about a third of the Hurtigruten cost. You do have to make your own way to & from the airport to Bergen Hurtigruten terminal, but there is an excellent public bus service for 190 NOK return - leaving a 15 minute walk at the Bergen end (or a taxi). Overall a good holiday, but not a cheap one.Other tips:- If possible avoid deck 5 - the promenade deck with everyone walking past your window and blocking your view. Book on the starboard (right) side of the ship to avoid noise from the loading deck whilst in port at night. Go for the £32 coffee cup deal offered as you board, giving 24 hour unlimited tea & coffee. At £3-50 a cup of coffee, you are soon better off. If we go again, we will spend an extra day or so in Bergen, lots to see & do there, including a cable car ride up the nearest mountain for views over the city. If you go in winter, take ice cleats/crampons/spiked boots as all the pavements are like skating rinks. Don't forget continental plug adaptors. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
This was our first cruise and were impressed with the facilities. The Midnatsol looks to be one of the newer ships in the fleet and it had some nice touches like a top deck jacuzzi, sauna (with a view) and small gym (with a view). A ... Read More
This was our first cruise and were impressed with the facilities. The Midnatsol looks to be one of the newer ships in the fleet and it had some nice touches like a top deck jacuzzi, sauna (with a view) and small gym (with a view). A lot has been said already by others that I need not repeat but for us the positives were: 1) the room, though small (we had a basic inside cabin) was well equiped and had enough storage to put everything away. 2) the staff were friendly and polite (and hard working) 3) the atmosphere on board was good. The majority of passengers were German so as English speakers there were fewer other people to talk to 4) Excellent dinners in the restaurant. Fish biased as you would expect but great. And we found the portions just fine. We didn't spend time in Bergen as that was where we were flying from but that looked like a nice place to spend a day. Also would love to have spent an evening, or evening a few hours in the evening, at Trondheim as that looked like the most interesting town. What was not quite so good (and in some cases being picky here...) 1) Internet was free but sooooooo slow that it was almost unusable. 2) We docked at some places very quickly and there was no time to get off 3) We were running behind schedule for much of the time but would still depart a dock on time. This meant that if we had a 45/60 min stop, in theory, somewhere we often had only 20 mins to get off run around and get back on for the scheduled departure time. 4) breakfast was inconsitent and not very interesting at all. The choice of breads and pastries was poor and the hot selection was, on most days, a bit weird. so normally stuck to fruit and cereal (i.e. did not leave the dining room hungry!). A let down as dinner was so good. Overall the "most beautiful voyage" was not quite up to expectations which was in part due to the time of year and weather. We had a couple of days on board with nothing much to see ".... we are just passing the Seven Sisters which are seven peaks, x metres high etc.... but you cannot see it due to the weather!!" So a chance to kick back and relax! So now that I am home I am not raving about the trip based on what I saw and tell people to maybe check other months. Having said that we had a ball, really enjoyed ourselves - hanging out on the ship / exploring towns when we could and relaxing. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
a newish boat - tiny cabin with just enough storage space for one - we lived out of our suitcases stowed under the bed. The outside cabins with portholes appeared a bit larger but not really value for money. Mainly continental ... Read More
a newish boat - tiny cabin with just enough storage space for one - we lived out of our suitcases stowed under the bed. The outside cabins with portholes appeared a bit larger but not really value for money. Mainly continental breakfasts, with eggs, chipolata sausages - not really up to English standards, but reasonable. other meals mainly fish and pork, one shellfish buffet and reindeer meat once. Great soups, bread, salads and desserts. We had reserved settings for quite a few meals which meant we were forced to sit with people even if we didn't care for their company - also some people forced to sit at a table for 2 even if they wanted to sit by other people.No choice of menu at most dinner times- mainly fish which was sometimes like cardboard - probably defrosted - shame as there should have been plenty of fresh fish in Norway. Missed chicken and had lamb only twice. The staterooms were great, plenty of space and seats, lovely sundeck and 2 outdoor hot tubs - not for the faint hearted, but well used, sauna and gym were great. The bar was expensive +++ - entertainment by a couple of singers so-so, but welcome as a diversion at the end of the day. 21£ for a mug with unlimited tea and coffee from the cafeteria/bar - but as it cost 2£ for a single cup it seemed worth it to buy the mug. £5.70 for a 1/2 pint of beer which was half filled with foam! We went on a lot of the tours to break up the day - the city tours were a waste of money, as well as the one to the Russian Border. The best were to the Svartisen Glacier, though you had to walk a mile to get to it from the bus, The Geiranger Panorama was good too. Not to be missed is the Midnight concert in Tromso Cathedral, The North Cape, and the Sea Eagle Safari. People who did a walking tour of Trondheim were disappointed, as well as the trip into Hammerfest. We went to the Lofoten Islands - it got dark early and was raining, so was awful esp as the guide couldn't speak English. Couldn't go on the Vega trip (out of season - shame)- others said the trip to Svolvaer and the Atlantic road trip were good - though the guide had limited English on the latter which wasn't so much fun. Met some great people, read a lot of books - they had a small library to which I added a couple of books. A very expensive trip, but worth it in the end. The ship was clean, cabins cleaned every day. The waiters were a bit rude sometimes - someone asked for jam -and he said - its there, cant you read, and on another occasion one of them was ride to another guest in front of us - affluence breeds ennui and arrogance! Check your bills carefully - we ended up being overcharged by over 1200K - 120£ - and so did almost everyone else. The barman charged us for the more expensive drinks instead of what we had actually bought, and one doesn't usually expect this in a crowded bar, so you tend to sign the cruise card chit without checking - big mistake, only put right at the end after a load of hassle and queuing. 6 nights would have been perfect - but we'd have missed the concert and the sea eagle safari so comme si comme sa In all a good experience and I would recommend it to people who don't want too much in the way of entertainment etc - one has to be mindful of the fact that it is but a glorified ferry and not expect too much. We felt that we could have done with spending 2 nights in Bergen or Kristiansund which looked like vibrant fun places Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
