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16 Hurtigruten MS Roald Amundsen Cruise Reviews

First, I had an amazing Hurtigruten travel specialist assist me in my booking named Ms Linn WIlson who was outstanding in helping ensure I had a starboard Arctic Superior cabin and seamless transition from 1st cruise to the 2nd. I departed ... Read More
First, I had an amazing Hurtigruten travel specialist assist me in my booking named Ms Linn WIlson who was outstanding in helping ensure I had a starboard Arctic Superior cabin and seamless transition from 1st cruise to the 2nd. I departed Hamburg, sailed up the Norwegian coast and fjords, then connected to a second cruise on the same ship in Tromso. Linn ensured that my worries about moving my luggage from one cabin to another, and still enjoying Tromsø were eliminated. Secondly, the staff on board the ship gave the highest customer service, especially Jannah, Jelai and Kristian the Reception Manager who helped me find and regain special glasses I left on the ship. The restaurant servers also gave exemplary customer service, always remembering my name, that I liked hot chocolate with breakfast, and always gave me a warm welcome, as did the maitre d. While this was only the 2nd sailing of the new ship, the staff was very quick to problem solve and respond to any suggestions for improvement, and were extremely professional. Food was excellent, especially the freshly baked breads and pastries. Thirdly, the cruises were very educational. The expedition team presentations, especially by Laura on whales, was exceptional, with multiple teaching strategies including embedded videos, delivered in a passionate manner. Zodiac cruising and landings were well done. The cruise to Svarlbard was very humbling as the glacier melting was evident, and hearing of the deaths of hundreds of reindeer due to global warming was painful. The Global Seed Vault in Longyearben is in jeopardy as well. Hurtigruten has a gorgeous ship with highly competent crew committed to outstanding customer service. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
This was an innovative and pioneering itinerary in an inaccessible rarely travelled part of the globe. The ship is simply beautiful. The cabins are spacious, comfortable and well designed. The food is good expedition food,not ... Read More
This was an innovative and pioneering itinerary in an inaccessible rarely travelled part of the globe. The ship is simply beautiful. The cabins are spacious, comfortable and well designed. The food is good expedition food,not haute cuisine. The main restaurant is overcrowded and significantly understaffed. The casual dining cafe is underused as it has a very limited (but good quality) never changing menu.The fine dining restaurant has excellent food and service but it is hard to get a reservation and is a euro25 pp.per visit supplement. The public areas have a wonderful scandinavian ambience,but are simply not adequate for 500 people.Every restaurant,bar,auditorium,lounge and expedition is overcrowded at each event.Passengers have to join a long queue for every meal,seminar,or briefing. Hurtigruten need to address this overcrowding of facilities as it detracts from this high quality ship and this great itinerary. Hurtigruten excell at cruising in remote places and have highly qualified expedition teams and experienced polar waters crew on the bridge.Logistics are excellent with the ship being resupplied regularly even in off the map locations. A great journey ,and a sense of adventure being a pioneer on the first complete transit of The Northwest Passage by a hybrid ship. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
The Northwest Passage on the MS Roald Amundsen First Impressions and General Observations The voyage began well. The Air Greenland flight was uneventful and Hurtigruten personnel were ready at Kangerlussuaq to see us to ... Read More
The Northwest Passage on the MS Roald Amundsen First Impressions and General Observations The voyage began well. The Air Greenland flight was uneventful and Hurtigruten personnel were ready at Kangerlussuaq to see us to transportation to the boat. We felt some concern at the dock because it was dark and some of us do need to be careful where we are stepping, but we swiftly and safely boarded the Zodiacs with the help of the expedition crew. That the Amundsen was brilliantly lit with apparently every light in use was a bit spectacular. In retrospect, this would seem to be in contradiction to the energy conservation aspects of the ship, but perhaps a bit of hubris would be expected on a maiden voyage. Once on board, we were greeted with the spectacular six story display facing the elevators. Obtaining our identification card/key was quick and finding our stateroom equally fast. Luggage appeared in due course as promised. Having been on the Fram on five prior occasions, I think we were well prepared to what should otherwise have occurred. [Those 5 voyages on the Fram have really set a level of expectation that we feel any Hurtigruten ship would meet and it would be impossible for us not to compare the Amundsen with the Fram.] Hurtigruten literature makes very clear the need for a health statement (“Boarding will be denied if ….”), but no one on the Amundsen was prepared to collect and review the health statements. Subsequent inquiry at the reception desk suggested that staff were essentially clueless about the matter. [This should not be constructed as a criticism of the medical staff of the ship as we witnessed their very fast and efficient handling of the medical emergency that affected a crew member.] The “Mandatory” AECO and Boat Safety Presentations were at best casual and no record of attendance was made as was the custom on the Fram. A crew member did don the safety suit but there was no commentary on the step-by-step procedure to properly secure the suit or even any particular effort made to draw attention to the demonstration; I would question what fraction of the ship’s passengers actually saw or paid attention to it. Those present were asked to move to the emergency assembly stations, but no additional introduction to the rescue boats or locations of safety equipment was made. We grant that use of the safety suit was often shown on one or more of the many video sets, but I don’t think we ever observed anyone paying attention to these. Obtaining expedition jackets and muck boots the next day was without delay and similarly there was no problem in identifying our landing groups. It was rather disconcerting a couple of days latter when the expected rotation of the landing groups was seemingly randomly disrupted by the introduction of jacket patches – one can understand use of a obvious visual identification to prevent passengers from ignoring their allotted place in the landings, but the use of identification patches should have been done from the start. The Captain’s Welcome and introduction to his officers and the expedition team was indeed a fitting introduction to the voyage, and the expedition crew provided a great goodbye at the Captain’s Farewell even though he and his officers were otherwise occupied at that time by the invasion of the US Coast Guard inspectors. The appearance of a Northwest Passenger Certificate was also a most welcome and unexpected surprise at the end of the voyage. Otherwise, our overall initial impression was that the Amundsen is technological marvel, shiny new, but rather sterile compared to the Fram. There seemed to be too much dark tile in floors and walls, the corridor carpets too dark, and the artwork in the corridors and our cabin too uniformly abstract in black and white (the designs didn’t seem to have much relevance to the nature of Hurtigruten itineraries). The only real exceptions to this are the wonderful penguin and polar bear décors of the 6th and 10th deck restrooms. The Strusted prints in the forward stair well are equally abstract, bland in color, and without much appeal. The light colored carpet with red lines in the Exploration Lounge is actually quite attractive and it is unfortunate that it was not more extensively used in the Lounge and in the corridors. We welcomed the presentation by the Chief Engineer on the new technology used in the ship’s construction. The visit to the bridge was most interesting to see how modern technology is incorporated into the navigation. The Expedition Crew The Expedition Crew were fantastic, wonderfully helpful in helping for safe boarding and leaving the Zodiacs, approachable and friendly on board, willing to answer questions, and presenters of a number of interesting and varied lectures. Their attention in making certain that landing sites were safe was very apparent and appreciated. We also were very pleased to see that alternatives were in hand when weather or ice conditions required changes in the schedule. The Cabin Our 4th deck cabin was far larger than we needed, but the double bed was comfortable and very welcome. The reclining chairs actually were quite comfortable. We appreciated the “green” option as our needs for making up the bed and fresh linens were quite minimal. There were some technical problems with receiving announcements in the room via the video system. Although several Norwegian networks as well as Skynews claimed to be found on the TV, no reception on any of these given channels was ever received during the voyage. We also have no idea if the listed movies and other television programs indicated in the TV menu were available as we had no desire and made no effort to access them. Some daily news would have been welcome and so we were happy when the daily news summary finally appeared on one of the channels (without announcement) mid-voyage. Also in mid-voyage, the daily schedule of events on channel 1 was moved (again without announcement) to a higher channel, but we discovered if the TV was left on the higher channel, we no longer received the oral announcements which were restricted to channel 1. At some point, even this seemed not to be working and announcements were subsequently made via the ceiling loud speaker. In sum, however, any problems in the TV system we would rate of minor consequence and presume these will be rectified in due course. We should at this point state our appreciation that the crew and staff did make the effort to minimize the repetition of announcements in multiple languages. A bit more annoying was that only once were we able to access the internet via the ship’s Wi-Fi. As we had no pressing need to maintain e-mail or other contact with the outside world, this rates as a minor annoyance without explanation (possibly the problem was due to the weakness of the signal on the ship). Once home, our laptop instantly accessed our home Wi-Fi so the problem was not with our computer. We would bring attention to one truly awkward design element in the room. That is the entry to the bathroom, with a 6 or 7-inch step upward from the room over 2-inch high sill. A moment of inattention in entering or exiting the bathroom (especially in mid-night when one might be half asleep) could all too easily result in a serious fall and injury. A far lower sill between cabin and bath floors at the same level should be more than adequate to prevent water from escaping the bathroom; actually given the offset of the shower away from the doorway, I am not certain than any sill is necessary. I would hope this concern would be considered in the construction design of any future Hurtigruten vessel. Dining facilities The serving staff were wonderful, quickly attentive and ready to offer some meal alternatives for those with food difficulties. We were rather surprised to see that dining tables in the Aune restaurant were primarily for two persons, certainly not conducive to interaction between passengers. In fact, when passengers did interact at mealtimes it usually meant someone or more would be standing in an aisle and impeding traffic flow. The presence of three passage ways between the tables does not seem ideal. Tables of 6 and 8 seats set perpendicular to a single, and wider, central passage would provide better traffic flow with possibly a few more available seats. The presence of coffee across the aisle from the soup and bread also was a source of congestion. The presence of the shelves along the main corridor is unfortunate. They block the exterior view from half the diners, important as we were always on the lookout to marine life. The lightning on the underside of these shelves does not appear to be significant. But what we can describe only as truly odd, if not bizarre, is the display on these shelves of plastic fruit in canning jars. We cannot imagine how a decorator could possibly believe this to be appropriate to a ship devoted to Arctic exploration! The display of Norwegian tins and the dog sled and marine motifs in the restaurant are far more appropriate even though we confess mild amusement that the former were glued to the shelves so as not to become souvenirs for the passengers. Breakfasts were more than adequate. We did find it curious that orange juice was usually not readily available, though it could be requested of the serving staff. Dry cereal was limited to four offerings, two of which were chocolate based, again curious given the median age of the passengers. High fiber bran cereal would have been more appropriate. But overall, breakfast offerings were more than adequate. Selections in the buffet lunches and dinners appeared to be fewer than what we were accustomed to on the Fram. In particular, the variety of breads on the Amundsen seemed rather limited. Deserts for the lunch and dinner buffets also showed limited imagination on the part of the chef – only three items on offer, one always a berry compote and another a mousse of some form, with the third usually some type of cake. Alternatives of ice cream or a sorbet were offered by the serving staff. I fear we did not find the French(?) style of cuisine for the set menu dinners to be particularly appealing. As Americans, our preference is for a plainer style of cooking in which the artistic presentation of the food is not placed above the actual nature and quality of the item. As this is a culinary prejudice, it perhaps would be inappropriate to make much further comment on the food, though I will make an exception with regard to the several fish offerings of the set menu and the buffet dinners – we very much like baked fish, only seasoned lightly with lemon and pepper. The fish offered on the ship was always prepared within a sauce and seemed generally flavorless. A selection of arctic char was seared on the surface, but otherwise raw. We conclude the chef does not know how to prepare and serve fish. Menus for lunch and dinner should have been prominently posted outside the dining room. Too often, it was too crowded at the serving stations to allow reading the written labels above the serving table and there was no time to question when something had an unfamiliar name. We also note two errors in the information posted outside the Aune restaurant. This tabulation notes meals vary from five-course dinners to buffets – but the set meals were only four-course. An “Afternoon Treat 16:00-17:00” is also listed for the Expedition Lounge. We remember fondly those pastries and fresh pancakes with jam and copious whipped cream served on the Fram every afternoon, but no “Treat” ever appeared on the Amundsen. I suppose we could also mention that hot chocolate was often available on the Fram in addition to coffee and tea. Alas, no hot chocolate on the Amundsen. We did use the alternative restaurant on two occasion for hamburgers. The Expedition Lounge The Expedition Lounge on deck 10 unfortunately is divided into three parts by panels of open metal work whose decorative curves reflect the design in the carpet. We feel their presence is a mistake. It would be far better for the Lounge to be completely open, especially as it was used not only for the Captain’s Welcome and Farewell, for various presentations and open discussions, and the cultural experiences with Inuit visitors to the ship. These panels simply obscure a fair number of the passengers from having a direct view of the presenters. The multiple video screens do portray what the presenters are showing, but the speaker is still not readily visible to most of those present. An open Lounge is simply a more friendly environment and would be a more effective venue for the presentations. The forward design of the Lounge is not optimal. The windows are slanted at far too shallow an angle and are set too far back from the front of the ship to give the best view toward the bow. The forward view should have been designed to give a view as close as possible to what the officers see from the bridge (which our visit showed has an impressive view to the front). We fear that in the Lounge we could also hear the random “Thump, thump, thump” from heavy-footed runners using the trackway on deck 11. Deck 11 should be covered with the rubber-grid mats that are used on the Fram, thick enough to deaden the sound of foot impacts. 6th Deck Auditorium The design of the auditorium is most unfortunate. First, the allocated space seemed too small for the number of passengers though the repetition of programs does work to limit the number of attendees. Perhaps a little more effort could be made to make passengers aware that programs would be repeated and perhaps even attendance by landing groups could be suggested. Second, there was a tendency of passengers to move chairs back to give themselves more leg room at the expense of the row behind them. Third, while the large format of the screen was good, the bottom was so close to the floor that viewers beyond the second or third row found it difficult to see the lower portion of the screen. The use of smaller auxiliary screens at the back of auditorium wasn’t very useful in this regard. The Amundsen would seem to have enough space that the auditorium could (should) have been designed in tiers, with each row a few inches above the one before it. Viewers thus would be more ably to see over the heads of those in front of them, and chairs could not be pushed back. This design is fairly standard, for example, in college classrooms. The auditorium thus would span the height of two decks, but we think this could easily have been achieved. Furthermore, the single entry doors at the front of the auditorium, adjacent to the speaker’s area, are bad as late comers tend to walk in front of the speaker. College lecture rooms have entry at the rear of the rooms, and doors should be double wide for easier entry and egress. For safety reasons, the forward doorways should be retained for emergency use. We did not feel that the design of the auditorium would meet proper safety standards for emergency exit. As a more important point, we must draw attention to the design and placement of the double screen at front. At right angles to each other and set into the front wall, at least a third of those present could not see either of these screens; the auxiliary screens are not a satisfactory alternative to viewing the main screen as they are small and missing is the presenter who often is directing the viewers’ attention to some detail in the picture. The general failure of the electronic pointer further affected the presentations – the presenter might point to some feature on one screen, but most of the audience was left to guess at what this might be. And lastly, the often failure of the microphones was annoying. If the speaker spoke away from the microphone, the sound reproduction would be lost. We find use of the microphones on headbands to be odd. Television news broadcasters typically appear to use a clip-on microphone, suggesting there exist sound systems that are much more reliable than the headbands. Miscellaneous Other Observations I think it would have been better if the main stairway had retained the double side-by-side design used in the Fram. There is two-way travel on stairs and no one agrees on use of the right or left side. Thus when one meets someone from the other direction, there is a 50% need for one or the other to switch sides. With a side-by-side design, we often found it most easy to simply move to the alternative stairway. Perhaps a minor point, but it does seem to make use of the stairs friendlier. Of course, we did use the excellent elevators at times—one can only take the 97 steps between decks 4 and 10 so many times in a day. And the elevators give such a magnificent view of the 6 story display, pleasantly reminding us of past visits to Norway. Perhaps in due course some views of Antarctica and even the 1,000,000 King penguin colony of South Georgia could be added to the display. The maintenance and cabin crew were observed to be doing an excellent job in maintaining the cleanliness of the ship. This is important as not all passengers use the readily available hand sanitation. We have mixed feelings about the sliding doors. On a number of occasions a door would not be working. The push buttons for the exit doors to the aft of deck 10 also were obstinate at times. There is also the annoyance that simply walking past a door would activate the opening. The posting of the morning news summary next to sliding doors near the Science Center meant reading the pages while the doors opened and closed as one moved or remained stationary. Actually given the availability of this news summary via four different language TV channels, posting the paper copies seemed unnecessary (except that this was never announced and discovery of the paper copy and availability on the room TV was fortuitous). The word excellent applies to the Science Center and its Library. The shop was a unexpected disappointing surprise. No postcards, some stuffed toys, and only a few Hurtigruten clothing items. But also jewelry and watches as if this were a Fifth Avenue boutique – these absolutely out of place! Their presence was another unsettling suggestion that personnel involved in the ship design were out of touch with the Hurtigruten precepts of earlier vessels and that expressed in the video presentation of the company’s 125 year history. It would have been far more appropriate to have had a few books related to Arctic exploration and culture, and even other gift items related to the exploration aspect of the voyage – many carvings and other items could be found in the cultural centers of the Inuit towns in Greenland, Nunavut and Alaska and there is no reason why examples could not be secured to sell on the ship. Many similar cultural items can be obtained in Chile and Argentina to accompany southern voyages. That Hurtigruten literature and catalogues for other voyages were lacking on the ship was also surprising. The medallions from port visits by the ship were seen in the corridor in the bridge area. Why hide them here? We have always liked to observe where a ship has visited and to note the variety of emblems that have been acquired. The visibility of the stainless steel exhaust stacks detract from the overall appearance of the vessel. I would suggest that a black cowl of some form be integrated into the upper structure of the ship to hide them. We always ignored the presence of the hot tubs on the Fram and now on the Amundsen, but we suppose some persons might appreciate some warm relief from the cold (we can’t say we have actually observed many passengers taking advantage of them). The addition of a pool on deck 10 seems so unnecessary, didn’t appear to attract much usage, and acted more as an obstacle in passing from one side of the ship to the other if one were on deck observing and photographing wildlife. The addition of a “Wellness Center” just seemed wrong for a Hurtigruten expedition cruise. Summary We have made comparison often to the Fram. Frankly, we are quite fond of the Fram. Yes, its cabins might be a bit spartan, the baths a bit cramped, and so forth, and once we even were rolled out of bed when the ship encountered high waves in the Drake Passage, but the real point is that we have been on the Fram because it was going to really great places, not because we expected to be pampered with soft accomodations, spas, high cuisine, and whatever. We engaged passage on the Amundsen not because it offered more luxury, but because it was going somewhere where our past Hurtigruten experience predicted a memorable once-in-the-lifetime experience with significance of historical, cultural and ecological importance. We only hope that as Hurtigruten brings a new generation of advanced ships into use that this tradition is maintained. Some of what we have noted above we are certain will be rectified as the ship routines become more practiced – but, quite frankly, it would appear that the ship was rushed into use before adequate planning of routines had been done and before crew and staff were trained in those routines. We hope a few of the other suggestions will be accepted where no difficulty would occur in making modifications to the present ship. We hope those few of more serious changes will be considered as Hurtigruten plans new vessels. In addition, we hope that Hurtigruten management seriously reconsider its apparent movement toward a more “yuppified” atmosphere on its ships. The Northwest Passage was a marvelous voyage for us. We expect we will be back on another Hurtigruten voyage in the near future, but not the Roald Amundsen. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
The Roald Amundsen is a beautiful ship, and I greatly enjoyed my cruise from Tromso to Longbyearen. That said, there were a few glitches that Hurtigruten needs to focus on. When I checked in, they had no record of me in the cabin I ... Read More
The Roald Amundsen is a beautiful ship, and I greatly enjoyed my cruise from Tromso to Longbyearen. That said, there were a few glitches that Hurtigruten needs to focus on. When I checked in, they had no record of me in the cabin I purchased ten months earlier. I booked a specific cabin (a suite) because I liked the location on the ship. In the last three months before the cruise, I had at least three conversations with Hurtigruten staff, who all acknowledged I was in the cabin I had chosen. The staff gave me a bigger room with a larger balcony, but that misses the point. What if that larger suite had not been available? Where would they have put me? When a guy books a specific cabin ten months in advance there should be no changes to that cabin without agreement in advance from the passenger. The Lindstrom dining room served great meals, but there was a problem here as well. Suite guests were supposed to be able to eat at Lindstrom every night. After I got checked in, I was told that they just figured out that they could not accommodate all the suite guests in a single, staggered sitting. This is a simple math problem – if you can’t figure out they you cannot accommodate all the suite passengers, then Hurtigruten should not be advertising meals in the Lindstrom dining room every night. So, we were only allowed to have dinner there every other night (half the nights of the cruise). That is a big drawback given the quality of the other dining choices. I felt a bit ripped off by not being able to eat there every night. We did eat breakfast there every morning and those meals and the alternate-day dinners in Lindstrom were all excellent. My compliments to Rona the head waitress, master-of-all. Hurtigruten also advertised that room service was available on the Amundsen from 0700 – 2300. On my first night I called down to get something to eat about 9:30 pm, as my body adjusted to all the time changes. The receptionist indicated that “room service was not available at this moment.” Okay, I said, what “moment” will it be available. I was then told it dining room service was only available during the hours that the restaurants are open. Again, this is at odds with what Hurtigruten was advertising aboard the Amundsen and that should never be the case. A second restaurant on board, also complimentary to suite guests, was the Fredheim. We ate here most nights that we could not eat in Lindstrom. They had a small selection (burgers, fish burgers, dumplings, quesadillas) but all was very good. The third restaurant, where we had a few lunches, was Aune. They had some great halibut one day, and I got a very decent daily salad there, but otherwise the fare left much to be desired. And this is really the only option for non-suite guests to eat, who all paid quite a bit for this cruise. If Hurtigruten wants to be in the luxury cruise business they need to do much better on the food they provide. They did have quite a bit of Asian fare, and all the Chinese aboard seemed satisfied. I have not been on all that many cruises but never in the past have I chosen to eat dinners from a lackluster buffet. Hurtigruten views their cruises as expeditionary cruises, and that is undoubtedly part of the reason they don’t worry about giving everyone a sit-down dinner every night. On my Arctic cruise, they had zodiacs they went out and some guests opted to go out in kayaks. This was all nice but a few bugs in the scheduling. I have been to Antarctica and Greenland on cruises so I am used to having internet outages. But on this cruise, even when we pulled in to Longbyearen on last day, we had to leave our cabins six hours before the buses would take us to our charter flight back and they did not have their internet working all this time that we were sitting around. Strangely, they did not have a working ship-intranet, so even though they told us to look at daily schedules on our TVs, they did not have the technology to provide the daily planners when they were outside of internet range (most of the whole trip). I would also have liked for the Captain to take us closer to glaciers and sea ice. This is a brand new ship built for expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctica. We should have been able to pull closer. I have been on much larger ships in Antarctica and Greenland and those ships were able to navigate closer to glaciers. The cabin staff we had was excellent. The dining staff in Lindstrom and Fredheim was topnotch. And Ciselle, head of reception, came through when we needed her most. The Amundsen is a fantastic ship throughout. There is a great sauna with floor to ceiling window looking out at ocean. However, the gym was pretty sparse and should get a couple ellipticals to supplement the few treadmills. We took this cruise to see the rugged beauty of the Arctic and were not disappointed. Our upgraded room could not have been better. Dinners in Lindstrom were excellent, though they had the same menu each night. Hurtigruten needs to work out a few bugs, some major and some minor. I give the overall cruise a B+/A- ; had I not been in a great suite with at least limited access to the Lindstrom dining room this rating would be lower. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Previously very impressed with Hurtigruten, having travelled with them to Antarctica and had an amazing time. I have followed the story of their new ship, the Roald Amundsen, and was looking forward to this expedition cruise, taking a ... Read More
