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We booked this voyage hoping to see The Northern Lights and we did. 4 nights out of 6 the Aurora was there in all her glory. 12 sightings in all. That's what I call success! We've cruised on 'cruise ships'; Celebrity & Holland America. We knew The Spitsbergen was not a 'cruise ship' and having read some reviews here we were a tad nervous. The ship exceeded our expectations. She is modern, warm, comfortable and spotlessly clean. The staff (mostly Norwegian) are professional, efficient, friendly & helpful. The food was local, delicious, varied, plentiful and beautifully presented. If you don't like fish you'd be best to ask for the Vegetarian/Vegan menu in advance. The daily bulletin's are comprehensive and Hurtigruten go to great lengths to make sure you don't miss out on any of the beautiful scenery & points of interest. You can set your cabin phone to receive 'Northern Lights announcements' throughout the night. Our first 'alert' came at 10.30pm on Day 3 and it said "Ladies & Gentlement, Hurtigruten proudly presents the Aurora Borealis"....brought a tear to my eye. To see 'everything' takes a bit of effort, be prepared to get out of bed, put on ALL of your clothes and go to Deck 8. Even during the day, make the effort to go 'on Deck' to see all the points of interest. We were surprised how many passengers did not do this. Don't expect 'Entertainment'. The scenery is your entertainment and there's no shortage of it. There are some 'activities' organised that you should not miss: The crossing The Arctic Circle Ceremony has to be done and remember to post your postcards with the ship's arctic crossing postmark. The various tastings of fresh seafood served on Deck 8 are delicious. Look out for the Arctic Circle marker around 7 am on the port side and there are many more points of interest that are all worth the effort. Don't miss the Trollfjord lit up by the ship's searchlights. The ports visited are small and in winter, very quiet. Don't expect too much. But there's enough in the main ports to warrant a wander around. Bergen, Trondheim & Tromso are the key 3. Also, get off in Svolvaer the Capital of The Lofoten Islands during the 1 hour stop here. It's interesting even during the 15 to 30 minute stops to watch the local passengers come & go. And watch the cargo too, we saw 'windows' being loaded, fridge/freezers, a snowmobile, fresh produce...and of course 'Post'. We did one organised excursion from Honningsvag to The North Cape. It was amazing to be standing at the most northerly land point in Europe and see the impressive sculpture. The drive, in convoy behind the snow plough is an exhilarating ride not for the faint hearted. Hurtigruten is a well oiled machine and everything from embarkation to disembarkation went smoothly & safely. Some tips: 1. Do not underestimate how cold it can be when you are on the open deck late at night and the ship is moving. You must take quality thermal underwear & several layers of it. Ski (padded, thermal) trousers would be ideal and a quality wind/waterproof jacket (long) with a hood. You'll also need a hat, 2 pairs of gloves, thermal socks, a scarf and snow boots plus ice grips. 2. Comfy, lounge around clothes for in your cabin make all the difference. Fleecy Pyjamas would be ideal for this. I took a mini hot water bottle and I needed it when I came back in from the open deck!! 3. The Northern Lights are notoriously difficult to photograph. We downloaded an app from the I-store called Northern Lights and used it to take photos on an I-phone 7. We're pleased with the quality. Our fancy cannon camera didn't register the lights at all. 4. Go to the welcome meeting & the disembarkation meeting; it's useful information. 5. Take a small amount of local currency. Enough to tip (if you want) your cabin/dining staff. Or to buy a coffee or postcard in ports. Credit cards are accepted everywhere 6. Take a good moisturiser and hand cream. The cold & sea air dries you up in seconds! 7. It's warm on board so take a layered approach to your packing. You do not need anything 'dressy'. Jeans & a light jumper are more than fine for the dining room. We would definitely travel with Hurtigruten again in the future for this type of adventure voyage.

The Northern Lights danced all over the sky.

MS Spitsbergen Cruise Review by discerningedinburgh

45 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: March 2017
  • Destination: Arctic
We booked this voyage hoping to see The Northern Lights and we did. 4 nights out of 6 the Aurora was there in all her glory. 12 sightings in all. That's what I call success!

We've cruised on 'cruise ships'; Celebrity & Holland America. We knew The Spitsbergen was not a 'cruise ship' and having read some reviews here we were a tad nervous. The ship exceeded our expectations. She is modern, warm, comfortable and spotlessly clean. The staff (mostly Norwegian) are professional, efficient, friendly & helpful. The food was local, delicious, varied, plentiful and beautifully presented. If you don't like fish you'd be best to ask for the Vegetarian/Vegan menu in advance.