Midnatsol is one of 9 ferries with cruise style facilities doing a round trip from Bergen to Kirkenes at the Russian border and back. The ship stops at a multitude of ports which you can see during waking hours at east once during the ... Read More
Midnatsol is one of 9 ferries with cruise style facilities doing a round trip from Bergen to Kirkenes at the Russian border and back. The ship stops at a multitude of ports which you can see during waking hours at east once during the voyage. The ship loads and unloads cargo as well as passengers at most ports. The route is mainly between islands and the coast, but there are 3 notable bits of open water to traverse. Although the public areas are cruise style, the cabins are mostly as you would find on English cross-channel ferries. However, as so little time is spent in them, their basic nature does no matter much. Winter also has no single supplements for cabins and this is a real economy for myself and my friend who have winter holidays together. Because of the beauty of the scenery this was my 3rd winter voyage out of 4 trips with Hurtigruten. Hurtigruten offer many flights to Bergen from all over UK, and we must say that our KLM flights from Tyneside to Bergen via Amsterdam were most convenient. Included is a shuttle bus between airport and ship in Bergen. Embarkation is quick and easy - you just drop your suitcase and get pre-prepared cabin cards and table allocation in return. Almost all payments on the ship are by registering your cruise card and that took only 3 minutes to do at reception. As this is a scenic voyage, there are few activities. Amongst those there were was a singing duo each evening and information films and events occasionally. (Most of these do not happen in summer). One bit of fun that happens on all voyage is crossing the Arctic Circle with a King Neptune ceremony for those who want to join in, and a certificate for all. The public rooms have lots of space in the winter, but some of the seating becomes a bit uncomfortable after a few hours. Art and decoration is beautiful an imaginative. There is a small library and free internet access as well as a bar, snack bar and small souvenir shop. There are 2 jacuzzis on the top deck (outside) and a sauna (inside). Recreation is limited to walking around covered promenade deck 6 or open deck 9 (with helipad). There is a very small children's room which I have never seen occupied. Meals are taken in a well decorated dining room with a buffet breakfast and lunch with a set evening dinner. Breakfast is open seating, but for the first time, we had allocated tables for Lunch buffet as well as the usual allocated tables for dinner.These were shared with others of the same nationality who we got on with OK. Service is generally good and the waiters are really friendly if you get to know them. Since I first went on this winter cruise 4 years ago, I have noticed that the variety of food on offer has been substantially reduced with less choice of cooked meats, fish and cheese. Dinner is also less imaginative with fish being served as a main course on 5 evenings running. There is no problem however in changing any Dinner course by telling the restaurant manager at breakfast time (menus are posted the evening before). The chef is excellent with dietary requirements for dinner, but you have to look after your self at buffets. Cabins are serviced once a day with regular changes of bedding and fresh towel if you leave the old one on the sink or floor. There is an opportunity for an excursion almost every day including dog-sledging, snowmobiles, bus tours and a Viking Feast. Seeing the Northern Lights is a bonus and they did appear once on this voyage, but you cannot count on seeing them. I have not rated ports as stops are from 5 minutes to 4 hours, and it is very much up to you whether you explore take an excursion or stay on the ship. WE took this cruise for relaxation, scenery and a glimpse of Norwegian culture. It answered all of this admirably, and despite the obvious economies being made in the catering we enjoyed it very much once again. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
Hi there, We have just returned from a cruise on the MS Trollfjord from Bergen to Bergen. We were first time cruisers and our party consisted of 3 people one of which was in a wheelchair. The cruise was fantastic and the staff helpful. ... Read More
Hi there, We have just returned from a cruise on the MS Trollfjord from Bergen to Bergen. We were first time cruisers and our party consisted of 3 people one of which was in a wheelchair. The cruise was fantastic and the staff helpful. Unfortunately my parents could not get off at many ports due to the extreme weather conditions (snow). Alot of areas had not been cleared hence being unable to get the wheelchair around. The excursions were fantastic and everything ran smoothly so we have not complaints at all. We were advised before hand that it was very expensive so prepared for the worst, not as drastic as we thought. The cruise had several nice touches i.e passing the arctic circle was a celebration so there were drinks and a gift, passing a specific Fjord you could purchase a beautiful gift mug etc The cruise was extemely enjoyable and the hilight certainly being the Northern lights - which we were lucky enough to see. I took pictures of everything and they were stunning, unfortunately, i managed to delete half of them and have no idea how so i was devastated when i tried to download them. If anyone has any photos of the Northerncape, snow hotel, huskies, Trondheim cathedral and Allesund, i would quite happily buy copies of them. Many thanks and happy cruising if you decide to go ahead. Gayle Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
