I have often thought about a Norwegian cruise, how pretty it would be. Friends went in September and I was completely smitten by their photographs and their experience. I perused Hurtigruten's web site and booked a date covering both Christmas and New Year, and a class of cabin in my price range. I was not disappointed in my choice. The service on board was excellent from all members of staff. The MS Nordlys has the bonus of an on-board Expedition Team so as well as the Hurtigruten excursions, there were also walks or hikes with the Expedition Team, generally where the tours didn't go.
On board there was a daily talk by the Expedition Team on topics such as The Sami People, Polar Expeditions, Folklore and Fairytales, along with general information about the next port of call and things to see and do.
I didn't think the excursions were particularly good value for money but that could be because nothing in Norway is cheap. They were, however, very good. Those I went on were, with the exception of a nature and history walk with the on-board Expedition Team, Hurtigruten excursions. Sadly there is only time to do one excursion or expedition at stops en route so if doing both the northbound and southbound voyages its good to read the timings thoroughly before booking anything in case you miss out. For example, if you go dog-sledding in Tromso on the northbound voyage then you miss the city tour because on the southbound journey the stop at Tromso only has a midnight concert. So take the city tour northbound and do the dog sledding at Kirkenes! I didn't find it necessary to pre-book any excursions, they were all bookable on board but perhaps they get more booked out during different seasons.
On the dates I travelled (25 December-5th January) the age range of Coastal Voyage passengers was mixed - one or two children, under 30's, over 30's and on to middle aged and older. Some travellers had a physical disability but they were all looked after whenever they needed help. Some locations were difficult for disembarking but their needs were well catered for, including using the car loading bay when the passenger ramp was too steep for them. Don't be deterred if you're disabled!
Mealtimes are open seating with the exception of most dinners where you are allocated a dining time and a table at the outset of your Voyage. Most single travellers were put together, generally in groups of same language speakers - English, German etc spread out among the different sittings.
Further down this review you will see that I have said I've done 2-5 cruises: my first was moving to Australia in 1971, the second and third were from Australia to New Zealand and from New Zealand to the UK. These were on large impersonal cruise liners.
The Hurtigruten Coastal Voyage is not only an experience for travellers but is a working ferry for local people wanting to get from place to place easily and there is no comparison between the first 3 'cruises' and that which I have just taken with Hurtigruten.
Without doubt the Hurtigruten Coastal Voyage is the most memorable and the most enjoyable for me - its casual and fun without too many frills, smart casual for dinner rather than stuffy "dress for dinner" or "dine with the captain". If you want posh, then you may find another company suits you better.
I will definitely book more trips with Hurtigruten in the future and will definitely revisit the coastal voyage during another season.
I chose this deck since it wasn't overlooked by people promenading outside (deck 5). i chose this cabin as it was starboard and away from the loading and unloading of cars and passengers thus away from noise.
The cabins are small and perhaps a little too cosy for two people (I travelled alone) but adequately fitted out. The en-suite is a little small but again perfectly adequate. My gripe is two-fold: the wooden coat hangers (8) in the wardrobe are those which don't hook over a rail, but a post that slips into a holder, and sometimes a pain to get in and out of the wardrobe (but the plus point is no-one will steal them, so there will always be 8!); and secondly the hairdryer in the bathroom is typical 'hotel' bathroom and of little use to anyone who wants to style hair properly.
There were two power points in the cabin, but useless if like me you need and forget to bring an adaptor! (The onboard shop didn't sell adaptors.) Reception staff loaned me the use of most the cables I needed for my phone, computer and cameras but there were other electrical appliances with UK plugs that didn't come out of their carry bags.