The daily bulletin's are comprehensive and Hurtigruten go to great lengths to make sure you don't miss out on any of the beautiful scenery & points of interest. You can set your cabin phone to receive 'Northern Lights announcements' throughout the night. Our first 'alert' came at 10.30pm on Day 3 and it said "Ladies & Gentlement, Hurtigruten proudly presents the Aurora Borealis"....brought a tear to my eye. To see 'everything' takes a bit of effort, be prepared to get out of bed, put on ALL of your clothes and go to Deck 8. Even during the day, make the effort to go 'on Deck' to see all the points of interest. We were surprised how many passengers did not do this.

Don't expect 'Entertainment'. The scenery is your entertainment and there's no shortage of it. There are some 'activities' organised that you should not miss: The crossing The Arctic Circle Ceremony has to be done and remember to post your postcards with the ship's arctic crossing postmark. The various tastings of fresh seafood served on Deck 8 are delicious. Look out for the Arctic Circle marker around 7 am on the port side and there are many more points of interest that are all worth the effort. Don't miss the Trollfjord lit up by the ship's searchlights.

The ports visited are small and in winter, very quiet. Don't expect too much. But there's enough in the main ports to warrant a wander around. Bergen, Trondheim & Tromso are the key 3. Also, get off in Svolvaer the Capital of The Lofoten Islands during the 1 hour stop here. It's interesting even during the 15 to 30 minute stops to watch the local passengers come & go. And watch the cargo too, we saw 'windows' being loaded, fridge/freezers, a snowmobile, fresh produce...and of course 'Post'.

We did one organised excursion from Honningsvag to The North Cape. It was amazing to be standing at the most northerly land point in Europe and see the impressive sculpture. The drive, in convoy behind the snow plough is an exhilarating ride not for the faint hearted.

Hurtigruten is a well oiled machine and everything from embarkation to disembarkation went smoothly & safely.

Some tips:

1. Do not underestimate how cold it can be when you are on the open deck late at night and the ship is moving. You must take quality thermal underwear & several layers of it.

Ski (padded, thermal) trousers would be ideal and a quality wind/waterproof jacket (long) with a hood. You'll also need a hat, 2 pairs of gloves, thermal socks, a scarf and snow boots plus ice grips.

2. Comfy, lounge around clothes for in your cabin make all the difference. Fleecy Pyjamas would be ideal for this. I took a mini hot water bottle and I needed it when I came back in from the open deck!!

3. The Northern Lights are notoriously difficult to photograph. We downloaded an app from the I-store called Northern Lights and used it to take photos on an I-phone 7. We're pleased with the quality. Our fancy cannon camera didn't register the lights at all.

4. Go to the welcome meeting & the disembarkation meeting; it's useful information.

5. Take a small amount of local currency. Enough to tip (if you want) your cabin/dining staff. Or to buy a coffee or postcard in ports. Credit cards are accepted everywhere

6. Take a good moisturiser and hand cream. The cold & sea air dries you up in seconds!

7. It's warm on board so take a layered approach to your packing. You do not need anything 'dressy'. Jeans & a light jumper are more than fine for the dining room.

We would definitely travel with Hurtigruten again in the future for this type of adventure voyage.
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Cabin Review

Cabin 627
627 is on Deck 6, port side aft. This is a suite with a balcony. It's twice the size of a standard cruise ship cabin. You'll have: a queen sized bed facing double full length windows so you can literally lie in bed and admire the views...surreal! There's a desk, phone, hairdryer, kettle & tea/coffee. Sofa, coffee table & 2 chairs to admire the views from your patio doors leading to the long, narrow balcony. The balcony has a fold table & 2 fold down chairs & yes we were able to sit on it (with coats on). You'll find a TV, mini bar, safe and dressing area with generous hanging space. All your luggage will fit under the raised bed. The heating worked perfectly. The ensuite is modern, spotless and has a heated floor. This cabin is directly above the cargo hold door which opens at every port (including through the night stops). We were worried it would keep us awake but it did not. If you were a light sleeper it might. The port side on the Northbound journey is perfect for the many landmarks that will be pointed out to you but you will not see the coastline. It worked perfectly for us as The Aurora was most often visible on our side during this voyage.

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews