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33 Hurtigruten First-Time Cruisers Cruise Reviews

The first surprise was finding out the old ship was sold out leaving Bergen. What better testimony for the popularity of the MS Lofoten. There were all kinds of loyal passengers on this voyage. Retired professors among the older crowd, ... Read More
The first surprise was finding out the old ship was sold out leaving Bergen. What better testimony for the popularity of the MS Lofoten. There were all kinds of loyal passengers on this voyage. Retired professors among the older crowd, many middle aged couples, and some young people. A lot of Norwegians, many Germans, several British, and a few Americans. Definitely the word has spread about the Lofoten experience. The wifi internet service was fast...and free. The food service was good considering the purpose of the ship. I was not disappointed. The only rolling seas felt on the ship was while it was out at sea from Bergen. Otherwise, mostly smooth sailing...even in the Barents Sea area. The scenery made the round trip worthwhile. Understand that this ship is an old sea ferry not a cruise ship. If you can not easily entertain yourself with the scenery and port visits than you should seek out a big cruise ship. Pay attention to the currency exchange rate before buying anything especially drinks on this ship. The taxes will seem very high for those individuals from other countries. Even without the taxes the drinks are not cheap. Know what you are paying. I booked a 12 day round trip. I noticed that for about a week everybody enjoyed getting to know everyone else. The second half of the trip once everybody had gotten acquainted many of the passengers tended to settle in with certain small groups. It was a comfortable crowd. I thought the next time I ride a Norwegian coastal ferry I may want to make the voyage a one way with other options. Check out train service options or flights. But most likely I will do the 12 day round trip voyage again as the cost is very reasonable doing the round trip. If I find it difficult to book a cruise on the Lofoten again with less than a full boat I may try to book on the MS Vesteralen, but only if it is not sold out. It is nice to find available chairs in the lounge areas which a less than full boat will have. I used the Hurtigruten booking agent located in Seattle, USA. The agent also booked the flights and the hotel in Bergen. That was good service. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
My first trip on the Vesteralen was great. Beautiful scenery, northern lights, cute villages and nice people in a quiet atmosphere. The interior of the ship is simplel and dated (or vintage depending on your point of view). But cosey and ... Read More
My first trip on the Vesteralen was great. Beautiful scenery, northern lights, cute villages and nice people in a quiet atmosphere. The interior of the ship is simplel and dated (or vintage depending on your point of view). But cosey and there was enough place everywhere to sit (as we were in low season). The food was good to excellent, with a large variety of choice. Water was included in all meals. Coffee and tea is included only for breakfast and lunch, count on paying around 4-5 euro's for a cup. This seems much but I had some coffees in several towns and the prices there are the same. Norway is in that sense expensive. This is also true for any food and souvenirs (on or off the ship). The excursions to Nord kapp and the husky slee ride are really nice. The town trips can also easily be done on your own in all places, if you are able to walk well. Take into account that in winter it is quite slippery in most places. You can easily book on board. We cancelled a trip once and got all money reimbursed, no problem. Staff was very friendly. The experience of a working ship was nice too. This trip is excellent for people that do not like big crowds, that like simplicity rather than luxury, and the feeling of being on a real ship (instead of a floating hotel). If you think the scenery and occational chat with other travelers is enough entertainment and you can manage dark or bad weather moments by reading or doing any other activity by yourself than you will love this for sure. If you need lots of entertainment, Tv in your room and luxurous cabins, please reconsider. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
Re Norway - Hurtigruten Cruise - Hunting the Light - 12 days Just back from a fabulous holiday. The whole package was superb. Everything was very well run. The ship, Polarlys, was superb - so beautifully equipped. The staff very ... Read More
Re Norway - Hurtigruten Cruise - Hunting the Light - 12 days Just back from a fabulous holiday. The whole package was superb. Everything was very well run. The ship, Polarlys, was superb - so beautifully equipped. The staff very helpful, friendly and professional. Food - great; lovely to have the 'Coastal Kitchen' menu which centred on local recipes and produce - fantastic fish dishes. Lunch buffets were wonderful, masses of choice, hot & cold, something to suit everyone. Excursions well organised and interesting, only disappointment was that due to lack of snow we couldn't do the dog sledding. North Cape was amazing and Tromso Cathedral concert a wonderful peaceful experience, and there's something special to look forward to as you cross the Arctic Circle! Certainly a good company to travel with and provided some stunning locations and scenery. Highlight is that we saw the Northern Lights on two occasions and the second time it was especially clear - dancing curtains of pale green right across the sky. Yes we can certainly recommend this trip. If you like something a bit different, enjoy spectacular scenery and like some comfort and relaxation and have a hearty appetite then this is for you! Recommend a good quality down jacket (so glad we bought ours) as it's rather chilly on deck and that's the best way to appreciate the views as you gently sail through the fjords and islands of the Norwegian Coast. Also do the whole return trip so that the parts you pass in the dark on the journey North you will see in daylight travelling south. An upgrade in cabin was a good move to provide that extra space and on a higher deck, quiet and with good views. And KLM were a great airline, talking to others we were the only ones that got any refreshments on board! Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
We were delighted with the cruise. The Northern Lights were on our bucket list, as was the Norwegian coast. We wanted a relatively small, modern no-frills ship, so we chose the Trollfjord. It's obviously not your typical luxury ... Read More
We were delighted with the cruise. The Northern Lights were on our bucket list, as was the Norwegian coast. We wanted a relatively small, modern no-frills ship, so we chose the Trollfjord. It's obviously not your typical luxury cruise, but that suited us. We opted for a mini-suite to get a double bed and a bit more room for the 11-night voyage. We knew we had a good view when pax frequently stood in front of our window, taking photos. The crew were very friendly and helpful (and spoke English well). Our room was very clean & comfortable, with plenty of space. Although we'd read both complaints and praise for all the fish, we found quite a variety, even a vegetarian selection in the lunch buffet, as well as plenty of vegetables. So, even after flying to Bergen after having spent 3 weeks in France, we were very pleased with the food (with a delicious soup at each lunch), and creative, elegantly presented 3-course dinners. Determined not to be taxed out of enjoying wine with dinner, we opted for the wine & water package (alcohol is pretty heavily taxed in Norway), and were quite pleased with the wines selected for the meals -- quite good, and a wide variety. We like this time of year to travel because fewer people are traveling -- on our sailing, roughly 150 pax northbound and under 100 southbound (vs. a sleeping capacity of 600+). It's a very Norwegian experience -- Norwegian crew, Norwegian food, and the beautiful coast of Norway. And, we got to see the Northern Lights on 2 nights. We highly recommend the Trollfjord and Hurtigruten. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