We took the 12 day 'Classic Round Voyage' from Bergen to Kirkenes and back at the end of January 2010, the main reason being in the hope of seeing the Northern Lights. Our ship was the Trollfjord, which is one of the newer and ... Read More
We took the 12 day 'Classic Round Voyage' from Bergen to Kirkenes and back at the end of January 2010, the main reason being in the hope of seeing the Northern Lights. Our ship was the Trollfjord, which is one of the newer and larger vessels (and identical to the Midnatsol), although the trip can be made in a number of the fleet's vessels that ply the coast carrying goods and passengers to numerous ports as well as accommodating their holidaying passengers. Embarkation is late in the afternoon, but rather than use a flight (from UK) arriving at Bergen the same day as embarkation, we flew to Bergen the day before in order to spend the evening in Bergen for a pleasant but expensive few drinks and meal, and most of the following day sightseeing before being picked up by the Hurtigruten coach at the hotel (the Strand) at 5pm and taken to the point of embarkation. I would recommend this if possible as Bergen is a pleasant town and well worth the visit, and a number of those we met on board expressed the view that they too wished they had done this. THE SHIP. The boat was bigger and smarter than I had envisaged for a working ferry. Although it doesn't compare with cruise lines - nor should anyone travelling by Hurtigruten expect it to be a 'cruise' in the excepted sense of the holiday - it is well appointed with a large and comfortable dining room, a large bar (with piano/singer in the evenings), cafe, gift shop, saunas, Jacuzzis, small gym, conference facilities, small library and large, comfortable observation lounges. As we were going for the whole 12 days and slightly concerned about the possible boredom factor, we booked a mini-suite to give us more room and comfort should we want to retire to our cabin. Although more expensive, we were glad that we did this as the cabin (no 691) was spacious, with seating area, television/CD player, a large comfortable double bed in a separate area and a good-sized bathroom with shower and hair-dryer. A bottle of fizz on ice was awaiting us on arrival, with a bowl of fresh fruit that was replenished daily, tea and coffee making facilities, and two of their unique coffee mugs that give free access to coffee throughout the trip (these cost 209 NK, or about £24, if bought separately). Also, the cabin was at the back on Deck 6, which is the only deck you can walk round on the outside, so any sightings of the Northern Lights, or need to get some fresh air was very easy as the door to the deck was only a few feet away from our cabin. Although the bar is large it was very much lacking in customers for pre-dinner drinks (coffee is taken there after dinner). This is not surprising at the prices charged. We had a beer each evening, but two .4 litre glasses cost the equivalent of £13.50. It certainly curtailed my usual beer intake! However, it is perfectly acceptable to take your own drink on board for use in your cabin (and as Norway is not in the EU you can take advantage of duty free prices). THE FOOD. As other reports indicate, breakfast and lunch are open-seating buffets, while dinner is a set meal (starter, main and dessert) taken at the same pre-assigned table each evening. Tables are generally for two or four, although at the time of the year we travelled the boat was only about a quarter full and most tables were occupied by a couple only. We were told on booking that there are usually two dinner sittings and we opted for the second sitting. However, as it was lightly booked there was only a single sitting. This was at 7 pm and a little early for us, but there was no problem in arriving at 7.30 or even 7.45 (although after that may have been a bit chancey for getting a starter!). As with everything else, the food does not compare with that available on traditional cruise liners, but subject to my comments below, most of it was perfectly acceptable. The most disappointing was breakfast, as although there is a good selection of cold items (fish, meats, cheeses etc), a few cereals and a limited fruit selection, the 'hot' dishes left a lot to be desired. Firstly it was virtually always the same - inedible rubbery scrambled eggs, small meatballs, tiny red sausages and some small chunks of fried potato. These were invariably tepid at best unless you were lucky enough to get a batch being brought straight from the kitchen (and even then they were only warm) This 'hot' selection got very boring over the voyage and it would have been nice to ring the changes with some grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, different sausages or variety of potato, beans, bacon etc. to make it interesting, but only once in 12 days did we get some baked beans to add some variety, and on three occasions there were pre-fried eggs, topped with a little bacon. These made a welcome variation, but again they were not hot and you had to search for one with a soft yolk. In addition there were two bowls of eggs, one marked 'soft boiled' and the other 'hard boiled', but although I tried a soft-boiled egg when the fried eggs were unavailable, on every occasion the yolk was hard. They might just as well have had a single bowl of hard-boiled eggs! In short, therefore, I was a little disappointed with hot breakfast, as with a bit of variation and better preparation it could have been so much better. Lunch was better, with a good selection of cold and salad dishes (including several varieties of fish) and two or three hot dishes as well as cheeses and a variety of sweets. There was also soup, but although I had it every day it was never more than warm. Similarly the 'hot' dishes tended to vary between tepid and warm more often than not, and were usually fairly plain, as were the accompanying vegetables (boiled potatoes/vegetables featured a lot!) Nevertheless, there was more than enough to satisfy, and being a buffet was able to be the most leisurely meal of the day. Although dinner was without choice, I understand that those who didn't like the main course (for