You will have a unique experience sailing on MS Lofoten that you would not have on any other ship. But you need to know what to expect, and more importantly, what NOT to expect on this ship. I'd wanted to do a Norwegian fjord cruise for 30 years and finally had the time and resources to do it, I did extensive research and specifically chose the MS Lofoten because of her small size and vintage experience. I wouldn't have it any other way, but I suspect most Americans who are used to large ships and lots of amenities would be disappointed. First, the ship itself. It has beds for about 150 people, but also takes on ferry passengers. The ferry passengers don't necessarily have beds, so they end up sleeping on couches in lounges (usually the 2 forward lounges where it is darker and quieter). This was not really an inconvenience, but is something you don't see on ships that cater to Americans. There is a dining room where full cruise passengers dine, and a cafeteria where ferry passengers can order food. All passengers can order from the cafeteria, and can get snacks, drinks, etc at any time. The rooms are quite small but efficient. My single room on the "B" deck had a porthole, an ample closet for hanging clothes and to place sweaters, shoes, purchases, etc. There are also some shelves by the sink for toiletries and several hooks from which to hang coats, bags, etc. The mattress seemed to be a bit uneven but with the gentle rocking of the ship it didn't affect my sleeping. I did need to close my porthole to make it dark enough to sleep in the land of the midnight sun. The toilets and showers are down the hall, The toilets are quite adequate, but the showers are lacking any sort of place to lay your clothes. There are 1 or 2 hooks, that's it, and no ventilation so the shower room gets quite steamy. Don't take anything that isn't necessary with you, and bring something easy to put on for the walk back to your room. They do not seem to change out towels or sheets at all during the trip, but might do that upon request. They provide a basic amenities kit with shampoo, body wash and lotion but it's not enough to last 10 nights. My room definitely had constant engine noise but it was not intrusuive - more like "white noise" and I didn't mind it. Light sleepers might opt for a room on the "C" deck, which seemed to be much quieter (and also had a much nicer shower room). "C" deck is also the lowest deck, so has the least amount of motion. If you're particularly prone to sea-sickness, you probably don't want to choose the MS Lofoten. It has no stabilizers, and while the water is usually quite calm in the fjords in the summer, there are some passages along the open seas that can get choppy. If you are really concerned, then choose a room located near the center of the ship, and on the "A" deck, as this is the lowest deck and has the least amount of movement. One drawback with the ferry passengers is that they seem to settle in to the best seats on the decks and in the lounges, preventing the full cruise passengers from having the best views while in the beautiful fjords. So check the day's schedule, and choose seats early. Most passengers were maneuvering for space on the bridge deck at the front of the ship, or for deck space on the sundecks at the back. While in the fjords I found very few people on the reception "A" deck, where it is very easy to walk across the ship to get unobstructed views on both sides. There is also a promenade the length of ths ship on the "A" deck. I also recommend sightseeing from areas of the bridge deck and boat deck, where you can also easily walk across the ship to get views of both sides. Second, the activities on board the ship. There is a cruise director who makes announcements on the PA system, but these can't be heard in the staterooms, so be aware of that. She announced all the ports of call, excursions, upcoming sights of interest, and activities on the ship. Passengers can take part in ceremonies for crossing the arctic circle, and there are special drinks and snacks available on the back deck from time to time. There was a tour of the bridge one morning - be sure to listen for that and sign up because it is very interesting. Other than that, you need to entertain yourself. You will find many people on the sundecks reading or relaxing. There is excellent free wi-fi aboard inside the public areas (it did not work in the staterooms nor in the outdoor areas). Some people brought laptops and were frequently seen writing/blogging. Of course, the scenery is stunning, so I spent most of my time relaxing, watching the world go by. Now the food. Full cruise passengers dine in the dining room 3 meals per day. The dining room is small - I think it only holds maybe 50-60 people. There are 2 dinner seatings with assigned seats. Breakfast and lunch is buffet style. The restaurant is often full for breakfast and lunch, so you need to be somewhat flexible on your mealtimes. If you have a shore excursion or want to get off in a specific port, be sure to plan enough time to dine. The buffets were excellent, especially the lunches, They were often my favorite meal. Lunches had both hot and cold offerings, and plenty of salads, cheeses, and desserts. Of course seafood and root vegetables are available for every meal, but there is enough variety in their preparation that it was never monotonous. Dinners are served by waiters from silver trays onto plates at your table. The chefs set up the prepared food on the buffet tables and you can watch them fill the platters. It's quite amazing and a very special vintage touch only available on the MS Lofoten. The dinners are a fixed menu, but it is possible to make special requests. I found everything delicious and