1. Home
  2. Cruise Lines
  3. Hurtigruten
  4. Midnatsol Review
  5. Midnatsol Cruise Reviews

82 Hurtigruten Midnatsol Cruise Reviews

Midnatsol is one of 9 ferries with cruise style facilities doing a round trip from Bergen to Kirkenes at the Russian border and back. The ship stops at a multitude of ports which you can see during waking hours at east once during the ... Read More
Midnatsol is one of 9 ferries with cruise style facilities doing a round trip from Bergen to Kirkenes at the Russian border and back. The ship stops at a multitude of ports which you can see during waking hours at east once during the voyage. The ship loads and unloads cargo as well as passengers at most ports. The route is mainly between islands and the coast, but there are 3 notable bits of open water to traverse. Although the public areas are cruise style, the cabins are mostly as you would find on English cross-channel ferries. However, as so little time is spent in them, their basic nature does no matter much. Winter also has no single supplements for cabins and this is a real economy for myself and my friend who have winter holidays together. Because of the beauty of the scenery this was my 3rd winter voyage out of 4 trips with Hurtigruten. Hurtigruten offer many flights to Bergen from all over UK, and we must say that our KLM flights from Tyneside to Bergen via Amsterdam were most convenient. Included is a shuttle bus between airport and ship in Bergen. Embarkation is quick and easy - you just drop your suitcase and get pre-prepared cabin cards and table allocation in return. Almost all payments on the ship are by registering your cruise card and that took only 3 minutes to do at reception. As this is a scenic voyage, there are few activities. Amongst those there were was a singing duo each evening and information films and events occasionally. (Most of these do not happen in summer). One bit of fun that happens on all voyage is crossing the Arctic Circle with a King Neptune ceremony for those who want to join in, and a certificate for all. The public rooms have lots of space in the winter, but some of the seating becomes a bit uncomfortable after a few hours. Art and decoration is beautiful an imaginative. There is a small library and free internet access as well as a bar, snack bar and small souvenir shop. There are 2 jacuzzis on the top deck (outside) and a sauna (inside). Recreation is limited to walking around covered promenade deck 6 or open deck 9 (with helipad). There is a very small children's room which I have never seen occupied. Meals are taken in a well decorated dining room with a buffet breakfast and lunch with a set evening dinner. Breakfast is open seating, but for the first time, we had allocated tables for Lunch buffet as well as the usual allocated tables for dinner.These were shared with others of the same nationality who we got on with OK. Service is generally good and the waiters are really friendly if you get to know them. Since I first went on this winter cruise 4 years ago, I have noticed that the variety of food on offer has been substantially reduced with less choice of cooked meats, fish and cheese. Dinner is also less imaginative with fish being served as a main course on 5 evenings running. There is no problem however in changing any Dinner course by telling the restaurant manager at breakfast time (menus are posted the evening before). The chef is excellent with dietary requirements for dinner, but you have to look after your self at buffets. Cabins are serviced once a day with regular changes of bedding and fresh towel if you leave the old one on the sink or floor. There is an opportunity for an excursion almost every day including dog-sledging, snowmobiles, bus tours and a Viking Feast. Seeing the Northern Lights is a bonus and they did appear once on this voyage, but you cannot count on seeing them. I have not rated ports as stops are from 5 minutes to 4 hours, and it is very much up to you whether you explore take an excursion or stay on the ship. WE took this cruise for relaxation, scenery and a glimpse of Norwegian culture. It answered all of this admirably, and despite the obvious economies being made in the catering we enjoyed it very much once again. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
we spent 6 days out of a 2 week trip on the soutbound voyage of the midnatsol from kirkenes to bergen (note- we got on in kirkenes). this was the first cruise for my family, which includes 2 daughters ages 13 and 17. i was very anxious ... Read More
we spent 6 days out of a 2 week trip on the soutbound voyage of the midnatsol from kirkenes to bergen (note- we got on in kirkenes). this was the first cruise for my family, which includes 2 daughters ages 13 and 17. i was very anxious about them having enough to do, about seasickness and about the food- but i needn't have worried about any of it- it was a fantastic experience for all of us. the scenery was spectacular, the ship was well appointed, i loved the frequent stops, the food was interesting and there was always something for everyone, and we had 2 wonderful excursions. a few other points: -the folks on board are mostly older- not sure why exactly. it is a great cruise if your mobility is handicapped because you can just sit and watch and be amazed- but i think it's great for families too. my