Previously very impressed with Hurtigruten, having travelled with them to Antarctica and had an amazing time. I have followed the story of their new ship, the Roald Amundsen, and was looking forward to this expedition cruise, taking a more adventurous Inside Passage route, on this innovative vessel. My husband and I were amongst the first to book, about 18 months ahead. The flight from Vancouver to Nome to join the ship was very scenic, but it was clear on landing that the weather was dictating events. The sea state had hindered the disembarkation of the homeward bound passengers and at first it was doubtful we would be able to embark that evening at all - the good people of Nome were preparing to put us up! As it happened we did make it on board but it was a little chaotic: we did not get the ‘suite check-in’, the cruise card machine wasn’t functioning properly, cabins weren’t ready, luggage was arriving separately, we couldn’t sail that night, but hey - what an exciting start! Two weeks before setting out Hurtigruten had informed us that two of the more remote landings wouldn’t happen because of US regulations regarding use of the Zodiacs. They said it was a ‘minor change’ and reimbursed €200pp but in reality this was a very major change because it ruled out all ‘wet landings’ and any remote wild life encounters - the very things that provide those amazing memorable moments that define an expedition cruise. Our first ‘landing’ after an extended time at sea, was a substitute stop at Sand Point in the Aleutians which was poorly organised to say the least, provided none of the promised wild life encounters, and revealed how poorly prepared the crew and expedition team were to cope with 500+ passengers in one tender boat and a destination they knew little about. Many passengers were understandably very unhappy about it and to add insult to injury we were all given a dressing down by the Expedition Leader at the evening briefing for complaining about it. There was also a ‘failure to launch’ of tenders which was officially because of ‘high swells’ but it was clear to anyone with even the slightest knowledge of sea states that the swell wasn’t high at all. Thank goodness we didn’t need to abandon ship in rough seas..... The Roald Amundsen is a beautiful ship. The decor is stylish Nordic, the jacuzzis and pool on deck 10 are lovely, the walking track on 11 is great, inside AND outside gym equipment, beautiful sauna, lovely cabins and super comfy beds. The explorer lounge is very comfortable (though the day beds at the bow only give a view of the railings) There is a lecture theatre and scientific equipment on Deck 6 but the former is poorly designed and the latter is mostly wrapped in plastic covers. There is a shop which sells little of any use unless you are in the market for tanzanite jewellery or a new watch, or have forgotten to bring a jacket (but you are given one on board anyway......) There is a spa (didn’t use it). What is clear is that with a full payload of passengers almost all the public areas are too small. The Aune dining area is poorly laid out for both staff and passengers and was a chaotic place to eat. The a la carte Lindstrom was much better but not big enough to accommodate suite passengers except on alternate nights. It’s small menu, though good, did not change throughout the duration of the sailing. The Friedheim ‘street food’ restaurant had an even smaller menu, which was shortened further due to limited availability, and again did not vary for the entire time on board. The lecture theatre is high tech but too small and uncomfortable during use, with passengers spilling out into the adjacent area. It was possible to view proceedings here from the cabin TVs but only for lip readers because the sound didn’t come through. If the use of zodiacs had been permitted it would clearly have been a vey long process for the numbers on board to access and enjoy them. The pool on deck 10 was ‘closed for maintenance’ for almost all our sailing: it leaked into the (expensive) cabins below, whose occupants must have had a truly miserable experience. The optional excursions, predictably I suppose, were overpriced and underwhelming. Some were cancelled at short notice. Some passengers had been given the opportunity to book prior to leaving home and some had not. Some of the expedition team were very new and inexperienced, some of the more senior ones had rather poor presentation skills. Some were excellent. Given that many of their clients are professional, well educated and experienced travellers I feel this team could do worse than up their game. On our previous trip with Hurtigruten in Antarctica we were in awe of the team on board and couldn’t praise them highly enough. Sadly not the case here. There were some notable highlights: seeing sparing bears, multiple humpback whales, the Hubbard Glacier. All amazing. I appreciate that with this sort of sailing itineraries can change, but for poor planning and awareness of regulations to have such a major negative impact on an advertised cruise reflects very badly on Hurtigruten. The on board experience was significantly diminished by ambitious passenger numbers and ‘teething issues’ with the ship. This was, in my opinion, neither ‘expedition’ or ‘cruise’ and Hurtigruten should reflect very seriously on just how it could fail, on both counts, on such a spectacular route. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
The airteam, at that time based out of Estonia, failed to consider the inadequate ground time necessary for our SEATAC to Vancouver flight connection and consequently had to change our reservations too late to get seats together. We are ... Read More
The airteam, at that time based out of Estonia, failed to consider the inadequate ground time necessary for our SEATAC to Vancouver flight connection and consequently had to change our reservations too late to get seats together. We are glad that Seattle office is now handling air reservations. Air North at Vancouver airport was in no way equipped to handle Hurtigruten's number of passengers. There was only one check-in counter operational for our flight to Nome which meant several hundred passengers standing for over an hour. Given the demographics of the passengers and the total lack of seating available, this was unacceptable and avoidable. We had a balcony cabin on deck 7 and it was comfortable. Unfortunately the AC did not work adequately and we kept our balcony door open partway the entire time from Nome to Vancouver. The buffet dining was disappointing and nowhere near the standard of Fram. Choices were limited with a lot of fish and the menu was repeated several times. Desserts were boring with only 3 choices - none of which showed any culinary joy. Wait staff were wonderful. There are water dispensers all over the ship, but unfortunately the pour is very slow and the sparkling water option was never hooked up. The Science Center is too large and other than seating the overflow from the lecture hall, is not used to capacity. The very costly Zeiss microscopes are shrouded by their covers most of the time and we found members of the Expedition Team seeming to be mostly preoccupied behind their desks on their computers. One sometimes felt intrusive and reluctant to disturb them with a question and we generally did not feel the same connection with team members as we did on the Fram. The biggest issue expressed by many of the ship's passengers was about the inability to do landings in the Zirkelboats and consequently bypassing two of the Aleutian islands that were on our schedule. The inability to use the boats for landings in US territorial waters was clearly known to Hurtigruten well ahead of time and that should have been conveyed to the passengers accordingly, in a timely manner. The general sentiment was that the price of this voyage was too high for what was delivered. In Dutch Harbor there was a long delay before the one life boat was ready to take passengers ashore and cut down on the amount of time allowed on land. This was due to the crew's unfamiliarity with the equipment. In addition, passengers had to wait one hour to board the launch to return to the ship. After many complaints, the Captain said he would allow two life boats if we had to anchor offshore at future stops. I believe that this ship, with a capacity of over 400 passengers, is not the best choice for Antarctica. We sailed there on a small ship with another expedition company and there were only 120 passengers which allowed for 3 plus landings per day. Since there is a limit to the number of people that can disembark at any one time, and given the long lines we experienced as well as some general disorganization with relatively large life boats on the Amundsen, I would imagine trying to get 400 people ashore in small Zirkelboat groups could be a problem. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
Overall a good cruise with a new ship where you need to accept that some proccesses dont work. The new ship is great. Our suite on deck 9 was really perfect. The main restaurant has a structure we dont like. Its like a quick ... Read More
Overall a good cruise with a new ship where you need to accept that some proccesses dont work. The new ship is great. Our suite on deck 9 was really perfect. The main restaurant has a structure we dont like. Its like a quick restaurant. The extra restaurant for suite guests is really good in service. The expectation is that the menu will change within a 2 weeks cruise. Visiting areas without a harbour means uising small boats to enable guests to go on land. To handle this for 500 guests with 12 guests on a boat means that you need a lot of time until you can go on land. The qualification of the expedition team (not a holiday - an expedition) was good. But they have to learn that the guests have paid for a holiday alo and not only for an expedition. The absolut negatives experience ever was the flight back from greenland to denmark in the middle of the night. Out conclussion: never flight back from greenland in the night. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Greenland was rightly the desired destination, with the ship sailing from Reykjavik, Iceland. Passengers were inconvenienced at the outset by the fact that Hurtigruten had taken delivery of the ship before necessary US documentation was in ... Read More
Greenland was rightly the desired destination, with the ship sailing from Reykjavik, Iceland. Passengers were inconvenienced at the outset by the fact that Hurtigruten had taken delivery of the ship before necessary US documentation was in place, consequently the itinerary lost a day's sailing around Iceland. Six weeks on, the promised refund is yet to arrive. Embarkation was shifted from the cruise ship quay to a concert hall in Reykjavik, which involved a long wait of several hours before boarding. The ship was new and there were a number of 'running-in' glitches. The service staff was friendly and worked hard to please, but they seemed to be stretched i.e. struggling to deliver, so restaurant service was sometimes delayed and/or rushed. The menu in the fine-dining restaurant remained unaltered over two weeks. The main restaurant was crowded and its layout ill planned. On-board communication with passengers during the cruise was poor due to numerous issues, not least 'expedition' staff saying what the policy was - and then ignoring it themselves! The result was often chaos e.g. the statutory emergency drill was not conducted appropriately; chaos reigned even for the simple task of returning expedition boots. The poverty of the experience was compounded it seems by (1) the number of passengers (ca. 500) being too large for 'expedition' activities (e.g. long waiting times for a boat group's turn ashore - time which could not be used productively due, on occasion, to poor communications and/or lack of on-board activities plus poor lecture facilities) and (2) the 'expedition' team failing to demonstrate adequate discipline and/or training (and/or inclination?) in handling this number of paying customers. Some, not all, of the 'expedition' team were ignorant about the places visited, did not actively seek to help or interact with passengers, particularly when ashore i.e. some of the 'expedition' team gave the impression they were onboard for their own expedition, not that of the paying customers. Lectures by the 'experts' invariably opened with an apology for not speaking on their specialist topic! The excursion to the icecap on the last day was curtailed halfway because the Hurtigruten flight home was leaving early, something that the airline staff did not communicate to customers on-board, when checking them onto the flight, six hours earlier. Again disappointment, confusion and chaos due to poor communications on board. Hurtigruten has not given any explanation for this last shortfall. This new hybrid powered ship is also trying to be a hybrid of cruise ship and expedition vessel; the conclusion from this experience is that the MS Roald Amundsen carries too many passengers to deliver a true expedition experience. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
The Roald Amundsen is a brand new ship of a very high standard, but there are issues with how it is run. We chose this cruise because we wanted to go to Greenland and this seemed to be a good itinerary. We were excited by the thought ... Read More
The Roald Amundsen is a brand new ship of a very high standard, but there are issues with how it is run. We chose this cruise because we wanted to go to Greenland and this seemed to be a good itinerary. We were excited by the thought of a new ship, and thought there were a couple of cruises before ours, so that any teething issues would be sorted out. This proved not to be the case. The expedition crew seemed not to have worked out that dealing with 500 passengers was totally different from 200. The sound system didn't work properly so that briefings were difficult. There is no area on the boat to brief everyone, even when split into two groups. The food was very good, but tables were not allocated, so that people queued up for up ot 30 minutes before their seating time, obstructing the stairwell. When dinner was "set menu" it was great, but the buffet didn't work very well because the access into the restaurant was through the main food service area. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We have just returned from what was advertised as a 12 day sailing on Hurtigruten‘s new ship Roald Amundsen and what turned out to be a 10 day trip, to Svalbard, Greenland and Iceland. We are a married couple in our late 50s and early ... Read More