quite artfully presented. A few of the desserts could have been a bit more creative. One night we had a cup of stewed prunes with cream. Tasty, but I don't know anyone in their right mind who would want to consume a whole cup of prunes! The service for dinner was quite good. There is no cost for water during meals, but if you want bottled water you do pay for that. There is a wine package available for purchase but this seemed extremely expensive. I preferred to have a glass of wine in the cafe/bar in the late afternoon before dinner. The wait staff seemed to have a little confusion over those with the wine package - the passengers would have to tell the remind the staff, even though we were always at the same table every night. The staff also seemed to get overwhelmed during breakfast and lunch, trying to keep the buffet stocked, tables cleared and set for arriving guests, serving water and coffee, etc. Be aware that after dinner, they do not serve coffee/tea at the table. It is available in the rear lounge after dinner, and you must serve yourself. That was a little disappointing for those who like to linger after dinner and enjoy coffee, but with 2 sittings I'm sure it's necessary to clear the dining room promptly. Now on to the excursions. I chose to take 5 excursions, 3 of which involved getting off the ship at one port and back on at another. I did this partly in order to see some of the interior of Norway, and was not disappointed. If there are enough participants there are separate busses for Norwegian, English and German; otherwise all narrative is done in each language. I highly recommend the Geiranger/Trollstigen excursion. Views are highly dependent on the weather but this is still something that should not be missed. The bus makes several stops at viewpoints, takes 2 different ferries, and hugs the coastline of several fjords. Beautiful. I also did the Breakfast at the North Cape excursion because I wanted to be at the North Cape early, before throngs of tourists descended upon it. It was what I expected - our group had the Cape to ourselves. This excursion also gives you good views of the interior, and you will see lots of reindeer grazing. The Midnight concert in Tromso is not to be missed. This absolutely exceeded my expectations. The program was a selection of music based upon Norwegian folk tales, with a little classical and contemporary music also. It was performed by an organist/pianist, a cellist, and a baritone. I did not want the concert to end. I also did the bus tour to the Russian Border. Skip this unless you REALLY have to see the border for yourself. You cannot enter the border crossing area so there's really not much to see or do. The land across the border looks just like the land in Norway. I should have just spent time touring Kirkenes on my own. Likewise for the Lofoten Hike. This is a rather strenuous "power hike" over a mountain saddle and back down the other side, then a long bus ride back to the ship. The guide NEVER stopped during the hike for us to rest or take photos - we had to do that on own and then hustle to catch up. We did stop at the highest point of the hike for tea and candy (which the guides brought) but then we were quickly back on the trail down. It was dusk and the views were in the shadows, so it wasn't particularly beautiful or photogenic anyway. Skip this. I didn't do any of the tours or city walks. I preferred to explore and enjoy the ports on my own when there was enough time. Be sure to research what you might miss seeing from the ship if you take a shore excursion that starts and ends in different ports. I recommend pre-booking excursions that you really have your heart set on. That way your spot is guaranteed, as some excursions did sell out. Otherwise, book the excursions aboard the ship. That way, you will pay in kroner, which ends up being less expensive due to Hurtigruten's exchange rate. I suggest calling Hurtigruten and asking how many seats are still available for excursions, and if something you want is getting full you can pre-book it. Some excursions, like the Midnight Concert, have unlimited seats so there is no need to pre-book those. The weather in Norway can change quickly. Be prepared for anything. The Gulf Stream keeps the coast warmer than you might think, but it generates a lot of cloud cover/mist/rain. There were a couple days where I wore a tank top on deck. I recommend layering your clothes - perhaps a t-shirt and a lighter fleece hoodie, then a jacket for colder temps/rain. There is no need to dress up - even the captain's dinner is casual. You can quickly return to your room if you need to change clothes or grab a jacket. There is no elevator available for passenger use, and access to the bridge deck is via a narrow stairway. Passengers should be agile enough to navigate steep stairs and narrow passages. Luggage was delivered to our room upon arrival in Bergen, but we were responsible for removing it ourselves when we disembarked in Trondheim. Be aware that everything in Norway is expensive. Post cards are about $1 each, and postage to the US is about $2 per postcard. They sell stamps aboard the ship and there is a small store selling post cards, souvenirs, and an assortment of clothing. All in all, the cruise was a very economical way to spend 10 nights in Norway, as it included transportation, lodging, and food. The scenery is more beautiful than I imagined. I appreciated that there are rooms for single travelers. My friend and I both had single rooms which was fabulous, as it gave us some privacy. The ship is absolutely charming and definitely an experience that most people will never have. I highly recommend the MS Lofoten to those who would appreciate what she has to offer!

Know what to expect, and MS Lofoten will exceed your expectations!

Lofoten Cruise Review by lazydoxie@flash.net

67 people found this helpful
Trip Details
You will have a unique experience sailing on MS Lofoten that you would not have on any other ship. But you need to know what to expect, and more importantly, what NOT to expect on this ship.

I'd wanted to do a Norwegian fjord cruise for 30 years and finally had the time and resources to do it, I did extensive research and specifically chose the MS Lofoten because of her small size and vintage experience. I wouldn't have it any other way, but I suspect most Americans who are used to large ships and lots of amenities would be disappointed.

First, the ship itself. It has beds for about 150 people, but also takes on ferry passengers. The ferry passengers don't necessarily have beds, so they end up sleeping on couches in lounges (usually the 2 forward lounges where it is darker and quieter). This was not really an inconvenience, but is something you don't see on ships that cater to Americans. There is a dining room where full cruise passengers dine, and a cafeteria where ferry passengers can order food. All passengers can order from the cafeteria, and can get snacks, drinks, etc at any time.

The rooms are quite small but efficient. My single room on the "B" deck had a porthole, an ample closet for hanging clothes and to place sweaters, shoes, purchases, etc. There are also some shelves by the sink for toiletries and several hooks from which to hang coats, bags, etc. The mattress seemed to be a bit uneven but with the gentle rocking of the ship it didn't affect my sleeping. I did need to close my porthole to make it dark enough to sleep in the land of the midnight sun. The toilets and showers are down the hall, The toilets are quite adequate, but the showers are lacking any sort of place to lay your clothes. There are 1 or 2 hooks, that's it, and no ventilation so the shower room gets quite steamy. Don't take anything that isn't necessary with you, and bring something easy to put on for the walk back to your room. They do not seem to change out towels or sheets at all during the trip, but might do that upon request. They provide a basic amenities kit with shampoo, body wash and lotion but it's not enough to last 10 nights. My room definitely had constant engine noise but it was not intrusuive - more like "white noise" and I didn't mind it. Light sleepers might opt for a room on the "C" deck, which seemed to be much quieter (and also had a much nicer shower room). "C" deck is also the lowest deck, so has the least amount of motion.

If you're particularly prone to sea-sickness, you probably don't want to choose the MS Lofoten. It has no stabilizers, and while the water is usually quite calm in the fjords in the summer, there are some passages along the open seas that can get choppy. If you are really concerned, then choose a room located near the center of the ship, and on the "A" deck, as this is the lowest deck and has the least amount of movement.