daughters didn't make any friends which was a slight disappointment -the folks on board seemed to keep to themselves more than i'm used to with fellow travelers. also, many tables for meals seat 2 or 4 so you may not have to sit with anyone at meals. for us this was ok. -it's a casual ship- not dressing for dinner (loved that) -the food is european, with buffets for breakfast and lunch and a served set meal for dinner. the quality and presentation far exceeded my expectations. i also liked it that this cruise is not focused hugely on food, with midnight buffets etc. my daughters loved trying antelope and reindeer and other local cuisines. -it's more casual with service as well- between meals folks clean up their dishes etc. which again i liked -we did 2 excursions: the vega archipelago and the lofoten islands. the lofoton islands tour was by bus, and a bit long but interesting. vega was by boat and bus and is not to be missed. one down side of excursions i s they are held during the few extended and prime time port visits. we rarely visited towns where shops were open, which was a bit frustrating sometimes, but we loved seeing so many ports even for 15 minutes. -the weather, visibility and sea conditions for us were wonderful. i'm not sure if this is the norm or not for this time of the year, but no one experienced seasickness and there was good visibility for the majority of the time -norway is expensive, so additional snacks, beverages and alcohol can add up, but none of these things are necessary to purchase- there's plenty of food and water is served with every meal (i read some reviews that said you had to pay for water which is not true). there are also typically convenience stores close to ports so you can always pick up beverages and snacks -the size of this ship seemed perfect to me- you grew to know the staff and know your way around the ship. some of the public spaces were lovely. there was always room everywhere we wanted to sit. -be prepared for cool weather and lots of intermittent rain. the weather reports didn't sufficiently prepare us for the chilly weather, which was in the 60-70 range. -we had 2 adjacent double outside cabins which were small but perfectly sufficient. i might have chosen on interior quad with hindsight; we weren't in our room that much i can't say enough really about how spectacular the scenery was throughout the journey. it was often right up close, and even the most remote and desolate seeming landscapes always had a few red houses tucked in... i would highly recommend this trip to anyone that enjoys experiencing other cultures, loves watching magnificent views and is happy sitting and reading or occupying themselves (vs. being entertained). we spent time before the trip in copenhagen, and after in bergen, oslo and gothenberg, so we had some more cultural and urban experiences as well. this was our best family vacation yet- i hope other enjoy it! kirkenes- recommend staying at the thon hotel, but nothing much to do there as far as i can tell! Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
Hurtigruten. We took the Norwegian Hurtigrute ( Norwegian Coastal cruises) "Midnatsol"from in Bodø on May 15th and disembarked three days later in Kirkenes on May 18th. The ship can take approximately 650 passengers on full ... Read More
Hurtigruten. We took the Norwegian Hurtigrute ( Norwegian Coastal cruises) "Midnatsol"from in Bodø on May 15th and disembarked three days later in Kirkenes on May 18th. The ship can take approximately 650 passengers on full capacity. We were about 500; German, Dutch, Austrian, Canadian, Swedish and Norwegian were among the languages we heard spoken onboard. It should be said that The Hurtigruten does not classify itself as a cruise liner, but rather a boat, or a postal ship. But, you certainly feel like you're on a cruise ship! Boarding: Having taken 13 cruises in the last 10 years, we have been quite spoilt by having our luggage delivered outside our room. Not so on this journey! Make sure you wait for the others to come off before you go on! And you carry your own luggage onboard, up a long staircase. The good side is that there's no fuss regarding security or getting a cruise card. You simply check in once you're onboard, and that's it! They don't even ask you for an I.D.! Cabins: There were a few ( read 4 to 6) verandah cabins onboard. We stayed in an outside cabin with a big round window, more than ample for our little journey, as you spend a minimal amount of time in your room anyway. There's no mini - bar or TV.The room is extremely simple. However, the beds were very comfortable, and the floor in the bathroom/shower was almost too hot for comfort. Common rooms: There were loads of little lounges on decks 5, 8 and 9. The colours reflected the colours of the midnight sun and the sea: Bright yellow, orange, pink, blue and green. The ship is 8 years old, but certainly doesn't look it! There are plenty of windows everywhere, so that you can look at the scenery, wherever you are. And believe me, the scenery is well worth watching!!! Outside decks: In spite of there being one sundeck only, there's ample space for everyone outside. People can smoke on deck, and that can be a bit annoying to non - smokers. The two Jacuzzis onboard were the closest you'd get to a swimming pool. It was an amazing feeling sitting