We were recommended by friends. We booked directly with Hurtigruten and found their headquarters team very helpful during several phone conversations. The Spitsbergen has been recently upgraded and offers a gym, hot tubs and sauna. There was a buffet style breakfast and lunch with hot and cold options and most evenings a designated table, waiter service meal. The food - without exception - was excellent. Fish was served most lunchtimes and evenings either as a starter or main course. If like me you aren't keen, you can ask in advance to have an alternative which was most often meat, but sometimes I was given a vegetarian starter which was lovely also. As this is a working passenger ferry there is no need to dress formally for dinner. Most people wore their daytime clothes for the evening meal. Bar prices are prohibitive! If you buy a couple of drinks - beer, wine or spirits - you will not get much change from 230 NOK (approx. £23.00). Actually the ships's bar prices were very competitive to the prices in the towns. This is Norwegian Govt. pricing. The service, in every respect was exceptional. All the staff spoke excellent English. They wewre friendly, courteous and helpful. The itinary looks very busy but in practice, many of the stops in port happened late in the evening orvery early in the morning and offered little time for sight seeing. A 15 min sop was not unusual. This is because it is a working passenger ferry and follows a strict timetable. Some people on our trip had expected a cruise experience and itinary and were a bit disappointed. We felt that the frequent stops added a new and interesting dimension eveni though often we were seeing towns from the top deck and after dark. The excursions we joined were very good (although I wouldn't recommend Bodo and saltstraumen in the winter months as their is little to see and the visit to the rapids was curtailed because it was getting dark). The highlights for us were Kirkenes and a Taste of Vesteralen. The scenery in winter is breathtaking and heart achingly beautiful. We did see the Northernn Liights. We feel we must go back again. It is not enough to restrict yourself to seeing such beauty just once in a lifetime. I would certainly use Hurtigruten again. Disembarkation was problem free. Do book the Hurtigrutuen coach transport to and from Bergen airport.
We had an internal cabin on the 4th deck. From the floorplan it seems that our cabin was one of the larger ones and it was very spacious. We weren't sure how we would feel about not having a window but it wasn't a problem, There was a TV screen in the room showing a continual view of the prow from the bridge. It more than compensated for the lack of a window and we left it on 24/7. The air conditioning and underfloor heating in the wetroom/WC worked fine. Cleanliness was excellent throughout. Our cabin 442 was under the kitchen and suffered from noise following restaurant service until about 10.00 p.m. It didn't bother us but it might be an issue for some passengers.