One drawback with the ferry passengers is that they seem to settle in to the best seats on the decks and in the lounges, preventing the full cruise passengers from having the best views while in the beautiful fjords. So check the day's schedule, and choose seats early. Most passengers were maneuvering for space on the bridge deck at the front of the ship, or for deck space on the sundecks at the back. While in the fjords I found very few people on the reception "A" deck, where it is very easy to walk across the ship to get unobstructed views on both sides. There is also a promenade the length of ths ship on the "A" deck. I also recommend sightseeing from areas of the bridge deck and boat deck, where you can also easily walk across the ship to get views of both sides.

Second, the activities on board the ship. There is a cruise director who makes announcements on the PA system, but these can't be heard in the staterooms, so be aware of that. She announced all the ports of call, excursions, upcoming sights of interest, and activities on the ship. Passengers can take part in ceremonies for crossing the arctic circle, and there are special drinks and snacks available on the back deck from time to time. There was a tour of the bridge one morning - be sure to listen for that and sign up because it is very interesting. Other than that, you need to entertain yourself. You will find many people on the sundecks reading or relaxing. There is excellent free wi-fi aboard inside the public areas (it did not work in the staterooms nor in the outdoor areas). Some people brought laptops and were frequently seen writing/blogging. Of course, the scenery is stunning, so I spent most of my time relaxing, watching the world go by.

Now the food. Full cruise passengers dine in the dining room 3 meals per day. The dining room is small - I think it only holds maybe 50-60 people. There are 2 dinner seatings with assigned seats. Breakfast and lunch is buffet style. The restaurant is often full for breakfast and lunch, so you need to be somewhat flexible on your mealtimes. If you have a shore excursion or want to get off in a specific port, be sure to plan enough time to dine. The buffets were excellent, especially the lunches, They were often my favorite meal. Lunches had both hot and cold offerings, and plenty of salads, cheeses, and desserts. Of course seafood and root vegetables are available for every meal, but there is enough variety in their preparation that it was never monotonous. Dinners are served by waiters from silver trays onto plates at your table. The chefs set up the prepared food on the buffet tables and you can watch them fill the platters. It's quite amazing and a very special vintage touch only available on the MS Lofoten. The dinners are a fixed menu, but it is possible to make special requests. I found everything delicious and quite artfully presented. A few of the desserts could have been a bit more creative. One night we had a cup of stewed prunes with cream. Tasty, but I don't know anyone in their right mind who would want to consume a whole cup of prunes!

The service for dinner was quite good. There is no cost for water during meals, but if you want bottled water you do pay for that. There is a wine package available for purchase but this seemed extremely expensive. I preferred to have a glass of wine in the cafe/bar in the late afternoon before dinner. The wait staff seemed to have a little confusion over those with the wine package - the passengers would have to tell the remind the staff, even though we were always at the same table every night. The staff also seemed to get overwhelmed during breakfast and lunch, trying to keep the buffet stocked, tables cleared and set for arriving guests, serving water and coffee, etc. Be aware that after dinner, they do not serve coffee/tea at the table. It is available in the rear lounge after dinner, and you must serve yourself. That was a little disappointing for those who like to linger after dinner and enjoy coffee, but with 2 sittings I'm sure it's necessary to clear the dining room promptly.

Now on to the excursions. I chose to take 5 excursions, 3 of which involved getting off the ship at one port and back on at another. I did this partly in order to see some of the interior of Norway, and was not disappointed. If there are enough participants there are separate busses for Norwegian, English and German; otherwise all narrative is done in each language. I highly recommend the Geiranger/Trollstigen excursion. Views are highly dependent on the weather but this is still something that should not be missed. The bus makes several stops at viewpoints, takes 2 different ferries, and hugs the coastline of several fjords. Beautiful. I also did the Breakfast at the North Cape excursion because I wanted to be at the North Cape early, before throngs of tourists descended upon it. It was what I expected - our group had the Cape to ourselves. This excursion also gives you good views of the interior, and you will see lots of reindeer grazing.

The Midnight concert in Tromso is not to be missed. This absolutely exceeded my expectations. The program was a selection of music based upon Norwegian folk tales, with a little classical and contemporary music also. It was performed by an organist/pianist, a cellist, and a baritone. I did not want the concert to end.

