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5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
I saw an article offering no single supplement on this Hurtigruten cruise (11.11.17) and investigated it. Sounded good, so I booked it. Flew from Sydney to Bergen - warm weather to icy chill! Dinner on the first night was buffet ... Read More
I saw an article offering no single supplement on this Hurtigruten cruise (11.11.17) and investigated it. Sounded good, so I booked it. Flew from Sydney to Bergen - warm weather to icy chill! Dinner on the first night was buffet style, but after that each night - bar one - it was a set three course meal - no choices. However the choices for breakfast and lunch were excellent - particularly if you like seafood - and cheese. The only complaint I have is that the hot food could have been a lot hotter - some times it was just warm. Hurtigruten prides itself on supporting local suppliers and often what we had for dinner was bought fresh from a local port that day. While the coastal voyage states that it calls into 34 ports - don't be fooled - this is a mail/cargo/passenger run and so often the ports are at all times of the day and sometimes only 15 minutes. Usually each day there is a major port stop with excursions offered - quite pricey - but most times there is a good map available on board so that you can walk around yourself. I had bought rubber slip on "spikes" to attach to my boots and was able to walk on snowy and sometimes icy streets with confidence - after the first cautious steps. On board we had cultural and information talks about Norway and its history. Don't expect any entertainment at night - there is an occasional story telling at 9.30 - and you may be lucky to be called from your bed for the Northern Lights but that's it. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
The Trip was wonderful. This is not a "typical" cruise, is a postship.This is really important to know! The cruise is for nature and relaxing. The programm onboard is not too much, is only 1-3 per day. But the points of Interest ... Read More
The Trip was wonderful. This is not a "typical" cruise, is a postship.This is really important to know! The cruise is for nature and relaxing. The programm onboard is not too much, is only 1-3 per day. But the points of Interest are perfect for information. On a Hurtigruten cruise you must know your self and your own entertainment. The service was perfect, everybody was nice. The speak english and german, of course norwegian. The breakfeast had a good selection of bread, cereals and more. The dining was delicious. My absolut favorite excursion was the visit to the huskys. They are so friendly and you can cuddle them all. The stops are partially short, is not everywhere time to see the city or the village. But this is a postship, not a typical cruise. We think it was a nice experience and not too much chichi. We met great people and see a beutiful landscape. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
We chose Hurtigruten because we wanted to see Norway's coast & spectacular scenery in detail as one part of our Norwegian holiday. We chose the Nordlys because it fit with our schedule but also because it was an ... Read More
We chose Hurtigruten because we wanted to see Norway's coast & spectacular scenery in detail as one part of our Norwegian holiday. We chose the Nordlys because it fit with our schedule but also because it was an "expedition" ship with more active-oriented excursions available. The scenery itself was 4-5 stars while the ship and onboard experience was 2-3. The best part of the journey was traveling through fjords large and small as well as the number of sea days where you could simply relax while looking out a window or sitting on the rear deck as the ship worked its way along the coast while making numerous stops at small towns. We also thoroughly enjoyed the variety of excursions, especially the hiking and bicycling activities that we took part in. For those who like lots of activities and options when traveling, the Nordlys does not fit the bill. While there were 1-2 informational sessions or narratives of the scenery each day, there was no entertainment, no music (live or recorded) in the bar or lounge, no bingo or games organized by a cruise director, no pool, no sauna (it was out of order, and also 1/3 of the gym equipment was non-functional), etc. If you like reading, playing cards or table games with friends/family, or a cruise with lots of sea days to do nothing, then Nordlys may be a good option. There is one main dining room for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There is a separate a la carte that functions much like a specialty restaurant and is extra. Breakfast and lunch buffets were always crowded each day and we always had to wait for a table unless arriving very early or coming at the end when the food was picked over and not being replenished. Because of the crowded dining room, we often had to sit with non-talkative strangers or they would be placed at our table by the staff. There is one seating for dinner at which you are assigned a table and the meal is one option only (mostly fish). Dinner was a rushed affair and served like being at a sit-down banquet with courses coming quickly after each other. There is a cafeteria/snack bar option, which wasn't cheap but wasn't terrible considering how expensive Norway is in general. We didn't get the wine package but I was told by another passenger it was a good value and you got one bottle each day to drink. Wines by the glass ranged from $10-20+ and beer was $8. The water package was cheaper compared to buying it at $5/bottle but not really a generous package because you only get one bottle of water for lunch and a second bottle for dinner. The most disappointing thing for us was the lack of true hospitality on board. The