We have just returned from what was advertised as a 12 day sailing on Hurtigruten‘s new ship Roald Amundsen and what turned out to be a 10 day trip, to Svalbard, Greenland and Iceland. We are a married couple in our late 50s and early 70s from the UK and have travelled on over 30 cruises including 2 Hurtigruten Norwegian coastal voyages which we loved for their simplicity and variety and very reasonable pricing. We had originally booked on Fridjof Nansen the sister ship but this was cancelled as the ship is not yet ready. When my husband made the new booking for Roald Amundsen he was told there were no connecting flights available yet but would become available if we looked on the website. We were so pleased to see an announcement that flights and transfers were now available for U.K. passengers for £99 per person. When I rang to book these we were told that this price was for new passengers only and that our price would be £454 per person. We eventually felt we had no choice but to pay this. We had a very long flight to join the the ship in Longyearbyen - we left our home in Leicestershire at 10 am on the Friday morning and finally boarded the ship just after 5 am on the Saturday morning. I had previously asked Hurtigruten if we would be able to sleep on board that night and they said of course we would. This was not true. As a great and very welcome surprise to me my husband had upgraded us to a suite. We were supposed to have a priority champagne check in. This didn’t happen and we carried our own luggage on and queued in various places until we were able to check in, it was chaotic and not a good start after such a long journey. We finally got the card keys for our suite on deck 8 (841). This was one of the highs. A light spacious room with comfortable seating and a large set of French doors to a clear glass balcony, other suite and cabins towards the middle of deck have a metal fronted balcony because of the red stripe on the ship branding it ‘Hurtigruten’; this is not mentioned in the publicity literature or reflected in price differences. There was ample storage throughout and an excellent bathroom with heated floor and with a spacious glass doored shower. The huge advantage to having a suite is free laundry so when we arrived home we had little washing to do. We had been assigned breakfast and 5 out of 10 dinners in the speciality restaurant Lindstrøm. Lunch could be taken in the self-service Aune main restaurant or the free to us, but not other passengers, Fredheim restaurant. Breakfasts in Lindstrøm were always excellent - great service and choice. Dinner in Lindstrøm is from an a la carte menu with an amuse bouche, starter, main course and dessert - the main problem is that it did not change throughout the cruise - I don’t like fish and that left my choices even more limited - I ended up having the same beef main course three times and eventually left most of it. Service, however, is excellent and suite guests get free wine with lunch and dinner which is good quality and free flowing. We often had lunch in Fredheim which serves ‘street food’ - burgers, dumplings, sausages, tortillas, crepes etc - tasty, good quality and excellent service. However, the menu never changed and we got tired of eating the same food for lunch and for 4 dinners out of the 5 we had no table in Lindstrøm. We were assigned a table in Aune for the 6pm sitting for those 5 nights and went the first night. It was a chaotic buffet with no menus, huge queues with people pushing in. The order of food did not resemble standard eating. It started with ‘main’ courses served tapas style in tiny bowls, followed by soup, then two salad selections and then a very limited dessert selection. The main courses were cold but the food was good quality. On my first trip I gave up because of the queues and the strange selection. I went again later and got bread and a small salad. We didn’t go again for dinner but did go 3 times for lunch as Fredheim had got boring. The experience was similar. The ship itself is one of the highs - public areas are tastefully decorated in Scandi style, think upmarket IKEA not luxury cruise ship. The Explorer Lounge is the only inside bar and observation lounge. It is spacious with a wide range of seating and we were almost always able to sit where we wanted to. Bar staff are excellent and soon got to know names and preferences and always had a warm friendly welcome. Drinks prices are comparable with bar prices at home - a large gin and tonic being 7€. Downstairs on Deck 6 is the Science Centre where there were a wide range of lectures and talks on the next day’s itinerary. The lectures were generally well-presented and informative. The next day talks were fun and interesting but gave little concrete information about the next day and we had to wait for a late night or early morning delivery of a paper copy of the ship’s daily programme to find out concrete details which made planning difficult. The talks in English were generally held at 9.30 pm which seemed late and interrupted the evening. We had expected an action packed itinerary (we had to get a medical declaration of good health for the trip - this was problematic as our GP refused to complete and we had to go for private consultation which cost £200 for 10 minutes, nothing was cheap about this trip!). In the ten days we got off the ship 5 times on the RIBs. There were 3 x 90 minute walks on land - two hikes in beautiful countryside and guided by red flags not the explorer staff and one landing in the beautiful, isolated settlement of Ittoqqortoormiit. These were highlights but short and the rest of the day was spent sitting around. They were done in rotations of groups of about 100 - some got off early at 8.30 am, some had to wait all day till as late 4.30 - 5 pm. There was a spectacular trip in the RIB around the icebergs in the Bjørne Islands but this was only an hour and the member of the explorer staff accompanying us had to be asked questions rather than offering information; he wasn’t a specialist though he was friendly. The last day was a choice of excursions at our stop in Iceland. We chose the Highlights of Snaefellsnes. The tour was excellently organised, not by Hurtigruten, and very informative with a very knowledgeable guide. It was, however, very expensive at £144 for 5 1/2 hours. In all we felt we could have been offered more on such an expensive trip which led to long days. We fortunately had free WiFi to occupy our time and lots of reading matter. The WiFi is free for suite guests but 17€ a day otherwise. It was good in Longyearbyen and Iceland but intermittent elsewhere. We wouldn’t have paid extra for it. We booked the trip not only for the Arctic scenery but also for wildlife. We saw polar bears three times which was a great joy. We got good photographs and were pleased to see the bears looking healthy and well-nourished unlike the footage of lone bears on icebergs one sees in nature documentaries. We saw brief glimpses of various whales, a few seals and some birdlife though not nearly as much as we’d been expecting. When it came to our transfer to Reykjavík airport at the end of the cruise we were disappointed by the arrangements. We’d booked everything through Hurtigruten as we thought this would be efficient. Our flight was at 12.30 pm. We were told our transfer would be at 7 am for a 45 minute ride to the airport. We queried why it was so early. This was not well-received and we got the glib reply, “Well we have to clean the ship”. We knew the next group of passengers was boarding at 8 pm; it’s a new, spotless cruise ship. Larger ships we have been on manage to do the turnaround much quicker, often in less than two hours. We were told that we’d be called by deck at 7 am. In fact there was a general announcement for everyone on the 7 am transfer to leave the ship at 6.50 am. In conclusion was it a good trip? Yes, it was - the trip of a lifetime to see remote places and polar bears close up. Was it what were we’re promised in the itinerary? Not really. We were supposed to spend days 5 - 8 in the North East Greenland National Park. After our first day there at 10 pm a very serious captain told us that the Danish authorities wouldn’t allow it as we didn’t have a pilot, they are required for ships with over 250 passengers - Hurtigruten should have known this. Our alternative was days spent in the beautiful Scoresbysund. We didn’t feel we’d missed out but many passengers did. Would we do it again? Very unsure about this - a good cruise but it could have been so much more. Hurtigruten must do better with this beautiful ship and her attentive staff. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Some general information about DH & I for reference: we are in our mid to late 50’s, reside in Louisiana, are avid travelers who have visited more than 80 countries, on all 7 continents, and have taken 30+ cruises, including ... Read More
Some general information about DH & I for reference: we are in our mid to late 50’s, reside in Louisiana, are avid travelers who have visited more than 80 countries, on all 7 continents, and have taken 30+ cruises, including expedition type cruises. This was our first sailing with Hurtigruten. This was a new ship, and was on it’s third sailing. I will give bullet points first, then a daily overview farther below, and will try to be as detailed as possible. Ship – the ship is lovely with clean lines and Norwegian furniture, simple and elegant. There are water bottle filling stations on every floor. The rooms are understated and come across beautifully. Almost half of Deck 6 is dedicated to the Science Center which is very underused space. The ship is kept very warm, and being in the Arctic we saw many passengers walking around in shorts and tshirts. The cabin temperature cannot be fully controlled, but only controlled to a few degrees cooler or warmer than the overall ship temperature, resulting in our cabin being too hot for us for the duration of the voyage. Cabin – the cabin décor is beautiful. We had an XT Arctic Superior, outside cabin with balcony, which was perfect for us. Colors are pale woods and putty colors accented with charcoal. The bed was extremely comfortable, but the double comforters are far too hot for the temperature the ship keeps. There are 4 pillows. The trash can has 3 recycle bins, and there is another bin in the bathroom. The storage is a thin coat & shoe/boot closet with metal pegs and a shoe dryer system. The closet has 6 hangers and 2 shelves on the left side, and additional hanging space on right (no hangers though) and 2 shelves, plus shelf with safe that will hold a small lap top. Then there is a shelving system with 2 upper cabinets with a coffee pot in the left one; below there are 4 drawers on the left (1 contains a large blow dryer which I removed and placed elsewhere), then there is 1 drawer on the right that contains coffee and tea setups, and a lower cabinet holding the fridge with minibar (charge applies). There is a shelf here, and 2 thin shelves in the center, and space for 3 wine bottles. We were given gifts of some chocolate pieces, and 2 refillable Hurtigruten water bottles. Full length mirror on wall, and 2 bath robes provided for use plus slippers. In the main part of the room was a small desk and chair with mirror over, and phone on the wall, and 2 thin shelves on wall. There are 2 thin nightstands with drawer. There are 6 wall plugs of the 2 round pin style. 4 wall pegs for hanging garments. 2 reading lights. 2 sitting chairs, 1 with footstool, table between, lamp, wall mount large TV with thin shelf below. The bathroom was small but functional, with a decent size glass shower, a shelf under the sink, 2 hanging pegs, shelf beside the sink, and then 2 thin shelves attached to the wall. The products are by Arctic Pure and feature Handwash and Moisturizer next to sink, and Hair/Body Gel and Conditioner in shower; there is no bar soap. Our balcony was rather deep, and had 2 adjustable mesh chairs and a small table. Food – this area was a huge fail for us. Every single meal, breakfast, lunch & dinner, every single day was served buffet style in the Aune Main Dining Room. We are not fans of buffet style, but can accept it at breakfast and lunch when necessary. Several guests complained and were told that there were many Chinese on board and they preferred buffet. The food was good in taste, although often could use some salt and pepper or lacked seasoning, but was heavy on Asian offerings (dumplings, congi, etc). As the Chinese guests would often sit in your seat if you left the table, one person on your party had to stay to “protect the table” while the other person went for food at the buffet; this resulted in us never sharing a meal together as one person would be up getting food and one sitting down. A huge disappointment. Although dinner was served buffet the entire cruise, dining times were assigned to 6pm and 8pm, and they stuck to this. There are 2 other dining rooms, but both involve a charge to dine there, unless you are in a suite. Internet – the internet onboard worked from boarding on Sunday afternoon to late on Monday night, and then was out for the rest of the cruise. It was included at no additional charge. Announcements – were made in English, German, French and Chinese. The Chinese announcements were often made multiple times, with one announcement being given 7 times from 7:15pm to 7:50pm on Tuesday evening. Daily Program – delivered every evening after 12 midnight for following day, so we only saw it when we woke up the day of. Excursions – were not well organized, information not provided during excursion, were very boring in content. Possibly because ship is new. Passenger makeup – of the 520 passengers, 177 were Chinese, 38 American, 46 UK, 18 Swiss, 56 German, 13 Japanese, and the rest “a bit of everything”. Overall – the itinerary was pretty with shores of upper Norway and Svalbard being attractive, but hardly any time off of ship and not much to see. For the most part a very slow and dull itinerary. While there were several bird sightings, the only other wildlife was 1 arctic fox, 2 reindeer and a group of walrus. The lectures were not provided early in the sailing when we had much down time, but were provided late in the sailing when guests were busy. There is no other entertainment, so you’ll want to prepare with books to read, although the TV offered a good movie selection. On Friday, July 19, 2019, we flew from the US, arriving in Tromso, Norway on Saturday mid-day, on Lufthansa, with no travel issues along the way. We stayed 1 night in the Clarion Collection Hotel With in Tromso, the room was of good size and clean, and included a decent dinner, and breakfast the next morning. Tromso is a charming city, with an active harbor front area. We walked from town across the bridge and over to the Arctic Cathedral. On Sunday, July 21, around 1:30pm, we took a cab to the MS Roald Amundsen, docked about 15 minutes ride from town, and boarded immediately with no delay and no lines. We were told the room was not ready, but could leave our luggage and tour the ship. Most passengers were on the pre-cruise tour that was scheduled to arrive at the pier around 3pm. We toured the ship, took some photos and had a coffee and light snack in the lounge. We were surprised to see many dirty cups and glasses sitting in the seating areas near the pool, and the Explorer Lounge (main lounge). Our room was ready at 2:35pm, and we gathered our luggage and took it to the room, unpacked and settled in. Our room was an Arctic Superior XT, outside cabin with balcony, on Deck 7 and was very nice. The weather was 75 degrees (all temps in Fahrenheit) and sunny. We collected our red expedition jackets in the Science Center on Deck 6. We liked the style, and they are more like light weight jackets, wind and water repellant, which we were happy with. We checked out the Science Center while there, and it is very large and appears to be well stocked, but didn’t connect with the staff. We noted that each time we entered the Science Center during the cruise, we were asked “Can I help you?” by someone working there, but as we didn’t really have a specific question, we would reply “just looking around” and the conversation would end. The expedition staff seemed to be on computers and laptops, or moving around or talking with other expedition members. There was an open seating buffet dinner, and then a Mandatory Safety Drill, which was scheduled to start at 8:30pm, but began at 9:15pm, and ended at 9:50pm. Many of the passengers were quite tired by then from travel. Monday, July 22, We woke up to find our Daily Program outside our door, which was delivered after 11pm the night before. Boat Group Patches and Rubber Boots for landings were to be distributed, beginning at 8:30am, as your group number was called. This required you to first go to Science Center on Deck 6 and locate your group number on the postings, ours was Group 5. Our group was called around 9:30am, and then we went to Deck 5 to try on boots, and receive our Patches, and then to Deck 3 to collect our boots. We arrived in Honningsvag at 10am, and were able to disembark at 10:30am. Weather was 74 degrees and sunny. Most passengers went on a ship excursion to the North Cape. DH and I went on a walk through town, and then a hike up the mountain overlooking the town, shopped a bit and back on board. We were excited to see 2 reindeer strolling through town. This town is small, with 1 main street, and an attractive church, and is cute. Lunch was served from 12:30-1:30pm, buffet style. All On Board was 3:45pm. There was a Captain’s Welcome for English & German guests at 5:30pm, where the staff was introduced and a glass of champagne was provided, it lasted about 30 minutes. No lectures from the Expedition Staff were scheduled today. The internet on the ship went out late on Monday night, and stayed out for the duration of the sailing. Tuesday, July 23, this was a sea day, with 1 scenic cruising by expedition boat trip. 64 degrees and partly cloudy. At 9:30am there was a Mandatory Expedition Boat safety briefing, which lasted until 10:15am, where we were given instruction on RIB boats, shore regulations, and so on involving an expedition cruise. We arrived in the harbor at Bjornoya at 11:30am. At 2pm our group had a 1 hour “expedition boat trip” which amounted to a scenic cruise in the inflatable boat to view birds perched on the sides of rocks, and a ship wreck on the beach (no landing). Our boat did not contain any expedition staff, only the boat driver, and no information was given during our outing. This was the only activity of the day. No lectures from the Expedition Staff were scheduled today. Wednesday, July 24. 