in the 40 + degrees (Centigrade) jacuzzi on 71 degrees North! Weather: We were so lucky! From we boarded to we disembarked we had 15 - 23 Centigrades and brilliant sunshine!! Amazing! To see the Lofoten alps dressed in snow, with a background of the midnight sun was amazing, even for a Norwegian! We had 23 degrees in Kirkenes when we disembarked, something which happens very rarely that far north. The itineary: What can I say? The journey goes from Bodø ( north of the arctic circle) through Honningsvåg, the Harbour to the north Cape, and to Kirkenes, right at the Russian border. As I said, we were so lucky with the weather; the sun broke through as we left Bodø, and the further north we came, the better it got, We had brilliant blue skies, no cloud and 24 hour sunshine. Oh yeah, the sun was with us all the way. It was most amazing to go to bed at 2 a.m. and outside was daylight! Lofoten was at its best with the sharp snow-dressed mountains. We were so lucky to be able to take in the extremely narrow Trollfjord, where tea & rum in your own ceramic mug was served at daylight midnight. There really was no time to sleep as there was too much to see! Food: We opted for the breakfast buffet and dinner included, as we thought lunch was too expensive at 280 kroner per person ( approx $ 45 per person). Dinner is a set menu. We asked at lunchtime the same day what was for dinner, and asked for an alternative dinner if the menu did not suit us ( My husband doesn't eat fish and I don't eat pork). On the first day we (I) had an absolutely beautiful seafood starter and (we had) a fantastic sirloin steak, and pea soup and lamb chops the second day. Nobody asks you how you like it; the beef and lamb gets served at medium rare, as it should be! The night before Kirkenes we had the most fantastic fish buffet, with everything from mackerel to King Crab being served ( there was also an alternative for the meat - eaters). The dinners onboard can be compared with any 5* cruise liner! The breakfasts however, were not much to write home about. The breads were ok, the meats were ok, but if you don't eat pork, there's not much to choose between. And at the price of 180 kr pp it might be better to buy yourself something in the cafeteria or ashore. There's one shop onboard. It sells Norwegian souvenirs, some jewelry and swimwear ( which I had to buy, I never thought I'd need one on this kind of cruise, but I did!) Drinks onboard are cheaper than Norwegian bar prices. However, they don't mind you bringing your own, as long as you're discreet. We brought our own champagne, and asked for glasses at the bar, which they gave us, no questions asked. We also had ice for our drinks, which we also brought with us. ' People onboard are so friendly, if you just take the initiative. We got to know more people than we managed to keep up with! All in all this was an absolutely fantastic cruise. I am Norwegian and live in Norway, but I hate the Norwegian climate. I've always said that I don't want to spoil my precious holiday by going on a trip where I might have bad weather. But we were SO lucky and had the most fantastic weather! Prepare yourself for minimal amount of sleep if you travel between May 15th and September 15th! You really need to stay awake to take it all in! Enjoy!!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
The world's most beautiful voyage is how the Hurtigruten cruise line bills the coastal voyage from Bergen to Kirkenes. They are so right! We were on the Midnatsol the same time as karoggra who posted a review titled, Best scenic ... Read More
The world's most beautiful voyage is how the Hurtigruten cruise line bills the coastal voyage from Bergen to Kirkenes. They are so right! We were on the Midnatsol the same time as karoggra who posted a review titled, Best scenic cruise in the world. The voyage is rarely on open sea so you have scenery on both sides of the ship most of the trip. My husband and I were traveling on a tour arranged by travel agency so we had a pickup from our hotel to the dock. We arrived about 6 p.m. after an all day Norway in a Nutshell® tour. Check-in took seconds and we boarded with our carry-on bags. The cabin cards were handed to us as we entered the covered walkway to deck 6. The deck 6 entrance is only used at Bergen. Our bags were waiting at the entrance to our cabin. Since we were doing a round-trip and started at the home port, baggage handling was done by the ship crew. Ship: We had an starboard outside cabin on deck 4. It was 2 cabins away from the atrium where the elevators are located. All the traffic on and off the ship on the voyage takes place on deck 4 by the elevators so it was very handy. The ship has its own gangway which opens up on the side of the side. Stand on deck 5 and watch the gangway open sometime. It is very interesting. There are two other openings in the side of the ship further down for cargo and cars. The ship doesn't have to rely on port gangways which take time. The ship is very efficient getting in and out of ports. Some stops were for only 15 minutes. I learned how they did that visiting the bridge. The cargo hold is designed for pallets so the forklift trucks would be whipping around on the dock unloading or loading. At Stamsund, we had over an hour stay so while we were out walking around the village, the forklift operators