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3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2012
For background we came acrosss the Atlantic by the Queen Mary one of the most luxurious ships afloat so a comparison to that ship is difficult. From all the literature, I was expecting quite a bit older working ship but it does jhold ... Read More
For background we came acrosss the Atlantic by the Queen Mary one of the most luxurious ships afloat so a comparison to that ship is difficult. From all the literature, I was expecting quite a bit older working ship but it does jhold over 600 people very comfortably but there are several things they do not tell you (or they didnt tell me=. Bergen is a really nice tight town, so no matter which hotel you stay at in the downtown area, you can walk most places ----dont miss the funnicular. We stayed at the Rica Hotel and the rooms are small but functional, very lean and the breakfast is the best we have seen so far on our 2 month trip. Taxis are quite expensive so by taking a downtown hotel, you can walk the 6 blocks or so.' Embarkation was a bity confusing as you can register at one time, board at another and put your luggage in at another. I had read that we had to carry our own luggage to the cabin and that is not true, they do have a checkin belt. Cabins are fine, they are cleaned every day. Staff varies like most smaller ships, some very helpful, some do not speak english but you can get by. Most of the passengersa are Norwegian. Breakfast and lunch are the better meals in that you have a choice. Dinner is a fixed menu and if you dont like it--go hungry unless they can do something else which we havent tried yet. So far dinner has been fine. Wtare is aty a premium in the sense that they would rather sell you wine at a ridiculkaous price or sell you water in bottles but the regular water is double filtered and is fine , you just have to keep reminding them to refill. They do have wifi in the front of deck 4 but it is very very unreliable even when in port. I found a bank of 5 desktops hidden away a bit that work well but I didnt see any advertising for it except obn one floor plan. If you do come, go to the excursions dewsk ASAP to pick up the English version on their book. Very good but they ran out of copies Their coffee and tea package is OK, it all depends on how much you drink but the little thermos cups you get do work well. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2012
This is not a cruise, it is a journey on a ship that has a job to do and takes passengers in comfort and style. Accommodation We were allocated cabin 432 which was a starboard outside cabin, forward of the reception area. It turned ... Read More
This is not a cruise, it is a journey on a ship that has a job to do and takes passengers in comfort and style. Accommodation We were allocated cabin 432 which was a starboard outside cabin, forward of the reception area. It turned out to be an excellent location, being close to the lifts and reception and did not suffer from engine noise or noise during docking (except when the bow thrusters were used) It was a cabin, not a stateroom but it was big enough for the two of us and contained everything we needed. The bunks were very comfortable and it was no trouble to convert one from a settee to a bed. Bathroom facilities were good and the heated floor a bonus. A good tip is to have luggage stored in the luggage room to give more space in the cabin although some cases would fit under the bunk. Storage space is a little limited but we coped. The cabin was serviced daily, to a high standard Public Areas Fixtures and fittings used throughout the ship are of a very high standard and contemporary artworks can be found everywhere. The Observation Lounge is especially impressive, although all the lounges are comfortable places to relax. Although the ship was quite full, there was always somewhere to sit. Public areas were spotlessly clean.Dining We were half-board so had a chance to use the cafe as well as the restaurant, which we used for breakfast and dinner. Breakfast was a typical Scandinavian buffet. There was a good choice of items both hot and cold. Most days we had lunch in the cafe. Soup was available every day as well as a range of hot dishes and sandwiches, cakes etc. The food was tasty, well presented and reasonably priced. We had one buffet lunch in the restaurant. This cost 295 Norwegian Krona per person and we thought it was value for money, although not something we wanted to do every day. There was no choice at dinner but an alternative was available if notice was given or if you were vegetarian or followed a special