It's clear from the Hurtigruten website, as well as reviews, that this is a coastal ferry not a cruise liner. in my view this is a very well appointed ferry with comfortable seating in all lounges. Cabins are snug, but we had plenty of room on our N category cabin on deck 3.
Reception staff and tour manager are helpful. At no point were we unable to find a seat in the lounges. The food is variable: eggs at breakfast are often cold, and the evening meal could never be described as hot: more likely tepid ad portions are small. Having said that, the quality of the food is acceptable and at breakfast and lunch there is plenty of choice and free seating. Evening meals are fixed menu. I'm not keen on fish so ordered the vegetarian option in advance. Apart from one meal, the veggie options were fine. The one exception was when I had mashed potato with a side of boiled potatoes!
Do take lots to do though, as there is a lot of time spent on the ship. We took cards, board games and lots of reading. The scenery is lovely but there are the odd rainy or windy days where it's not pleasant out on deck.
There are little ceremonies when the Arctic Circle is crossed in either direction - a bit of fun.
Shore excursions we really enjoyed were the taste of Vesteralen: stunning scenery, snow hotel in Kirkenes where you can also see the huskies and reindeer, and the North Cape - travelling in convoy with a snow plough at the front. . The only let-down was Hammerfest which isn't really much of a tour and I'd suggest you do your own thing.
Polaria in Tromso is very small: don't expect a large exhibition. It's easy walking distance from the ship so you can do it independently. We'd done Arctic Cathedral on a previous visit to Tromso, but those who attended the midnight concert enjoyed it.
In Svolvaer make time to visit Magic ice Sculptures and the SS WW2 museum - both only 5 mins walk from the ship.
Alcohol is prohibitively expensive: the cheapest wine I saw on the menu was the equivalent of £38 per bottle. If I had one grip, it would be that you can't even get tap water at the evening meal. Unless you buy wine, your glasses are cleared off the table. Buying wine includes a free water bottle though. However the tap water in the cabin is drinkable and we took our own kettle, tea and coffee and powdered milk, which is a lot cheaper than the coffee deal for £36 over 11 days.
I was worried that we'd get a lot of noise being near reception but we had no bother at all in this respect. I would very much advise deck 3 N cabins becuase they are larger than some on deck 5. All the deck 5 cabins ran the risk of people walking past and looking into the cabin, whereas deck 3 has no promenade. It's true that the windows on deck 3 probably get more spray and towards the end of the holiday it was a bit hard to see out clearly!