The travel arrangements were fine and as travellers who usually book everything independently, it was good to discover that Hurtigruten seem to have everything down to a fine art. They also give you plenty of information before you leave home.
We arrived on time at the ship, MS Richard With, where our cabin was ready for our occupation immediately. The cabins are small but very comfortable and have everything you need. It was very clean. The shower room was tiny and if you were a large person you might find the shower difficult. Luckily this was not the case for us.
Food was generally of a high standard and we found the staff in the dining room pleasant and helpful. We had booked breakfast and dinner only, thinking we might be off the boat some days. When we were on board we had light snacks from the cafe area, which were very good indeed.
The "coffee" deal is worth doing. You buy a thermos mug and then refill with tea or coffee of your choice at any time of day or night. After a couple of days it will pay for itself. We spent a lot of time out on the deck (in chilly February)with a hot drink in hand.
I think the excursions are expensive generally, but then Norway is expensive. So we took off on our own when there was time to walk around a stopping place. It is worth doing some homework before you go so that you use the time wisely.
The one exception was booking to go dog sledding in Tromso (the evening excursion post disembarking) which was fabulous.
We experienced the northern lights from the ship in the Lofotens and again from our husky drawn sled near Tromso. Both times it was magical. Especially as the other nights had been cloudy and snowy and we didn't think the skies would clear, but they did.
Out on deck at night it is eiry but wonderful. The water was like a mill pond in the shelter of the fjords and the snow made it easy to see the landscape, dotted with the lights from the fisherman's cottages on the water's edge as we glided by. Heading north you only see the Lofoten Islands at night and though this was beautiful, I would have liked longer here. The southbound journey brings you back during the day. Another time I think I'd make a stop here.
All the crew are friendly, polite and welcoming, and they all seem to speak English really well. The tour guide and his assistant seemed to be working very hard all the time but were never without smiles. They provide a daily itinerary that lists the ports to be stopped at, the excursions available, and the sights to be passed along the way.
We were sorry to leave the ship but Hurtigruten had booked us into a very comfortable hotel in Tromso, which was 2 minutes walk from the boat and itself on the water front.
The return journey home was easy and uneventful. Again Hurtigruten had covered everything in terms of transfers and connections. I think this would be of particular comfort to a lone or first time traveller. They have it down to a fine art.
Well organized trip. Lovely clean and comfortable ship. Stupendous scenery. I would just love to go again... and take a bit longer over it.
Small cabin with twin bunks, one converted to a sofa. Compact shower/WC. Very clean and fresh. Good size window onto deck 5. But be prepared that passengers can walk past your window. Quiet situation towards the stern. Loading/unloading at the ports at night was not disturbing.