diet. A "menu" showing the dishes for the voyage was available so you knew what would be served for each evening. The food was excellent. Dishes reflected the cuisine of the areas passed through on the voyage. There were two buffets, one in Bergen before departure and one, the evening before arrival in Kirkenes. There was a very good choice of items, both hot and cold. For the rest of the voyage, main courses alternated between fish and meat but all were delicious and beautifully presented. We considered the food to be equal to, if not better than, that provided on "traditional" cruises and indeed better than most. We did not buy wine with dinner, like all alcohol in Norway it was very expensive although a wine package is available which can reduce the price a little. We did purchase two coffee and tea packages (an insulated, lidded mug) that cost 250 Kr per package but gave "free" access to coffee and tea throughout the voyage. We considered this good value as we were doing the 12 day voyage and the package paid for itself after 3 days, (The mugs were helpful in warming hands when on deck!) Activities At a safety briefing we were told that the entertainment is the landscape and the Northern Lights and this proved to be the case - when the weather permitted, we were on deck either watching the awesome scenery or waiting for and watching the Northern Lights. During the day there were some activities laid on, ranging from ceremonies to celebrate entering and leaving the Arctic Circle to fish preparation. There were lectures on local culture and history and for part of the journey, a duo played after dinner. Port and Shore Excursions In all, the ship stops at 77 ports during the voyage. Ports visited during the day going north are generally visited at night on the return journey. Stops vary from 15 minutes to 6 hours. We didn't buy any town based excursions, preferring to walk round ourselves but the excursions didn't seem excessively priced. We did go to North Cape, the Russian Border and a midnight concert in the Arctic Cathedral. The arrangements for each of these were very good. It should be remembered that excursions can be cancelled because of bad weather. Customer Service Professional and friendly Disembarkation Cabins had to be vacated by 10:00 am for a n arrival in Bergen at 2:30 pm but there was room to sit with hand luggage in lounges etc. Disembarkation was well organised and took less than 15 minutes. A nice touch was being seen off the ship by the Captain. Summary It had been our dream to see the Northern lights and to take the Hurtigruten to Kirkenes - the voyage exceeded what we expected. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2012
The ship and the staff are first class. Spotlessly clean, very friendly staff and very helpful and polite always. Breakfast was amazing lots to choose from with fruit, dried fruits, cereals, yoghurt, bread, eggs, cheeses, coldmeats, ... Read More
The ship and the staff are first class. Spotlessly clean, very friendly staff and very helpful and polite always. Breakfast was amazing lots to choose from with fruit, dried fruits, cereals, yoghurt, bread, eggs, cheeses, coldmeats, fish, hot dishes and plenty of tea and coffee and juices. The evening meal on the other hand was dissappointing on all occasions. Firstly the second sitting because we were half board was at 8.30pm far too late. Then when we were served the food was luck warm and the portion sizes very small. On the evening when they did what looked like a spectacular buffet of seafood, the seafood was tasteless apart from the mussels. The excusions were like herding cattle and on occasions rushed and we seemed to hang around alot waiting. We saw some wonderful scenery, the North Cape was spectacular, we saw the northern lights which was fantastic, the husky ride was the absolute highlight but do the one at Tromso it is a much bigger operation and you get a long ride. The trip up the mountain in the cable car above Tromso was great but again we had to hang around waiting to go home, should have been back at the hotel for 10pm and didnt get back until after 11pm, and we had all had enough. But the meal at the top of the mountain was very substantial and tasty. Lots of great restaurants in Tromso and I would recommend eating there if you can afford it, it cost us about £250 for 4 people with alcohol. Overall we loved the experiences, but not the cruise or on board food. Which considering you are paying £400 per night per couple the food should have been exceptional. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2011
