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.
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.
Bergen is the biggest port you'll visit on your Northbound voyage. It would be well worth arriving the day before embarkation. There's more than enough here to see.
Small, very quiet but quaint port. There was a viewing point which involved climbing around 400 steps which we didn't do...but should have.
Your 2nd biggest port on this trip. The Cathedral's worth a look. The town has a central square and a shopping centre. You can easily wander around for a few hours.
Tromso was actually Port 5 but this site wouldn't allow me to select Bodo which was Port 4. Bodo was cute, small like the other stops but there's a nice walk to the 'other' harbour, just head right from where you're docked. We were there on a Sunday and it seems all the locals walk the pier to the two llighthouses. Worth it. Bodo is also your first stop across the arctic circle so you'll notice the temperature drop (in winter) and you may need your ice grips.
Tromso - Day 5.
The Arctic Cathedral (not walkable really) take a bus or a cab. Or we walked the centre, the old cathedral and the Polar Museum which was interesting.