40 degrees and overcast. At 10am there was an informational briefing about the landing and outings scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday. We arrived in the harbor at Burgerbukta at 12 noon. Our group was scheduled for a 3:30p 1 hour Landing, and a 4:30pm 1 hour Scenic Cruising. Our landing occurred at 4:10pm, and consisted of a walk down a sandy beach and up to a point to view a glacier. The scenic cruising took place directly afterwards, and consisted of sailing near the glacier and some larger pieces of floating ice; again, no expedition staff on boat, only driver, and no information given. These 2 activities, which did not begin for our group until after 4pm, were the only activities scheduled for the day. 1 lecture from Expedition Staff on “Arctic Seabirds” scheduled for 6:30pm, but we were not able to attend as we did not get back on board until 6:45pm, and then had to get ready and go to dinner. Thursday, July 25. 45 degrees and mostly sunny. At 9am we arrived into the tiny research town of Ny Alesund, and were able to get off the ship at 9:30am, with all aboard being 3:15pm. We walked through the town, visited the museum, visited the shop, took some photos. The ship offered a guided walk through town for our group at 11:15am, which I took, lasting for about 45 minutes, and which I would rate as average and slow. I took several laps around the town to stretch my legs from so much time spent on the ship. There were 2 lectures scheduled for today, 9:30am “Spitsbergen, postcards through time, geology of Spitsbergen”, and 5:30pm “Polar Bear”. At 9:30pm there was a talk on “information about tomorrow” given, which was actually information on turning in boots, collecting passports, and disembarkation proceedings. Friday, July 26. This was a rather weird day in it’s schedule, as you’ll see later. At 9am we approached a walrus haul and were able to watch walrus from the ship with binoculars or high powered camera equipment, there was also an Arctic Fox in this location. At 10:30am was a lecture on “MS Roald Amundsen Engine and Technical Features”. From 11am-3pm, guests needed to return their boots and their boat group patches, and pick up their passports. At 3:30pm, lecture “Walruses and Seals”, at 4:30pm lecture “Ocean Giants: whales of Svalbard”; although we needed to nap during this time to prepare to be up all night. We also needed to pack this day, as we had to be out of our rooms by 6pm, and our accounts were closed at 8pm. We packed up and were out of our rooms by 5:45pm, turned in our luggage, and went to dinner. We arrived in Longyearbyen, and were able to be off the ship beginning at 8:30pm. There was a shuttle to the Svalbard Museum, but we chose to take the 20 minute walk to stretch our legs. Everything else in town was closed, so afterwards we went to the Svalbar, for a couple of local beers, and returned to the ship on the last shuttle at 11:15pm. We were directed to make ourselves comfortable in the crowded Explorer Lounge, where all the passengers awaited their shuttles to the airport, ours was scheduled for 2:50am. We spent the next few hours passing time, or trying unsuccessfully to nap. Our shuttle to the airport was at 2:50am on Saturday, with our included flight to Oslo scheduled for 4:10am, which departed at 4:45am and arrived in Oslo about 7:30am. This sailing included flights from Longyearbyen to Oslo, and the ship had scheduled 4 flights for passengers, at 2:25am, 3:25am, 4:05am, and 4:10am. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We chose this cruise because of our previous fantastic experience on board MS Midnatsol in Antarctica. We specifically wanted an expedition cruise. We stayed in suite 841 which was lovely, good size, nice balcony and really comfortable ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of our previous fantastic experience on board MS Midnatsol in Antarctica. We specifically wanted an expedition cruise. We stayed in suite 841 which was lovely, good size, nice balcony and really comfortable beds. Sadly during heavy seas it sounded like someone had left a screwdriver behind the wall and the noise was very intrusive. Dining was poor. The lovely staff could not cope with he numbers of passengers and the general the layout of the dining areas was poor, for example there is 1 toaster at breakfast situated in the space before the buffet so that it got very congested. The menus were highly repetitive apart from the rare occasions when they took on fresh food. Entertainment and activities were very poor. The lecture theatre has a dreadful layout and can seat only about a third of the passengers. The science area is very underused. Communication of activities was poor and daily schedules for the next day published late in the evening. The rooms are well insulated for sound which is a good thing but it meant that you could not hear the ship-wide announcements because of problems with the ships electronics systems. All excursions that would have made this an expedition cruise were cancelled and this is my major annoyance. On one occasion at a briefing the expedition leader told the passengers to stop moaning to the expedition crew about the lack of expeditions because they were doing their best to find alternatives. This did not make for a happy on-ship atmosphere. The cabin and dining staff were lovely. Some of the expedition crew were also very helpful Ports and shore excursions organised by external agencies were generally OK, however there was a particular low point when the expedition team filled in for a cancelled wildlife expedition by abandoning us in a tiny fishing harbour with little guidance of what to do when we got there. There were many problems with the ship that others have mentioned. Items that have not been mentioned are the high temperatures in the gym and the pool being out of action most of the time because it flooded the deck 9 suites. Passengers that had stayed on from the previous northwest passage cruise reported long, long waits to get off the ship via the zodiacs. We did not experience this because all our similar wildlife trips were cancelled. In summary: the design of communal areas is poor and they are not large enough to cope and there were too many passengers. It is a lovely ship but if you want to go on an expedition cruise or a luxury cruise choose another ship because this does neither. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
We have sailed on Hurtigruten’s ms Fram twice. Of the many cruises we have been on, when asked, we always say that our Antarctica trip on Hurtigruten’s Fram was the best by far. What a disappointment then to sail on the Roald ... Read More
We have sailed on Hurtigruten’s ms Fram twice. Of the many cruises we have been on, when asked, we always say that our Antarctica trip on Hurtigruten’s Fram was the best by far. What a disappointment then to sail on the Roald Amundsen. This was a totally unsatisfactory expedition. There are too many passengers for it to operate as an expedition ship. We were told by Tudor Morgan, Expedition Leader, that these new 500 passenger ships were designed to provide “soft” expeditions – less active, slower paced. But there is nothing in the literature, brochures or website that indicates that there is a difference in expeditions. We expected the Roald Amundsen to operate as the Fram does with the possibility of multiple landings in a day and lots of lectures and movies. The Roald Amundsen is a beautiful ship. It is state-of-the-art but it was not ready for cruising. This was stated by Tudor and by the Captain of the ship. Consequently, many things were not working yet or not working correctly. The hand rails look very stylish. However, you cannot actually hold on to them because the rounded wood part sits atop a metal piece that is sharp when you grab ahold of it. Our departure from Iceland (we booked back-to-back cruises starting in Iceland and ending in Nome, Alaska) was delayed a day and a port cancelled due to an U.S. Coast Guard inspection that had been scheduled prior to the ship being ready but had to take place prior to sailing into Canada and the U.S. Because of the U.S. Coast Guard inspection in Reykjavik we missed Heimaey, Iceland. Because of rerouting due to ice, we missed Prince Leopold Island and Ft. Ross. Because of U.S. regulations, we missed Point Barrows, Alaska. The ship was several years in construction. Hurtigruten had plenty of time to understand the regulations concerning inspections and approvals required for visiting countries ensuring inspections or requirements did not disrupt any planned events. The Captain said that the ship was taken before it was fully ready/finished because it is a very expensive ship and they needed to start paying for their investment. Therefore, we the passengers, were guinea pigs. The head office was blamed for all electronic mis-workings. We were told that a Norwegian third party was responsible for the internet and workings of the television. Safety Briefing: We were told the briefing was mandatory. We could not see the demonstration. There were too many people for the Explorer’s Lounge. 500 passengers do not fit into the Lounge if they are required to see something in the middle of the space. The space is designed with obstructions. Everyone crowded into the center and no one else could see. There was only one-person demonstrating as far as we could tell. It would have been helpful to have multiple people in various locations demonstrating the safety equipment. Following the demonstration, we were told to go to our muster station – the Aune Restaurant. It was stated that our room keys would be scanned – as a way of ensuring that we had all attended. No one took roll. A paper printout of names would have worked. Medical Forms: Completed medical forms signed by our doctor were mandatory for embarking on the ship. However, no one collected medical forms on either cruise. From Iceland to Greenland - the doctor was not ever available to personally deliver the form to. My husband found someone who said they would take the form and give it to the doctor. But there was no official collection of them. However, on the Northwest Passage trip not only did no one collect the forms but the doctor refused to take them. Several passengers asked Reception when the forms were going to be collected and were told that the Doctor did not want them. Passengers had gone to great lengths (time and expense) to have the forms filled out and signed by their physicians as instructed. Why are your own policies not followed? I went to see the doctor with bronchitis. The Doctor said I needed antibiotics but the clinic only stocked erythromycin and I am allergic to erythromycin. So, he said he could do nothing for me and sent me on my way telling me to rest. Disembarkation Day in Greenland: Six of us from the Iceland to Greenland voyage continued on to the NWP trip. We were offered no activities on the day everyone disembarked. We were served lunch and dinner in the Fredheim (a second restaurant). But apart from that the ship was dead. We were not offered the opportunity to join the days’ excursion off the ship. We, however, pressed this issue and eventually we were told we could join the group. Then we were told we could not. Then we were told we could but we probably would not want to because the buses would be crowded, etc. We were strongly discouraged from joining. In the end, we opted not to go. There were absolutely no activities for us on the ship. The newly embarking passengers did not arrive until about midnight. Ship Services Information: The cabins do not have a book of “Ship’s Services and Information.” It is on the TV once you figure out how to find it. But the listings are incomplete or incorrect. The Announcements section tells you to program the F1 button on your phone in order to hear announcements in your room. This did not function. There is no information on what services the Wellness Center offers. Restaurants are listed but nowhere does it tell you that there is a charge for eating in the Fredheim restaurant. No menu available for Fredheim nor Lindstrom. Paperwork says ship’s currency is NOK. On board we are told it is Euro. The Embassy information is incorrect. TV and Announcements: The television must be tuned to Channel 1 in order to hear announcements in your room. You cannot hear announcements if watching a movie. You cannot hear announcements if reading the Daily Program on line. No way to hear announcements without TV being on. The rooms are very sound proof (which is a good thing) so you cannot hear announcements being broadcasted in the hallways. You can not hear announcements if you are in the bathroom. You cannot hear announcements if inside the elevator. None of the News, Sports, etc. channels on the TV worked. Daily Program is shown on TV alternating between English and German. The languages should be separated. You need to have an English channel and a German channel. It takes too long to wait for the appropriate page to come around again. If you have the TV on for a while (an hour??) you get a message asking if it should shut down. But there is no way to answer that question. The TV controller does not allow you to move from the default “YES” position. You can not move the button. So, you have to shut down the TV and turn it back on. This also means that you frequently miss announcements because you are unaware that the TV has shut off. There are cameras on the Bridge showing images off the bow and stern. These live camera images are not broadcast on the TV. The brochure states that there is an underwater camera that allows you to see marine wildlife. There is no such camera. Lectures were supposed to be recorded and available for viewing on our TV’s. This did not happen. Considering the problems with seating and viewing lectures in the Auditorium, this would have been welcomed. Auditorium: Making the auditorium modern and digital seems to have influenced the design rather than functionally. The auditorium is not designed to accommodate 250 (half the ship) at one time and certainly not all 500. It is a very awkward space. Chairs were squeezed in to allow for more seating but there was no leg room. Depending on where you sat you were unable to see the screen. The speaker stands in the middle of the floor space blocking the screens. People sit in the Science Center area for more seating. The speaker is then