My wife & I had been judging in Trondheim & decided to use The Coastal Express as a means of transport rather than travel by car or train. We only did one night south to get to Bergen.The ship was brilliant, clean & full of ... Read More
My wife & I had been judging in Trondheim & decided to use The Coastal Express as a means of transport rather than travel by car or train. We only did one night south to get to Bergen.The ship was brilliant, clean & full of helpful crew. Scenery spectacular fantastic experience, except the measly dinner. Portion control was in the extreme. I know things are expensive in Norway but to charge £100 to your captive audience for portions that my chihuahua would complain at is a bit steep. The bread basket could be measured by the number of crumbs in the bottom hidden by two plastic containers of butter, it was wicked to kill a reindeer & cure him & reduce him to slices so thin you could see through,cover this with a few leaves,sprinkle with rowan-berry jelly & it was difficult to find. The main course consisted of a very small home grown wedge of salmon, mounted by an even smaller piece of halibut, with a hint of gravlax as the crowning glory, TWO regulation size baked new potatoes dusted in garlic powder all on a base of julienne vegetables with basil sauce. The piece de resistance was "pudding" a small ramekin of berry juice with a tiny crown of herb cream. No coffee, no cheese even on offer at extra cost, but the jug of water was free. The flavours were good, the quality was good but the portions were positively mean. The chef I spoke with suddenly could not understand English. At the booking reception desk where we had been asked to pay in advance, it was the same. We think that the restaurant is run on the basis of the more we save the bigger our bonus. Interesting to note that in the menu the salmon should have been on the halibut but of course it is much more expensive so lets switch it around & hope no one notices. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2010
It was our HONEY-MOON, we spent a lot of money and were expecting luxury. We were VERY dissapointed. Firstly, we were NOT given anything complimentary for the occasion of our honeymoon, no upgrade, no wine, no toiletries, not ... Read More
It was our HONEY-MOON, we spent a lot of money and were expecting luxury. We were VERY dissapointed. Firstly, we were NOT given anything complimentary for the occasion of our honeymoon, no upgrade, no wine, no toiletries, not even told congratulations. Secondly, we had told everyone possible in the booking procedure that we were VEGETARIAN, but this did not make much difference to the staff. The meals were BORING and unimaginative. the staff and chefs just didnt get concept of vegetarianism! The explanation we were given was that they were reliant on the ingredients that they were given in ports, but the with the amount of food at the buffet each day- there was cerainly the ingredients to make some lovely dishes. The chef was just ignorant and unimaginative. We even had to give ideas to the chef ourselves!! The events on board also excluded vegetarians as they had no alternatives in place for such things like fishcakes on deck. Evening drinks were not inclusive, nor was coffee/tea outside of buffet meals. and if you did want to drink between meals it was RIDICULSLY expensive! When we sent a letter of complaint when we had got home, hurtigruten's response was that "WE ARE NOT A CRUISE COMPANY" ...So why do they enter the cruise international awards? In short this is NOT A LUXURY CRUISE, even though it has a luxury price tag. It is a mode of transport up the norway coastline. It's only the activities that you do on land that make the trip special. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2010
Hurtigruten. We took the Norwegian Hurtigrute ( Norwegian Coastal cruises) "Midnatsol"from in Bodø on May 15th and disembarked three days later in Kirkenes on May 18th. The ship can take approximately 650 passengers on full ... Read More
Hurtigruten. We took the Norwegian Hurtigrute ( Norwegian Coastal cruises) "Midnatsol"from in Bodø on May 15th and disembarked three days later in Kirkenes on May 18th. The ship can take approximately 650 passengers on full capacity. We were about 500; German, Dutch, Austrian, Canadian, Swedish and Norwegian were among the languages we heard spoken onboard. It should be said that The Hurtigruten does not classify itself as a cruise liner, but rather a boat, or a postal ship. But, you certainly feel like you're on a cruise ship! Boarding: Having taken 13 cruises in the last 10 years, we have been quite spoilt by having our luggage delivered outside our room. Not so on this journey! Make sure you wait for the