We had always wanted to do the Norwegian coast and my parents took the journey probably 40 years ago and loved it. Our Swedish friends, who we travel with, suggested we take this trip and we jumped at the chance. We understood this is not a cruise but a trip on a supply ship. We had taken the same type of trip before on the St. Lawrence so we fully understood the difference between cruise and working ships. We loved Bergen, leaving from Bergen, easy check in. The ship has been refurbished with great viewing space from all public rooms and areas inside and out. Supremely comfortable. We knew our cabin would be small and very similar to the one we had on the St. Lawrence but designed well with good storage, nice, but small bathroom, great water pressure and hot water, and exceedingly clean. The activities were informative lectures, small talks on various places we passed, fascinating, excellent tours ( expensive but they are the only game in town). The crew on the ship were polite, helpful and very friendly. The passengers were a true mix: Brits, Germans, French, Swedes, Americans, Asians etc. Languages were always in Norwegian, German and English and most of the time French as well. The ages were predominately 50-80. We loved being with other cultures and using our other languages. The visuals were supreme, incredibly beautiful, the towns were typical coastal towns, lovely and interesting. The ship was amazingly timely.
Why then only 3 stars? One word “food”. Let me preface this, I dislike buffets but these were especially challenging. They pride themselves on coffee and tea all day. The coffee was undrinkable and the quality coffee, which you pay for, was not available until 10 am.
The lunch buffets were recycled food from previous days and dinners. Salt was the preferred spice, every thing was over salted.
Dinners were another story. They tried to feature local foods, traditional foods with an edge, but the heavy usage of salt, the preparation made dining challenging. For example we had an appetizer served in a large soup bowl that consisted of a tablespoon of sweetkelp, 1 sliced piece of asparagus, a pea shoot and a drizzle of sauce. It could have been good, was not salted but it literally was two small fork fulls. Skimpy is what I would call it. We had an oat cake that tasted of salted cardboard and found it two days later recycled in some sort if salad. Need I say more.
This is where Hurtigruten failed.
The crew were very nice but the waiters, the bartender and the lady at the bakery were over worked, lines of 10 in the am waiting for a kaffee latte, lines waiting for a drink at the bar, long wait times to get served for dinner. In addition to making drinks and espresso drinks the bartender was responsible to clean the tables in the bar as well.
This was not an inexpensive trip nor should it have been but the food should have been of a much higher quality for the price of this trip. There was no choice at dinner. We never ate at the a la carte restaurant ( pay extra ) because we did not have faith that it would be good coming from the same kitchen. The bakery had nice food the sandwich which I had was delicious it was evident that the bakery foods, which you paid for, were not the same foods that were served in the dining room. We even heard comments about the cheeses which I agreed were not up to par.
However, the salmon was prepared well. .
Hurtigruten is not generous after the ceremony of crossing the Arctic Circle a drink was served without cost and, I am not kidding, served in a catsup cup, no more than a tablespoon. They would announce after an excursion “ Hot Chocolate and Apple Cake now being served..... for a fee if 50 kronas.” Strange.
i would recommend Hurtigruten for the journey which was exquisitely beautiful but I would certainly tell people to beware of the food. For the price of this trip the food quality and preparation should have been at a much higher standard. There was no excuse for this quality of food.
Extremely clean, great hot water and pressure, good storage. It was a supply, working ship cabin not a cruise ship cabin. It was comfortable not luxurious.