example vegetarians) would be offered an alternative. The food was of excellent quality, especially the fish of which there was plenty (only one day didn't fish feature as either the starter or main meal). However, once again I found it was rarely served hot, and serving it on cold plates didn't help. Nevertheless, it was always good quality ingredients and attractively presented, although again the accompanying vegetable often relied on the plain, unimaginative boiled potato. The problem with the meals being less than hot seems to lie with the food being cooked in the kitchen (and probably the early batches wait in trays) before being brought out to a central serving counter in the centre of the restaurant where it is scooped into canteen-style trays. At lunchtime it then sits and waits in cooling containers, while at dinner it is then dished onto (cold) plates for waiters to distribute. Wine was available at a high cost (the cheapest bottles were just over £36, rising to over £55, although a 'wine deal' was available that gave a bottle of wine per night. I don't know how much this was other than to surmise it must have been eye-wateringly expensive!) However, despite previous reports mentioning a 'water deal' whereby water could be purchased, this must have been discontinued, as (tap) water with the meal was free. Most people I saw drank water with their meals! The service was efficient, although could be a mixed bag in terms of warmth and sociability. Some waiting staff were amiable, while one or two were straight-faced and lacking in warmth the whole time. One in particular (she must have been with them a long time as she appears in a photograph in the Hurtigruten museum at Stokmarknes) became a point of interest, as nobody saw her smile the whole of the trip! However, overall the service was good. THE STOPS. The ship stopped at many ports to unload/board freight and passengers. Often these stops were too short to leave the ship, but where it was possible it was nice to stretch our legs and walk in the winter snow that covered everywhere like a white fairyland. There are numerous organised trips available, although all were expensive for what they were. None particularly appealed so we didn't take any, and rather than taking an organised 'walking tour' of a town we preferred to do it ourselves at our own pace. Overall Despite one or two small negative points, we thoroughly enjoyed our trip. Although a few reports speculate that the full 12 days could be boring, it is OK if you are prepared for it and enjoy absorbing the scenery, which is spectacular. We found it OK. The 6-day cruise would have been too short and we were glad we were staying as we watched passengers disembarking at Kirkenes after what had seemed a very short voyage, although on arrival back in Bergen I was just about ready to leave. The main attraction, of course, is the scenery and it really is enchanting. I loved it in the winter, with the snow-covered landscape and the early or late sun glinting on the snow-capped mountains giving them varying pink, orange and purple hues as it rose or dipped behind the horizon, and the snow turning the little villages into Christmas card scenes. And to top it off we did see the Northern Lights. Not the spectacular, rolling multi-coloured lights that are shown on TV but the pulsating luminous, greeny and rather spooky lights on the horizon. All in all I wouldn't have missed it. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
I just got back from a January cruise on the Sir Richard With with my partner. Winter is a fantastic time of year if you enjoy the snow because the views are breathtaking and there are no crowds at all! The ship was only at about 1/6 of ... Read More
I just got back from a January cruise on the Sir Richard With with my partner. Winter is a fantastic time of year if you enjoy the snow because the views are breathtaking and there are no crowds at all! The ship was only at about 1/6 of its capacity and all the sites along the way were clear of crowds. Of course, the Northern lights were very special; saw them 3 time despite cloudy conditions through most of the artic circle. But by far the best thing about the Sir Richard with was 2 hot tubs on the back of the deck, which you could soak in the breathtaking views in comfort and style. Only complaint there is the the ship's railing were are eye level while in the tub, wish they though of that when they installed it! The ports have a fabulous opportunity to explore numerous towns and cities. The ship had a tourism desk that was a wonderful idea but poorly executed. They only had maps for 2 of the 11 ports we got off the ship, even though each of the town's tourist offices usually produces one. So make sure you research the port cities in advance. The internet on the ship is mind numbingly slow. The excursions sounded fun but we were more than happy to explore the towns on our own. Instead of booking the full trip, we booked 2 parts: Bergen to Tromsø (4.5 days) then stayed in Tromsø and caught the same ship as it returned south. To me, this was ideal as it provided a much needed break from the ship to go snowshoeing around the beautiful Tromsø area. In Tromsø, my partner and I stay at an absolutely gorgeous cabin with a fabulous Norwegian host family living across the street. They were ready to loan us snow shoes, skis, their car, even came to knock on our door when the Northern lights were out! Can't recommend them enough: http://www.holemarkgaard.no Lastly, for those that our interested in environmental impact, we learned from the ship's manager that it did dump its "grey water" waste out at sea as soon as they were far enough off shore. This surprised me because the WWF site had said Hurtigruten did not engage in this practice, but there you go. Read Less
Sail Date January 2010
Hurtigruten is an excellent informal cruise experience on a working ship plying the ports north of Bergen to almost Russia. Most of the journey is sheltered from rough sea by a line of islands. The weather is unpredictable and we were ... Read More