forced to walk around the four screens to point things out to all those sitting in different locations when the lecture is shown on all four screens. Lectures take twice as long because the speaker keeps having to repeat themselves as they walk around. The headset microphones DO NOT WORK. This was ALWAYS a major ordeal. Continually having to fiddle with them or change them. Or the speaker had to stand still in one spot to keep them from cutting out. At one briefing five different headsets were tried. Each speaker brings his own laptop and it takes two or three people and time to get it to work. Why not hook up one machine (and ensure that it works properly) and just have briefers bring their own flash drives to stick into it. Lectures: Because of the number of passengers and limited number of expedition team members, there are no lectures on board while landings are being made. This means that there are no activities at all on a landing day during the day. Most lectures were given in English and then separately in German. Sometimes a third time in Norwegian. With only one lecture room and the occasional use of the Exploration Lounge there were not nearly as many lectures as there could have been. All activities stopped between noon and 2 pm – lunch time. Only a couple movies were shown. Exploration Lounge: The Exploration Lounge was not designed for all 500 passengers to attend any kind of event. It is too small. It has obstructions that prevent a clear view to either end of the room. There are two smaller spaces to the front of the main section. One by the bar. Because there isn’t enough seating in the main section, these side sections fill up for additional seating. But no one can see from there. People stand up and block everyone’s view. The swivel chairs lined up at the windows each have a very clever little table that swivels back and forth. However, it is a bit fragile and people lean on it to get up. The table tops are now leaning in some direction and anything set on them slides off. If the table top is swiveled off to the side in order to make more space for getting up and down it is then in the way of the next chair. The chairs are very close together for the table top. No one sits in the lounge chairs at the front windows because you cannot see out. The windows are at an extreme angle and there are railings and other obstructions on the outside that prevent seeing anything. Science Center: This is a nice idea especially when you are trying to emphasize the expedition theme. However, it is not practical. It was seldom used and is taking up valuable space. The Science Center is being used for overflow seating when the auditorium is full. Which is basically every time there is a briefing. There is a small reference library and an electronic map that didn’t work. The Science Center could be put to better use making it another lounge area with tables for playing board games, cards and working on puzzles, etc. Like on the Fram. We found three boxed games. We finally found the one puzzle on board. Puzzles are perfect for all the down time we had on board. We started the puzzle on a section of a table in the science center because there was no other place. But it kept getting moved back and forth over the time being worked and pieces got lost along the way. Restaurant: The main dining room is like a small café or cafeteria. Contrary to our documentation, there were no assigned seats only 1st or 2nd seating. People started lining up 30 minutes prior to opening time in order to get a seat. The seating was mostly tables for 2. At breakfast and lunch, you frequently had to stand around and wait for people to leave before you could find an open table. The staff cannot keep the tables cleared and reset fast enough. The hall is designed for two lanes of traffic not the four or five that actually exist. The dining room is a madhouse. It is a frenzy of disorder. Absolutely not set up for the number of people the ship carries. It is noisy. The busing stations are in the middle of the dining room causing noise and lots of congestion. At breakfast, you first come to the toaster, butter and jam, then bread. In order to use the toaster, you have to backtrack and cut into the line. Long lines form at the bread station no matter what meal. The bread line usually goes down the hall past the first set of tables. The main courses are offered in two location, but no one knows that. The line, which always goes down the hall, blocks the kitchen door. Servers have to work their way through the crowd of people. Several times what they are carrying (dirty dishes, clean dishes, food or drinks) was dropped due to someone bumping into them. Salads come after the main food. The oil and vinegar came BEFORE the salad. So, people have to try to cut back into the line to put oil and vinegar on their salads. There is a very poor cheese selection and none at lunch. It was not uncommon for the dining room to run out of dessert and glasses and silverware. The food was never hot but luke-warm at best. A juice dispenser spigot broke, as well as, one of the water dispensers. Neither were repaired. Coffee is NOT served at dinner because (we were told by both servers and restaurant manager) “They do not have time.” This is unacceptable. Passengers could get their own coffee from the machines if they were maintained with beans, water and grounds removed. You are not allowed to remove food from the dining room so it is impossible to eat your dinner dessert with a cup of coffee anywhere on the ship. We had 4 pm snacks in the Lounge during the Iceland to Greenland voyage. There were no snacks on the Northwest Passage voyage. When asked why, the Restaurant Manager stated that it was against U.S. regulations to carry food the distance from the kitchen to the Lounge. This makes no sense. We were NOT in U.S. waters until the last two days of our 24-day voyage. Elevator: There is no way to tell if an elevator is going up or down. There are no arrows indicating which direction the elevator is traveling. Nor is there any kind of sound indicating that the elevator has arrived. You can not hear announcements while in the elevator. The elevator door sensors do not work. We and many others had elevator doors close on us. This problem was not limited to any individual elevator but happened on various occasions in each of the four different elevators. None of the buttons would retract the doors. Ship Store: The ship’s store does not sell sundries/toiletries. The Store staff refer you to Reception who have a written list of items carried. The items are stored in the back somewhere. Why are they not visible in the store? The store on the Roald Amundson is selling impractical items – leather handbags, several different brands of designer watches (i.e., Garmin GPS), high end jewelry to include tanzanite and diamonds. There is an entire section of fragrances. Electronics like GoPro. There are Roald Amundsen tee-shirts in red, white or black and a book about the ship. There are four bins full of stuffed animals. But there were no Iceland, Greenland nor Northwest Passage related items for sale at all - no books, patches, pins, post cards, sweatshirts, tee-shirts or souvenirs of any kind. There was a small assortment of clothing but not long underwear, gloves, socks, winter hats, etc. – items that would have been of use being in the Arctic. Excursions: We booked our excursions on line. The list of excursions was taped to a wall near the Science Center. We were not told this. We found out the day after boarding the ship that a new excursion had been added but it was already full. Point Barrows was on the itinerary as a landing. However, because the Hurtigruten rubber boats do not meet U.S. regulations, we were prohibited from going ashore. When did this regulation come into effect? When did Hurtigruten find out? Why were we not notified prior to being told a couple days before? Expedition Team: Their academic knowledge is outstanding. But they are not good at organization. We were told on several occasions that we would be called by group numbers but no groups were ever called. Crowds of people just showed up at once. People clogged the Exploration Launch area because they arrived when they wanted and stood or sat around. No one prevented this from happening. People crammed into the auditorium as people were trying to exit trying to grab a front row seat. The staff did nothing to police the crowds attending lecturers. Because seating was so limited in the Auditorium and Lounge, people saved seats for future events sometimes hours ahead of time. There were instances when the saved seats were overlooked (ignored) and someone else sat there. On several occasions this nearly caused an international incident. It may be a cultural thing but it is unacceptable for people to hoard the limited seating. Gjoa Haven – The Expedition Team stated that they had a cell phone that could call anywhere. We visited Gjoa Haven on Labor Day and when asked if stores would be open and if crafts would be available, the Team didn’t know. They had not remembered that we would be landing on Labor Day. Why did they not call ahead? We understood that all guides, events, activities, etc. offered ashore were the responsibility of the community. However, the Team could have checked prior to our arrival. There were not enough team members to handle the zodiacs on shore, be part of the various community groups and provide activities on board during a landing day. Landings: Every landing was an all-day event. Launching would stop at 10 am and not resume until 2 pm. Once resumed we did not go ashore until after 3 pm. That meant that we sat around all day waiting to go ashore with no activities on board the entire time. This was the normal routine. There were 14 zodiacs but only 9 drivers. When visiting areas where a local guide was provided, it was customary for an expedition team member to be part of each group. However, because of the number of groups due to the number of passengers, it was not possible for each to have a team member. There were too many groups and not enough team members. Cambridge Bay – were told that our key cards would be scanned when arriving on shore. That did not happen. Disembarkation Day in Nome, Alaska: The Nome, Alaska, airport is tiny. The 145 passengers departing on the plane before ours were pushing their way up to the one-lane security operation one at a time when our 130 passengers arrived. We did not fit in the waiting room. There was seating for perhaps 20. It took an extra two hours to get through security and load passengers. Once again this was a surprise to everyone concerned. We arrived in Vancouver at about 10 pm and then had a 45-minute bus ride to the hotel. However, we were served a very nice hot meal on board our chartered Alaska Airlines plane. Too Many Passengers for an Expedition: The real problem is that the ship CAN NOT accommodate an expedition cruise with 500 people. The Fram, with its 200 passengers in Antarctica, runs perfectly. There is no requirement to stop landings for four hours to accommodate lunch time. Each landing is an all-day event with no activity on board. The Roald Amundsen cannot accommodate 500 people in their public spaces. If there is an agreement to not put more than 100 or 200 on shore at a time it stands to reason that it will take forever to rotate 500 people on and off shore. This was very disappointing. Too much dead time. Not enough lectures. We will never sail on the Roald Amundsen again. Very disappointing. Too many people. Badly designed restaurant. Not enough public space.. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Because I traveled to Antarctica with this company and had a fabulous Voyage so trusted them to provide the same experience in Alaska I was so wrong There were constant changes of itinerary.Not due to weather .More days at sea than ... Read More
Because I traveled to Antarctica with this company and had a fabulous Voyage so trusted them to provide the same experience in Alaska I was so wrong There were constant changes of itinerary.Not due to weather .More days at sea than advertised.in 16 days I spent less than 30hrs ashore.One landing promised glorious beaches fabulous hikes herds of bison ...it took so long to disembark 500 passengers using one tender boat we had 2hrs only. Time to crocodile walk red jackets around a road.no chance at all to see the promised beaches and hikes .When shore did come into view we were so far from IT that any wildlife were mere blobs in the distance .We were promised small boat experience to get close to the Alaskan coast at its most remote.Small boats not used due to us reg which we were not told of.Thus we saw very little of the Alaskan coast , We were told ashore excursions were included they were not all excursions were pre bookable and we were not provided with an excursions list before sailing so any we would have desired were oversubscribed and heavily overpriced.. There were problems with the ship in many ways .from a dreadful auditorium,water logged decks flooded cabins ,lack of seating areas to mention just a few. All in all a most dreadful experience no way was it an Expedition Voyage..it was a cruise without the luxurious facilities and surrounding of a cruise ship and three times the cost of a cruise to Alaska . It was clearly a cobbled together itinerary to get passengers to pay for the repositioning of the ship from the end of the north west passage Voyage to Vancouver where it was to pick up journalists and travel writers. Extremely dissatisfied and disappointed with a trip I had so looked forward to and spent so much hard saved money on .n Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
I traveled with Hurtigruten on the Midnotsol to Antarctica. It was such a wonderful experience, I couldn't wait to travel with them again. This time to the Arctic. I booked this trip 18 months in advance. It took 3 days of travel to ... Read More
I traveled with Hurtigruten on the Midnotsol to Antarctica. It was such a wonderful experience, I couldn't wait to travel with them again. This time to the Arctic. I booked this trip 18 months in advance. It took 3 days of travel to reach the ship and the trip cost more than my first house but it didn't matter. I wanted to go to the Arctic and have a chance to see the Eastern Greenland National Park--the least visited national park in the world. Imagine my disappointment when, after only one stop in the park, the Captain informed us that because Hurtigruten did not arrange for a pilot to be on board, we would not be able to make any additional landings in the park and would instead spend 2 full days at sea to arrive at the nearest point a pilot could be acquired. We were able to see polar bears--that was a plus--but saw no walruses, very few seals, no puffins, and some whales but when a pod of narwhals appeared off the bow one morning, no announcement was made so I missed them. The dining room was another disappointment. The food selection was VERY limited and nothing was ever hot. During our first lunch on board, no wait staff ever checked on our table. We were totally on our own while three staff hovered around one person at another table. My companion was so upset by this that she asked to speak to the manager. When she expressed our displeasure, the manager apologized and offered a beverage although we were already through with our meal. After that, we had obviously been identified as trouble-makers and were assigned to a very charming waiter who helped to make the service for the rest of our trip delightful. I have traveled with a lot of companies to nearly 100 countries, but to say I feel totally cheated by this trip is putting it VERY mildly. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