crew typically did not say hello or greet you when passing in the ship - even the officers ignored us without even a smile - and the service staff seemed so rushed all the time. No one asked us about the food, the stay, the journey, etc. And the staff was minimally helpful when called upon for assistance. When we had trouble logging on to the wifi and asked at the front desk about it, we were pointed to instructions taped to the counter instead of the agent offering to help or at least say, "I'd be glad to show you how; here's some information..." I disagree with others who say not to compare Hurtigruten to mainstream cruise lines. Both types offer sea-based options to visit Norway; services like a cruise card to make purchases on board; off-ship excursions; beverage packages; and active marketing for passengers to take future cruises (two nights in a row there was a continuous loop video about their new ship serving Antarctica). It is true that Hurtigruten is unique, different, and sometimes charming. However, it's still a cruise and the company is actively pursuing cruisers who want to visit Norway. The difference is that Hurtigruten's ships are built for servicing coastal towns, delivering cars, cargo, mail, and day travelers. In other words, they were designed with a different purpose in mind and for a different era of travel. As a value, I think Hurtigruten offers much less compared to traditional cruises, particularly because of the limited food & beverage, lack of premium-ness, or above & beyond service that cruise lines typically provide. While I wouldn't rule out a future Hurtigruten cruise or completely not recommend it to a friend, I would research other options available, too. Read Less
19 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
This was our fourth cruise but first on Hurtigruten. We were looking for a less hectic and more relaxed experience. The cruise from Bergen to Kirkenes was all that we had hoped for and more. From wonderful food, to efficient staff, to ... Read More
This was our fourth cruise but first on Hurtigruten. We were looking for a less hectic and more relaxed experience. The cruise from Bergen to Kirkenes was all that we had hoped for and more. From wonderful food, to efficient staff, to friendly fellow passengers to the absolutely stunning scenery, we were very happy with the experience and sad to leave the ship in Kirkenes. Follow the suggested packing list even for summer cruises. We needed our hats, gloves, waterproof jackets and wool socks. Embarkation in Bergen was quick and easy. We got to the terminal about 4 pm, dropped off our luggage (no waiting in any lines!) and took the escalator upstairs for the safety briefing and video. We boarded the ship, hung out in the cafeteria area on deck 4 for a little while, then stopped by the expedition desk to sign up for the Meet the Vikings excursion. When I'd tried to book it over the phone, I was told it was full but that additional places would be available once on board the ship, which thankfully was the case. Our cabin was ready before 6 pm so we unpacked, explored the ship, and had a nice dinner in the main dining room. The first night is a buffet with open seating. The other evenings are set meal times but we found the dining room staff to be very helpful and flexible in changing your dinner seating or table number. We took four excursions and found them all to be excellent value - Geiranger with Trollstigen pass, Meet the Vikings, the North Cape, and Sami Culture. You can book them by phone before you travel but it was easy to add Meet the Vikings and the North Cape once we were on board. The expedition team's materials on the excursions is much better than the information on the web, which we often found confusing and lacking in key details. The information you receive on board the ship clearly tells you when the excursion departs, from which port, and where you reembark. The expedition team held several talks in English and German about flora and fauna in the area, polar explorers, etc which we found very interesting. We got off at many stops even if we weren't taking excursions to wander around, take pictures and visit some amazing museums and cathedrals. Sights are very walkable from where the ship docked but we did use the public bus system in Tromso to get to the Arctic Cathedral. Simply buy your tickets from the tourist information office located a block from the port. The staff there will tell you which bus numbers stop at the cathedral and where the bus stops are located. As noted by others, English speakers are in the minority but announcements are made in Norwegian, English and German and we never had a problem with communication. We met some very nice people during our first excursion and at dinner our second evening. The small size of the ship lends itself to interactions with other passengers. And it feels like a family. The US website doesn't have as much information as I would have liked so one quick clarification on the wine package. The package gives you a bottle of wine at dinner each night which can be split with other passengers. Husband and wife can share the bottle so only one needs to get the wine package, not both. If you have an excursion that includes dinner, you can pick up the bottle early and drink it in your cabin. The only negative was disembarking in Kirkenes. It wa absolute chaos getting off the ship and onto the buses going to the airport. The ship docked 15 minutes late and passengers scrambled and pushed to get on the airport buses and then to check in at the airport. Unnecessary stress as we all made it with time to spare. I had booked the airport transfer by phone before we boarded and did not have a voucher or ticket which confused the driver. (I had asked both at the ship's reception and the excursion desk and was told I didn't need a ticket). Luckily I had printed off the invoice for the entire cruise so he accepted that. In retrospect I should have just booked the transfer on board the ship and then I would have had a physical ticket for the bus. But the rest of the trip was so spectacular that this was a tiny blip in an otherwise wonderful experience. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