Hurtigruten is an excellent informal cruise experience on a working ship plying the ports north of Bergen to almost Russia. Most of the journey is sheltered from rough sea by a line of islands. The weather is unpredictable and we were lucky. The temperature at the North Cape was warmer than England. We had about 300 passengers, mostly very friendly retired people from England,some Norwegians (their pensioners have a discount), some Germans, French , Australians and USA. Many were very keen on unusual birds, such as sea eagles.( we saw them). The more experienced travellers used the cruise websites for booking the cruise because the Hurtigruten sales office can be difficult to engage and the websites can offer better prices. The ship stops several times a day, including the night. The night stops on the north journey are visited in the daylight in the south journey.There are lots of expensive excursions. We could book them the previous night once we knew the weather forecast. We were lucky at the North Cape excursion because there are few clear days each year and there was one when we visited it. The midnight musical concert at Tromso was excellent too. The shipping line is thoughtful in offering transport from the airport to the ship for passengers and luggage. Unfortunately there was a problem when we arrived at Bergen airport when one person checked all the ship's luggage. It took about an hour to check in our luggage. The coach transport worked well,taking us to the ship. Hurtigren offer several 'special offers' once you arrive. You can buy drinking water at meal time for about £22. Ignore that. They offer free ordinary water at meal time. They also offer a wine deal when they will give you an appropriate wine each day for £350. They could be useful if you can afford a bottle a day because the cheapest bottle was about £35. Few took this offer. They also offered a coffee deal when you paid about £30 ( I am guessing) for a mug and the coffee could be replenished in the cafeteria anytime. Since you have free coffee each meal time we thought was this was sufficient. The cabins are tiny but cleverly arranged with one bed which folds into the wall and the other bed converts to a seat. The food is good with a a buffet breakfast and lunch and with a served dinner at 6.30pm or 8.30pm. The emphasis was on fish dishes. Anything alcoholic was very expensive in Norway. In fact everything was expensive in Norway. However we could bring alcohol into our cabins. The experienced travellers took advantage of buying duty free oportunities at the Bergen Airport as we arrived. We liked the idea of offering duty free at arrival. We signed up for a lecture series about Norway held in the ship conference room. This was an hour lecture each day about different aspects of Norwegian life. These were interesting and the lecturer could advise us about anything. This was an easy way of meeting fellow travellers because we changed our dinner seats to chat to different individuals each night. We knew that we had a hotel room at the end of the holiday, the Neptun. This was fine although the bedroom was small. Many of us from the ship were booked there. We had an excellent dinner at the Pascal bistro at the hotel. We can recomend that. The breakfast was good too. The pleasant surprise was that Hurtigruten provided us with transport from the hotel to the airport. This was our first cruise. It was lovely.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
We just completed the 7 day north bound trip up the coast of Norway on the Trollford (June 11, 2007 departure). It was a beautiful voyage. The weather was as good as it could be. Mostly partly cloudy with some scattered showers. Nothing ... Read More
We just completed the 7 day north bound trip up the coast of Norway on the Trollford (June 11, 2007 departure). It was a beautiful voyage. The weather was as good as it could be. Mostly partly cloudy with some scattered showers. Nothing that interfered with any of our port stops or shore excursions. All in all it was a great voyage with spectacular views. I would highly recommend it although I wouldn't recommend doing the full up and back. Mainly because it can get boring. There is no other entertainment than the scenery and various port stops. After a while it becomes redundant. Although I have to admit that the scenery does change as you go north and it is very interesting. And the port stops can be interesting if for no other reason than to take a 15 minute walk ashore. We found that having a good book to read is a must. Here are some of our observations of the ship and Hurtigruten. Reservations -- Dealing directly with Hurtigruten on the phone worked fine for us. There seems to be a loss of information by the reservation agents and what really happens on the cruise. We wanted the early seating for dinner, 6 pm. When we requested this on the phone we were told that it would be done at check in at the dock. Wrong. Early seating can be done on the phone and when we showed up at the dock we had been pre-assigned late seating which we then had to change onboard. Also when we first inquired about pre-paying for shore excursions we were told that we would do that on board. Wrong. Although you can do it on board, and everyone seemed to get what they wanted, you can do it over the phone before departure. It was only after we pressed the issue on the phone did the agent go seek out the right information. Embarkation -- I would recommend that you get to Bergen a day early. The ship doesn't allow boarding until after 4 pm so you have plenty of time to walk the town. It is worth walking it for a day. Check in was efficient and our luggage met us in our room. In our case we had Hurtigruten book our hotel for one night in Bergen, the Radisson SAS is the one they used, and the hotel sent our luggage to the ship where it met us in our room. The Room -- We had a standard outside room, category N. It was small but very well laid out. The twin beds fold down and one is usually set up as a couch during the day. At night you just fold it down and the bedding is set up so you are ready to sleep. There was adequate storage and a small make up table. The two of us never felt cramped. The bathroom is small but very efficient. The shower is not small and the best part is that the bathroom floor is heated. The other cruise lines should install heated floors. What a great thing north of the Arctic Circle. Although they don't show it in any of their brochures there is a hair dryer in the bathroom and a 110V shaver outlet. Dining -- There are two dining facilities on board. The main dining room is for the cruise passengers who have booked the one week or two week trip. It operates pretty much like any cruise ship dining room. There is early and late dinner seating