others to come off before you go on! And you carry your own luggage onboard, up a long staircase. The good side is that there's no fuss regarding security or getting a cruise card. You simply check in once you're onboard, and that's it! They don't even ask you for an I.D.! Cabins: There were a few ( read 4 to 6) verandah cabins onboard. We stayed in an outside cabin with a big round window, more than ample for our little journey, as you spend a minimal amount of time in your room anyway. There's no mini - bar or TV.The room is extremely simple. However, the beds were very comfortable, and the floor in the bathroom/shower was almost too hot for comfort. Common rooms: There were loads of little lounges on decks 5, 8 and 9. The colours reflected the colours of the midnight sun and the sea: Bright yellow, orange, pink, blue and green. The ship is 8 years old, but certainly doesn't look it! There are plenty of windows everywhere, so that you can look at the scenery, wherever you are. And believe me, the scenery is well worth watching!!! Outside decks: In spite of there being one sundeck only, there's ample space for everyone outside. People can smoke on deck, and that can be a bit annoying to non - smokers. The two Jacuzzis onboard were the closest you'd get to a swimming pool. It was an amazing feeling sitting in the 40 + degrees (Centigrade) jacuzzi on 71 degrees North! Weather: We were so lucky! From we boarded to we disembarked we had 15 - 23 Centigrades and brilliant sunshine!! Amazing! To see the Lofoten alps dressed in snow, with a background of the midnight sun was amazing, even for a Norwegian! We had 23 degrees in Kirkenes when we disembarked, something which happens very rarely that far north. The itineary: What can I say? The journey goes from Bodø ( north of the arctic circle) through Honningsvåg, the Harbour to the north Cape, and to Kirkenes, right at the Russian border. As I said, we were so lucky with the weather; the sun broke through as we left Bodø, and the further north we came, the better it got, We had brilliant blue skies, no cloud and 24 hour sunshine. Oh yeah, the sun was with us all the way. It was most amazing to go to bed at 2 a.m. and outside was daylight! Lofoten was at its best with the sharp snow-dressed mountains. We were so lucky to be able to take in the extremely narrow Trollfjord, where tea & rum in your own ceramic mug was served at daylight midnight. There really was no time to sleep as there was too much to see! Food: We opted for the breakfast buffet and dinner included, as we thought lunch was too expensive at 280 kroner per person ( approx $ 45 per person). Dinner is a set menu. We asked at lunchtime the same day what was for dinner, and asked for an alternative dinner if the menu did not suit us ( My husband doesn't eat fish and I don't eat pork). On the first day we (I) had an absolutely beautiful seafood starter and (we had) a fantastic sirloin steak, and pea soup and lamb chops the second day. Nobody asks you how you like it; the beef and lamb gets served at medium rare, as it should be! The night before Kirkenes we had the most fantastic fish buffet, with everything from mackerel to King Crab being served ( there was also an alternative for the meat - eaters). The dinners onboard can be compared with any 5* cruise liner! The breakfasts however, were not much to write home about. The breads were ok, the meats were ok, but if you don't eat pork, there's not much to choose between. And at the price of 180 kr pp it might be better to buy yourself something in the cafeteria or ashore. There's one shop onboard. It sells Norwegian souvenirs, some jewelry and swimwear ( which I had to buy, I never thought I'd need one on this kind of cruise, but I did!) Drinks onboard are cheaper than Norwegian bar prices. However, they don't mind you bringing your own, as long as you're discreet. We brought our own champagne, and asked for glasses at the bar, which they gave us, no questions asked. We also had ice for our drinks, which we also brought with us. ' People onboard are so friendly, if you just take the initiative. We got to know more people than we managed to keep up with! All in all this was an absolutely fantastic cruise. I am Norwegian and live in Norway, but I hate the Norwegian climate. I've always said that I don't want to spoil my precious holiday by going on a trip where I might have bad weather. But we were SO lucky and had the most fantastic weather! Prepare yourself for minimal amount of sleep if you travel between May 15th and September 15th! You really need to stay awake to take it all in! Enjoy!!! Read Less
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