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17 Hurtigruten Midnatsol Baltic Sea Cruise Reviews

I was part of the Astronomy Voyage on this 12 day on the Hurtigruten Cruise so will break into 2 parts. Cruise- The embarkation process from the Hurtigruten building was painful. We were advised to be there from 2-4pm and staff would be ... Read More
I was part of the Astronomy Voyage on this 12 day on the Hurtigruten Cruise so will break into 2 parts. Cruise- The embarkation process from the Hurtigruten building was painful. We were advised to be there from 2-4pm and staff would be available to assist. I arrived at 3pm and there was no one there till 5pm and we didn't get through the check in process till 6pm. There were minimal seats and no refreshments available so there was lots of standing around waiting. Safety briefing was comprehensive. Cabin was very clean and comfortable. Mattress was not, but a new topper was put on the bed once I asked reception.The beds were very narrow for someone use to sleeping in a queen size bed. Standard or room cleaning very high. Towels in bathroom were small and very worn. Only wall soap provided which was a bit harsh. Hair dryer provided. No tissues provided which would have been nice and no tea/coffee making facilities in cabin which would have been nice. You can purchase a mug which entitles you to free tea/coffee from the lounges at any time, but it would have been nice to have one in cabin when you get up. I don't drink coffee, but was told it was satisfactory and the tea provided was Twinings brand, and a good variety of choices. Food was exceptional. Breakfast was a buffet style with lots of choices of both hot, cold, fruit, cereals and yoghurt. Hot chocolate was exceptional. My only complaint was there was no toaster to toast the beautiful choices of bread there were. Lunch was a buffet as well with both hot and cold choices. Dinner was a set menu and table service. There was only once choice but if you didn't eat something and let them know prior in the day, they will make you something different. Only having one choice bothered some, but was fine with me. Lots of fish on offer!! They had a traditional Christmas buffet one night which was beautiful with lots of seafood and traditional Norwegen foods. Staff were very helpful and always friendly. Everyone from the captain to the housekeeping staff said good morning when they passed. Excursions were a mixed bag. Lots were not available and they need to update their list. Some were very expensive for the length of time they were and seemed very rushed. All were costly. The 2 outstanding ones were the trip to the Northern cape (which has a great gift shop) and the dog sledding. We had lots of fresh snow that afternoon and falling as we did it which was beautiful. Entertainment- well there isn't much to speak of. There was a singer in the upstairs bar and TV's in the lounge area, but was nothing other than this. The ship has a large auditorium where they could have put on an evening movie for those wanting to do something other than drink or talk. Astronomy Voyage- Dr John Marsden was the astronomer on board. This man is passionate about his profession and was a dynamic and interesting speaker. Some things tended to go over my head at times, but for the most part it was informative and interesting. The trip was coordinated by Inger Carter who is a native of Norway and provided us with lots of useful information on Norway and the life of its people that we would otherwise not have got. She also took those in the group on a short walking tour of the area when stopped in port. Often things had to be shuffled around to fit in with other groups who were on board and she did this brilliantly by keeping all of us informed of any changes. A job very done by all and we were lucky enough to see the northern lights 4 nights in a row. In a nutshell, this was a trip of a life time. It was not cheap, but I think as an experience, it was worth it. It would have been nice to see some extra touches like shampoo and tissues in the bathroom as the suite's had and tea and coffee making facilities in cabins. They definitely need to improve the check in process.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
Our vacation began in Amsterdam, where we spent two days, then flew to Bergen aboard a KLM airliner. We had researched and prepared for our cruise for a long time, watching Norway through available webcams before we left, checking weather ... Read More
Our vacation began in Amsterdam, where we spent two days, then flew to Bergen aboard a KLM airliner. We had researched and prepared for our cruise for a long time, watching Norway through available webcams before we left, checking weather forecasts. Nothing could have prepared us for the 9C-13C weather we had for the duration of our trip, July 13 to July 24. In retrospect, our last minute decision to throw a warm winter coat in our luggage was a wise one. Thank God we did. After arriving in Bergen, we were picked up by the Hurtigruten bus (I bought a transfer) but the driver never bothered to check our vouchers. Check-in at the cruise terminal was very quick and efficient, as is the Northern custom. We received our documentation, cafeteria information, our bags were taken and delivered directly to our cabins. Orientation and safety program upstairs. We were hoping to go out and see the city, especially the Floyen mountain funicular, but we didn't end up having any time for that. Our first lunch aboard was excellent: abundant varieties of seafood, smoked fish, salads, etc. Dessert was memorable throughout. The first thing my husband did was buy Hurtigruten mugs for coffee and tea. We hadn't planned on it, but weather told us what to do, and it turned out to be another wise choice: we used them thoroughly every day of the cruise. The many Germans, few Australians, Norwegians traveling locally--all seemed to use them too. I had prebooked four excursions: Geiranger fjord, Scenery and Huskies, Bird Safari, and North Cape Southbound. We enjoyed them all, though there turned out to be no visibility in North Cape it was still very much worth it. The husky farm showed an informative film about the dogs, then let us pet them and take pictures. They are surprisingly friendly. The bird safari took us by boat to a cliff where we saw puffins, sea eagles, cormorants. Geiranger fjord was spectacular, even with the wind and rain. The real highlight, of course, is the fjords. Even in bad weather they are spectacular. Took over a thousand photos on camera and iPhone. The weather created some choppy moments, especially when the ship goes out into open sea. I had read about it but to experience it is another matter. On the return trip, southbound, we got lucky. The sun came out and deck 9 became a popular spot to bask in the Northern sun. The scenery turned more green-blue and yellow all around. We crossed the Arctic Circle twice, saw the sun at midnight, and on the way back to Bergen, with nicer, warmer weather at our backs, were able to go ashore more and see some smaller towns, when MS Midnatsol was making stops for an hour, half-an-hour at a time. The towns in these ports are wonderfully picturesque. The crew works very hard on the ship. A few days into the cruise we realized that the waitresses from the restaurant also clean the cabins during the day, and work 22 days in a row. They came from parts of Europe, nearby Sweden to distant Slovakia. Hilde and Bjorn were in charge of excursions and daily flyers (collect all 35 ports of call). They were very helpful, suggesting what to wear and what to expect on certain excursions. Hilde knew every landmark, making the trip much more informative than a mere pleasure cruise. At the end, we stayed on for three more days in Bergen. The weather warmed up (24C) without a drop of rain. I booked a one-day Norway In A Nutshell excursion. If you have the chance, go on this one. It takes you to the one-of-a-kind Sonjo fjord , via three trains, bus, and boat. You will not see anything this spectacular. We explored Bergen for two days, visiting Grieg's house in Troldhaugen, a beautiful place to learn more about Norway's Dvorak. Another wonderful experience was buying a one-way ticket up Mount Floyen, walking down on foot, with its unforgettable views and natural scenery, weather permitting. The art museums in Bergen are a great place to see first-rate works without the crowds in Amsterdam, for example. The only negative of the whole trip would have to be the NOK, the Norwegian crona. Everything in Norway is going to be very expensive if you're using dollars. We just wanted to salute Hurtigruten and MS Midnatsol for the unforgettable cruise and a give a big thank you to everybody who made it a special one for us. Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
I had been keen to do the Classic Voyage for its visual attractions, for many years, but was somewhat reluctant about the whole cruising experience. As part of a package to southern Norway in May 2011 I was able to sample 2 days (one ... Read More
I had been keen to do the Classic Voyage for its visual attractions, for many years, but was somewhat reluctant about the whole cruising experience. As part of a package to southern Norway in May 2011 I was able to sample 2 days (one night) aboard Hurtigruten's MS Richard With. That impressive experience, coupled with good prior research, taking advantage of special travel offers and a seasoned traveller's perspective, convinced me to undertake the full 12-day "Classic Voyage", Bergen-Kirkenes-Bergen, this time on MS Midnatsol, the line's flagship. I departed Bergen on May 19. This is by far a very favourable review but as in so much of life, very little is perfect. So I am bound to note to readers of this thread that there was one glitch, relating to the on-board non-recognition of a ship-board credit previously guaranteed (see later very positive outcome). Also, as a technical professional looking at the nature of such a working operation, I believe there are some daily passenger-flow issues which might bear some review - particularly with regard to improving meal-time flows - even though that experience was by no means anything other than highly enjoyable. I think readers who are familiar with ship travel and more particularly Hurtigruten's operations and raison d'etre need no deep detailing here of such. I should simply like to reflect on how well I feel the whole experience was made for me. Firstly, and importantly, I feel the fact that these vessels are Scandinavian-crewed (whilst undoubtedly adding to the certainly expensive cost-base) is a very important factor: unfailingly polite and pleasant staff were always keen to answer, with useful insight, questions on the local environments, lifestyles and general shipboard operations. Secondly, and shiptype-specific, I don't think any review substitutes for actual visual impact: these boats are often jokingly referred to as coastal ferries. In fact they appear to be as plush and well-maintained as top cruise liners - merely much smaller. Very well-structured cabin layouts and outside cabins are generally view-favourable, though as in all ships there will be a few restrictions. And some prior research on the company's very informative website helps in that regard, anyway. Thirdly, and vessel-specific, I wish to congratulate the crew of MS Midnatsol on their operational thoroughness. Trying to be both local servant and cruise operation in one is a very tricky operation to balance and allowing for the former coming first, I think, on my assuredly very studious observations, they do - and did - a wonderful job on my cruise in May. And the range of shore excursions (yes, not cheap, but then very little in Norway is, obviously) was both wide-scoped and in my experiences, thoroughly and wonderfully executed. Finally, and most impressively, when a glitch happens for a passenger (see earlier comment) it is comforting to see willing efforts from ship through to administration on shore to help resolve the matter. Mine seemed to me somewhat minor but wonderfully, it ended up being resolved by the UK-based International Sales Manager who was prompt, enthusiastic and informative in his dealings with to my mind at least, a rather minor passenger in the importance chain. So, I would urge anyone who does want something a little different in the way of a cruise in northern coastal Europe, with more localised in-depth experiences, to give Hurtigruten careful consideration. You would be very unlucky to have anything other than a most rewarding voyage and experience - visually and operationally. And special credit to Mr Magne Gjervig (Midnatsol Hotel Manager), Ms Hild Hagen (Midnatsol Tours Manager), Mr Geir Eriksen (Midnatsol Captain) and Mr Karnail Gill (Hurtigruten UK). Read Less
Sail Date May 2013
Background information We were four Americans and two Norwegians traveling together. Two of us (Americans), did the round trip, the other four only did the north bound voyage and got off the ship in Kirkenes. The Norwegians had never been ... Read More
Background information We were four Americans and two Norwegians traveling together. Two of us (Americans), did the round trip, the other four only did the north bound voyage and got off the ship in Kirkenes. The Norwegians had never been on any kind of cruise before, although, they had been to many of the ports and either drove or flew to them. The four Americans had been on many previous cruises (Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, South America, Panama Canal, Alaska), but never on Hurtigruten. Travel to Port of Embarkation Before our voyage, we spent a few days in Oslo, and decided to take the train to Bergen the day before the Midnatsol left Bergen. The train ride was wonderful -- beautiful scenery the entire time. Bergen is a fairly compact town. The taxi line at the train station was fairly long, so we decided to walk to our hotel (Scandic Strand on Strandkaien) which is in the historic wharf area -- it took about 10 minutes. That night we walked over to the Hurtigruten Terminal (took about 10 minutes) to get information on what to do the next day. We learned that we could drop off our bags between 1:00 and about 2:00 or 2:30. Once the ship arrives in port, though, they don't accept luggage until it's time to check in at around 4:00. By the time we checked in, our luggage was waiting for us outside our cabin doors. There was a buffet dinner available the first night. The ship didn't leave Bergen until 10:30 PM. Ship Information The Midnatsol is one of Hurtigruten's newer ships. It has several, beautifully appointed public areas, and a two story viewing lounge in the front of the ship on decks 8 and 9. The gift shop was well stocked with many enticing items to purchase! Prices were the same as any Norwegian land based shop. The ship has a small gym, sauna, and two fantastic Jacuzzis that were kept at a nice and warm temperature. We were in the Jacuzzi every day and loved it. There are two outside deck areas. On deck 6, you can walk completely around the ship. The only problem is deck 6 also has smoking areas, so it's a problem if you are sensitive to cigarette smoke. Deck 9 has three outside sections available to cruisers: the middle section is where various activities take place like fish filleting demonstrations and a visit from King Neptune after crossing the Arctic Circle. The next section has the two Jacuzzis, two outdoor showers, and a "cabana" to hang your jacket and things while in the Jacuzzi. The back section of deck 9 is a large, open space which is great for watching the scenery, and for us, the Northern Lights. There's also heat generated from the smoke stack, so you can warm up a bit if it gets too cold. Stateroom We stayed in an inside cabin, on Deck 7 near the atrium elevators. The cabin was adequate: two twin beds - one bed folded up against the wall if you wanted more floor space, and the other bed could be converted into a sofa. There was a desk, small table, shelves and adequate closet space. The best part about our cabins (708 and 714) was access to the public space in the atrium. There was a bench and several chairs, so that space became our "living room". The wireless internet also reached that area, so we could call home on Skype or surf the internet while watching the scenery through the large floor to ceiling windows. While on the ship we also toured other cabins. The full suites were large and nicely appointed. Dining Breakfast was open seating and a typical Norwegian buffet with eggs, oatmeal, fish, cheese, fruit, breads, jellies, and things of that sort. The main entre selection varied (eggs, pancakes, and some other items), but the rest was the same every day. Lunch was also a buffet, but it varied if it was at a fixed time in your assigned table, or open seating. We found the dining staff to be accommodating -- there were six of us traveling together, and at first we were assigned to different dining times and tables. It was no problem getting us all at one table. Our voyage was pretty full, so they may not always have fixed lunch times. Out of the 12 nights, we had a buffet three times (one of the buffets was a seafood extravaganza with lobster, crab, shrimp, crawfish, mussels, and all kinds of wonderful food), and the other dinners consisted of a three course Norwegian meal of deer, reindeer, pork, beef, chicken, or various kinds of local fish. Coffee and tea were served during breakfast and lunch, but not during dinner. We did buy the Hurtigruten coffee mug, so we were able to have coffee or tea from various places on the ship any time we wanted. I like hot chocolate, so I brought my favorite hot chocolate mix and filled my mug with hot water before going to the Jacuzzi. Activities I had read there are limited activities on Hurtigruten ships other than the fantastic scenery. We were on what was marketed as a New Years Cruise, so several times there were concerts in the lounge on deck 8. They had a pianist, flutist, and several opera singers. Our round trip voyage also overlapped with an opera tour to Oslo, and starting with the southbound stop in Tromso, there were one hour opera concerts just about every day. The library had some board games, jig saw puzzles, reading books, and a TV. There was also a small kids play area on deck 5. At times there were some organized activities such as a fish fillet demonstration, visit from King Neptune with the traditional ladle of ice, and cod liver oil after returning across the Arctic Circle (we got to keep the cute mermaid shaped, Hurtigruten engraved spoon). Entertainment Yes, the main entertainment is the scenery, and it kept us busy most of the time. There was a dance floor in the main bar, and every evening there was a piano player who played a variety of tunes. Port and Shore Excursions We were docked in most ports for too short of a time for excursions. We'd get off the boat and walk a short distance, and then get back on before the boat left. Some of the stops were for longer, and we took several excursions: Viking Feast in Stamsund, Midnight Concert in Tromso, and Dog Sledding in Kirkenes. Our Tromso dog sledding ride was cancelled because of poor weather conditions. The Viking Feast was nice, although a lot of time was spent on the bus. We got off in Stamsund, were driven to the replica of a Viking Hall, where a Viking king, wife, and a couple of slaves fed us a traditional Viking feast, complete with ample quantities of meade. It was a fun evening and as a special bonus, we saw some faint northern lights there. The bus then drove us to Svoaler where we met the boat. The midnight concert was enjoyable, and consisted of an organist/pianist, cellist, and singer. Since we also had free concerts on the ship, it probably wasn't worth the extra money on this voyage to go to the concert. The highlight was the dog sledding in Kirkenes. The excursion is at the same place as the Ice Hotel where they also have some reindeer. We had ample time to tour the Ice Hotel and see the reindeer and puppies. You go for a sled ride around a fairly large lake. We were in Tromso for New Years Eve, and they had the most spectacular fireworks display I have ever seen. The fireworks were everywhere and the best place to see them was on deck 9 of the Midnatsol. They were shot from the ship, and from numerous houses, businesses, and parks throughout the area. It was incredible and a great way to ring in the New Year. I'd definitely go on a New Years voyage with Hurtigruten again! Disembarkation We took the full round trip voyage, so our disembarkation was in Bergen and the process was very easy. We had to have our suitcases placed near the elevators by 10:00 AM and out of our cabins by 10:30 AM. There are plenty of lounge areas, so there was no problem finding a comfortable place to be. Plus, there was always the passing scenery to view from either inside the ship or on deck. Once we got to Bergen at about 2:30 PM, we were called by deck level to disembark. Our suitcases were waiting for us on the conveyor belt. Disembarkation was organized and simple. We collected our suitcases and then walked to the train station where we stored our bags in a locker. There was also the choice to take a charted bus to a hotel, train station, or airport, and taxis were also available. Summary We had pretty high expectations for this trip, and they were definitely exceeded. We'd been to Norway in the summer, so we knew a bit about the geography, but the beauty in the snow was spectacular. The Midnatsol is a beautiful ship, and we thoroughly enjoyed our twelve days on her. Read Less
Sail Date December 2012
We have for many years wanted to undertake the Norwegian Coastal Voyage from Bergen all the way to the Russian Border and back. We also wanted to arrive in Bergen by ship from the UK but alas cheap air fares have caused the demise of the ... Read More
We have for many years wanted to undertake the Norwegian Coastal Voyage from Bergen all the way to the Russian Border and back. We also wanted to arrive in Bergen by ship from the UK but alas cheap air fares have caused the demise of the ferry from Newcastle-on-Tyne-so we flew British Midland from London Heathrow to Bergen (Business Class)-very civilized. As this was to be a very special trip including the celebration of our 40th Wedding Anniversary we opted for the Owners Suite on one of the most recent Hurtigruten ships. There are in fact two owners suite's-we chose the one which has a slightly larger floor plan due to less space devoted to stairways. Firstly we spent a night in Bergen at the Admiral Hotel with lovely views across the harbour to Bryggen before boarding our ship. However when we arrived at the Hurtigruten Terminal to board, we were met by the news that our sailing had ben delayed due to "technical issues"-in fact we ere delayed by 24 hours due to two out of the three bow thrusters having failed, and requiring replacement before sailing. Hurtigruten generously offered to refund 2/12 of our fare in recognition and this cheque for in excess of £3,000 was waiting for us at home on our return. Once on board we were quickly shown to our beautiful suite which consisted of a large double bedroom, a very large lounge with dining table and chairs, 3 seater sofa and two large easy chairs, desk, fully stocked mini-bar and TV, plus a bathroom with full size bath, walk-in shower, WC, underfloor heating, and an entrance lobby with a second WC for "visitors". The best feature of all was a marvellous "terrace" running half the width of the ship with proper ships deck chairs and table. We opted for breakfast being served in our suite daily, with enough left over for lunch-so that we only visited the restaurant once a day-where we were allocated Table 1-by the window with a commanding view of the whole restaurant. Food at dinner was good-with a different fixed no choice menu each evening, charmingly served by mainly Norwegian staff. The only time this arrangement differed was the first evening which was a "free-for-all" buffet which was most unpleasant due to some very aggressive fellow guests helping themselves to as much food as they could possibly eat!! The ship was very well appointed with umpteen different lounges and quiet areas. We only went on a few excursions as we wished to enjoy the luxury of the boat, albeit getting off the boat to visit the numerous ports of call was no problem at all. The midnight concert in Tromso Cathedral was a highlight, with the Midnight Sum shining brightly at 1.30 in the morning.Other excursions included bird watching at the North Cape, the Sea Eagle Safari and the only disappointment being the Lofoten Islands excursion which consisted of being driven by coach around the islands to a rather poor gallery, and to various parking areas full of camper vans from all over Europe. We found all the staff very friendly, especially the lady who ran the gift shop, selling hand made Scandinavian souvenirs and craft items. With the suite came two of the coffee cans which allowed you to unlimited tea and coffee throughout the ship. We had lovely warm sunny weather for the first three days, but further north at Kirkenes it turned very cold (4 degrees centigrade at mid-day in late June) and the sea became very rough for 24 hours. I certainly would not like to venture along this coast in Winter! After arriving back in Bergen we had 3 further nights at the Admiral Hotel which proved to be a comfortable and well located place to stay, before flying back to London Heathrow. Overall a very enjoyable trip, albeit a very expensive one. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
Traveling to the arctic circle and seeing the Norwegian Fjords has always been one of our travel wishes and we were attracted to the Hurtigruten air inclusive offer from Newark to Bergen including all transfers and a night in a very nice ... Read More
Traveling to the arctic circle and seeing the Norwegian Fjords has always been one of our travel wishes and we were attracted to the Hurtigruten air inclusive offer from Newark to Bergen including all transfers and a night in a very nice centrally located Bergen Hotel. Even adding the RT air from Atlanta to Newark, the cost was a bargain. The SAS flights to Bergen on SAS was enjoyable. We booked a 12 day trip to northern Norway, through the arctic circle all the way to Kirkenes to see the snow hotel. There were some interesting stops along the way to take in breathtaking views from above Geirangerfjord, do some sightseeing in Trondheim, Hammerfest and some other picturesque coastal towns and even a moving midnight concert in a beautiful large modern church. Hurtigruten goes to some length to point out that this adventure is not a cruise in the strictest sense but a coastal voyage. Passengers, although well attended to by a professional and accommodating crew and staff are only one aspect of this enterprise. The ship is also a ferry taking on day trippers and cargo. It is possible to use it as a car ferry too. Some passengers booked only half the voyage and then fly back to Bergen. The cabins are tiny by American standards but adequate and who wants to be in a room anyway when there is an ever-changing magnificent landscape to be seen at all hours of the day. April is a great time to sail the Norwegian coast; no summer crowds and the lighting is beautiful. The ship has very attractive lounges, bars, and other spaces including an area with floor to two story ceiling panoramic windows at the bow for watching the magnificent mountain scenery. The ship passes through narrow waterways and for most of the way the coasts on either side are always visible. Some of the ports are visited briefly and it is not possible to get off the ship but it is still fun to watch all the activity in this newly prosperous country (thanks to oil drilling off the Norway coast). The trip included full board. Buffet breakfasts and lunches would satisfy any traveller as long as you like seafood. There was always wonderfully prepared and tasty fresh fish and all kinds of cold appetizers such as herring, smoked white fish and salmon. The desserts were to die for. There are a few hokey shipboard activities that were fun like the Norwegian fishermen spring ritual involving cutting out the tongues of cod fish and the christening of passengers as the ship passed into the arctic circle (including being doused with ice water by Neptune and taking a swig of cod liver oil) and a demo on shrimp expert peeling. All of which were much more fun than a Las Vegas type cruise show any time. I must mention that the Hurtigruten line is very diligent and helpful. We had a very early flight out of Bergen arranged by them and the regular airport service was not available on Sunday morning. We were prepared to pay our own way by taxi to the airport (not a cheap ride). When we arrived at the airport, the cab driver gave us a voucher to sign since unknown to us, Hurtigruten made the arrangements. That says it all Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
Since this was our first cruise ever, our experience may be different from some seasoned cruise travelers who may have different expectations of what a cruise is. As travelers we are fairly independent, like making arrangements for ... Read More
Since this was our first cruise ever, our experience may be different from some seasoned cruise travelers who may have different expectations of what a cruise is. As travelers we are fairly independent, like making arrangements for ourselves, and tend not to do bus-tours or group travel. We selected this cruise because we wanted to see the Northern Lights and this cruise provided the benefit of seeing gorgeous scenery in case the Lights didn't happen. We weren't in it for the ship, so a gussied-up ferry suited us well. For those of you who are deciding if a Hurtigruten cruise is for you, let me start by saying what it is NOT: uber-luxurious. There is no casino. The main entertainment was one guy playing an electric piano singing songs of the 50s - 90s in a mix of English and Norwegian each evening in the bar. There are two hot tubs on deck, a sauna and a very small workout room. There's reliable wifi near the internet cafe and they had 4 slow-ish computers for free usage. The Midnatsol holds 'only' 1000 people. I'd say 90% of the people on board (as cruisers, those not just using the boat as local transportation) were retired. It was mainly a mix of people from Germany, Norway, and the UK with a few North Americans. It's not cheap on board or on land in Norway - if you haven't been before, prepare for sticker shock. It's much more expensive than you think possible. A sandwich lunch for two with soft drink or bottled water is easily $50. All that being said, our cruise on the Midnatsol was absolutely wonderful. The staff were friendly and aimed to please. Even when disgruntled used-to-luxe cruisers complained ("the dinner portions are too small" was a gripe we heard from a couple of men) the staff smiled, apologized and brought a second plate of 1,000 calories for them. Breakfast and lunch are buffet and open seating, dinner is plated and served at your assigned table at either 6:30 or 8:30. The head waitress very pleasantly switched our seating time for the other one when we asked. Food at breakfast included eggs, potatoes, sliced meats, cheeses, smoked fish of at least 3 or more types, fruit, 3 juices, coffee, tea, homemade hot chocolate, rolls and several types of homemade breads, cinnamon rolls, and more I'm forgetting. Lunch included homemade soup, fresh green salads, pasta and bean salads, breads, sliced meats and cheeses, smoked fish, two or three hot entrees (some recycled from the night before but it worked), a hot vegetable or two, potatoes, fruit and at least 4 different types of homemade desserts. Our last evening was a seafood buffet banquet with shrimp, prawns, lobster, crayfish, mussels, crab, fish and more cooked several ways. Almost overwhelming and all delicious. Again, breakfast and lunch were buffet style so you could have as much or as little as you wanted. You won't go hungry and you won't be starved for choice. There was a reliance on cream sauces and dairy desserts at dinner, so the lactose-challenged should be aware, but vegetarians were well catered to and I overheard people asking for special requests at the reception desk that sounded like they wouldn't be a problem. Fish was served about every other evening. They had a decent wine menu (if you don't mind taking out a second mortgage on your house to pay for it). You could also buy a wine package for the trip. Our cabin was a mini-suite, and we were glad we spent the extra for it. Big marble bathroom, plenty of closet/storage space, mini-fridge, coffee & tea making facilities + two free all-you-can drink mugs, fruit+wine basket, television in the room, and a tour of the bridge. We were on deck 6, which was the promenade deck, meaning that people could see in the room, so be aware of that. We could control the temp in our cabin and the bathroom had underfloor heating. Bar soap, shampoo, lotion, shower cap, washcloth were all included, not sure they are included for smaller rooms. The shore excursions (we did 4) were all worth the money and very well organized. If you go in winter, don't miss the dog-sledding. It was a real highlight. The ship also provided fun diversions like the Arctic Circle contest and ceremony with King Neptune; fish chowder for the hardy souls up on deck at 11PM one night watching the Northern Lights dancing; a free lecture by an on-board astronomer for all passengers; and a local saxophonist playing up on deck. If you get seasick, bring something for it. The ship does have stabilizers but there are are times when you're out in the open sea and you will definitely feel it. We were lucky enough to see the Lights 5 nights of our 6 night trip. As amazing as they are, the scenery going by was just as spectacular. I wish we'd gone for the full round trip instead of just the north-bound journey, because you get to see all the sights during the day on the south-bound trip that you missed at night going northbound. Guess we'll have to go back! We'd definitely travel with Hurtigruten again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
Food: no choice . Acceptable but not very inspiring. Very poor service from an argumentative waiter who told us we should eat what we were given. Couldn't cope with a request for "no fish" Wine at about £45 a bottle in ... Read More
Food: no choice . Acceptable but not very inspiring. Very poor service from an argumentative waiter who told us we should eat what we were given. Couldn't cope with a request for "no fish" Wine at about £45 a bottle in the "wine package" was rather pricey. The little cafe was lovely - but expensive. Safety : On at least 12 occasions we had to walk on treacherous surfaces - often carrying and wheeling luggage. Walking up to the midnight concert at Tromso was on snow and ice up a steep path. Some of the party were on sticks. Security: Very little - a suitcase was taken from a passemger and rifled. It would have been very easy to get on and off our ship. Lifeboat drill :A good talk- how sensible to have lifejackets at muster stations rather than in cabins. Radisson Blu Hotel Tromso : excellent - put the Midnatsol in the shade! Flights: We spent an extra three and a half hours getting to Tromso because of snow on the runway....... On the return we waited for over an hour to start checking in due to malfunctioning computers and lack of staff - appalling. Trips We got stuck in a coach behind one that had gone off the road and never made it to the North Cape. The cable car ride to the mountain restaurant for a meal cost £75 pp and didn't include a glass of wine with the uninspiring food and watery coffee. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
We received an email offer from Hurtigruten, 12 day round trip on full board inc flights in an outsi de cabin on deck 8 (top deck) for £2500. We had never cruised before so decided that this offer was worth trying out. First ... Read More
We received an email offer from Hurtigruten, 12 day round trip on full board inc flights in an outsi de cabin on deck 8 (top deck) for £2500. We had never cruised before so decided that this offer was worth trying out. First impression of the ship was good. Nice public areas and friendly staff. Our room was 802 (would reccomend this room to everyone). We found this room to be spacious enough for the two of us and the location on the ship was great, 20 seconds from being outside on deck 9 and the closest room to the outside hot tub, which we did use. This room passing passengers as it was the end of the corridor. We were close to the bar and entertainment all on Deck 8 but we never heard anything from our room. Food, as the majority of other have said, was fish based but good quality. If you do not like fish make sure you let the staff know as they will ensure an alternative is available. The staff work hard to please. While we were on board there was a military exercise, resulting in 40 + military personnel on board, they got into the restaurant before paying guests and were obviously very hungry, we didn't realise you could get so much food on a plate....lol. This meant that some of the choices were not available to folk coming into the restaurant after them. Having spoke to others it seems this is not uncommon so be warned get in early if they let you know an exercise is going on. If you are going to see any of the ports visited on route, be warned that if they are running late you may not get time to get off or if you do it may be very rushed as they will still leave on time. Even if you do pull in on time we felt very rushed and were constantly clock watching as the ship will leave on time if you are not back.For Hurtigruten the priority is the cargo, as a passenger you are an aside. This does not mean they do not look after you but this is not a typical cruise ship, The reason we went on this trip at this time of year was because we wanted to see the Northern Lights. We were fortunate, as we left Tromso, to see the lights for approx 1.5hrs. There were only a few of us on deck and we assumed others would know from the announcements that were suppose to be made if the lights appeared but no announcement was made and very few of us had the opportunity to see the lights. There were a lot of disappointed guests in the morning when we mentioned that we had seen them. Would we do this cruise again?.......No, but we enjoyed the experience. However,we would go to northern Norway again and fly to Kirkenes and stay there to see the lights and have some time to enjoy the town and other activities on offer in that area. Another reason we have decided we are land lovers is the 4 days & nights of Hurricane and gale force winds and 50ft seas. If you are looking for an excellent sea sickness tablet we would highly recommend joy riders - they were amazing!!! Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