were unloading mattresses and building supplies. There is another elevator near the back of the ship serving decks 4 - 8. It is handy for those in the stern of the ship. Public restrooms are available near the dining room on deck 5 and near the main elevators on deck 5 and 8. There is a conference area on deck 5 which is used for presentations or conferences. It is not an entertainment venue. We did have three slide presentations on the ship: The Royal Family, National Day and National Costumes. We are onboard for National Day, May 17. There was a parade around deck 9 with flags, banners, and national costumes. Cabin: Our cabin was very functional. We had a cabin with one twin bed under the window and one perpendicular to it. The bed under the window made into a sofa during the day. The beds are hard but still comfortable. The covers are duvets with a quilted liner. It was too hot for me so I just used the sheet. There was one extra pillow in the room and we asked for another. There are two wool blankets to use on the outside decks. Yes, we needed the blanket when lounging topside some days. You receive one bath towel and one hand towel to start. If you want a clean towel, leave it on the floor. There are no washcloths. I bought a few with me. There is a mounted container of hand soap/shampoo by the sink and in the shower area. To save room packing, I used Twitter @HurtigrutenASA to find out that there was a dryer in the bathroom. There is. The cabin has desk area with small mirrored cubbies on either size of the big mirror. There is a plug by the mirror which we used to charge the camera batteries and iPad. You will need a converter and adapter for the European style plug. The hanging closet had two sections (his and hers) with 5 hangers in each section. The clothes hang front to back rather than side by side. There were two sections of shelving in the main closet and two more big shelves by the desk. The suitcases fit under the bed. The bathroom was very functional and I liked it better than some of the US market ships I have been on. There is a step up to the bathroom. There is a small step down to the shower. It is designed to have an angle to allow more room. The curtain is long enough to keep the water in the shower area. The shower head can be kept mounted on the pole or used as a hand-held. There is a retractable clothes line. The floor can be heated with the switch on the wall outside the bathroom. There is a big wall cabinet with shelves for all your toiletries. I still had space in it after stowing everything. There is a towel bar by the sink with wall mounted cup holders. I found out that the inside cabins do have TV as well as the suites. No TV in the outside cabins. It was not missed. The telephone has some radio stations that you can listen to. There are 4 washing machines on deck 4 close to the rear elevator. You purchase a token from reception and they give you the soap. The dryer is free. There are posted instructions in English. The machines are labelled in Norwegian. We did two loads for about $10. What to do: If you take the round trip cruise you will receive a 130-page book with colored photos and an explanation of what you will see broken down by days. It is a great resource to read about what you are seeing along the way. The Tour Director does make announcements as described in three languages, English is always the second one. She gave us a heads up to what scenic wonder was coming our way so we could get to observation lounges or the correct side of the ship. You can turn off the announcements on the phone in your cabin. As mentioned, there are many lounges without any waiters to bother you about drinks. If you want a drink, you go to the bar and get it yourself. There was a tray for self-busing of cups and glasses in most lounges. We liked the forward lounges on deck 8 and 9 and the library on deck 8. The library has games and some English language books left by passengers. The deck 8 and 9 lounges have windows on three sides so you had a great view of the scenery. Deck 9 lounge is actually open to deck 8 lounge. It does get a little warm up there so we preferred deck 8. Deck 9 had three major sections, the inside lounge, the outside deck with glass walls to protect from the wind and the back deck. We liked to lounge in the back. The chairs are not loungers so if you want to put your feet up, use another chair. There are many teak round tables and matching chairs near the doorway on deck 9. The smokers were usually in this area. Food: I was more impressed with the food than other reviewers. The food presentation at dinner was very impressive. Two chef teams took over the buffet area (in the center of the room) to dish up the food. One did the sauce, one plated the entree and sides and another added the garnishes. We received a booklet with the menus for the trip so we knew what night we would have the reindeer or the salmon. I am not a great fish eater but I did enjoy the meals. Granted the breakfast and lunch buffets didn't vary much but they had a different hot breakfast item daily and hot lunch items. I discovered the hot oatmeal and added dried fruit and granola stuff to it. There was soft and hardboiled eggs very morning. I liked the whole grain breads. They did have a breakfast pasty item each day. They had a 6-slice toaster if you