Hurtigruten Norwegian Coastal Voyage (Bergen>Kirkenes>Bergen)
30 July – 10 August MS Midnatsol
Overall a very good but also memorable trip – however, it was memorable for the wrong reason.
Malfunction/break down of machinery/equipment on ships impacts adversely, to a greater or lesser extent, on passengers. The ship operating company, in this case, Hurtigruten, can be judged by how they deal with such situations.
The voyage of MS Midnatsol was due to arrive in Bergen on 10 August. On the penultimate evening there was an electricity failure affecting the cabins and air conditioning which, we were told an hour or so later, had been repaired. On the morning of the final day we found we were docked at Alesund and were informed that the onward cruise to Bergen (our final destination) was cancelled.
One would have thought Hurtigruten, as a long and very experienced operator, would handle the situation quickly and efficiently. In reality, it was a nightmare. There was a complete lack of information as to how passengers would be taken to Bergen. We were repeatedly told by the staff that they were waiting for Hurtigruten HQ to inform them of solutions. If there was a leader handling the case on the ship, it was not evident. The Captain was neither seen nor heard at any time. The staff were evasive, disorganized and, sometimes, offhand in handling passenger queries. It was not until the late afternoon of the final day we were informed that coaches, departing at different times, would take us to Bergen. A meeting was convened with all passengers concerned to give details of this. The meeting descended into chaos, as the staff responsible created confusion and even panic situations as they disseminated the information on the coach departures. Throughout the day, the staff repeatedly said they worked very hard to get passengers to Bergen – I have no reason to doubt that – but it was the amateurish way the whole matter was dealt with by Hurtigruten and their staff that made a bad situation worse. We are not aware of an official apology being made for the inconvenience caused.
Eventually, more by luck and persistence on our part rather than by good management on the part of Hurtigruten, we boarded a coach which departed at 17.45 for the journey from Alesund to Bergen with each passenger given a bag containing a sandwich, an apple and a bottle of water. After dropping passengers off at a number of hotels in central Bergen we eventually reached the airport at approx. 03.30, too late to check into the airport hotel we had booked, as we had to check in for our early morning flight at 04.00.
A great pity that what was otherwise a very good holiday was soured by this traumatic experience on the final day.