This was our first cruise and were impressed with the facilities. The Midnatsol looks to be one of the newer ships in the fleet and it had some nice touches like a top deck jacuzzi, sauna (with a view) and small gym (with a view). A ... Read More
This was our first cruise and were impressed with the facilities. The Midnatsol looks to be one of the newer ships in the fleet and it had some nice touches like a top deck jacuzzi, sauna (with a view) and small gym (with a view). A lot has been said already by others that I need not repeat but for us the positives were: 1) the room, though small (we had a basic inside cabin) was well equiped and had enough storage to put everything away. 2) the staff were friendly and polite (and hard working) 3) the atmosphere on board was good. The majority of passengers were German so as English speakers there were fewer other people to talk to 4) Excellent dinners in the restaurant. Fish biased as you would expect but great. And we found the portions just fine. We didn't spend time in Bergen as that was where we were flying from but that looked like a nice place to spend a day. Also would love to have spent an evening, or evening a few hours in the evening, at Trondheim as that looked like the most interesting town. What was not quite so good (and in some cases being picky here...) 1) Internet was free but sooooooo slow that it was almost unusable. 2) We docked at some places very quickly and there was no time to get off 3) We were running behind schedule for much of the time but would still depart a dock on time. This meant that if we had a 45/60 min stop, in theory, somewhere we often had only 20 mins to get off run around and get back on for the scheduled departure time. 4) breakfast was inconsitent and not very interesting at all. The choice of breads and pastries was poor and the hot selection was, on most days, a bit weird. so normally stuck to fruit and cereal (i.e. did not leave the dining room hungry!). A let down as dinner was so good. Overall the "most beautiful voyage" was not quite up to expectations which was in part due to the time of year and weather. We had a couple of days on board with nothing much to see ".... we are just passing the Seven Sisters which are seven peaks, x metres high etc.... but you cannot see it due to the weather!!" So a chance to kick back and relax! So now that I am home I am not raving about the trip based on what I saw and tell people to maybe check other months. Having said that we had a ball, really enjoyed ourselves - hanging out on the ship / exploring towns when we could and relaxing. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
a newish boat - tiny cabin with just enough storage space for one - we lived out of our suitcases stowed under the bed. The outside cabins with portholes appeared a bit larger but not really value for money. Mainly continental ... Read More
a newish boat - tiny cabin with just enough storage space for one - we lived out of our suitcases stowed under the bed. The outside cabins with portholes appeared a bit larger but not really value for money. Mainly continental breakfasts, with eggs, chipolata sausages - not really up to English standards, but reasonable. other meals mainly fish and pork, one shellfish buffet and reindeer meat once. Great soups, bread, salads and desserts. We had reserved settings for quite a few meals which meant we were forced to sit with people even if we didn't care for their company - also some people forced to sit at a table for 2 even if they wanted to sit by other people.No choice of menu at most dinner times- mainly fish which was sometimes like cardboard - probably defrosted - shame as there should have been plenty of fresh fish in Norway. Missed chicken and had lamb only twice. The staterooms were great, plenty of space and seats, lovely sundeck and 2 outdoor hot tubs - not for the faint hearted, but well used, sauna and gym were great. The bar was expensive +++ - entertainment by a couple of singers so-so, but welcome as a diversion at the end of the day. 21£ for a mug with unlimited tea and coffee from the cafeteria/bar - but as it cost 2£ for a single cup it seemed worth it to buy the mug. £5.70 for a 1/2 pint of beer which was half filled with foam! We went on a lot of the tours to break up the day - the city tours were a waste of money, as well as the one to the Russian Border. The best were to the Svartisen Glacier, though you had to walk a mile to get to it from the bus, The Geiranger Panorama was good too. Not to be missed is the Midnight concert in Tromso Cathedral, The North Cape, and the Sea Eagle Safari. People who did a walking tour of Trondheim were disappointed, as well as the trip into Hammerfest. We went to the Lofoten Islands - it got dark early and was raining, so was awful esp as the guide couldn't speak English. Couldn't go on the Vega trip (out of season - shame)- others said the trip to Svolvaer and the Atlantic road trip were good - though the guide had limited English on the latter which wasn't so much fun. Met some great people, read a lot of books - they had a small library to which I added a couple of books. A very expensive trip, but worth it in the end. The ship was clean, cabins cleaned every day. The waiters were a bit rude sometimes - someone asked for jam -and he said - its there, cant you read, and on another occasion one of them was ride to another guest in front of us - affluence breeds ennui and arrogance! Check your bills carefully - we ended up being overcharged by over 1200K - 120£ - and so did almost everyone else. The barman charged us for the more expensive drinks instead of what we had actually bought, and one doesn't usually expect this in a crowded bar, so you tend to sign the cruise card chit without checking - big mistake, only put right at the end after a load of hassle and queuing. 6 nights would have been perfect - but we'd have missed the concert and the sea eagle safari so comme si comme sa In all a good experience and I would recommend it to people who don't want too much in the way of entertainment etc - one has to be mindful of the fact that it is but a glorified ferry and not expect too much. We felt that we could have done with spending 2 nights in Bergen or Kristiansund which looked like vibrant fun places Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
Midnatsol is one of 9 ferries with cruise style facilities doing a round trip from Bergen to Kirkenes at the Russian border and back. The ship stops at a multitude of ports which you can see during waking hours at east once during the ... Read More
Midnatsol is one of 9 ferries with cruise style facilities doing a round trip from Bergen to Kirkenes at the Russian border and back. The ship stops at a multitude of ports which you can see during waking hours at east once during the voyage. The ship loads and unloads cargo as well as passengers at most ports. The route is mainly between islands and the coast, but there are 3 notable bits of open water to traverse. Although the public areas are cruise style, the cabins are mostly as you would find on English cross-channel ferries. However, as so little time is spent in them, their basic nature does no matter much. Winter also has no single supplements for cabins and this is a real economy for myself and my friend who have winter holidays together. Because of the beauty of the scenery this was my 3rd winter voyage out of 4 trips with Hurtigruten. Hurtigruten offer many flights to Bergen from all over UK, and we must say that our KLM flights from Tyneside to Bergen via Amsterdam were most convenient. Included is a shuttle bus between airport and ship in Bergen. Embarkation is quick and easy - you just drop your suitcase and get pre-prepared cabin cards and table allocation in return. Almost all payments on the ship are by registering your cruise card and that took only 3 minutes to do at reception. As this is a scenic voyage, there are few activities. Amongst those there were was a singing duo each evening and information films and events occasionally. (Most of these do not happen in summer). One bit of fun that happens on all voyage is crossing the Arctic Circle with a King Neptune ceremony for those who want to join in, and a certificate for all. The public rooms have lots of space in the winter, but some of the seating becomes a bit uncomfortable after a few hours. Art and decoration is beautiful an imaginative. There is a small library and free internet