The emphasis was on the outstanding views and the experiences - and to our great pleasure, on the food. Fabulous food (especially if you like fish but friend enjoyed her vegetarian menu and there was plenty of interesting meat). ... Read More
The emphasis was on the outstanding views and the experiences - and to our great pleasure, on the food. Fabulous food (especially if you like fish but friend enjoyed her vegetarian menu and there was plenty of interesting meat). Excellent catering for a dietary issue that we had notified in advance. Enormous and varied hot and cold buffet at breakfast and lunch, set menu at dinner. You get to talk to other people as little or as much as you want. We enjoyed being sat with the same people at dinner as we got to know them, but also liked sitting with different people at lunch - and sometimes on our own. We met loads of really interesting people on the viewing deck, particularly as we had midnight sun which quite a few people stayed up to see (and worth it for amazing views and colours). The crew are outstanding - friendly, helpful, happy to actually engage with guests over the week, and very efficient indeed. They are rightly proud of their ship. The crew made our holiday feel very special. The size of the ship and number of guests seemed well judged - you can get away from everyone and read your book if you want, but you get to recognise people too as it is not too large. The expedition team point out locations of interest (geological, cultural and arctic specific) from the deck, and there are some interesting - and humorous - lectures and informal meetings. The marking of the crossing of the Arctic Circle is fun! We picked some excursions which we enjoyed hugely - if you are bothered you might want to check that a very late night is not followed by a very early morning, the website and booklet are not that helpful for timings but describe the trips very well. We had to catch up on sleep one afternoon (not so terrible!) You also miss some points of interest and ports if you pick some excursions, something to be aware of if there is a particular point you want to see (ship in Trollfjord or the specially cut channel through the Lofotens for example). Also if there is a particular port you want to see, check the time the boat docks there and whether you get a longer stay travelling north or south (we only went one way and now want to go back to see a couple of places we missed or were only very short stops) The boat is absolutely fine, pleasant bars and sitting areas, a small outside area where you can look out at the front, and one deck you can walk all the way round. Large viewing deck at the back (less wind which is really nice in the arctic!!) Partner said the fitness room was good but I made do with walking up and down stairs (there are lifts too). We had one night of quite rough weather around the North Cape when we preferred to be laying down, but most of the trip is in sheltered water and it was not an issue. A note on booking: we found the website very confusing but a call to their London office clarified things we wanted to know and we had them book our flights and city stays at each end of the trip. All ran like clockwork. We are hoping to go again at a different time of year. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
This cruise was suggested to me by my friend who is a travel agent. In Bergen we embarked the ship. Boarding was OK, but when we got to the room - it was disaster! (There had been a problem with perhaps a broken pipe or something, the ... Read More
This cruise was suggested to me by my friend who is a travel agent. In Bergen we embarked the ship. Boarding was OK, but when we got to the room - it was disaster! (There had been a problem with perhaps a broken pipe or something, the floor was saturated - there were towels and mats all saturated. So, we did not get that room. (You would have thought that the booking reception would have been informed). However, a lovely Swedish lady came to our aid. She was just lovely. She took us to the other side of the ship (not port side) and we were so glad that she did that. The noise on portside was loud, particularly when docking and loading and then on leaving at each port. However, at each port there was unloading and loading of cargo and people. This shipping company has to walk a fine line between pleasing passengers and being a vital link to the communities that are far from major cities. At night we would see tiny villages dotted along the coast. Hugging the shorelines as it is usually fishing that keeps these communities economically above water. It isn't New York. There is no other trade or anything else that could be done in some of these areas along the water line. Very little land. Although you would see the very rare farming areas. This shipping company does a wonderful work and is extremely vital to keep these villages alive and supplied. I praise them for their work. It is not a good thing to work in the extreme cold and water and rain/snow and wind. It is not pleasant. However, without this shipping line - life would come to a very quick and sticky end. So, with that in mind, ((to those that grumble about this shipping line) - this is NOT the Queen Mary 2 ship. It is not meant to be. I believe the company that owns this line should be supported and recognised for trying to please the passengers and the communities, the companies that rely on this shipping line - and of course the staff they employ. What a wonderful staff of people. They are out to please you. Even the Captain signed books and certificates, etc. (Might I say what a dashing gentleman he is!). Then there was Anna (the Swedish lady) who is in charge of the passenger's welfare (accommodation etc). She is a star. Always time for helping, always pleasant, There are the shop staff who are wonderful too. The restaurant staff (the meals were excellent), the mechanical engineers, the loaders, the staff supporting others. All just wonderful. No - we did not see the Northern lights (although there was a very faint hint of a run one evening just before we were to disembark). This was disappointing to my travel agent friend, but not particularly to me as I lived in Northern B.C. Canada and saw the lights every winter. Some seasons more beautiful then others. Just before closing my comment, I wish to say to people who intend to go on this ship. Remember it is not a cruise line. It is a passenger ship. Entirely different. So, if you want to sit back and not move a muscle or lie in the sun on the deck or be waited on hand and foot try Queen Mary 2! However, if you seek an adventure and are interested in Norway and the Fjords and small villages - this is the ship for you. Please support the villages that you may visit. Buy their goods. At least show some interest in their talents. They are all trying to make a living from tourism. They are very welcoming, warm and generous. Yes, I would go again, just to see all again what I saw the first time. Thank you to the Nordlys Hurtigruten. Read Less
24 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
This cruise was EXACTLY what we thought it would be. Instead of thousands and thousands of passengers there were ony 450. There are 11 ships in this line with a new ship leaving each day. They also deliver cargo, act as a ferry, and ... Read More
This cruise was EXACTLY what we thought it would be. Instead of thousands and thousands of passengers there were ony 450. There are 11 ships in this line with a new ship leaving each day. They also deliver cargo, act as a ferry, and have passengers just for a couple of days going from one part of Norway to another. We loved the Nordlys. The tour director made wonderful announcements in Norwegian, German, and English telling us of what was coming next. The housekeeping staff were friendly and efficient. The restaurant staff were just simply excellent. Speaking English we were a minority, but almost all the crew and staff spoke really good English. The scenery was spectacular. The room was mall, but we knew it would be, and it was fine. The bathroom and cabin were so clean. The bed is really tall, so my poor wife at barely 5 feet tall had to be creative to get in, but she managed, and the mattress and HUGE pillows were wonderful. The view out of our porthole was awesome. The breakfasts and lunches were buffet style, and there was a plethora of items to eat. The evening meal was a 3 course dinner featuring local items from cod, king crab, salmon, trout, mackerel, duck, reindeer, veal, lamb, etc., etc. etc. The desserts were heavenly. If you were allergic to anything or did not want to try anything, you could tell them in the morning, and they would work with you to get something else for dinner. We tried everything, and some we loved and some we liked and some we did not particularly care for, but we tried it all. Norway is expensive, but we found the whole adventure a wonderful experience. We would recommend it to everyone. There is no entertainment, but again we knew that before we left. The midnight sun and other aspects of Norway made up for the lack of entertainment. We were not bored. Timing was right that I got to watch almost all of the Europe 2016 Soccer Championships in a big TV room. Loved that part. Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
This year, instead of hunting out Winter Sun for our New Year's break, we decided to go to the other extreme and look for snow, ice and Northern Lights. We booked a 12 day Bergen/Kirkenes/Bergen round trip on Hurtigruten's MS ... Read More
This year, instead of hunting out Winter Sun for our New Year's break, we decided to go to the other extreme and look for snow, ice and Northern Lights. We booked a 12 day Bergen/Kirkenes/Bergen round trip on Hurtigruten's MS Nordlys. Hurtigruten ships are not Cruise ships - they are ferries. But ferries with 'extra's'. There is little in the way of formal entertainment, but our ship had a very knowledgeable 'Tour Leader'. He was responsible for bookings for and co-ordination of shore excursions, as well as organising onboard activities. He had a dry sense of humour and spoke fluent English, French, German and Norwegian, switching comfortably between each depending on the Nationality of the guest. He also made announcements in multiple languages as we approached each port to tell us more about the destination, and announcements when there was something interesting to see outside (eg crossing the arctic circle, sea eagle ahead, spectacular rock formations, other Hurtigruten ships!). On New Years Eve the ship missed a couple of ports in the Lofoten Islands so that we could spend the evening in Hurtigruten's home port of Stockmarknes. We had a gala buffet for dinner and then they opened up the Hurtigruten museum especially for us to make an evening visit. At the museum they have a 'retired' ship in dry dock and it was quite eery exploring this ship in the dark. All guests were invited to celebrate the turn of the year out on the 'sun' deck with a glass of complementary fizz. The local fireworks were spectacular. Some guests were quite disturbed by the shortness of the days and the lack of light. For my part I had expected it to be worse. We were lucky that the days we spent North of the Arctic Circle were clear so we had the best light possible. OK it was never bright, but for 3 or 4 hours there was as much light as you would get on on overcast day in England, and when you are out enjoying snowey activities such as Husky Sledding it feels even lighter. Northern Lights are almost guaranteed at this time of year if the sky is clear. We were lucky enough to see them on 3 nights. They make an announcement if the officers on the bridge spot Northern Lights in the sky, so you have no excuse for missing them. Having said that, they weren't as spectacular as I was expecting, and to the naked eye lacked the vivid colours that you get when you photograph them. This may have been due to the full moon. The ship was very quiet - only around 200 passengers on the Northbound journey, which was enough to be sociable but meant that there were no crowds. On the way south there were less than 40 passengers. We could have had a table each at dinner!   Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2013
Nothing more far from the propragrand published by Hurtigruten company ".. Through our enlightening and eventful adventures the true diversity of our landscape, history and culture bacomes aparent..."In 6 days from Bergen to ... Read More
Nothing more far from the propragrand published by Hurtigruten company ".. Through our enlightening and eventful adventures the true diversity of our landscape, history and culture bacomes aparent..."In 6 days from Bergen to Kirkenes you will visit 37 diferent harbours, many of them during 15 to 30 minutes, near ten during the first hours of early morning. Each arrival will wake you up beacuse the noise ony the approximation, docked and departure of the ship. Named the "express of the coast" the cruiser leave and pick up any kind of merchandise, something thet company forgets to explain when you buy the tickets. All the cruiser is focus on the Hurtigruten convenience never focus on the costumer The meals, excurssions, cities visits and the scarce events planned during the trip are designed to maintain the express of the coast time schedule. So, it was one day necessary to take breakfast between 8-10 o'clock and get the lunch between 10,30 and 12!!!!. Interesting villages like Standsund or Svolvaer must be visited in 28 and 42 minutes, because we had docked 6 other harbours in the same day. The worst event in the trip was the cancellation of the whale watch principal excursion based on the dangerous broadcast announcing a windy day and tidal waves. They lied because internet broadcast didn't confirm their expectations and the day passeed by no wind nor brave waves. The truth was that they had no enough costumers interested in that excurssion and because that decided cancelled. I'll never accept a lie about one event that I have flieght more than 4.000 km. just to enjoy the sea wildlife. Hurtigruten .... never... never more. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2012
I was so looking forward to this cruise for years, anxiously waiting to experience the midnight sun as we cruised up the Norwegian Coast from Bergen to Kirkenes. Food was good, not excellent. Dining room waiters and waitresses were ... Read More
I was so looking forward to this cruise for years, anxiously waiting to experience the midnight sun as we cruised up the Norwegian Coast from Bergen to Kirkenes. Food was good, not excellent. Dining room waiters and waitresses were excellent. With one exception, all cruise directors and officers on the ship were unfriendly, at times quite unprofessional and rude. Dining room always opened late with long lines waiting to get in. Disembarkation area was always cramped. Information about what would happen to your baggage at the end of the cruise when one had to go on an excursion was nonexistent to confusing, once you pursued it. Excursions were quite expensive as well as beverages. This is a working boat, carrying cargo and passengers between ports and therefore the cost for the cruise was outrageously high. We have taken numerous other cruises and all our previous experiences were positive. Quite disappointed that this dream cruise of mine was a total disappointment. You can spend your money much better elsewhere even though the idea of midnight sun and northern lights are very appealing. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2011
We traveled with Vantage on the Grand Norwegian Coastal Voyage September 1 15, 2011. Our ship was the MS Nordlys which was severely damaged by fire the day after we departed the ship. Two crew members were tragically killed during the ... Read More
We traveled with Vantage on the Grand Norwegian Coastal Voyage September 1 15, 2011. Our ship was the MS Nordlys which was severely damaged by fire the day after we departed the ship. Two crew members were tragically killed during the blaze. What a sad memory at the end of a wonderful adventure. We have traveled with Vantage in the past. In 2007 we did Imperial Russian Waterways, Moscow and St. Petersburg with Vantage and had a wonderful experience. FLIGHTS Since we live near Boston, we expected to travel direct to Europe from Boston. Such was not the case. Vantage arranged for us to travel to Dulles, Copenhagen, and Bergen. This added to our travel time, especially on our return. We will never again come through Dulles from Europe with hopes of making an on time connection. Copenhagen is a very large and busy airport and the walk to our connecting flight was very long. Anyone with the slightest problem walking should ask for help. A Vantage rep met us in Dulles at the start of the trip to be sure we were all set with boarding passes, etc. It was a nice touch. WEATHER - We traveled September 1 15. The temperatures were in the 50s and 60s during the day and probably down to the high 40s at night. Our first few days in Bergen were very rainy. We were told this was very normal. It became sunnier as we traveled north. Sturdy shoes, umbrellas, and