When you book a cruise entitled ‘Svalbard, Greenland, Iceland - The Ultimate Fjord and National Park Expedition’, that is what you expect to get and that is where you expect to be taken. Sadly, our first and last Hurtigruten cruise ... Read More
When you book a cruise entitled ‘Svalbard, Greenland, Iceland - The Ultimate Fjord and National Park Expedition’, that is what you expect to get and that is where you expect to be taken. Sadly, our first and last Hurtigruten cruise didn’t quite work out that way, thanks in a large part to negligence on the part of Hurtigruten. We know there are some ardent Hurtigruten fans out there who will not hear one word said against the company, so if you’re one of those, don’t bother reading any further. One only has to read some of the abuse that some more objective passengers are subjected to via the Hurtigruten Insiders posts on Facebook, to realise that some people do not wish to read opposing views, such is the world we now seem to live in. Choice-supportive bias or post-purchase rationalisation is the kind of human nature prevalent among some Hurtigruten fans. We never set out on this journey to be disappointed, after all, who does? We spent a huge amount of money and expected top class service in return. Sadly, Hurtigruten failed on so many fronts. Below is our account of what we experienced. We hope that this will serve as a cautionary tale and helps fellow travellers as they try to make expensive decisions about cruise companies and ships for precious holidays. The major failings as far as we were concerned came from the head office, rather than from the staff on the ship itself. Hurtigruten directors Daniel Skjeldam and Karin Strand have a lot to answer for in terms of their business planning and there are serious regulatory compliance issues to be concerned about. Hurtigruten obviously invest a great deal in PR and have tried to grab the headlines with the launch of this ship however, there are some fundamental details that they have overlooked. The manner in which the company have dealt with their subsequent disappointed customers should serve as a lesson in how not to manage a crisis. Afterall, it is well known in business that 96% of dissatisfied customers won’t complain but will tell between 9-15 people about their experience and around 13% of dissatisfied customers tell more than 20 people. 91% of those dissatisfied customers will simply leave and never come back. TDR Capital should take note. This is an account of our experience. Expulsion from Greenlandic waters The number one complaint on our voyage was that Hurtigruten failed to register the new ship’s number with the Greenlandic / Danish authorities so we entered Greenlandic waters illegally on day 3 of our cruise, after leaving Svalbard. Therefore, after only 24 hours in the Greenland National Park, we were ordered to leave Greenland’s territorial waters and sail into international waters, until the issue had been resolved. This message was delivered to passengers via a written statement read out during an emergency meeting called by the Captain. He explained that because we did not have an ice pilot on board, we were being sent into international waters and needed to arrange to collect an ice pilot at the nearest town, Ittoqqortoormiit, south of the national park boarder. Before the Captain’s emergency announcement, we had been told that we were going to land at Ella Ø and we would see the famous Keiser Franz Josef Fjord on our way. We were also due to visit Alpefjord after leaving Ella Ø and make our way down to Ittoqqortoormiit on day 9. Instead, we watched all the places we should have seen pass us by from a distance of 24 miles away. We missed three of the four days in the national park. And yet, in Hurtigruten’s response to us, and in the ship’s log, they celebrate that we spent a day sailing through ice flows in international waters, instead of within the Northeast Greenland National Park. Big difference and not what people booked and paid for. Hurtigruten wanted to cover up this huge mistake from the beginning and tried to mislead passengers starting the evening following the Captain’s emergency announcement. The Expedition Leader, Tomasz Zadrozny briefed passengers about the revised itinerary by trying to imply that the changes to the itinerary were outside of the control of Hurtigruten. During his presentation on the evening of 31st July, Tomasz said that they were pleased that the ice pilot would be joining the ship as it turned out that the ice had been too bad to have been able to land on the island of Ella Ø the day before. Tomasz displayed a picture of the ice conditions, several passengers immediately noticed that the Sentinel satellite image that they were showing us was 2 days out of date, taken on 29th July. Passengers questioned why they were using out of date imagery to explain the situation we were in. They were told that the computers were struggling to download the up-to-date images. Following the presentation, some passengers were able to contact relatives via WhatsApp and, within 5 minutes, received the latest satellite images from the Sentinel satellite for 31st July. The images showed that the ice was completely gone and the fjords were clear. Afterall, we happened to be visiting Greenland during the fasting melting period that the country has ever experienced. The Captain never showed his face again and left the Expedition Leader to face the angry passengers. Tomasz continued to protest that they had no idea why they were required to pick up an ice pilot when they had never needed one before. Passengers presented him with findings from the Danish Maritime Authority; that vessels carrying over 250 passengers have required an ice pilot since 2016. Tomasz protested that the Captain had ice pilot qualifications however simple research showed that Captains require 180 days of Greenland waters experience in 5 years to comply with regulations. As Hurtigruten do not spend enough time with any one of their fleet in Greenlandic waters, let alone one Captain continually sailing there, there would be little to no chance that any of their Captains would have enough experience to satisfy the Danish Maritime Authority’s requirements. Another aspect of Tomasz’ presentation on 31st July was an explanation about the boundary of the national park. The fact of the matter was and still remains, we were taken out of the national park yet Tomasz tried to insist that it made no difference as the scenery was still the same! Many passengers found this particularly insulting and the atmosphere on board ship turned decidedly negative. Many passengers were understandably angry and expressed their anger during passenger briefings. Hurtigruten’s strategy seemed to be to deliberately try to mislead passengers as to the reasons for the changed itinerary and then tried to convince us that the changed itinerary made no difference to our experience. Some passengers fell for it, there were many ardent Hurtigruten fans who did not wish for anything to spoil their holiday so many became angry towards those passengers who were more objective and had minds to find out the truth for themselves. During one passenger briefing, racist comments were being hurled at one gentleman who questioned what he was being told and the whole atmosphere turned ugly. It was only during the last night of our voyage that a senior officer told us the truth, we did not have an ice pilot on board because Hurtigruten head office had failed to register the ship in advance to enter Greenlandic waters. Since we returned home, there are a number of legal cases being pursued. Hurtigruten are attempting to cover up their mistake and have, in a letter to those passengers who have complained, tried to blame the Danish Maritime Authority for reneging on an agreement that Hurtigruten were granted an exemption, yet they refuse to provide proof that an exemption ever existed in the first instance. This explanation does not align with either the Captain's announcement or with the Expedition leader's version in the days that followed. Their handling of this situation has spread nothing but anger and distrust. One member of staff described the problem as being a Norwegian one, where Norwegian’s do not like to admit mistakes. I would like to think that such people would not wish to ruin the international reputation of a long standing company for the sake of Norwegian pride. Safeguarding There were several children on board this ship, many of whom were there for the educational value that was promised. The Hurtigruten Young Explorers Program was advertised with the voyage. Parents had even received confirmation of their enrolment from the Hurtigruten Paris office and an email describing what would be available for the children. When children joined the ship, they learned that the Young Explorer’s program did not exist. It was explained by Laura, one of the Expedition staff, that the company had not yet created the program for the Arctic region, it was only available for the Antarctic and Coastal Voyages. As the Expedition staff were only just learning what passenger’s expectations were, they tried to pull together a couple of activities throughout the voyage. The first so called ‘activity’ was a 20 minute birthday party for one of the children onboard the ship where the child was given a birthday cake that he was allergic to and therefore couldn’t eat. The second activity on 2nd August was a rope tying session where the children went along to learn how to tie sailor’s knots. Also invited to the session to teach the children knot tying techniques was a fellow passenger, a 25 year old male travelling alone. He was not on board as a member of staff and his attitude towards children had already caused some passengers a great deal of concern. He had been spending a lot of time hanging around the areas where the children congregated, and some parents were extremely worried about the amount of interest he was showing in young girls, even giving them massages! This man, his capacity as a passenger, did not have to supply Hurtigruten with a Criminal Records Certificate (Politiattest) and yet the Hurtigruten staff saw him fit to be allowed to work with children. This negligent attitude raises questions over the extent of background checks undertaken by Hurtigruten for any of the staff working with children on their voyages? Why was this man allowed to work with children? Ship security The boarding procedure at Longyearbyen was nothing short of chaotic and in breach of the regulations that Hurtigruten claim they follow - there was no security present whatsoever. We boarded the ship at the ludicrous time of 1am when most of the previous passengers were trying to disembark. There was luggage all over the pier and a group of mostly Chinese passengers were trying to get off the ship. We were amazed to realise that disembarking passengers were all mixed in with embarking passengers. We had no help with our luggage and had to drag it up the gangway ourselves. At the top of the gangway, the airport style x-ray security scanner was not working and there was a long queue at the desk on deck 4. We had read that we could check in on any level to avoid queues, so we immediately took the elevator to deck 7. We’d gained access to the ship without providing any paperwork or being required to show any ID and were free to roam wherever we wished. We got out of the lift with all our luggage and found an abandoned desk, so back into the elevator we went with all our luggage to try to check in on deck 9. There was nobody around on deck 9 so we dragged all or luggage back into the lift and went back down to deck 7 to try again. We met a lady at the desk on deck 7 who said she would help us check in. We gave her our passports and she tried to get onto the computer. After 10 minutes of trying to get the computer to work and giggling like a child at us when she tried to take our photos with the web cam, she finally announced that the computers were all down so she returned our passports to us and asked us to go down to deck 6 and check in at the main reception desk. We dragged all our luggage back into the lift and out again at deck 6. The main reception desk was also abandoned, there was not a member of staff in sight. It was as though it had been a surprise that we had arrived, Hurtigruten were clearly not expecting us, even though we had landed in Svalbard on a flight that Hurtigruten had arranged. Eventually, the night-time cleaner passed us and told us that everyone was sleeping, and she would try to help us. She went to find another member of staff who eventually came and tried to check us in. The computers were still down so she could not print off our cruise cards. She took our passports and the night-time cleaner took us to one of our rooms, with no one to assist us with the bags that we had been dragging around all over the ship. By this time, it was gone 2am and we were desperate for some refreshments. She opened our first suite, where we had to wait for someone to arrive with our cruise cards before we could go and discover our second suite and seek some refreshments, after travelling for more than 24 hours to get there. When we walked into our first suite, we discovered that the twin beds we had pre-ordered were not made up. The bed was king sized with a king-sized topper over it, so more chaos ensued with trying to separate the beds ourselves with the help of the night cleaner, who had to go in search of single sized bed toppers. We eventually accessed our second suite at nearly 3am, which was also not prepared as a twin room. Because we were told that there were no more single toppers on the ship, we were forced to leave the bed as a king size and were forced to share a bed for the duration of our holiday. At 3am, we tried to find a welcome drink or something to eat. We went up to the explorer lounge which was packed full of mostly Chinese passengers asleep on the loungers, still waiting to disembark. It was total chaos. There were no staff around, no welcome drinks, no food and one of the most unwelcome beginnings to our holiday. Through all the chaos of getting onto the ship, it was blatantly obvious that Hurtigruten had no handle on the security of the ship. Bearing in mind the standard practice of owning and carrying firearms on Svalbard, there were ample opportunities for anyone to enter the ship and cause chaos. There was also no security around the luggage of disembarking passengers, with all of the suitcases sat on the pier, the opportunities for theft were evident. We note with interest that Hurtigruten are expected to comply with ISPS regulations, where all luggage is subject to x-ray/metal detector inspection upon arrival and this is advertised on their website. This did not happen and therefore this is an issue of further non-compliance with regulations. GDPR When we eventually received our cruise cards, we were shocked to see how much personal data was printed on them and the security risk that represented, especially for child passengers. Full names, dates of birth, passport numbers and nationality, as well as cabin numbers meant that anyone who found a lost card would have everything they require to steal someone’s identity. At the time of our first expedition landing, we were also shocked to see full names and cabin numbers for all passengers displayed on the walls and being photographed by other passengers for boat groups. This was totally unnecessary and did not require full name disclosure against cabin numbers. The Personal Data Act, including the GDPR, entered into force in Norway on 20 July 2018, it seems Hurtigruten are not fully compliant with this legislation. Due to the unwanted attention of certain passengers, parents with children did not wish for any other passengers to