access as well as a bar, snack bar and small souvenir shop. There are 2 jacuzzis on the top deck (outside) and a sauna (inside). Recreation is limited to walking around covered promenade deck 6 or open deck 9 (with helipad). There is a very small children's room which I have never seen occupied. Meals are taken in a well decorated dining room with a buffet breakfast and lunch with a set evening dinner. Breakfast is open seating, but for the first time, we had allocated tables for Lunch buffet as well as the usual allocated tables for dinner.These were shared with others of the same nationality who we got on with OK. Service is generally good and the waiters are really friendly if you get to know them. Since I first went on this winter cruise 4 years ago, I have noticed that the variety of food on offer has been substantially reduced with less choice of cooked meats, fish and cheese. Dinner is also less imaginative with fish being served as a main course on 5 evenings running. There is no problem however in changing any Dinner course by telling the restaurant manager at breakfast time (menus are posted the evening before). The chef is excellent with dietary requirements for dinner, but you have to look after your self at buffets. Cabins are serviced once a day with regular changes of bedding and fresh towel if you leave the old one on the sink or floor. There is an opportunity for an excursion almost every day including dog-sledging, snowmobiles, bus tours and a Viking Feast. Seeing the Northern Lights is a bonus and they did appear once on this voyage, but you cannot count on seeing them. I have not rated ports as stops are from 5 minutes to 4 hours, and it is very much up to you whether you explore take an excursion or stay on the ship. WE took this cruise for relaxation, scenery and a glimpse of Norwegian culture. It answered all of this admirably, and despite the obvious economies being made in the catering we enjoyed it very much once again. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
we spent 6 days out of a 2 week trip on the soutbound voyage of the midnatsol from kirkenes to bergen (note- we got on in kirkenes). this was the first cruise for my family, which includes 2 daughters ages 13 and 17. i was very anxious ... Read More
we spent 6 days out of a 2 week trip on the soutbound voyage of the midnatsol from kirkenes to bergen (note- we got on in kirkenes). this was the first cruise for my family, which includes 2 daughters ages 13 and 17. i was very anxious about them having enough to do, about seasickness and about the food- but i needn't have worried about any of it- it was a fantastic experience for all of us. the scenery was spectacular, the ship was well appointed, i loved the frequent stops, the food was interesting and there was always something for everyone, and we had 2 wonderful excursions. a few other points: -the folks on board are mostly older- not sure why exactly. it is a great cruise if your mobility is handicapped because you can just sit and watch and be amazed- but i think it's great for families too. my daughters didn't make any friends which was a slight disappointment -the folks on board seemed to keep to themselves more than i'm used to with fellow travelers. also, many tables for meals seat 2 or 4 so you may not have to sit with anyone at meals. for us this was ok. -it's a casual ship- not dressing for dinner (loved that) -the food is european, with buffets for breakfast and lunch and a served set meal for dinner. the quality and presentation far exceeded my expectations. i also liked it that this cruise is not focused hugely on food, with midnight buffets etc. my daughters loved trying antelope and reindeer and other local cuisines. -it's more casual with service as well- between meals folks clean up their dishes etc. which again i liked -we did 2 excursions: the vega archipelago and the lofoten islands. the lofoton islands tour was by bus, and a bit long but interesting. vega was by boat and bus and is not to be missed. one down side of excursions i s they are held during the few extended and prime time port visits. we rarely visited towns where shops were open, which was a bit frustrating sometimes, but we loved seeing so many ports even for 15 minutes. -the weather, visibility and sea conditions for us were wonderful. i'm not sure if this is the norm or not for this time of the year, but no one experienced seasickness and there was good visibility for the majority of the time -norway is expensive, so additional snacks, beverages and alcohol can add up, but none of these things are necessary to purchase- there's plenty of food and water is served with every meal (i read some reviews that said you had to pay for water which is not true). there are also typically convenience stores close to ports so you can always pick up beverages and snacks -the size of this ship seemed perfect to me- you grew to know the staff and know your way around the ship. some of the public spaces were lovely. there was always room everywhere we wanted to sit. -be prepared for cool weather and lots of intermittent rain. the weather reports didn't sufficiently prepare us for the chilly weather, which was in the 60-70 range. -we had 2 adjacent double outside cabins which were small but perfectly sufficient. i might have chosen on interior quad with hindsight; we weren't in our room that much i can't say enough really about how spectacular the scenery was throughout the journey. it was often right up close, and even the most remote and desolate seeming landscapes always had a few red houses tucked in... i would highly recommend this trip to anyone that enjoys experiencing other cultures, loves watching magnificent views and is happy sitting and reading or occupying themselves (vs. being entertained). we spent time before the trip in copenhagen, and after in bergen, oslo and gothenberg, so we had some more cultural and urban experiences as well. this was our best family vacation yet- i hope other enjoy it! kirkenes- recommend staying at the thon hotel, but nothing much to do there as far as i can tell! Read Less
Sail Date August 2010
The world's most beautiful voyage is how the Hurtigruten cruise line bills the coastal voyage from Bergen to Kirkenes. They are so right! We were on the Midnatsol the same time as karoggra who posted a review titled, Best scenic ... Read More
The world's most beautiful voyage is how the Hurtigruten cruise line bills the coastal voyage from Bergen to Kirkenes. They are so right! We were on the Midnatsol the same time as karoggra who posted a review titled, Best scenic cruise in the world. The voyage is rarely on open sea so you have scenery on both sides of the ship most of the trip. My husband and I were traveling on a tour arranged by travel agency so we had a pickup from our hotel to the dock. We arrived about 6 p.m. after an all day Norway in a Nutshell® tour. Check-in took seconds and we boarded with our carry-on bags. The cabin cards were handed to us as we entered the covered walkway to deck 6. The deck 6 entrance is only used at Bergen. Our bags were waiting at the entrance to our cabin. Since we were doing a round-trip and started at the home port, baggage handling was done by the ship crew. Ship: We had an starboard outside cabin on deck 4. It was 2 cabins away from the atrium where the elevators are located. All the traffic on and off the ship on the voyage takes place on deck 4 by the elevators so it was very handy. The ship has its own gangway which opens up on the side of the side. Stand on deck 5 and watch the gangway open sometime. It is very interesting. There are two other openings in the side of the ship further down for cargo and cars. The ship doesn't have to rely on port gangways which take time. The ship is very efficient getting in and out of ports. Some stops were for only 15 minutes. I learned how they did that visiting the bridge. The cargo hold is designed for pallets so the forklift trucks would be whipping around on the dock unloading or loading. At Stamsund, we had over an hour stay so while we were out walking around the village, the forklift operators were unloading mattresses and building supplies. There is another elevator near the back of the ship serving decks 4 - 8. It is handy for those in the stern of the ship. Public restrooms are available near the dining room on deck 5 and near the main elevators on deck 5 and 8. There is a conference area on deck 5 which is used for presentations or conferences. It is not an entertainment venue. We did have three slide presentations on the ship: The Royal Family, National Day and National Costumes. We are onboard for National Day, May 17. There was a parade around deck 9 with flags, banners, and national costumes. Cabin: Our cabin was very functional. We had a cabin with one twin bed under the window and one perpendicular to it. The bed under the window made into a sofa during the day. The beds are hard but still comfortable. The covers are duvets with a quilted liner. It was too hot for me so I just used the sheet. There was one extra pillow in the room and we asked for another. There are two wool blankets to use on the outside decks. Yes, we needed the blanket when lounging topside some days. You receive one bath towel and one hand towel to start. If you want a clean towel, leave it on the floor. There are no washcloths. I bought a few with me. There is a mounted container of hand soap/shampoo by the sink and in the shower area. To save room packing, I used Twitter @HurtigrutenASA to find out that there was a dryer in the bathroom. There is. The cabin has desk area with small mirrored cubbies on either size of the big mirror. There is a plug by the mirror which we used to charge the camera batteries and iPad. You will need a converter and adapter for the European style plug. The hanging closet had two sections (his and hers) with 5 hangers in each section. The clothes hang front to back rather than side by side. There were two sections of shelving in the main closet and two more big shelves by the desk. The suitcases fit under the bed. The bathroom was very functional and I liked it better than some of the US market ships I have been on. There is a step up to the bathroom. There is a small step down to the shower. It is designed to have an angle to allow more room. The curtain is long enough to keep the water in the shower area. The shower head can be kept mounted on the pole or used as a hand-held. There is a retractable clothes line. The floor can be heated with the switch on the wall outside the bathroom. There is a big wall cabinet with shelves for all your toiletries. I still had space in it after stowing everything. There is a towel bar by the sink with wall mounted cup holders. I found out that the inside cabins do have TV as well as the suites. No TV in the outside cabins. It was not missed. The telephone has some radio stations that you can listen to. There are 4 washing machines on deck 4 close to the rear elevator. You purchase a token from reception and they give you the soap. The dryer is free. There are posted instructions in English. The machines are labelled in Norwegian. We did two loads for about $10. What to do: If you take the round trip cruise you will receive a 130-page book with colored photos and an explanation of what you will see broken down by days. It is a great resource to read about what you are seeing along the way. The Tour Director does make announcements as described in three languages, English is always the second one. She gave us a heads up to what scenic wonder was coming our way so we could get to observation lounges or the correct side of the ship. You can turn off the announcements on the phone in your cabin. As mentioned, there are many lounges without any waiters to bother you about drinks. If you want a drink, you go to the bar and get it yourself. There was a tray for self-busing of cups and glasses in most lounges. We liked the forward lounges on deck 8 and 9 and the library on deck 8. The library has games and some English language books left by passengers. The deck 8 and 9 lounges have windows on three sides so you had a great view of the scenery. Deck 9 lounge is actually open to deck 8 lounge. It does get a little warm up there so we preferred deck 8. Deck 9 had three major sections, the inside lounge, the outside deck with glass walls to protect from the wind and the back deck. We liked to lounge in the back. The chairs are not loungers so if you want to put your feet up, use another chair. There are many teak round tables and matching chairs near the doorway on deck 9. The smokers were usually in this area. Food: I was more impressed with the food than other reviewers. The food presentation at dinner was very impressive. Two chef teams took over the buffet area (in the center of the room) to dish up the food. One did the sauce, one plated the entree and sides and another added the garnishes. We received a booklet with the menus for the trip so we knew what night we would have the reindeer or the salmon. I am not a great fish eater but I did enjoy the meals. Granted the breakfast and lunch buffets didn't vary much but they had a different hot breakfast item daily and hot lunch items. I discovered the hot oatmeal and added dried fruit and granola stuff to it. There was soft and hardboiled eggs very morning. I liked the whole grain breads. They did have a breakfast pasty item each day. They had a 6-slice toaster if you wanted toast. We learned to grab juice and water from the machine and stake out a table for the open seating breakfast. Than we headed to the buffet to stock up. Keep in mind the buffet is designed for the European market so expect cheese and cold cuts on the breakfast menu. Where else can you have cottage cheese and herring for breakfast. My husband was delighted with the 4-5 cheese selections at breakfast and lunch. He reports that they were mostly soft, all delicious, but no cheddar. You won't find tacos, pizza, or hamburgers on the menu. If you want french fries, go to the snack bar and pay for them. The soups were excellent. I like smooth cream soups and these were excellent. Who knew asparagus soup could taste so good. The desserts were good and don't miss out on the slab ice cream at lunch. I didn't discover that until day 4! Coffee: The coffee came out of one of the machines where you press a button and you get a cup of coffee. It is strong! I would have a cup with breakfast and than take another cup out to the lounge. Coffee was not provided at the table for dinner. The coffee machine is located on deck 8 by the bar. After dinner you go for coffee. If you want coffee between meals, you pay 25 KOR ($3.85) for a cup. They do have a coffee plan which is good for an entire year! You pay 209 KOR ($32.20 at this time) for a red metal lined mug which allows you to get coffee or tea for the trip. If you were a commuter and traveled frequently, it would be a good deal. We opted not to do that and were fine with the free coffee after meals. Water: Although there are signs on the dining room table for purified water for 19 KOR, we found out that you just ask for tap water and they bring a carafe of water (no ice) to the table. They do that at lunch and dinner. I brought my own water bottle with me which I refilled from the bathroom sink. The water is nice and cold and tastes like bottled water. Tours: We went on the following excursions: (Northbound) Trondheim Folk Museum, Tromsø City Tour (Polaria and Arctic Cathedral), and (Southbound) Tromsø Midnight Concert [the ship arrives at 11:45 p.m.], Lofoten Islands countryside tour, Trondheim City Tour (includes Nidaros Cathedral). We might have gone on more tours but they are not cheap. My husband says, the Folk Museum could have been skipped. I did the Bridge Tour to see the Captain and the Bridge on day 11. I found it very interesting and worthwhile. That is posted in the daily program. Shopping: The gift shop on board has a very nice selection of Norwegian products. We ended up doing most of our souvenir shopping on board. There is a nice gift shop at the Polar Bear Club in Hammerfest right by the dock. By the way the public library is across the street and has free wi-fi. There is a nice gift shop and ice bar in Honningsvåg close to the dock. Internet Access: There are 4 computers on deck 8 by the library. There is a 40 KOR ($6.22) charge per hour of use. I used my iPad and iTouch with the wireless that is available in the public areas. It is satellite so the reception is dependent upon a good signal so don't expect much when in the fjords or when there are mountain ranges on both sides of the ship. The mountains do impact reception. Deck 8 or 9 is the best. There is no coverage in the cabins and deck 5 is not as strong as deck 8. Thanks to the purser who helped me get the wi-fi started on my new iPad. Staff: The staff are great. All are Norwegian and most switch effortlessly from Norwegian to English to German. The staff work 22 days on and then 22 days off including the captain. We did see some new faces over the course of the cruise. There is not a culture of tipping so we didn't have to worry about an add on for tips like most cruises. There is a big wooden bowl by the head waiter's desk at the entrance to the dining room. There is a small sign that it is for TIPS with Thank You in several languages. We left the rest of our Norwegian money in the tip bowl. The staff are helpful, have a ready smile, are efficient but are not fawning. Since the Hurtigruten line does ferry and cargo service besides us tourists, they have some systems that are not the same as a regular cruise line. What you won't see: no towel animals, no nightly program in your room, (pick it up in the announcement area on deck 8), no turn down service, no free between meal snacks, no singers and dancers (singer and keyboard in the lounge deck 8 in the evening), and no rah rah cruise director. What you will find is a comfortable trip in the midst of spectacular scenery with plenty of time to relax and read or look out the window. As Americans, we were in the minority. The prominent groups were Norwegian and German. The weather was good for most of the trip. The last few days were overcast with clouds hiding the mountain tops. We had clear skies for a good part of the trip and enjoyed the midnight sun. Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
Great trip with Hurtigruten from Bergen to Kirkenes with a night pre-cruise in Bergen and one night post-cruise in Oslo. Ship, MS Midnatsol, is one of the newest and largest ships in Hurtigruten's fleet. She had just been in the ... Read More