water repellant wind breakers were best. Appropriate layering for wind, on deck, rain, and varying temperatures kept us plenty warm and dry. THE HOTEL - We arrived at the Bergen airport right on time and were met by Eva Stiegler, our Vantage Program Manager. She was brought up in Bergen. Her English was flawless. Our luggage was whisked away to the bus, we exchanged some money and off we went. The Radisson Blu Norge Hotel was perfectly situated close to everything. Our luggage was unloaded from the bus for us and delivered to our rooms. The rooms were clean and bright and a good size with desk and easy chair, 2 single beds, a coffee maker and iron and ironing board. The furniture was a little dated but well cared for. Free wifi was available. Breakfast was a large buffet with all kinds of choices from meats and cheeses to an egg station to fruits, cereals, juices and coffee and tea. Delicious. We had dinner in the hotel with our group of 49. The menu was preset white asparagus soup, chicken with mushroom, and apple cake with ice cream and coffee also a free glass of beverage, wine, soda, etc. Throughout the trip, Eva would arrange for any diet accommodation from allergies to likes and dislikes. The only down side to the hotel location was the large amount of street noise into the early morning hours. Eva distributed earplugs to us so we could sleep. Evidently there are nightclubs nearby and both their music and customers extend to outside. We were so tired that nothing would have disturbed our sleep but when up, we did hear the noise and Im sure some people are disturbed by the it. BERGEN - Bergen is a wonderful city. We wish we had planned the pre-extension here. Not only is the city beautiful, but there is so much more to see than we originally thought. The funicular, fish market, and countless historic buildings and museums could easily use several days. THE SHIP - The Nordlys far exceeded our expectations. It was beautifully maintained and all the public rooms were lovely. The dcor had lots of brass colored metal, Norwegian art and tasteful colors. The dining room was large. At dinner we had an area reserved for Vantage so we didnt have to struggle to find a place to sit. Large windows gave a great view as we sailed along. Linen tablecloths gave an air of formality to the room and made meals a special occasion. Our room was small but very efficient. It was a category U cabin on deck 6. Our traveling companions were on deck 5 which was the promenade deck. They wish they did not have passengers walking outside their cabin. The cabins themselves were identical. The 2 single beds were perpendicular to each other and one made a sofa during the day and the other folded up against the wall. The beds were comfortable. The cover was a duvet. There were 2 wool blankets in the closet - great for sitting on deck. There was sufficient closet space. There were about a dozen hangers but we always bring extras. The closet rods go front to back in rather than left to right which may finding things slightly more difficult. The bathroom is small. I thought the shower was much smaller than on large cruise ships and the floor was always wet. Heat in the bathroom was in the floor so it helped the water evaporate. There are no facecloths and bars of soap are not provided. There is a dispenser of liquid soap at the sink and a combo of liquid soap/shampoo/conditioner in the shower. There is a hair dryer in the bathroom. I would suggest bringing your own soap, shampoo, and conditioner. It was chilly on deck. There were chairs and lounge chairs for sitting. A small area on each side was protected by glass and was heated. One side was reserved for smokers. There are plenty of public rooms with great windows. On the top deck there was entertainment in the bar every evening. We had 2 talented female musicians from Bulgaria who sange and played keyboard, violin and saxophone. There was no wireless internet service available on the Nordlys. There were 3 computers for passenger use which was so slow we were not charged to use it. I believe this varies by ship. There were 2 washers and 2 dryers available. It cost about $4.00 to do a load of wash including the soap which was automatically dispensed by the washer. The dryers were free. The staff was wonderful and friendly. FOOD AND DRINK The food was very good. Breakfast and lunch were always buffet. Breakfast included coffee, tea, juices, fruits, cereals, meats, cheeses, hard or soft boiled eggs, bacon or sausage, all kinds of bread, fish, and a hot special daily fried eggs, pancakes, etc. Lunch always included a soup which was delicious, salads, meats, fish, stone crabs, cray fish, mussels, shrimp, cheeses, fruit, and one or two hot entrees. Dessert had many fancy jellos, fruit, cakes and fruit and custard sauces. Dinner was a set menu posted daily. Most nights the main course was fish. Eva made arrangements for anyone who had special likes or dislikes or allergies to be accommodated. We had arctic char, salmon, pollack, reindeer, chicken, and cod. One evening there was a seafood buffet which included cold water lobster, king crab, salmon, scallops, shrimp, and a multitude of other choices. Sauces and vegetables were also very tasty. Small boiled potatoes were often served. Desserts were fine not amazing and included cakes, puddings, and ice cream. Dinner coffee was served in one of the forward observation rooms. This made it easier for the crew to get ready for the second serving of dinner. There was a full wine and drink menu on the table at lunch and dinner. Drinks were very expensive. Except during meals there was a charge for coffee. A coffee deal is offered. For about $40 you can buy a coffee cup which is refillable in the coffee shop whenever you want it. We each bought one but I thought the coffee was deplorable and seldom drank it although it could also