with assigned tables and breakfast and lunch open seating buffets. At dinner you are given what the cook is cooking. No choice, just an appetizer, entrEe and dessert as the meal of the day. You can request a substitute if you have a problem with the main course but you have to do it by noon of that day. All in all the food was pretty good although it all has a Norwegian style to it. So you get a lot of fish. They do serve a delicious Reindeer dinner one night. The service can be slow at times. The other dining facility is the cafe. You can get simple meals here any time of the day but they are not free. Unlike the main dining room you pay for what you want here. The dollar value being what it is you pay a lot. A medium sized cup of soda is $6. A cup of coffee is $5. The cafe is the dining facility that the passengers who get on and off the ship at various ports and only stay a day or two on board use. The Hurtigruten ships are like luxurious ferries that behave like a cruise ship. In addition to the cruise passengers they delivers freight to various ports and cars drive on and off at different stops in addition to short term passengers getting on and off. Entertainment and Shore Excursions -- On board the only entertainment is a nightclub singer and keyboard player at night. The main entertainment is the scenery and the little towns you pass and dock at. It is ever changing and very beautiful. But like I said at the top it does exhaust itself by day 5 or 6. The shore excursions are varied and interesting. We did two of them. We did the drive from Geiranger Fjord to Molde. A fascinating 6 hour trip across the mountains of Norway. The ship left us off at the end of Geiranger Fjord and we drove to Molde where we picked up the ship again. Saw beautiful scenery and had dinner in Molde while waiting for the ship. We also did the trip to North Cape from Honningsvag. This is a must. Its quite exhilarating to stand on the northern most point in Europe. There is a spectacular monument there and a gigantic visitors center. Disembarkation -- We disembarked at Kirkenes. This is the north end of the cruise. We had previously made SAS reservations to Oslo. The only flight is at 11:30 am and disembarkation was at 10:15 am. Hurtigruten assured us that by using their transfer we would make it on time and we did. All went smoothly. Other ship amenities -- There are two hot tubs on board. No pool. There is a small gym with 5 or 6 exercise machines and of course there are saunas. It's not necessary to buy the water on board. The best bet is to buy one bottle ashore and then just refill it from your bathroom tap. It is purified and drinkable. The best spot for viewing on board is the two levels of panorama rooms at the bow. People just sit there all day and watch the scenery go by. You can sit outside on deck 9, and many did, but even though the weather may be clear it can be pretty chilly. There are 4 internet accessible computers on board, for a fee, but the internet connection was down during our whole trip. They print and send to you a daily program of activities and port stops so you always know what's happening. All in all it was a good trip. The Norwegian coast is fascinating and Hurtegruten does a good job. The staff was adequate although not real friendly at times but we did like it. Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
Our holiday began by flying from Stansted airport in Essex, England and arriving at our starting departure point of Tromso in Norway's Arctic Circle. The flight was around 3.5 hours. The date is June 3rd, 2008. And the weather looks ... Read More
Our holiday began by flying from Stansted airport in Essex, England and arriving at our starting departure point of Tromso in Norway's Arctic Circle. The flight was around 3.5 hours. The date is June 3rd, 2008. And the weather looks surprisingly good! We had a choice of beginning our tour from the most Northerly point, close to the Russian Border at Kirkenes, however, we began in the City of Tromso. Remember, this is Summer and above the Arctic Circle, you have the best of the sunshine, - that is 24 hours a day, the sun isn't going to set! (Don't forget, Winter tours mean the opposite, 24 hour darkness!). It's an odd feeling waiting for sunset that never happens and having the difficulty in telling yourself why you should retire to bed, after all, it is approaching 1.30am! Luckily the windows on board have shutters and the port holes have 'black-outs' but for the first night at least, this is not going to be easy! The Cruise Liner ( in this case, the MS Finnmarken) also serves as a lifeline to those people who live in such remote areas and this becomes their post-ship, their ferry and a means of moving essential provisions along the inlets and fjords. For the first night it is additionally difficult to sleep as you feel that every couple of hours, the boat is about to dock, - and it does, sometimes for no more than 15 minutes, - not completely without noise especially if you have a cabin close to the thrusters or the rope lines. But you will get used to it, I assure you. The cruise makes it's way South through inlet and passageway, fjord and achapeligos, bordered by snow peaked mountains, sapphire blue Arctic seas and persistent sunshine. The sea has a very strange calm, rippleless effect as though it's made of syrup, - I'm told, it's cold - really cold and that's how the sea is up in the Arctic. Very unusual and the majority of the passengers found it equally bizarre yet somehow weirdly hypnotic!!. As the Cruise meets different ports of call, various interesting excursions are on offer, being sold on board or you can pre-book before you go. I'd wait and purchase on board, as you really need to see where you are, as some areas may not be what you imagine and some excursions could be ruined by bad weather. No matter where you are, however, this country is beautiful from start to finish, sometimes very mountainous, sometimes extremely remote, many times - amazing, you're spoilt for choice. If you love sea and mountains then this is a cruise for you, we had some magnificently good weather with continuous blue skies. But, I was told that this wasn't the norm and the high temperatures are not to be expected. Take a couple of warm and dry waterproof garments - and please, please take your sun tan lotion. It's not easy to get hold of it and it's hell expensive. Don't be caught out, when the