know which cabins children were in especially. Displaying full names and cabin numbers was a breach of passenger’s privacy. I do not recall Hurtigruten ever seeking our permission for the use and distribution of electronic images. As this was one of MS Roald Amundsen’s first cruises, there were many marketing and PR agents on board as well as numerous journalists invited to join the cruise. There were photographs being taken on deck and we occasionally were asked if we could have our photographs taken but no information was given as to how the pictures would be used and how they will be distributed. Children were also photographed without parental permission being sought. A child is not old enough to grant permission and understand the implications of data privacy and therefore permission must always be sought from a parent or guardian. Medical forms Only four weeks prior to this trip, we had been contacted by our travel agent and told that we needed to complete a mandatory medical form as we were travelling to North East Greenland National Park. Several passengers had a nightmare in the weeks leading up to our departure. Many passengers spent hours trying to get the issue of the medical forms resolved as GPs in the UK are being advised by the British Medical Association to not sign these forms. The whole experience of obtaining the medical forms was immensely stressful for us as a family and spoilt the last few weeks of build up to our holiday in that we were unable to really look forward to it. Obtaining the forms also incurred a great deal of expense for several passengers. Some of us had to pay £110 each to have our Doctors sign them whilst others paid a £45 fee. When we boarded the ship in such chaotic circumstances, no one asked us for our medical forms and at no point during the voyage were we ever asked to produce them. It was a total waste of time and energy and money to obtain them as we clearly did not require them. Double booking and misleading brochures One of the many lessons learned on our first and last cruise with Hurtigruten was how misleading their brochures can be in terms of the lengths of their trips and we think this is immoral. This voyage was billed as a 12 day cruise and yet, we did not board the ship until 1am on day 2. The ‘cruise’ itinerary started in Oslo, this turned out to be a charade. All the passengers were transiting through Oslo airport so many of us assumed that there would be some meet and greet by Hurtigruten at Oslo airport. We naïvely assumed that Hurtigruten might in some way offer us some refreshments at the airport or perhaps access to a lounge or assistance of some kind, during our 5 hour wait. Afterall, we were only 15 minutes’ drive from the Hurtigruten head office!! Sadly, no, our first encounter with any member of Hurtigruten staff was with the night cleaner on Day 2 of our so-called 12 Day holiday. We also discovered upon reading the brochure again on our return that the cruise preceding ours, had their itinerary end on 27th July and yet ours began on 26th July. It is immoral to have described ours as a 12 day holiday and theirs as a six day itinerary and overlap the two groups of passengers. Hurtigruten effectively had 1000 passengers booked on this ship for a 24-hour period. The group before us had not even got off the ship when we were trying to get on. Ship set sail not fully equipped Like many passengers, we booked this trip not knowing that we would be sailing on one of the first trips this ship would undertake, so delayed were Hurtigruten in launching the ship. There have been some patronising comments made on the Hurtigruten Insiders Facebook group that we should have expected teething problems. This is total rubbish, there were no ‘teething discounts’ offered, and no compensation subsequently offered for the lack of services promised and therefore forming part of a contract. One of the passengers we met had booked themselves into a suite especially as room service is supposed to be inclusive for suite passengers. They had medical conditions that made getting to early breakfasts difficult. On the first day, passengers were told that room service was not available on the ship as Hurtigruten had allowed the ship to set sail without providing trays and food coverings. This was also true for the ‘show cooking’ equipment. The food and beverage manager had to deal with many angry passengers who all felt like they’d been misled. Impossible promises Another scam that Hurtigruten are not being truthful about in their documentation is with regard to à la carte dining. It is simply not true that suite guests can dine in the Lindstrøm à la carte restaurant “any day they wish”, as described in the literature. The Food & Beverage Manager told passengers that they do not have enough tables for all of the suite guests and therefore they could only dine in the Lindstrom every other day. He also said that the menu only changes every 28 days and therefore, he would expect that later on in the cruise, guests would get bored of the same menu and perhaps more tables would become available. Families who were booked into two suites were assigned different dining days. There were days that we requested to dine in the Lindstrom as we did not want to participate in the chaos of the Aune restaurant and yet we were turned away just as the Captain and the management team were being shown to their seats. The many journalists also did not seem to have a problem getting a table whenever they wished. As for the Aune restaurant, it really was chaos, I have seen better organised school canteens! Poorly trained and prepared expedition staff One of the key selling points of the cruise was to provide access to knowledgeable expedition staff who would provide lectures on a variety of topics. There were huge variations in the professionalism and standard of qualifications of the staff involved. Wayne and Karen were fantastic and obviously extremely knowledgeable and qualified to be onboard as experience Marine Biologists. Many of the others such as the ‘bird expert’ were hopeless. The bird expert’s main job seemed to be a translator for the Chinese tourists however his bird knowledge seemed extremely limited. We attended his first lecture on bird life and it was embarrassing how little he seemed to know. There were no slides prepared to help us identify the different species we were seeing and he was not readily available on deck to help identify birds. Some of the presentations were extremely poor and out of date. Some of them were non-existent and some had to be postponed as expedition crew hurriedly cobbled something together. During one presentation, given by Dom, he presented us with a weather forecast from July 2018 where he hadn’t updated it from the previous year, another one of Dom’s presentations had to be delayed by a few hours as he didn’t seem to know that one was expected of him. Some presentations were very difficult to follow in English as accents was so strong. Many of the presentations providing details of what we were due to do the next day were rescheduled from the 5.30pm slots and held late in the evening, between 9.30-10pm. This was far too late for many passengers, especially as we were expected to be up and on a tender by 8.30am the next morning. One evening, there was a notice on the huge screen that the clocks were going back an hour that night, only for it to have been a mistake, it had been put up a day early, so we all lost an extra hour’s sleep that night. It just seemed chaotic most of the time, with staff making up schedules on the hoof, presentations not being ready and passengers having to fit in and try to find out what was going on. Most of the daily schedules were posted after 11pm, when most passengers had already gone to bed and the daily schedule on the TV channel did not update for days. Badly designed ship One of the most off-putting aspects of attending a presentation in the science centre was the noise of toilets flushing overhead. The design of the science centre ceiling contains no sound proofing whatsoever and shows all exposed pipe works and plumbing for the cabins overhead. During one presentation by Dom, it was so bad he could not be heard and was forced to make a joke to cover up the embarrassment, joking that the passengers must have been flushing cocaine down the toilet. Not an appropriate joke for the younger members of the audience especially. When we boarded the ship, we expected announcements to be made in additional languages and it was obvious that there was a large German and Chinese contingent amongst the passengers. During many of the lectures, we had to sit through extremely off-putting and tedious translations being done sentence-by-sentence as none of the materials were available in advance. There was a whole rack of in-ear translation headsets for passengers however none of them were ever used as the Expedition staff had not coordinated themselves to deliver the material simultaneously and avoid sentence-by-sentence translation. Surely the Expedition staff knew the subjects they would be expected to present on, within their own areas of expertise and should therefore have come prepared on-board with scripts to be translated by the linguists. Everything seemed to be being done on the fly and last minute in an uncoordinated manner. Equipment not ready or available One of the exciting features of the Science Centre that we were all looking forward to was having the chance to use the underwater drones and see them working. The walk around tour of the ship by Wayne, published on the Hurtigruten website and across social media showed the drones. As it transpired, none of the Expedition staff had ever used the drones before and they needed to test out how to get them going. Despite our continual asking, the drones were only taken out on Friday 2nd August. The film crew, the travel blogger and his girlfriend took out a boat and spent one hour trying to figure out how to launch them and get the footage working. None of the passengers ever had the chance to see the drones, see the footage or enjoy this feature of the science centre. We were obviously on the ‘experimental cruise’ as they sorted out all their teething problems and tried to figure out how the equipment worked. This should have all been accomplished before a paying passenger ever set foot onboard. Staff ratios – some of the worst in the industry The best staff on the boat were the cleaning and waitering staff who were exemplary in their approach to work and care of passengers. What was noticeable however was how much they are being exploited and how short staffed they were across the ship. We understand that Hurtigruten is running this ship on a passenger crew ratio of 1:0.24. Whereas Silversea, Celebrity, Seven Seas, Seabourn, Viking, Norwegian, Holland America, Princess, Costa, Royal Caribbean and even Disney are operating on much better ratios. This was extremely evident throughout the ship. Waitering staff were having to work as cleaners. Some decks had only one cleaner to service the cabins each day whereas other decks had two. Cleaners were also having to work on helping with landings at the expedition launch. On the day we handed back our boots, waiters were even having to scrub boots. Because the ship is so short staffed, there are areas that are not being cleaned. Some passenger’s decks at the back of the ship were never cleaned for the duration of the voyage, yet they were covered in soot particles, presumably from the engines. We had to stop using the outdoor gym as our hands and clothes were completely black after using it, again presumably from the engine soot. It certainly didn’t look like we were travelling on the ‘world’s greenest ship’. Teething problems Aside from the host of problems listed above, the ship had many other teething problems which were not resolved whilst we were on board. There was a noticeable problem with the sewage system, resulting in a foul smell within our bathroom and throughout the corridors of deck 7. There was even a huge crack in the glass ceiling above the atrium. The three lifts in the main lobby were continually breaking down, especially when boat groups were called. At one point all three lifts were out of service at the same time. If there were 5 or more passengers in the lift at the same time, the lift would not usually work, even though the maximum capacity of the lifts was 18 persons. The air conditioning in our cabin was not working properly and when facing the sun especially, the cabin became unbearably hot. We tried to adjust the temperature on the wall however it made no difference. We had no choice but sleep with the balcony door open. On one of our many days at sea, some passengers decided to use the ship’s running track on the roof to get some exercise. It was during this time that some of the passengers in the explorer lounge began to look concerned as the sound of running on the roof reverberated through the ceiling. Some of the passengers were most upset about the sound of running on the running track. There clearly is not sufficient sound insulation within the ship if runners cannot use the running track without disturbing other passengers below. Another problem within the cabins was the tannoy system, crucial for passenger announcements and boat boarding groups etc. We were told to leave our TV on channel one and we would get any announcements within our cabin. Unfortunately, the system does not function properly as the TV is not designed to be left on and continually goes into standby mode. Once it is in standby mode, no announcements are broadcast into your cabin. We reported it and the advice we were given was to continually check to see if the little standby light was on and if so, to turn the TV back on! It was utterly ridiculous. Another passenger we met had paid a huge amount extra for a jacuzzi suite to help ease her arthritis pain. When she checked into her cabin she discovered that the jacuzzi was empty and had not worked since the ship was launched. Yet, a journalist had been assigned a cabin with a fully functioning jacuzzi. This passenger had to spend 5 days with the inconvenience of engineers coming in and out of her room constantly trying to fix the jacuzzi, they had to liaise with the ship yard in Norway and consult the manual to try to figure out how to fix the broken clip. Upon arriving home, Hurtigruten have failed to offer any refund for the days it was not working. Adventure is just bad planning The last day of the cruise involved a landing at Stykkishólmur, a small town in northern Iceland. We had attended a presentation the evening before when the Expedition team told us about the various museums and shops that we could visit, including the Eider Museum, which the town is very famous for. As we came ashore it became obvious that the town was very quiet. We went into the tourist information office next to the harbour and discovered that it was Commerce Day; a public holiday in Iceland, always celebrated on the first Monday in August. This holiday is also called Tradesmen's Day or the Holiday of the Merchants so, as such, all the stores and museums are closed. This was just the final straw in a catalogue of failings from Hurtigruten in their planning department. To arrive in Iceland on a public holiday when everything is shut was the proverbial nail in the coffin. If you choose to book an expedition voyage on this ship be warned, you will not be on an expedition, you will be on an adventure. As the ship’s namesake Roald Amundsen said himself “Adventure is just bad planning” and we could not have expressed it more perfectly ourselves. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
MS Roald Amundsen Ratings
Category Editor Member

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