be used for tea. Eva took us to liquor stores to buy wine which we kept in our rooms. We werent supposed to bring our own wine into the dining room or public spaces but we usually filed our coffee cups with wine and walked into the dining rooms. A box of wine in the state liquor stores cost about $80. Sometimes at lunch we would put some crackers and cheese into a plastic baggie and save it for cocktail hour in the afternoon. VANTAGE AND THE TRIP As I said before our Program Manager Eve was wonderful. At the beginning of the trip she talked about what to expect and about the optional tours offered by the ship. We went to the midnight concert at the Arctic Cathedral in Tromso and the Sea Eagle tour. We love both. I cant speak to any of the others. However, Eva did provide previous passenger ratings so we had some idea of which ones were enjoyed most. She gave us talks on Norwegian history, life in Norway, trolls, and the Norse Gods. She gave us tastes of Norwegian pastry, candy, Aquavitt and chocolate. She showed us movies about heavy water, the Amundsen expedition to the South Pole, Max Manus (Norwegian WW II resistor) and Cool and Crazy. She arranged a pizza party on our last night in Bergen. Every town we visited we had a walk of the area. Her knowledge of each town and its history was amazing. She offered us her computer if we needed to make contact back home. Wireless was available to her. I cant go into every town and tour we had but they were all great. I loved Trondheim. The tour to the North Kapp was amazing. We were luck enough to have perfect weather and could see forever! The tour to the Rokenes Farm in Harstad was memorable. Enroute we stopped at an ancient chapel and had a moment of silence in honor of 9/11 (we were there on that day.). We even saw some Northern lights. They were minimal and very pale in color but even a hint of them was more than we expected. The ship celebrated our crossing of the Arctic Circle and the Trollfjord with fun events. In between town and stops the scenery was lovely either the sun shining on the fjords and villages or the rain and clouds hanging over the tree and mountain tops and glaciers. It was all lovely. We toured with an amazing group of travelers. There wasnt any one of us who complained. We all liked each other and helped those who needed assistance. Wed do the trip again in a minute! Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2011
Not many reviews have been written on the ships belonging to the Norwegian Hurtigruten company, so it was with some little ignorance and trepidation that we booked our Arctic Highlights 4-day cruise in an attempt to witness the often ... Read More
Not many reviews have been written on the ships belonging to the Norwegian Hurtigruten company, so it was with some little ignorance and trepidation that we booked our Arctic Highlights 4-day cruise in an attempt to witness the often elusive Northern Lights. We'd read that the Nordlys was commissioned in 1994, had a capacity of 475 passengers and that it was a working ferry."Hmmm" we thought, "back to basics then, a bit of an old tub". Well, how wrong our perceptions were. The Nordlys (and Hurtigruten) was refreshingly honest without the unsubstantiated marketing hype that has proceeded our cruises with Celebrity, P+O, Cunard et al. We'll run through some basics which may help in developing a more accurate picture of what to expect than we were party to. We flew out from Heathrow (at 07.30) with SAS to Oslo, coupled with another 2hr transfer flight to our embarkation port of Tromso. The H'row / Oslo flight offered us no complimentary beverages at all so be prepared for a 2 hours of no grub. For some reason on the internal transfer flights you are offered soft drinks, tea and coffee. We were met at Tromso airport by a Hurtigruten rep and very efficiently herded on to the coach transfer to our ship at the port. Being a working ferry, it was like waiting for a bus - and it was blooming cold. After about 25 minutes the boat pulled in and the chaotic check-in commenced, carrying our own luggage over the snow and ice, up the gangway to a very small reception desk for check-in. Not an impressive start but where did it say we would be waited on hand foot and finger? It didn't. But, the crew were very obliging and polite in helping us all out and this was generally the theme throughout our cruise. Our cabins were not ready immediately but we waited in the lounge to be informed, which was about an hour. The cabin itself was small - very small - and equipped with 2 single beds (one was the lower half of a bunk bed, where the top bunk was folded against the wall, the other was a sofa bed). The bathroom was small but, in fact, not that much smaller than the one we endured on our recent Azura cruise and the shower was 10 times better! The beds were quite firm (well Lynne said uncomfortably hard). Our cabin (note -not hyped up a Stateroom)was positioned on the 3rd deck and about two thirds down towards the aft. This meant you had fairly constant engine noise and other mechanical noises as the ship manouvred and docked throughout the day and night - remember it's a working ferry. We were half board and enjoyed a fairly substantial buffet breakfast of typical European fayre comprising cold meats, cheeses, fruit, cereal, rolls and bread, fruit juice etc together with some cooked items for us Brits. No queues, no fighting for tables, carrying your tray for miles. All very pleasant and freshly prepared and replenished. For lunch and snacks there is a small cafe but be warned of the prices - £4 for half litre of water, £5 for a coffee, £7 for a baguette. Ouch! The evening meals were taken at designated tables at either 6.30pm or 8.30pm. It was very re-assuring to be greeted by a supervisor at the door insisting on the use of a hand sanitisor. We enjoyed such things as fresh