We chose the Vesteralen because not being a fan of crowds and large cruise ships, her size fitted us perfectly. From the moment we checked in until our disembarkation 12 days later, we were charmed and totally satisfied with the entire ... Read More
We chose the Vesteralen because not being a fan of crowds and large cruise ships, her size fitted us perfectly. From the moment we checked in until our disembarkation 12 days later, we were charmed and totally satisfied with the entire experience. The crew are happy and helpful, the food was well presented, varied and delicious, and the ship was extremely comfortable. Our cabin was small, but accommodated us perfectly. There was adequate space for us to unpack and stow our luggage, plenty of hot water, and comfortable beds. We loved sitting in the panorama lounge watching the coastline pass by at a leisurely 15 knots, the opportunity to get of the ship several times a day, the exposure to Norweigen life, food and traditions. Announcements were made when there was something special to see outside, and the back observation deck afforded unobstructed views. We enjoyed all of the well planned and executed excursions we took. Thanks Hurtigruten, for a wonderful trip of a lifetime! Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
My family including our 17 year old son sailed from Kirkenes to Bergen in August. The ship was the size we expected - a smaller passenger ship, billed a "coastal steamer". Our son had his own cabin which gave all of us plenty of ... Read More
My family including our 17 year old son sailed from Kirkenes to Bergen in August. The ship was the size we expected - a smaller passenger ship, billed a "coastal steamer". Our son had his own cabin which gave all of us plenty of room - and him space to do his own thing. Highlights that passengers will enjoy is meeting other passengers, mostly European, who welcome conversation particularly with young people like our son. The food was invaribly healthy, plentiful and delicious - quite a distinction from a Caribbean cruise we took on a floating city. Hurtigruten is definitely and thankfully not that! We also enjoyed the frequent stops at various towns and small ports along the way. At Hammerfest we took a 2-3 mile hike up over the hill overlooking the town. At another town, we were surprised to see vintage American cars of the 1950's and 60's tooling around town. If there was time I would go for a run as soon as we tied up enjoying discoveries as I ran through Trondheim and other lovely communities. The Richard With needs some updating but nevertheless is comfortable. For those who want entertainment, this and we presume other Hurtigruten ships have little, their belief being that the scenery and the other passengers are entertainment enough. Fair enough but a movie once or twice would have been a fair diversion we might have enjoyed with other shipmates. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
This cruise was one of the worst experiences of my life. I never felt so un-welcomed and isolated in my life. The cruise itself was great. The scenery was awesome. The relaxing atmosphere was wonderful. The other tourists on the boat were ... Read More
This cruise was one of the worst experiences of my life. I never felt so un-welcomed and isolated in my life. The cruise itself was great. The scenery was awesome. The relaxing atmosphere was wonderful. The other tourists on the boat were friendly. The staff, however, were a nightmare. Particularly one of the receptionists and the cruise director. I took the 7- day cruise from Bergen to Kirkenes this past July 2015. By the fourth night I was crying every night. I traveled alone and this was my first cruise. When I asked questions I left feeling terrible. Getting answers to questions like, “What are the check out procedures for tomorrow?” or “Do I need to show my receipt for the excursions I booked?” were a battle. The crew spoke perfect English, but getting answers…My words were often played with, twisted so that the answer I got didn’t answer my question. I was spoken to very condescendingly. No matter how much I would re-phrase my simple question, it ended up being a game of words. Exhausting. I also got answers given in a smart-aleck way. Also not answering my question directly, but I understood the answer. I tried to laugh the smart-aleck answers off, but after a couple days of this they began to feel insulting. It felt horrible. Please make sure you are clear with the boarding and docking times. They WILL leave you, as they did me. I was a single woman left stranded in Alesund, a foreign country, with no money, id, or phone. Just my camera. My plan was just to walk off the boat and take pictures for a few minutes and get back on the boat. As this was my first docking experience, I did not want to get left. Didn’t want to take any chances. I think I was still jet lagged from my flight from the US because on that day I took a long nap in the mid afternoon. I woke up close to 7p.m. I noticed we were docked so I grabbed my camera. I went to reception to ask about getting on and off the boat. I made a light joke about the importance of being back on the boat on time. I saw the time of 19:00 posted at the exit. “Ok,” I thought. “We just docked so I definitely have time to take a few quick pictures.” I spent about 15 minutes off the boat. When I came back the boat was gone! It was my misunderstanding about the timing. 19:00 was the time the boat was to leave, not arrive! But it would have been nice if the receptionist told me that, instead of watching me walk off the boat at 19:00. The person who scanned out my cruise card could have said something like, “Hey, where are you going? We are getting ready to leave.” I paid about $350 for a cab and ferry ride to catch up to the boat at their next stop. I was mortified, but the staff didn’t make it any easier. I was determined to enjoy this cruise since I paid so much money for it. Everything was lovely except that the staff wore me down by the fourth day. I paid for two excursions that I did not go on. One was the day after I got left on the boat. I was still so horrified about getting left, I was scared to get off the boat again! The other one was viewing the Russian border. Because of my flight arrangements, leaving at noon, I was not able to go on that excursion. No refunds… Getting off that boat at Kirkenes to go home was like getting out of jail. My Norwegian friend said that their behavior was probably due to racism or the fact that I'm American. Who really knows? If you must go, don’t go alone. And if my friend is correct, especially is you are a person of color or an American. Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
We loved every bit of the Climate cruise on the Fram...we chose a balcony suite which was great lots of room and even on cold days we could sit outside with a drink and watch the ice slide past! We were blessed with really good weather ... Read More
We loved every bit of the Climate cruise on the Fram...we chose a balcony suite which was great lots of room and even on cold days we could sit outside with a drink and watch the ice slide past! We were blessed with really good weather so were able to see and do loads of expeditions including Jan Mayan volcano and kayaking past Glaciers... We also saw Polar bears,Reindeer ,Walrus,Seals,and Whales. The on board talks were on the whole pretty good. There is no real entertainment ..apart from one night of mini cabaret by the crew and an on deck BBQ but that was fine with us as we just wanted to soak up the peace,quiet and beauty of the area. We had the best of times and will remember this trip for a very long time Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