sun shines, it's hot!!! The cruise travels further south and passes the Arctic Circle between Ornes and Nesna. This area is very remote! Surprisingly there are some large and well established communities above the Arctic Circle, which at first seems to beg the question, why would anyone want to live here? - but they do and on reflection, I would love to as well. But I would have difficulties in 24 hour darkness I think :-). As we travel more south and reach Trondheim, the sun lies gently upon the horizon but still does not set. A permanent sunset of gold and tangerine seas for 90 minutes - what a feast for the eyes! Trondheim was a lovely city yet I do prefer the smaller towns and settlements and it seems that every place no matter how small or large, has it's own magnificent display of suspension bridges crossing the fjords, dotted beneath by canary yellow, sky blue and rust red weatherboard housing .. this is Norway! Of all the towns and villages we visited on our cruise I must highlight a few of my favorites. Tromso with it's magnificent Arctic Cathedral and Mountain backdrop, Sandnessjoen - a lovely town of weatherboard houses and a quaint typical Scandinavian 'flavor' high street. Kristiansund, just south of Trondheim is a most beautifully positioned and colorful town perched on several islands upon a deep inlet and Molde, one of the most stunning places on out tour, in my opinion anyway. This resembles Geneva or maybe Montreaux by a fjord backdrop with a Ski resort in winter and a Jazz festival during the warm summer months. A must to visit and I would always return to Molde - a five star resort. We finally after 4 days at sea, arrive in our destination town of Bergen. I truly believe that we were all shocked as the ship came up the fjord and approached Bergen in the distance. Imagine, the temperature was close to 28 Celsius, high 80's fahrenheit and the sea was shimmering with an array of colored yachts and power boats circling the ship. Along the coastline, hundreds of people sun bathing on the beaches - yeh, beaches, and the high tree lined slopes are dotted with hotels, multi colored housing, villas and a glorious mountain backdrop. You would honestly think that you were in Monte Carlo or Ventimiglia, not Bergen in Norway. They call it the 'Rainy City' and we were ever so fortunate - you won't be disappointed however, come rain or shine - or blizzard - this is a wonderful place. Full of history, full of interest and bars and restaurants galore, - this would be my true home from home for sure. Bergen - What a surprise finale... One must do, if nothing else in Bergen, take a funicular rail trip on the Floibanen, 320 meters above the town, a great trip, and you can walk back down if you wish. Of course there's the area of Bryggen, UNESCO world heritage listed, by the Wharf front and the famous and interesting Fishmarket area. Some much to do. The Cruise is operated by the Norwegian company, Hurtigruten, who know how to look after you. The staff are friendly and our thanks and compliments are made to everyone of the staff who worked so hard to ensure that our holiday was perfect. In fact, this was my Honeymoon, and I couldn't have wished for a more romantic setting. Good points: Excellent Cruise and Company, Great food and very comfortable. Most beautiful country and highly recommended to all, YOUNG AND OLD!! Negatives: Highly expensive country with a high cost of living. Examples of cost as at June 2008, on board or off the ship, very little difference... Cup of Coffee: 26 NOK (Norwegian Kronner), = £2.50, apx. US$5 A standard 40ml glass of Beer: 59 NOK, = £5.80, apx. US$11.50 A Bottle of Cote du Rhone Wine: 320 NOK = £29, apx. US$55. Take-Away Margaritta Pizza for 2: 240 NOK = £22, apx. US$42 Hotel Standard Breakfast for 1: 160 NOK = £15, apx. US$28 Two course 3 Tapas meal & Beer for 1: 350NOK = £33/ US$64 But despite this, a very worth while, once in a lifetime opportunity to see a very unspoilt part of the natural world in which we live. Before it's too late, may be?! Read Less
Sail Date June 2008
My mother and I did the Northbound trip from Bergen to Kirkenes with Hurtigruten in the second week of May. We had a great time overall, and I would definitely recommend it to others. That said, if you're looking for a cruise ship ... Read More
My mother and I did the Northbound trip from Bergen to Kirkenes with Hurtigruten in the second week of May. We had a great time overall, and I would definitely recommend it to others. That said, if you're looking for a cruise ship with racquetball courts or bingo or organized community-building activities, then Hurtigruten is not for you. This is a cruise for people who love great scenery, like to organize their own activities for the most part, and don't want or need a lot of pampering. Since we're that type of person, we both loved it. Our ship was the MS Richard With (pronounced Rickard Veet), and our cabin was on the stern side of deck 5, which is the promenade deck. We had asked for an outside double cabin on the side away from the car/freight loading bay (to avoid noise during night dockings, thanks to another reviewer on this site) and one deck away from the promenade. However, being on the promenade deck wasn't too bad; the windows are fairly reflective, so people can't see in unless they stop and get close to look, which didn't happen, and the noise level was acceptable—and being on deck 5 made it easier for my mother to get outside to smoke. The ship works on bow thrusters, so there's less engine noise near the stern. We asked ahead for a shower stool for my mother, which we received, and special meals because one of us has an allergy and the other is diabetic. They did all right with the food requirements, though better at dinner for the allergy than with the buffet during the day, which I didn't get much help with. The food was largely Norwegian specialties (lots of fish/seafood and potatoes), and was very good. I especially enjoyed the breakfast buffet. We took advantage of three of the shore excursions during the five main days of our trip (they advertise it as a week, but the first day is just the evening and the last day you leave the ship in the morning and have to be out of your cabin by 8 a.m.). The Hurtigruten website was somewhat misleading about the excursions, offering a 10% discount if you booked three or more excursions in advance. When I booked three I was told that the policy was to