wanted toast. We learned to grab juice and water from the machine and stake out a table for the open seating breakfast. Than we headed to the buffet to stock up. Keep in mind the buffet is designed for the European market so expect cheese and cold cuts on the breakfast menu. Where else can you have cottage cheese and herring for breakfast. My husband was delighted with the 4-5 cheese selections at breakfast and lunch. He reports that they were mostly soft, all delicious, but no cheddar. You won't find tacos, pizza, or hamburgers on the menu. If you want french fries, go to the snack bar and pay for them. The soups were excellent. I like smooth cream soups and these were excellent. Who knew asparagus soup could taste so good. The desserts were good and don't miss out on the slab ice cream at lunch. I didn't discover that until day 4! Coffee: The coffee came out of one of the machines where you press a button and you get a cup of coffee. It is strong! I would have a cup with breakfast and than take another cup out to the lounge. Coffee was not provided at the table for dinner. The coffee machine is located on deck 8 by the bar. After dinner you go for coffee. If you want coffee between meals, you pay 25 KOR ($3.85) for a cup. They do have a coffee plan which is good for an entire year! You pay 209 KOR ($32.20 at this time) for a red metal lined mug which allows you to get coffee or tea for the trip. If you were a commuter and traveled frequently, it would be a good deal. We opted not to do that and were fine with the free coffee after meals. Water: Although there are signs on the dining room table for purified water for 19 KOR, we found out that you just ask for tap water and they bring a carafe of water (no ice) to the table. They do that at lunch and dinner. I brought my own water bottle with me which I refilled from the bathroom sink. The water is nice and cold and tastes like bottled water. Tours: We went on the following excursions: (Northbound) Trondheim Folk Museum, Tromsø City Tour (Polaria and Arctic Cathedral), and (Southbound) Tromsø Midnight Concert [the ship arrives at 11:45 p.m.], Lofoten Islands countryside tour, Trondheim City Tour (includes Nidaros Cathedral). We might have gone on more tours but they are not cheap. My husband says, the Folk Museum could have been skipped. I did the Bridge Tour to see the Captain and the Bridge on day 11. I found it very interesting and worthwhile. That is posted in the daily program. Shopping: The gift shop on board has a very nice selection of Norwegian products. We ended up doing most of our souvenir shopping on board. There is a nice gift shop at the Polar Bear Club in Hammerfest right by the dock. By the way the public library is across the street and has free wi-fi. There is a nice gift shop and ice bar in Honningsvåg close to the dock. Internet Access: There are 4 computers on deck 8 by the library. There is a 40 KOR ($6.22) charge per hour of use. I used my iPad and iTouch with the wireless that is available in the public areas. It is satellite so the reception is dependent upon a good signal so don't expect much when in the fjords or when there are mountain ranges on both sides of the ship. The mountains do impact reception. Deck 8 or 9 is the best. There is no coverage in the cabins and deck 5 is not as strong as deck 8. Thanks to the purser who helped me get the wi-fi started on my new iPad. Staff: The staff are great. All are Norwegian and most switch effortlessly from Norwegian to English to German. The staff work 22 days on and then 22 days off including the captain. We did see some new faces over the course of the cruise. There is not a culture of tipping so we didn't have to worry about an add on for tips like most cruises. There is a big wooden bowl by the head waiter's desk at the entrance to the dining room. There is a small sign that it is for TIPS with Thank You in several languages. We left the rest of our Norwegian money in the tip bowl. The staff are helpful, have a ready smile, are efficient but are not fawning. Since the Hurtigruten line does ferry and cargo service besides us tourists, they have some systems that are not the same as a regular cruise line. What you won't see: no towel animals, no nightly program in your room, (pick it up in the announcement area on deck 8), no turn down service, no free between meal snacks, no singers and dancers (singer and keyboard in the lounge deck 8 in the evening), and no rah rah cruise director. What you will find is a comfortable trip in the midst of spectacular scenery with plenty of time to relax and read or look out the window. As Americans, we were in the minority. The prominent groups were Norwegian and German. The weather was good for most of the trip. The last few days were overcast with clouds hiding the mountain tops. We had clear skies for a good part of the trip and enjoyed the midnight sun. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
Great trip with Hurtigruten from Bergen to Kirkenes with a night pre-cruise in Bergen and one night post-cruise in Oslo. Ship, MS Midnatsol, is one of the newest and largest ships in Hurtigruten's fleet. She had just been in the ... Read More