Having done this voyage over 40 years ago the changes were enormous. The infrastructure (roads, bridges and tunnels) have changed the passenger profile, and the ships are modern and carry far more "tourists". This trip should ... Read More
Having done this voyage over 40 years ago the changes were enormous. The infrastructure (roads, bridges and tunnels) have changed the passenger profile, and the ships are modern and carry far more "tourists". This trip should not be confused with a "cruise", it is a working boat which carries a large number of tourists, and that is its unique attraction, along with gaining access to smaller ports and channels than the cruise liners we saw in Bergen, Alesund, Trondheim and Tromso. The Restaurant staff were very helpful, appropriately attentive to allergies etc. We found the selection at breakfast good, the buffet lunch very generous and the evening meal, although a set menu, very well cooked, varied and well presented. The use of local produce and suppliers was commented on by other passengers. Other reviewers have commented on "re-cycling", which we saw as entirely appropriate and avoiding unnecessary waste. The evening meal portions were not large, but with open access breakfast and lunch that is appropriate (and with the sedentary nature of the trip more than adequate). The allocation of tables had obviously been carried out with some thought, and we found ourselves on a table with other English-speaking passengers. There was no "entertainment" on board, except for a couple of "crossing the circle" sessions on the aft deck, drinks in Trollfjord and a demonstration of Salmon filletting. We have suggested that maybe a couple of "information evenings" would be appreciated. A Couple of evenings there was some "entertainment" in the bar... As we were not expecting any organised entertainment we were not disappointed. Entertainment was created by the scenery, the stops in ports and the opportunities for photography, reading and relaxing .... A large number of passengers were to be seen with their binoculars or cameras at all times of the day (there being no night for about half the trip!) The majority of tourists seemed to be from Germany, with many from Norway (most of whom spoke English!) , a few British and a very small number of Australians and Americans. All announcements were therefore in Norwegian, English and German. (and French when the crew were aware of French-speakers among the "tourists". The tour-guide(s) were extremely helpful, and knowledgeable. We went on several of the organised excursions in order to see some of the surrounding country, see wildlife etc., and found them very good (albeit a little contrived at times, but understandably so). Beware that the ferry has a tight timetable to keep to, so if it is due to call at a port for 15 or 30 minutes, it will leave on time even if it arrives late ... and that is with or without passengers (although the tour guides did work hard to account for everyone), and I am not aware that we left anyone behind. The only aspect which we would urge caution on is for those flying to and from Bergen Airport. The airport is undergoing major work and the "bus stop" is some way from the terminal . The buses are scheduled to depart every hour for the town, but the day we arrived there was a wait of 1hr 45mins between buses, with no way of knowing what was happening, and on return Norwegian Air would not allow check-in until 2 hours before scheduled flight time, leaving us with bags and only a small coffee shop for 2 hours. Overall, the trip delivered what the literature said it would, the service was excellent, and to add to it the weather was excellent (although as advised we did need winter wear at the northern extremes). Of course, Norway is an expensive destination anyway Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
This was our first cruise and I was aware that some stops would be short, however if time is lost through bad weather or technical problems then stops are curtailed and sometimes you are not allowed to get off the boat at all. Apparently ... Read More
This was our first cruise and I was aware that some stops would be short, however if time is lost through bad weather or technical problems then stops are curtailed and sometimes you are not allowed to get off the boat at all. Apparently the schedule is the same in winter so the chances of stops being curtailed at that time must be much higher. Excursions are expensive. We booked ours in advance. BEWARE THAT IF YOU BOOK IN ADVANCE FROM THE UK, YOU ARE LIKELY TO PAY 20-25% MORE THAN IF YOU BOOK ON BOARD. There is a slight risk that a trip may be fully booked, but when we travelled all excursions were still available the day before. My advice would be to plan which excursions you want to do and book them as soon as you can once there. Excursions we did: Geiranger Panorama. This was good and included a coach trip through the mountains as well. Rib safari at Bodo. Quite good fun though expensive and the tides were wrong to see the whirlpool. Kirkenes. Trip to Russian border. Quite interesting, but mainly because of the guide we had. Honningsvag. Breakfast at the North cape. We enjoyed the North cape but the coach journey after was long and not especially interesting, though the guide was good. I suspect we would have got as much out of it if we had done the Northbound North Cape excursion. Tromso. Midnight concert. This was very good. We booked the sea eagle safari, but this was cancelled due to bad weather. The ship. Food was good and most of the staff were friendly and helpful and the cabins were comfortable. Alcohol is expensive and water is charged for at dinner and lunch (also expensive though available free with the wine package). Included tea and coffee is only available with meals. We took a travel kettle to use at other times. Water in the cabins is safe to drink. I liked the boat size and the fact that the number of passengers was not too great. We went from Bergen to Kirkenes and back. Although there are different excursions available on the way back, we might have been better going one way, probably Bergen to Kirkenes. I have raised the overcharging issues with Hurtigruten customer services whilst on board and since being home. The answer I have received is basically 'too bad' and they are not going to refund any money. If I were planning this trip again I would look for a small ship with longer stopping times. I have rated this at 2 because of the issues above and the penny pinching attitude of Hurtigruten towards its customers. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
What a wonderful voyage, to Kirkenes and back. Excellent ship, scenery was fantastic and the ship was great, loads of brass, polished wood and staff were very attentive. Good trips ashore but very expensive - Norway has a higher cost of ... Read More
What a wonderful voyage, to Kirkenes and back. Excellent ship, scenery was fantastic and the ship was great, loads of brass, polished wood and staff were very attentive. Good trips ashore but very expensive - Norway has a higher cost of living than Britain. Food was great, especially the desserts. No entertainment but made lots of friends because of this. - will return as soon as possible during the dark nights when we may get to see the Northern Lights. Thank you Hurtigruten for a memorable experience. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
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
This was a first time "cruise" for us, so have no experience of other boats and cruises. We were travelling with the hope of seeing the Northern Lights but didn't really have any pre-conceptions about what to expect. So we ... Read More