give a 10% discount on every excursion AFTER the third, so I wouldn't get any reduction in price. That annoyed me. We eventually decided to book a fourth excursion from the set listed as available during early May, and then were told that it wasn't actually available until June, another mistake on the website. Do talk to their people at the toll free number and hash out the details before you book. Of the excursions we took, I would recommend two of the three. The Geirangerfjord is indeed one of the most beautiful places on earth. We saw it from the water on our way in on the big ship, and the excursion gave you good views from land (after a very brief ferry to the dock). My regret is that we didn't get to see the famous Seven Sisters waterfall from the water because we were lined up below decks for the excursion, but we did get to see it from above later on, some distance away. The bus trip takes you up and down some scary mountain roads, plus a ferry ride across another fjord, and our tour guide was informative and easy to understand (there were different buses for people who spoke German, English, and French). You meet the ship back in Ålesund a few hours later. The other excursion we especially enjoyed was the birdwatching safari. In May, nesting season is going on for puffins, kittiwakes, gannets, shags and razorbills, and some others I've forgotten (my mother is the birder). To get to the bird islands, which are above the Arctic Circle, you take a bus across a mountainous and arctic island—we saw some reindeer from the road, and a sea eagle—and then a small boat. They'll offer you arctic suits, but if your clothing is warm and wind-tight you won't need them. Although there's a small cabin on the boat, almost everyone stayed outside, standing against the railings, to see the birds. The excursion we were disappointed by was the Svartisen Glacier one. We transferred to a smaller boat (this one with inside seating) to make our way up a shallower fjord, and then there was either a 5-minute bus ride or a 15-minute walk to a restaurant with a view of the glacier. You don't come nearer to the ice than seeing it from across a lake. The landscape was interesting and enjoyable, but it's not really a glacier excursion. On the way back to the big ship we stopped in a fishing village with some old abandoned buildings from the eighteenth century and some uninspiring ones from the mid-twentieth. There are times during the trip when the ship is docked for longer than an hour, and when you can leave to explore the town (signing out and in with your room key card). We did so in Trondheim and Tromsø, and were glad we did. You should be aware, though, that most stores and some museums in Norway will be closed on Sundays and Mondays, and plan accordingly. We did our trip just at the beginning of Arctic summer, and therefore of the midnight sun. The curtains on the window in our cabin had good backing and I brought a sleep mask to keep light out while sleeping, and that worked pretty well. We went through the narrow and exciting Trollfjord in the late evening, and the dusky light made it very mysterious and splendid-looking. We had also used Hurtigruten to book hotels in Oslo and Bergen, so we could do sightseeing days in both those cities, one before and one after the cruise. It was slightly more expensive than searching for hotels in good locations ourselves, but worth it for the time and effort saved. And we had them book us both the plane tickets from Kirkenes to Oslo and train tickets from Oslo to Bergen. All the arrangements worked out smoothly. I strongly recommend doing the train trip as opposed to flying to Bergen; it's very scenic, as it moves from gentle farmland up to a mountain plateau still buried in snow in May, then back down to the coast. Overall, a grand experience! Read Less
Sail Date May 2008
This cruise was very different from the cruises I've taken on HAL, Carnival and Royal Caribbean. The ship was comfortable, but offered almost no entertainment. Entertainment is provided by the ports and the views from your cabin ... Read More
This cruise was very different from the cruises I've taken on HAL, Carnival and Royal Caribbean. The ship was comfortable, but offered almost no entertainment. Entertainment is provided by the ports and the views from your cabin window or from the decks. There is a free bus from the area near the fish market in Bergen to the Hurtigruten pier. We took advantage of it. Boarding was a breeze. Large bag was checked, and I rolled my rolling back pack. We were told that our cabins would not be ready until about 4 PM, but we were welcome in the public areas. Actually, our cabins were available by 2:30 PM, which was fifteen minutes after we boarded. Shipboard announcements are done in Norwegian, German and English. Most of the passengers on this cruise were people who speak English as a first language. Three meals per day are provided, with two seatings for dinner. There are no formal nights at all, but most folks "cleaned up" for dinner every night. That might mean a clean shirt with the third wearing of the TravelSmith slacks, but it was fine. Food was not really very interesting to me, as I am a vegetarian. There was a lot of caviar and herring available, even at breakfast, and lots of other fish, too. If you are hungry between meals, there is a place to purchase snacks, salads, sandwiches and desserts, at rather high prices, even for Norway. Alcohol was extremely expensive on board. A glass of house wine, from a box, was about $12. Beer was about $10. We had purchased a box of Australian shiraz in Stavanger, and carried it aboard. We shared this wine before dinner and, sometimes, after dinner, and felt as though we saved a considerable amount of money. One evening, there was an entertaining event. We had crossed the arctic circle that day, and we were initiated by "King Neptune" that evening. The costumed ship employee inserted several cubes of ice down our backs, and we were given a certificate, signed by the captain, verifying our crossing. The certificate was dated for the wrong date. The ports were very interesting. I particularly enjoyed the music museum in Trondheim, and the Nordcapp experience. I would recommend this cruise, but not for those who wish to relax and be waited upon. This one is for those who want a "soft" adventure. Read Less
Sail Date September 2005
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