Great trip with Hurtigruten from Bergen to Kirkenes with a night pre-cruise in Bergen and one night post-cruise in Oslo. Ship, MS Midnatsol, is one of the newest and largest ships in Hurtigruten's fleet. She had just been in the dockyard for a minor refurbishment - evidence of newly laid carpets but no obvious remaining jobs to be completed. Ship is elegant and comfortable in the public areas with very interesting art collection. Cabin was a U grade Ocean View with a large porthole. Travelling as a single so one bunk was always kept as a sofa. Limited storage space; would have been a struggle for 2 on an eleven night trip. Single bunk was comfortable with a good reading light. Bathroom typical of most ships; compact but functional but with the added bonus of a heated floor. Dining Ship was not full so single seating in main dining room, breakfast was free seating, other meals were nearly all at your assigned table. Breakfast and lunch were buffet and dinner was generally a set menu. I enjoyed all the set menus and didn't feel the need to ask for a change. (Menu is published in advance and you can request something different if you really don't fancy the set dish). Good blend between fish and meat main courses. Alcohol is very expensive. Tea and coffee is served after lunch and dinner in the lounge, other times you have to purchase hot beverages or purchase the refill cup. I like tea so I took my travel kettle with me. Crew Very proactive Norwegian crew, happy to help and talk about their country. Tips are optional. Travelling Companions For this winter trip few people were using the ship as a ferry most were 'cruising' or onboard for a conference. About 200 were doing the Northbound trip like me, about the same number again doing the round trip. We were joined by a stargazing group of about 100 for the middle section and a conference group for 2 nights. Majority of cruisers were British but with a fair number of German and French speakers. (Excursion to the North Cape had 2 full english speaking buses, one partially full german and one partially full french bus). Weather Generally sunny during the day but cold. At night very cold and with the ships speed and windchill down to equivalent of -25 degC. Layers and a good hat and gloves are a must. Lots of snow falling when leaving Kirkenes so plane had to be deiced and a bit late as a result. Photography Hurtigruten had a professional photographer, Simon, on board for this trip. Simon helped everyone to take better photos but particularly of the Northern Lights which obligingly came out for three consecutive nights. Absolute highlight of the trip. Entertainment Duo played most nights in the lounge but the main draw for this trip was being out on deck watching the sky. Ports 34 Ports are visited on this trip, I explored in Bergen, Alesund, Trondheim, Bodo, Tromso, Honningsvag (for North Cape) and Oslo. Quick Review here since most of the ports aren't in the drop down list. Bergen, have visited twice before so went up the funicular to look over the city in the snow and spent time at the art gallery. Alesund, ship excursion to walk around the town to see the Art Nouveau buildings and the museum. Trodheim, Ship City tour including very beautiful Nidaros cathedral. Bodo, just strolled around the town to stretch my legs. Tromso, Ship city tour including Polaria and Arctic Cathedral. Honningsvag, Ship excursion to snow swept North Cape. Oslo, Munch Museum and shopping. Overall Wonderful trip, Northern Lights were way beyond expectation, Ports were interesting, Food was much better than expected. Would I travel again - yes and I'd like to go in the middle of the winter to see the Arctic Night. Expensive trip even with no single supplement in the winter season but worth every penny. Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
My sons surprised us with a "Northern Lights" cruise last Christmas and we spent a year almost planning it, we wanted to see the elusive Northern Lights and tried to find out when would be the best time to do this. November was ... Read More
My sons surprised us with a "Northern Lights" cruise last Christmas and we spent a year almost planning it, we wanted to see the elusive Northern Lights and tried to find out when would be the best time to do this. November was recommended so with almost eleven months to wait we opted for the end of November. We booked the round trip from Bergen-Kirkenes-Bergen and opted for a Q class cabin, this was on deck 7 of the Midnatsol, the cabin was just right, a very comfortable large double bed with a large porthole so that we could watch the snow capped mountains float by. Adequate storage for clothes and personal belongings, a shower room with an excellent shower and heated floor, we also had a television and a fridge, the television could be tuned to the webcam on the bow of the ship and we could watch where we were sailing....handy for early mornings. Cabins were cleaned everyday with clean towels replaced. All meals were included in the cost, the buffet breakfast was served from 7am to 10am and plenty of choice, from hot and cold dishes, fruit, cereals etc. Lunch also buffet and a very generous selection of hot and cold dishes, the salads were excellent, also the sweets! Lunch was served from 12.30 to 2pm. Dinner was served at 7pm and at your allocated table and was waiter service, the waiters were all friendly and chatted away. Two excursions were included in the price, one a sight seeing tour where we left the ship and