This was a first time "cruise" for us, so have no experience of other boats and cruises. We were travelling with the hope of seeing the Northern Lights but didn't really have any pre-conceptions about what to expect. So we were very happy overall with Hurtigruten and the MS Finnmarken in particular. Having had the opportunity to wander around two of the other ships (MS Midnatsol and MS Lofoten) we would advise anybody to read the boat descriptions carefully before booking. Yes, the boats are different sizes but were quite shocked at the difference between MS Finnmarken and MS Midnatsol, both of similar size and age. Midnatsol struck us as being a "shopping mall". Very modern decor but not at all like a boat. Our guess was that MS Midnatsol had a little more lounge space and a larger usable deck area, but then the lounges were connected so could very easily have been noisy. MS Lofoten is tiny by comparison and on the days we were voyaging would have been somewhat rough. It is also worth stating that our voyage was apparently around 1/3 full so dinner was in one sitting only. We think we would have had a good voyage if the boat had been fuller, but not sure we would have enjoyed it quite as much. Check-in did not start well, giving a poor impression of Hurtigruten. Due to flights into Bergen we were very early at the port, and we did know in advance that we would only be able to check in our bags a short time after we got to the terminal. However this was chaotic as the transfer bus from the airport dumped a large group of people before the baggage drop started, and the baggage drop was run by only one person. You are then stuck with your hand baggage as the few lockers in the terminal used coins and neither the counter or the cafe had any change. The actual check-in was quite smooth but again after a long queue as although there were more staff on check-in we happened to come back around the same time as an airport bus. Our cabin was larger than expected having plenty of storage space and room to place our two suitcases, although two larger ones might have been a problem. Clean and well located. We managed to find our way around fairly quickly making use of both sets of stairs to navigate. The introductory buffet on the first night set the scene for the excellent food that was to come. The breakfast and lunch selections were a little repetitive, but never a complete repeat and a wide choice. Being British we were disappointed with the choice of vegetables with main courses, so made use of the vegetarian option quite often. The restaurant was aware of different food issues and had labels out for vegetarian and gluten free options. There was entertainment on board. A very versatile pianist in the evenings, although the majority of the passengers seemed to disappear to their cabins after dinner. We understand that there is NOT normally any entertainment on Hurtigruten now-a-days (cost savings), this being a special for Christmas and New Year. Excursions were reasonable well described and were planned well. Driving to the North Cape in a convoy behind a snow plough was probably the most unexpected. We enjoyed the Husky adventure at Kirkenes too. The weather could have been a bit better in terms of wind/waves but even allowing for that, the ship always seemed to be running just a bit late. This wasn't a problem for the ports with longer stays, but did mean that there was little opportunity to pop ashore when there was only a 30 minute stop scheduled. The number of stops was mostly fascinating. We weren't disturbed by any of the stops in the night and it was good seeing the smaller ports, villages, towns up close. Swimming pool, sauna and Jacuzzi's were all very good; we're just disappointed that we didnt start using them until the trip back. December was very dark however. At Kirkenes the sun was scheduled to rise for 1 minute only which isn't quite as bad as it sounds because pre-dawn light meant there were up to 8 hours of good visibility a day. We would probably recommend taking the full 12 trip Bergen-Bergen, but if considering something shorter due to dates / cost, getting off at Trondheim on the way south cuts out some truly boring days (and a lot of open sea). If only going one way, the schedule North is much better than the schedule South. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Just back from a cruise up the coast of Norway from Bergen to Kirkenes on the Hurtigruten Trollfjord. Had a very fine time: comfortable cabin, decent food (and the kitchen very obliging about accommodating vegetarians and ... Read More
Just back from a cruise up the coast of Norway from Bergen to Kirkenes on the Hurtigruten Trollfjord. Had a very fine time: comfortable cabin, decent food (and the kitchen very obliging about accommodating vegetarians and semi-vegetarians), lots to do, fabulous staff, gorgeous country, beautiful scenery. May I suggest, though, a couple of ways that this experience could be made perfect (rather than just very good): 1.The gym: there's a small but decently equipped gym on board (fine for my limited requirements, anyway) which is, however, not available for passengers' use all the time. Why not? Because of the size of the gym and the limited range of equipment there were several occasions when I wanted to use the gym within the hours designated for passengers but couldn't because it was full - with a queue of folk waiting. Can't see why it isn't available for use all the time so that early birds (5 a.m. onwards) like me, or others who like to exercise late at night, couldn't use it whenever they wanted to. 2. Hot drinks: we bought a Hurtigruten mug to entitle us to all-day tea and coffee refills - well worth it. But hot chocolate wasn't included in the deal. Again, why not? I can't imagine that the provision of hot chocolate as well as coffee and tea would put too great a hole in the Hurtigruten bottom line. In fact, I'm sure that if hot chocolate were part of the deal many more people would buy the mugs, not to mention that it would be a very positive PR move.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2014
12 night Classic round trip voyage, Bergen to Kirkenes to Bergen  March 17th 2014 to March 28th 2014  Cabin 557 I accompanied my parents on this voyage, they had done the same trip in 2008 in June. i was therefore very well informed ... Read More
12 night Classic round trip voyage, Bergen to Kirkenes to Bergen  March 17th 2014 to March 28th 2014  Cabin 557 I accompanied my parents on this voyage, they had done the same trip in 2008 in June. i was therefore very well informed what to expect from a Hurtigruten voyage. The fact that this was not a glitzy cruise suited me fine! i loved the casualness of the whole trip. The ship was nowhere near full, but even if it had been at capacity, there were plenty of areas to sit quietly, to read, play cards, have a quiet drink etc. Quite often i would walk the entire circuit of the outside deck and not see anybody at all! The ship was spotlessly clean, warm and comfortable. My cabin on deck 5 with a window, was also clean, warm and comfortable, not luxurious, but perfectly adequate. The shower was particularly good with endless hot water and powerful too. The food was excellent. Fab breakfast, hot and cold buffet style, as was the lunch. Dinner was waiter service with the set menu listed in the morning. If any of the set menu was not to your liking, you could ask for an alternative without any problems at all. Restaurant staff were exceptional, all Norwegian. The only criticism would be that tap water was not available at meal times. Oh, and that i put on 4 pounds in weight! This voyage called in at 34 ports, with varying docking times from just 15 mins to 4 hours. Hurtigruten's ships are working vessels, and are used to transport goods up and down the coast, as well as the post. It was so interesting watching the expert loading and unloading etc on the short stops. The longer stops where we could get off and visit were great, particularly Alesund, Trondheim and Kirkenes. The onboard tour manager, Peter, was very informative, and had a great sense of humour too. We did two excursions out of the many available, have to say they are not cheap! we did the huskies sled ride at Tromso, which was brilliant, a really good long ride, and also the trip to North cape which was so dramatic as a blizzard was in full force at the time! I do believe we had all four seasons in our trip weather wise which just added to the atmosphere. We hoped we would get to see the Northern lights, and we were not disappointed, albeit only once. They were the icing on the cake of a fantastic trip which i would love to do again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
