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!  

New Year on the MS Nordlys

Nordlys Cruise Review by glowlight

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Trip Details
  • Sail Date: December 2014
  • Destination: Baltic Sea
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!
 
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Cabin Review

Cabin
Its definitely worth opting for an outside cabin if you can on MS Nordlys as there is so much to see. Especially useful for watching Northern Lights in comfort and warmth! The cabins are not luxurious but are comfortable. Consider them as good ferry accommodation rather than cruise ship stateroom. We had two single beds arranged in an L shape - one converted to a 'sofa' which was convenient. We had plenty of cupboard space, a large dressing table. The shower room has a heated floor which is very pleasant and handy for drying things!