rejoined at the next port, a really lovely insight into how the Norwegian people live and work, the tour guide was very good and it was a lovely break from the ship, the second "free" tour was to North Cape and although we enjoyed this it was very dark and felt we missed out on a lot of very beautiful scenery and was really just the wrong time of year for it. We had booked an extra excursion for dog sledding in Tromso but unfortunately due to lack of snow was unable to do this, we did however go to see the huskies, it was very unusual for inadequate snow in November! The Northern Lights remained elusive and no sightings, we were told this was very unusual, and while it was a disapointment we took it as a sign that we are meant to return to this beautiful country. We thoroughly enjoyed our trip, and it was a totally different experience which we would love to repeat someday. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
Hurtigruten—the largest cruise line you never heard of. Norwegian owned and operated, the line owns a fleet of 16 cruise ships, most of which travel up and down the west coast of Norway. The line also offer cruises to Greenland and ... Read More
Hurtigruten—the largest cruise line you never heard of. Norwegian owned and operated, the line owns a fleet of 16 cruise ships, most of which travel up and down the west coast of Norway. The line also offer cruises to Greenland and Antarctica. Our Cruise We took one of the 12-day Norwegian coastal cruises that both started and ended in Bergen, Norway, stopping about 30 times along the way. Most stops were of short duration, with no passengers exiting. There were about 10 longer stops where, at prices ranging from $40 to about $200 per person, we could take and "excursion" to see various attractions. One that we took, and the best by far, involved a fast, open air pontoon-like boat ride to a remote location to view sea eagles. Taking these excursions can easily add $500 to $1,000 per person or more to your cruise cost. There is very little to do on the ship except eat and sit around (inside or outside) enjoying the scenery, so you more or less have to take some of the excursions. The scenery varies from breathtakingly beautiful (fiords, mountains, farms, forests, small villages) to downright boring (barren hills, rocks and crags, not unlike the surface of the moon). The small villages and farming areas are quite picturesque. In addition to the excursion information furnished to passengers when they sign up for the cruise, there is a daily schedule of excursions, scenery sightings and shipboard activities (principally eating) posted by the tour director's desk, and copies are available for passengers to take. Our cruise began on September 1st and ended on September 12th. This was early enough in the season for us to enjoy unusually good weather. (We saw rain only three times, with only one of longer duration.) For the first three days, as we traveled northward, it was warm enough for passengers to sit on the open top deck in shirt sleeves. At "Nord Cap" (North Cape), the northernmost land point in Europe, the temperatures had dropped to the low forties, and a fierce wind created a wind chill factor much colder. It was surprising to us to see how modern and developed even the small villages are in terms of urban amenities and services—even at the top of the world in Kirkenes. The larger cities are like any other large city in Europe. There were many nationalities aboard the ship, but the passengers were overwhelmingly European, including Norwegians, Swedes, Germans and English. Announcements over the ship PA system (which were irritatingly frequent) were given in three languages—Norwegian, German and English. We encountered very few Americans on the ship (about 10), and at the dinner meal (the only meal served restaurant style; breakfast and lunch were served buffet), we were seated by ourselves at our reserved table.. Our Ship Our cruise was aboard the MS Midnatsol (Midnight Sun), the newest vessel (2003) in the Hurtigruten fleet. It is attractively decorated, with much use of wood in walls, floors and furniture, and in a style akin to updated art deco. The ship was kept spotlessly clean. It was easy to learn the layout and to get around in, with elevators and stairs between decks both fore and aft. The public areas are located on decks 5, 8 and 9. The dining room, gift shop and fast food restaurant are on deck 5. Deck 8 has an open lounge in the front, with windows extending up to the ceiling in deck 9. Three-quarters of deck 9 is an outside deck with chaise lounges, a bar and two jacuzzis. There is a larger bar and lounge on deck 8, with live entertainment after about 7 PM. Deck 8 also has a self-service coffee/tea bar—at five bucks a cup! At the start of the cruise passengers are offered an opportunity to purchase a "coffee/tea deal," where for one price you get a Hurtigruten metal mug and all the coffee or tea you want at the self-service bar for the duration of the cruise. We bought it, but I don't remember the cost. Unfortunately, the coffee was virtually undrinkable (somewhere between snake venom and battery acid), so I ended up with just a high-priced mug. My wife made out: she drank lots of tea from the large assortment of tea brands available at the self-service bar. Our cabin (inside; no windows; the