soup, freshly prepared fish (pollock, salmon, cod) and venison steak all presented from a set menu. One evening saw us tucking into a wonderful fresh seafood buffet including salmon, king crab, lobster, mussels, king prawns, cod etc. Indeed, the food generally was more than a match for the "exquisite and sumptuous 5-star gourmet fayre" Celebrity would have you believe you are in for. But another "Ouch" - £8 per glass of house wine. The decor is what you would call "traditional" with much use of wood (not veneer, P+O) brass and glass. The seating areas are comfortable with 2 bars, a very good observation lounge at the bow and a quiet area with library. And - BLISS - not a shred of that awfull intrusive piped music. No art auction. No constant announcements of yet another opportunity to part with your cash. Hooray, just the sound of gentle chatter. Hurtigruten offer excursions and they seem to be pretty well run, if not a little pricey. But again, they don't wax lyrical about them in a glossy brochure and there is no hard sell. We went to the Snow Hotel in Kirkenes and it was facinating as well as informative throughout. And all at minus 15 degrees too. There's little in the way of entertainment save learning how to tie knots and being introduced to freshly caught king crabs. Yes, we saw the Northern Lights - twice - and sightings are relayed over the ship's tannoy. You can also arrange to be phoned in your cabin if it's during the sleeping hours. But, don't go out in your nightey!! So, to recap, this is a no frills, honest to goodness cruise in a jolly hostile but very picturesque environment. Be sure to take your camera as the snow clad fjords present a marvellous outlook. It's a working vessel so there is some disturbance but it's certainly not intrusive. The staff and the whole ambience on board is one of helpfulness and welcoming. There are no pretentious promises that fail to live up to expectations. Indeed, this may even undersell itself. What a refreshingly welcome change. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2008
I've always wanted to visit Norway and had heard the best way of doing so was on the 'mail boat'. Well the 'boat' far exceeded my expectations and now I want to go back again. We purposely chose to sail in February ... Read More
I've always wanted to visit Norway and had heard the best way of doing so was on the 'mail boat'. Well the 'boat' far exceeded my expectations and now I want to go back again. We purposely chose to sail in February because I wanted to see Norway as I have always imagined it- in snow covered winter conditions. We made our own travel arrangements to Bergen and enjoyed 3 days staying at the Best Western Hotel Hordaheimen before joining the ship. We booked our cruise through the Norwegian office and were very pleased with the simplicity of doing so via email with one telephone call to make payment. MS Nordlys was built in 1994 is one of the fleet sailing the coast of Norway from Bergen to Kirkenes. We chose a basic 2-berth inner cabin because it would be near the centre of the ship with less movement in bad weather. The cabin was clean, well maintained and comfortable (I especially like the Norwegian style of bedding). The lack of window was not an issue because we'd come on this voyage to see the scenery and experience the local way of life. We'd been warned that this was a working ship but the comfort, food, and crew were so good we didn't notice. We met several locals using the ship. Parents with new babies who had been to visit Grandparents for the first time, students on the way to college, business people holding meetings and seniors who popped into the cafe during stops in ports. This ship is part of Norway! The food was very good with a lunchtime buffet and set dinner. (the dinner menu is posted at lunchtime and if you don't like what is available you tell the crew and they discuss an alternative). We took the 'water package' where you pay a set amount and are provided with chilled water at each meal. A wine package is also available. Coffee can be expensive but we got round this by buying a Hurtigruten mug which we could fill up as often as we wanted in the cafe or bar. The service was of the usual high Norwegian standard and efficiency without losing any of the friendly atmosphere that existed on board (the only grumbles were a few passengers who would not have been happy anywhere). Communications were excellent. I confess we didn't go on any of the shore excursions but this was because we wanted to stroll around the ports of call at our own pace. Just make sure you return to the ship on time- they are very punctual. There are no children's clubs as such but there is a playroom that was used both by the young passengers and a few locals who visited during port stops. Entertainment was a Norwegian singer onboard and there was also a ceremony for crossing the arctic circle. There were some theme voyages like digital photography on other vessels. We were there to see Norway- its scenery and wildlife, and this is what we did, I think it would have been spoiled by organized entertainment. We arrived back in Bergen right on time and quickly disembarked. I would suggest that you book the bus or a taxi from the ship because there were no taxis available outside the terminal. This is a cruise for people who want to see Norway. It is a time to relax and enjoy being pampered without being subjected to constant 'organized' entertainment. We met several people who had sailed before- one couple were on their eighth trip! MS Nordlys appeared to be a favorite for returning passengers and, with its family atmosphere, I can see why. Are we going to sail again on MS Nordlys? Yes, I've been spoiled and I might also book on MS Fram after recently having the opportunity to visit her in port. Read Less
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