My husband and I have recently returned from a Bergen / Kirkenese / Bergen cruise on the Nordnorge. Everything about this cruise was amazing. The food was incredible with plenty of choice at the breakfast and lunch time buffets. As fish ... Read More
My husband and I have recently returned from a Bergen / Kirkenese / Bergen cruise on the Nordnorge. Everything about this cruise was amazing. The food was incredible with plenty of choice at the breakfast and lunch time buffets. As fish lovers we were in heaven (for both breakfast and lunch) but there was always a brilliant selection of other food including vegetarian and gluten free. The set evening meal which I have seen criticised in other reviews was local food. What else would you want to eat? Stay in England or go to Spain if you want English food! The evening menu was published each morning and you were able to ask for an alternative if a course did not suit your taste, It's hard to highlight an individual meal but the seafood buffet has to be the one - even though it was temporally abandoned when the Northern Lights were announced! The staff were so friendly and hard working. The cabins were clean with really comfortable beds. The ship's decor was beautiful and everywhere was spotlessly clean. The two jacuzzis were just wonderful. Health and Safety precautions were discretely in place and the general day to day organisation including disembarkation arrangements was impressive. I had read reviews where people had complained about the short stays in some ports but this just how Hurtigruten works. When it was just a short stay in a port it was always fascinating to watch the loading and unloading of goods and passengers. Clearly Hurtigruten is an important part of the Coastal Community and it was a privilege to be able to observe this part of Norwegian life. When the boats were in port for longer you had time to explore towns by yourself or take part in one of the well organised excursions. Our experiences of the Alesund Art Nouveau tour, the North Cape visit, Husky Sledging in Kirkenes and the Midnight Concert in Tromso were all excellent. I would recommend them without hesitation. Unlike more traditional cruises (which do not appeal to us) there was very little on board entertainment. Why would you want entertainment with all that wildlife and scenery? The Artic Circle ceremonies were fun, the DVD presentations informative and the Norwegian Sushi demonstration was delicious! What more can I say? Would just love to return! Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
Hurtigruten's Classic Antarctica Voyage on the MS Fram (January 11-20, 2013) exceeded my expectations in all regards. I had read most of the reviews I could find online in the process of researching our planned Antarctica trip. ... Read More
Hurtigruten's Classic Antarctica Voyage on the MS Fram (January 11-20, 2013) exceeded my expectations in all regards. I had read most of the reviews I could find online in the process of researching our planned Antarctica trip. Because there were so many choices and I had never heard of Hurtigruten, I was unsure about whether or not the Fram was the right choice. I made the booking through a travel agency, after a number of phone conversations. Their agent was most helpful; however, we got off to a bit of a rocky start when a Hurtigruten USA agent promised an accommodation that it turned out after we had paid our deposit they could not promise. Instead of a guaranteed small suite for the price we were paying, we were offered an onboard credit, and so agreed to finalize our payment. In the end, the Cruise Norway staff and the Hurtigruten USA management did intervene on our behalf, and we were given the small suite we had initially been promised. Our private room and the overall space on the Fram were wonderful... clean, comfortable, spacious indoor and outdoor areas with fabulous views from most of the public areas on the boat. The atmosphere was generally very informal and relaxed. One of the things I personally liked about the overall experience was that out of two hundred guests onboard, approximately one hundred were Americans, about 50 were from Germany, and the other 50 represented a large number of other countries. Likewise, the ten expedition staff represented eight countries. The entire ship's staff were great: cheerful,professional, helpful, efficient, and the whole experience was well managed and executed from start to finish. The Fram is bright and shiny and relatively new, with lots of floor to ceiling windows, and it was kept spotless. For my taste, the food offerings were perfect.... almost all buffet-style, with only four dinners in nine days served with set menus and pre-assigned tables. There was always a great variety of fresh salads and vegetables, along with seafood offerings most days, in addition to a variety of meats, appetizers, great breads and desserts. I can't imagine that you could not find something to please nearly everyone's tastes at every meal. All food, including coffee, tea, hot chocolate and very good tap water were included in the trip price; all other drinks were charged to your credit card account for settlement at the end of the trip. Drinks were relatively expensive (about US$5.50 for a beer, US$7.00 for a glass of house wine, mixed drinks US$8-12). Of the nine days onboard, four were spent crossing the Drake Passage, and five were in the islands and Antarctic Peninsula area, where we made two landings nearly every day. We were blessed with near-perfect weather while in Antarctica... sunny and calm most days, with temperatures in the 40's (F). Penguins were in their rookeries with babies of various sizes at most of the landings, and there was almost always some kind of a hike to a viewpoint or other point of interest. There were lots of seals, and we had plenty of whale sightings. Expedition staff who managed the landing experiences were knowledgeable and helpful in all cases. On the way home, the Captain made a detour so that we had a chance to see Cape Horn, which was not a part of the scheduled itinerary. Most other people I talked with onboard were more than pleased with the overall experience. By choice, I have not been on other cruise ships, so I can't offer comparisons. This is not a big flashy entertainment boat... we had a staff show one night, and there were movies and lectures, but mostly it was a quiet, pleasant, relaxing experience. Antarctic expeditions are all expensive, but for my taste, Hurtigruten offered great value for money, and I cannot imagine having a better overall experience than we did on the Fram. Read Less
Sail Date January 2013
As Cruisers go this was our first trip, & having read reviews first we had a good idea of what to expect, & therefore unlike some reviewers who seemed to travel blind we had no really unexpected problems. We are not lie on the ... Read More