cheapest) was small but very efficient. It included one fulltime single bunk style bed and a sofa that converted into a second bunk style bed. Both were hard but comfortable. There was a mirrored ladies make-up station, a small TV with 8 cable channels, a closet and other storage. The shower was small but quite adequate, except for its propensity to oscillate between hot and cold. For $350 more we could have had the same cabin with a window, but we decided against it because we knew from prior cruises you spend so little time in your cabin. Eating on the Ship The food we ate was in stark contrast to the sumptuous fare we had on an Oceania cruise to the Caribbean two years ago. Norwegian food, like the Norwegians themselves, is hardy. There was heavy emphasis on seafood and (usually seasoned) boiled potatoes at nearly every meal. Cold cuts, cheeses, pickled fish and beets and regular pickles were featured at breakfast and lunch, which were served buffet style. There was also coffee and tea available. The coffee was fresh made and very good, unlike the coffee at the self-service bar. Various mostly forgettable desserts were available with lunch and dinner. To my great disappointment, pastries were never served, even at breakfast. The dining room is decorated like the rest of the ship, with neo-art deco furnishings. The silver service is spartan, usually only four or five pieces. The tables are covered with attractive oilcloth tablecloths, with heavy paper napkins. Hardy. Both lunch and dinner have two seatings, with reserved seats at both. Tables are assigned by table number, and we always sat at the same table. Water in a spring-capped bottle is served at lunch and dinner, if you had purchased the "water deal" at the start of the cruise. There is also free water available, but you would have to wait for refills. A "wine deal" was also available at the start of the cruise, whereby you would receive one bottle of wine at each dinner, specially picked by the head chef to accompany the menu. We passed on that deal since my wife doesn't drink wine. I probably wouldn't have purchased it anyway because of the high cost. On the wine menu, prices started at $65 per bottle and ranged on up to about $115 per bottle. I don't believe these were particularly premium wines, either. Only the dinner meal is served by the staff, restaurant style. But even then they work the tables in order, starting at the first table with each course. At breakfast and lunch you serve yourself and the staff merely cleans up or takes special orders for the bar. I should say here that the staff were nearly all very friendly and accommodating, and most could speak Norwegian, German and English. One peculiar and unsavory practice at each meal occurred when you were through eating. The waiter or waitress would scrape any leftover food off your plate onto another dirty plate while standing at your table. As with other cruises and tours we have taken with people from other countries, we were again amused and entertained by the European custom of eating with both handknife in the right and fork in the left—making it seem to take twice the effort. No doubt Europeans are just as amused at our style of eating. Costs No comment on our cruise would be complete without a note about the high costs in Norway. To start with, our Bergen hotel (the Neptune) which we stayed in two nights, one each at the beginning and end of the cruise, cost $300 a night! It was in the process of being redecorated, but not really upgraded. I would compare it to an older Holiday Inn Express. We understand that the cost of living in Norway is among the highest in the world. Believe it. After checking in to our hotel we went for a walk abound Bergen, a truly beautiful city. We stopped at a cafe with outdoor seating overlooking the bay and fish market (a big tourist attraction). I had a hamburger and beer and my wife had a small pizza and a coke. Total cost: $85! Welcome to Norway. My wife looked at some gorgeous knit sweaters, but at $300 and up we had to pass. As might be expected, costs on the ship are even higher. For example, at one dinner we ordered Pepsis at $7.20 each, and at another meal I ordered a local beer which cost over $8. One of the reasons for the high costs is Norway's sales tax, which is 25% on almost everything! Conclusion Despite any negative comments above, we thoroughly enjoyed our cruise. If we had to do it again, we would probably take the 7-day instead of the 12-day cruise. One of the factors that influenced us to go for the 12-day cruise was the very high cost of our airfare—almost $2,700. This cost would have been the same with either cruise. Moreover, we would have had the added cost of airfare and associated costs from Kirkenes to Bergen if we had taken the 7-day cruise. We had to take a three-legged 24-hour flight as it was (Bergen to Amsterdam to Detroit to Denver) just to keep the fare under $2,700. Another leg would have made it even worse. Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
Midnatsol Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabin 3.0 N/A
Dining 4.0 3.9
Entertainment 5.0 2.9
Public Rooms 3.0 4.4
Fitness & Recreation 1.0 N/A
Family 2.0 3.1
Shore Excursions 2.0 N/A
Enrichment Activities 2.0 N/A
Service 3.0 4.2

Find a Midnatsol Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click