I also did the bus tour to the Russian Border. Skip this unless you REALLY have to see the border for yourself. You cannot enter the border crossing area so there's really not much to see or do. The land across the border looks just like the land in Norway. I should have just spent time touring Kirkenes on my own.

Likewise for the Lofoten Hike. This is a rather strenuous "power hike" over a mountain saddle and back down the other side, then a long bus ride back to the ship. The guide NEVER stopped during the hike for us to rest or take photos - we had to do that on own and then hustle to catch up. We did stop at the highest point of the hike for tea and candy (which the guides brought) but then we were quickly back on the trail down. It was dusk and the views were in the shadows, so it wasn't particularly beautiful or photogenic anyway. Skip this.

I didn't do any of the tours or city walks. I preferred to explore and enjoy the ports on my own when there was enough time. Be sure to research what you might miss seeing from the ship if you take a shore excursion that starts and ends in different ports.

I recommend pre-booking excursions that you really have your heart set on. That way your spot is guaranteed, as some excursions did sell out. Otherwise, book the excursions aboard the ship. That way, you will pay in kroner, which ends up being less expensive due to Hurtigruten's exchange rate. I suggest calling Hurtigruten and asking how many seats are still available for excursions, and if something you want is getting full you can pre-book it. Some excursions, like the Midnight Concert, have unlimited seats so there is no need to pre-book those.

The weather in Norway can change quickly. Be prepared for anything. The Gulf Stream keeps the coast warmer than you might think, but it generates a lot of cloud cover/mist/rain. There were a couple days where I wore a tank top on deck. I recommend layering your clothes - perhaps a t-shirt and a lighter fleece hoodie, then a jacket for colder temps/rain. There is no need to dress up - even the captain's dinner is casual. You can quickly return to your room if you need to change clothes or grab a jacket.

There is no elevator available for passenger use, and access to the bridge deck is via a narrow stairway. Passengers should be agile enough to navigate steep stairs and narrow passages. Luggage was delivered to our room upon arrival in Bergen, but we were responsible for removing it ourselves when we disembarked in Trondheim.

Be aware that everything in Norway is expensive. Post cards are about $1 each, and postage to the US is about $2 per postcard. They sell stamps aboard the ship and there is a small store selling post cards, souvenirs, and an assortment of clothing.

All in all, the cruise was a very economical way to spend 10 nights in Norway, as it included transportation, lodging, and food. The scenery is more beautiful than I imagined. I appreciated that there are rooms for single travelers. My friend and I both had single rooms which was fabulous, as it gave us some privacy. The ship is absolutely charming and definitely an experience that most people will never have. I highly recommend the MS Lofoten to those who would appreciate what she has to offer!
lazydoxie@flash.net’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Cabin 222
The rooms are quite small but efficient. My single room on the "B" deck had a porthole, an ample closet for hanging clothes and to place sweaters, shoes, purchases, etc. There are also some shelves by the sink for toiletries and several hooks from which to hang coats, bags, etc. The mattress seemed to be a bit uneven but with the gentle rocking of the ship it didn't affect my sleeping. I did need to close my porthole to make it dark enough to sleep in the land of the midnight sun. The toilets and showers are down the hall, The toilets are quite adequate, but the showers are lacking any sort of place to lay your clothes. There are 1 or 2 hooks, that's it, and no ventilation so the shower room gets quite steamy. Don't take anything that isn't necessary with you, and bring something easy to put on for the walk back to your room. They do not seem to change out towels or sheets at all during the trip, but might do that upon request. They provide a basic amenities kit with shampoo, body wash and lotion but it's not enough to last 10 nights. My room definitely had constant engine noise but it was not intrusuive - more like "white noise" and I didn't mind it. Light sleepers might opt for a room on the "C" deck, which seemed to be much quieter (and also had a much nicer shower room). "C" deck is also the lowest deck, so has the least amount of motion.