As Cruisers go this was our first trip, & having read reviews first we had a good idea of what to expect, & therefore unlike some reviewers who seemed to travel blind we had no really unexpected problems. We are not lie on the beach & roast types or sit in a floating 5000 bed hotel & not know when or where you are, & Las Vegas style shows no thanks, there thats told you so now you know us. Our booking of the trip was no problem, a 15 minute or so phone call & we were reserved, not the suite I would have liked,( in the end I was glad we didn't get one) but the cabin was outside deck 3 & turned out to be just right. Having received the booking info & brochure & advice about pre booking tours we had plenty of time to bone up on the choices & do just that pre book. The invoice had been paid, but no problem I received an amendment, coughed up the extra & all was set. I did have some questions but a quick phone call & all was answered. I did get worried when the tickets hadn't turned up but a quick call & all was ok. So off we go, Titan Air Charter was quick & simple ( Stansted is Stansted). On arrival in Bergen our transfer was straight forward, our luggage taken care of once on the coach, it would appear at our cabin next so no more humping it around. At the port we sign in & get our Cruise Cards ( needed for access) sit through a 15 minute H&S video & shown how to wear a very fetching bright RED survival suit. Once on board we don't wait long to get to our cabins, what would they be like ( we are virgins don't forget). First impression,just right like Goldilocks not too big, not too small. All you need a loo, a shower,handbasin, plenty of hanging space & cupboards. The single beds were large enough & comfortable with crisp linen & the window a good size. Our luggage turns up & we settle in. And above all the cabin was clean!!!!!!! Its a few hours to go before we sail & we have dinner & exploring to do first. There is no cabin tea & coffee, but what is called a "Coffee Deal" at approx £30 a head you can drink yourself to death on basic coffee & tea for the whole trip. So at £2.50+ a cup you can soon recup ( get it recup) your layout. One deal we didn't go for as we are not surnamed Rothschild or Gates, was the wine deal at approx £400 for a bottle of wine each night for the trip :)- Ok the trip was billed as Northern Lights & sure enough on leaving port that first night we have a good display at around 11.00pm and to be honest as far as we were concerned that was the best display of the trip, not to say that others saw better, but our stamina started to wane after late calls over the intercom for the first few days left us a wee sleepy. We get some pictures of later shows, but these were better picked up by digital cameras than naked eyes, to which they appeared as green blurs. But we did get the chance to see constellations & galaxies hidden by UK lights, revealed by Norwegian darkness. Ok, lets cut this down you're getting bored, we had 4 excursions, Trondheim City Tour with a very knowledgeable guide Anna, a very enjoyable Viking Feast with tasty basic food & a wealth of information, a trip to North Cape again an informative guide & video, & finally a trip to the Russian border, a little disappointing not a lot of Russians or guard towers, just a Russian liquid waste lorry. Now homeward bound, no more lights but a couple of Sea Eagles, Troll Fjord & what I consider the best a pod of 6 Orcas all be bit only seen for 5 minutes,but great. Ok 3 more things, the food & the tour manager,captain & crew The food, well 3 square a day was good, Breakfast was help yourself always porridge, cereals, fruit, yogurt, smoked & pickled fish of at least 6 varieties, & for hot boiled eggs, mini franks & meatballs & variously fried egg & bacon, scrambled eggs,cheese, rolls, bread , toast& other things I have forgotten. Lunch was always a cold table with poached salmon, smoked salmon,gravlax, sild in various sauces, salads, sliced cold meats, cheeses. Plus hot choices always a vegetarian choice , & 2 meat options with rice or potatoes & a vegetable, also sauces to accompany your meal. And to round off, usually 4 or 5 desserts sometimes with ice cream, & always cheese & biscuits plus fruit. Dinner was a fixed 3 course meal which alternated fish & meat more or less, you can get a menu if you go on line I'm not going all through it here. Portions were sufficient, say no more, but nearly always very good. (food is very subjective) being a chef I can appreciate what goes on back of house, & even more so in restricted circumstances. Please DO NOT moan about getting fish every night it's not true, man cannot leave on BURGERS & CHIPS alone. The Tour Manager Eskild Ognes, a very versatile & patient man, with good British sense of humour & learning skills, ( he learnt how to pronounce SAUSAGES in 3 minutes) you needed to be there!!! The Captain,Bridge & Crew although we did not interact that much were always polite & communicative, the waiting/cleaning staff always friendly & helpful. Our voyage ( it's not a strict cruise) was fun, hard work, ( a lot of looking/watching) & eating. Would we go again, YES please. Read Less
Sail Date October 2012
We 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 have for many years wanted to undertake the Norwegian Coastal Voyage from Bergen all the way to the Russian Border and back. We also wanted to arrive in Bergen by ship from the UK but alas cheap air fares have caused the demise of the ... Read More
We have for many years wanted to undertake the Norwegian Coastal Voyage from Bergen all the way to the Russian Border and back. We also wanted to arrive in Bergen by ship from the UK but alas cheap air fares have caused the demise of the ferry from Newcastle-on-Tyne-so we flew British Midland from London Heathrow to Bergen (Business Class)-very civilized. As this was to be a very special trip including the celebration of our 40th Wedding Anniversary we opted for the Owners Suite on one of the most recent Hurtigruten ships. There are in fact two owners suite's-we chose the one which has a slightly larger floor plan due to less space devoted to stairways. Firstly we spent a night in Bergen at the Admiral Hotel with lovely views across the harbour to Bryggen before boarding our ship. However when we arrived at the Hurtigruten Terminal to board, we were met by the news that our sailing had ben delayed due to "technical issues"-in fact we ere delayed by 24 hours due to two out of the three bow thrusters having failed, and requiring replacement before sailing. Hurtigruten generously offered to refund 2/12 of our fare in recognition and this cheque for in excess of £3,000 was waiting for us at home on our return. Once on board we were quickly shown to our beautiful suite which consisted of a large double bedroom, a very large lounge with dining table and chairs, 3 seater sofa and two large easy chairs, desk, fully stocked mini-bar and TV, plus a bathroom with full size bath, walk-in shower, WC, underfloor heating, and an entrance lobby with a second WC for "visitors". The best feature of all was a marvellous "terrace" running half the width of the ship with proper ships deck chairs and table. We opted for breakfast being served in our suite daily, with enough left over for lunch-so that we only visited the restaurant once a day-where we were allocated Table 1-by the window with a commanding view of the whole restaurant. Food at dinner was good-with a different fixed no choice menu each evening, charmingly served by mainly Norwegian staff. The only time this arrangement differed was the first evening which was a "free-for-all" buffet which was most unpleasant due to some very aggressive fellow guests helping themselves to as much food as they could possibly eat!! The ship was very well appointed with umpteen different lounges and quiet areas. We only went on a few excursions as we wished to enjoy the luxury of the boat, albeit getting off the boat to visit the numerous ports of call was no problem at all. The midnight concert in Tromso Cathedral was a highlight, with the Midnight Sum shining brightly at 1.30 in the morning.Other excursions included bird watching at the North Cape, the Sea Eagle Safari and the only disappointment being the Lofoten Islands excursion which consisted of being driven by coach around the islands to a rather poor gallery, and to various parking areas full of camper vans from all over Europe. We found all the staff very friendly, especially the lady who ran the gift shop, selling hand made Scandinavian souvenirs and craft items. With the suite came two of the coffee cans which allowed you to unlimited tea and coffee throughout the ship. We had lovely warm sunny weather for the first three days, but further north at Kirkenes it turned very cold (4 degrees centigrade at mid-day in late June) and the sea became very rough for 24 hours. I certainly would not like to venture along this coast in Winter! After arriving back in Bergen we had 3 further nights at the Admiral Hotel which proved to be a comfortable and well located place to stay, before flying back to London Heathrow. Overall a very enjoyable trip, albeit a very expensive one. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
Since this was our first cruise ever, our experience may be different from some seasoned cruise travelers who may have different expectations of what a cruise is. As travelers we are fairly independent, like making arrangements for ... Read More
Since this was our first cruise ever, our experience may be different from some seasoned cruise travelers who may have different expectations of what a cruise is. As travelers we are fairly independent, like making arrangements for ourselves, and tend not to do bus-tours or group travel. We selected this cruise because we wanted to see the Northern Lights and this cruise provided the benefit of seeing gorgeous scenery in case the Lights didn't happen. We weren't in it for the ship, so a gussied-up ferry suited us well. For those of you who are deciding if a Hurtigruten cruise is for you, let me start by saying what it is NOT: uber-luxurious. There is no casino. The main entertainment was one guy playing an electric piano singing songs of the 50s - 90s in a mix of English and Norwegian each evening in the bar. There are two hot tubs on deck, a sauna and a very small workout room. There's reliable wifi near the internet cafe and they had 4 slow-ish computers for free usage. The Midnatsol holds 'only' 1000 people. I'd say 90% of the people on board (as cruisers, those not just using the boat as local transportation) were retired. It was mainly a mix of people from Germany, Norway, and the UK with a few North Americans. It's not cheap on board or on land in Norway - if you haven't been before, prepare for sticker shock. It's much more expensive than you think possible. A sandwich lunch for two with soft drink or bottled water is easily $50. All that being said, our cruise on the Midnatsol was absolutely wonderful. The staff were friendly and aimed to please. Even when disgruntled used-to-luxe cruisers complained ("the dinner portions are too small" was a gripe we heard from a couple of men) the staff smiled, apologized and brought a second plate of 1,000 calories for them. Breakfast and lunch are buffet and open seating, dinner is plated and served at your assigned table at either 6:30 or 8:30. The head waitress very pleasantly switched our seating time for the other one when we asked. Food at breakfast included eggs, potatoes, sliced meats, cheeses, smoked fish of at least 3 or more types, fruit, 3 juices, coffee, tea, homemade hot chocolate, rolls and several types of homemade breads, cinnamon rolls, and more I'm forgetting. Lunch included homemade soup, fresh green salads, pasta and bean salads, breads, sliced meats and cheeses, smoked fish, two or three hot entrees (some recycled from the night before but it worked), a hot vegetable or two, potatoes, fruit and at least 4 different types of homemade desserts. Our last evening was a seafood buffet banquet with shrimp, prawns, lobster, crayfish, mussels, crab, fish and more cooked several ways. Almost overwhelming and all delicious. Again, breakfast and lunch were buffet style so you could have as much or as little as you wanted. You won't go hungry and you won't be starved for choice. There was a reliance on cream sauces and dairy desserts at dinner, so the lactose-challenged should be aware, but vegetarians were well catered to and I overheard people asking for special requests at the reception desk that sounded like they wouldn't be a problem. Fish was served about every other evening. They had a decent wine menu (if you don't mind taking out a second mortgage on your house to pay for it). You could also buy a wine package for the trip. Our cabin was a mini-suite, and we were glad we spent the extra for it. Big marble bathroom, plenty of closet/storage space, mini-fridge, coffee & tea making facilities + two free all-you-can drink mugs, fruit+wine basket, television in the room, and a tour of the bridge. We were on deck 6, which was the promenade deck, meaning that people could see in the room, so be aware of that. We could control the temp in our cabin and the bathroom had underfloor heating. Bar soap, shampoo, lotion, shower cap, washcloth were all included, not sure they are included for smaller rooms. The shore excursions (we did 4) were all worth the money and very well organized. If you go in winter, don't miss the dog-sledding. It was a real highlight. The ship also provided fun diversions like the Arctic Circle contest and ceremony with King Neptune; fish chowder for the hardy souls up on deck at 11PM one night watching the Northern Lights dancing; a free lecture by an on-board astronomer for all passengers; and a local saxophonist playing up on deck. If you get seasick, bring something for it. The ship does have stabilizers but there are are times when you're out in the open sea and you will definitely feel it. We were lucky enough to see the Lights 5 nights of our 6 night trip. As amazing as they are, the scenery going by was just as spectacular. I wish we'd gone for the full round trip instead of just the north-bound journey, because you get to see all the sights during the day on the south-bound trip that you missed at night going northbound. Guess we'll have to go back! We'd definitely travel with Hurtigruten again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
We sailed from Bergen to Tromso, and were disappointed with our Hurtigruten experience. The food was very average and extremely over priced for the quality. The cabins were nice enough, although as a couple you stay in separate single ... Read More
We sailed from Bergen to Tromso, and were disappointed with our Hurtigruten experience. The food was very average and extremely over priced for the quality. The cabins were nice enough, although as a couple you stay in separate single beds unless you go for a deluxe cabin. The staff were not very helpful. Trying to book the trip to begin with was very difficult on the Hurtigruten website and we ended up having to call them from Australia to try to book the trip, the whole process took about 45 minutes on an international call. We were given incorrect information regarding meals on the boat, which the staff on the ship would not help rectify once we were there, and when we complained we were given the email address of head office and told to email them rather than speak to anyone on the actual boat! The port docking times were usually short (1 hour or less) with the occasional 3 hour stop. We stopped in Trondheim from 6am until midday - there is nothing open in Trondheim before 9am - not even McDonalds. The age group on our ship was very specific- all seniors, it seems the boat definitely caters for a specific demographic. The scenery on the trip was lovely, although difficult to see due to extreme weather conditions. We found the scenery on the train from Oslo to Bergen to be just as beautiful. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
MS Finnmarken is one of Hurtigruten's newer vessels and exceeded our expectations in terms of space, cleanliness and food quality. We'd never cruised before and didn't want to have to dress up for dinner, etc, and this ship ... Read More
MS Finnmarken is one of Hurtigruten's newer vessels and exceeded our expectations in terms of space, cleanliness and food quality. We'd never cruised before and didn't want to have to dress up for dinner, etc, and this ship fitted the bill. It's a working ferry, catering for the local population wishing to travel from one port to another as well as tourists and the shp called at over 30 ports although some stops were too short to disembark or they were in the middle of the night. We flew from Gatwick to Bergen to join the ship and took the Classic Round Voyage to Kirkenes and back, taking 12 days in all. When we arrived at Bergen we were ushered on to a coach for the pre-paid transfer to the ship. The checking-in procedure took quite a time as there was so many of us and once we got into the waiting area we had to hang around for an hour before we could go on board but once that happened our bags were outside our door. Cabins: We were pleasantly surprised at the size of our standard outside cabin which was on the highest deck. The porthole was large and rectangular with curtains and a blind. The two single beds can be folded during the day, one completely against the wall and the other converts into a seat but as there was still enough room to manoeuvre we kept them both down as beds. The cabin had a fridge and a TV, despite being told neither were provided, there was plenty of storage space including a double wardrobe, lots of shelving, a large space under the fridge for cases, and a desk with 2 electrical sockets. Two pillows, a duvet and blanket for each bed were provided. The bathroom contained an excellent shower, toilet and basin with double cabinet over. Liquid soap/shampoo dispensers were in the shower cubicle and over the basin, there's a small washing line and waste bin, and the bathroom has underfloor heating so underwear dried quickly. Food and Drink: The food was excellent. Breakfast and lunch are buffet-style with plenty of choice and you can sit where you like. Dinner is a set menu which is displayed outside the dining room at breakfast time. If you don't like the look of any of the three courses all you have to do is mention it to the staff and they will do their best to provide an alternative. Pick up their interesting booklet which should be on the table outside the dining room called "Coastal Flavours". This lays out the menu for each day and the history behind it. The food at dinner is cordon bleu style and absolutely delicious. Although there's a lot of fish, there's also meat so plenty of variety. As we were half board we weren't entitled to attend lunch but one day when the sea was due to be very rough we asked if we could swap dinner for lunch and there was no problem at all. Alcohol in Norway and on the ship is extremely expensive. Fortunately, Hurtigruten is probably the only cruise line which allows passengers to take alcohol on board so we had our full duty-free allowance with us! If you like tea and coffee it's a good idea to purchase their "coffee deal". For £28 you get a thermal Hurtigruten mug which you can fill with tea or coffee 24/7. It sounds a lot but when you pay £4 per cup it's a good deal over 12 days. On-Board Entertainment: Not a lot. Most evenings there was either a pianist or singer in one of the bars but as we're never interested in evening socialising it didn't bother us. Fitness Activities: There's a well equipped gym and sauna on board. There's also a swimming pool on the open deck which my husband braved and a hot tub which he enjoyed leaping into after emerging from the pool. It wasn't so good coming out of the hot tub though into the arctic winds! Excursions: It's advisable to pre-book excursions because as well as guaranteeing a place on a trip you want to experience, it's also cheaper than waiting until you're on board. We did dog sledding in Tromso, in what turned out to be a blizzard! Although we enjoyed it, I wouldn't recommend this if you have any sort of back problem because going over bumpy ground on a wooden sled isn't a comfortable experience! The huskies are amazing dogs and can't wait to take off and make a terrible row when they're excited and about to start running. We also visited the North Cape (recommended), the Snow Hotel at Kirkenes near the Russian border which is a very odd place. There are 22 bedrooms but you'd have to be mad to want to stay there. The toilet and washing facilities are in another building which would put a lot of people off, not to mention the obvious low temperature. On-Board Information: The Tour Manager did a wonderful job of telling us what was happening every day. Information sheets were available every afternoon outlining the programme for the following day. The sheets detailed the times we were due to arrive at and depart from various ports, any interesting information on the sights we passed, and when we were due to sail on stretches of open sea (important to know when to have the pills and wrist bands available!) We sailed in March which is the worst month for rough seas so we were told! On the first day we picked up free booklets on the available excursions and the routes we were sailing. These were very interesting and worthwhile having. In addition to written information the Tour Manager made various announcements over the intercom during the day so we didn't miss anything. He spoke Norwegian, English and German fluently and could have made a living out of being a stand-up comedian. The Northern Lights: We didn't really see them, despite being in the right place at one of the best times according to the experts. We couldn't see any change in the colour of the sky although when people took long exposures there was green in the picture so I suppose the lights were there. We had a ceremony each time we crossed the Arctic Circle but I won't go into details as I don't want to spoil the surprise!! Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
As we are getting married in the Caribbean in November, we decided we would try a small cruise with our twin 3 year olds. It was their first flight and cruise, and our first cruise. Having read the reviews beforehand we knew what to ... Read More
As we are getting married in the Caribbean in November, we decided we would try a small cruise with our twin 3 year olds. It was their first flight and cruise, and our first cruise. Having read the reviews beforehand we knew what to expect in terms of it being a working ship and not a luxury cruise. Departure from Manchester could have been problematic as Jet2 thought it prudent to sit a family of us with two very young children at the end of each aisle seat x 4. Fortunately for us and for the rest of the passengers a very helpful couple swopped seats and prevented a noisy journey. We were allocated Level 2 Port Side which was a little noisy but on balance the other decks may have suffered from people outside cabin windows with cameras for the northern lights. Cabins are small but you are not expected to be spending a lot of time in them but rather sitting in the public areas reading, knitting or surfing the internet and meeting other passengers. Food presentation and quality were excellent, the waiters were pleasant and helpful, ships crew overall accommodating. Restaurant Manager very good at changing our late sitting to an earlier one for the children's benefit. The Northern lights were observed every night we were on ship so it is fair to say we were lucky in terms of weather (no snow, rain, fog etc.) bright and sunny. Tea/coffee deal 250 krona, but the cafe was open 24 hours for refill so a good idea. Not really sure why people would object to using the handwash as this is for everyone's benefit to avoid illness. The childrens play area was also most welcome as there are no facilities really for children on board. Three or four static pc's on board for internet use (free of charge) or you can use the library/bar area for free wifi. No problems there. Radisson Blue Manageress very good - chatted with us in reception and gave us free orange juice whilst we waited for the bus to the airport. Receptionist also prompt and efficient in changing our room when we found we had been allocated two rooms on different floors! Radisson breakfast excellent. Tromso - The number 26 bus from Pepe's Pizza (round the corner) took us outside the cable car, cost 28 krona approx, cable car 300 krona for a family ticket. Ask for a street map from the receptionist at the hotel. Supermarkets do not sell wine and spirits and you have to visit a government shop to purchase. Overall a very pleasant experience as we met some lovely people from the Yorkshire Dales, Southport and Newcastle and we all got into the spirit of the holiday. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
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 February 2012
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