Great trip with Hurtigruten from Bergen to Kirkenes with a night pre-cruise in Bergen and one night post-cruise in Oslo. Ship, MS Midnatsol, is one of the newest and largest ships in Hurtigruten's fleet. She had just been in the dockyard for a minor refurbishment - evidence of newly laid carpets but no obvious remaining jobs to be completed. Ship is elegant and comfortable in the public areas with very interesting art collection. Cabin was a U grade Ocean View with a large porthole. Travelling as a single so one bunk was always kept as a sofa. Limited storage space; would have been a struggle for 2 on an eleven night trip. Single bunk was comfortable with a good reading light. Bathroom typical of most ships; compact but functional but with the added bonus of a heated floor. Dining Ship was not full so single seating in main dining room, breakfast was free seating, other meals were nearly all at your assigned table. Breakfast and lunch were buffet and dinner was generally a set menu. I enjoyed all the set menus and didn't feel the need to ask for a change. (Menu is published in advance and you can request something different if you really don't fancy the set dish). Good blend between fish and meat main courses. Alcohol is very expensive. Tea and coffee is served after lunch and dinner in the lounge, other times you have to purchase hot beverages or purchase the refill cup. I like tea so I took my travel kettle with me. Crew Very proactive Norwegian crew, happy to help and talk about their country. Tips are optional. Travelling Companions For this winter trip few people were using the ship as a ferry most were 'cruising' or onboard for a conference. About 200 were doing the Northbound trip like me, about the same number again doing the round trip. We were joined by a stargazing group of about 100 for the middle section and a conference group for 2 nights. Majority of cruisers were British but with a fair number of German and French speakers. (Excursion to the North Cape had 2 full english speaking buses, one partially full german and one partially full french bus). Weather Generally sunny during the day but cold. At night very cold and with the ships speed and windchill down to equivalent of -25 degC. Layers and a good hat and gloves are a must. Lots of snow falling when leaving Kirkenes so plane had to be deiced and a bit late as a result. Photography Hurtigruten had a professional photographer, Simon, on board for this trip. Simon helped everyone to take better photos but particularly of the Northern Lights which obligingly came out for three consecutive nights. Absolute highlight of the trip. Entertainment Duo played most nights in the lounge but the main draw for this trip was being out on deck watching the sky. Ports 34 Ports are visited on this trip, I explored in Bergen, Alesund, Trondheim, Bodo, Tromso, Honningsvag (for North Cape) and Oslo. Quick Review here since most of the ports aren't in the drop down list. Bergen, have visited twice before so went up the funicular to look over the city in the snow and spent time at the art gallery. Alesund, ship excursion to walk around the town to see the Art Nouveau buildings and the museum. Trodheim, Ship City tour including very beautiful Nidaros cathedral. Bodo, just strolled around the town to stretch my legs. Tromso, Ship city tour including Polaria and Arctic Cathedral. Honningsvag, Ship excursion to snow swept North Cape. Oslo, Munch Museum and shopping. Overall Wonderful trip, Northern Lights were way beyond expectation, Ports were interesting, Food was much better than expected. Would I travel again - yes and I'd like to go in the middle of the winter to see the Arctic Night. Expensive trip even with no single supplement in the winter season but worth every penny. Read Less
Sail Date February 2010
My sons surprised us with a "Northern Lights" cruise last Christmas and we spent a year almost planning it, we wanted to see the elusive Northern Lights and tried to find out when would be the best time to do this. November was ... Read More
My sons surprised us with a "Northern Lights" cruise last Christmas and we spent a year almost planning it, we wanted to see the elusive Northern Lights and tried to find out when would be the best time to do this. November was recommended so with almost eleven months to wait we opted for the end of November. We booked the round trip from Bergen-Kirkenes-Bergen and opted for a Q class cabin, this was on deck 7 of the Midnatsol, the cabin was just right, a very comfortable large double bed with a large porthole so that we could watch the snow capped mountains float by. Adequate storage for clothes and personal belongings, a shower room with an excellent shower and heated floor, we also had a television and a fridge, the television could be tuned to the webcam on the bow of the ship and we could watch where we were sailing....handy for early mornings. Cabins were cleaned everyday with clean towels replaced. All meals were included in the cost, the buffet breakfast was served from 7am to 10am and plenty of choice, from hot and cold dishes, fruit, cereals etc. Lunch also buffet and a very generous selection of hot and cold dishes, the salads were excellent, also the sweets! Lunch was served from 12.30 to 2pm. Dinner was served at 7pm and at your allocated table and was waiter service, the waiters were all friendly and chatted away. Two excursions were included in the price, one a sight seeing tour where we left the ship and rejoined at the next port, a really lovely insight into how the Norwegian people live and work, the tour guide was very good and it was a lovely break from the ship, the second "free" tour was to North Cape and although we enjoyed this it was very dark and felt we missed out on a lot of very beautiful scenery and was really just the wrong time of year for it. We had booked an extra excursion for dog sledding in Tromso but unfortunately due to lack of snow was unable to do this, we did however go to see the huskies, it was very unusual for inadequate snow in November! The Northern Lights remained elusive and no sightings, we were told this was very unusual, and while it was a disapointment we took it as a sign that we are meant to return to this beautiful country. We thoroughly enjoyed our trip, and it was a totally different experience which we would love to repeat someday. Read Less
Sail Date November 2009
Hurtigruten—the largest cruise line you never heard of. Norwegian owned and operated, the line owns a fleet of 16 cruise ships, most of which travel up and down the west coast of Norway. The line also offer cruises to Greenland and ... Read More
Hurtigruten—the largest cruise line you never heard of. Norwegian owned and operated, the line owns a fleet of 16 cruise ships, most of which travel up and down the west coast of Norway. The line also offer cruises to Greenland and Antarctica. Our Cruise We took one of the 12-day Norwegian coastal cruises that both started and ended in Bergen, Norway, stopping about 30 times along the way. Most stops were of short duration, with no passengers exiting. There were about 10 longer stops where, at prices ranging from $40 to about $200 per person, we could take and "excursion" to see various attractions. One that we took, and the best by far, involved a fast, open air pontoon-like boat ride to a remote location to view sea eagles. Taking these excursions can easily add $500 to $1,000 per person or more to your cruise cost. There is very little to do on the ship except eat and sit around (inside or outside) enjoying the scenery, so you more or less have to take some of the excursions. The scenery varies from breathtakingly beautiful (fiords, mountains, farms, forests, small villages) to downright boring (barren hills, rocks and crags, not unlike the surface of the moon). The small villages and farming areas are quite picturesque. In addition to the excursion information furnished to passengers when they sign up for the cruise, there is a daily schedule of excursions, scenery sightings and shipboard activities (principally eating) posted by the tour director's desk, and copies are available for passengers to take. Our cruise began on September 1st and ended on September 12th. This was early enough in the season for us to enjoy unusually good weather. (We saw rain only three times, with only one of longer duration.) For the first three days, as we traveled northward, it was warm enough for passengers to sit on the open top deck in shirt sleeves. At "Nord Cap" (North Cape), the northernmost land point in Europe, the temperatures had dropped to the low forties, and a fierce wind created a wind chill factor much colder. It was surprising to us to see how modern and developed even the small villages are in terms of urban amenities and services—even at the top of the world in Kirkenes. The larger cities are like any other large city in Europe. There were many nationalities aboard the ship, but the passengers were overwhelmingly European, including Norwegians, Swedes, Germans and English. Announcements over the ship PA system (which were irritatingly frequent) were given in three languages—Norwegian, German and English. We encountered very few Americans on the ship (about 10), and at the dinner meal (the only meal served restaurant style; breakfast and lunch were served buffet), we were seated by ourselves at our reserved table.. Our Ship Our cruise was aboard the MS Midnatsol (Midnight Sun), the newest vessel (2003) in the Hurtigruten fleet. It is attractively decorated, with much use of wood in walls, floors and furniture, and in a style akin to updated art deco. The ship was kept spotlessly clean. It was easy to learn the layout and to get around in, with elevators and stairs between decks both fore and aft. The public areas are located on decks 5, 8 and 9. The dining room, gift shop and fast food restaurant are on deck 5. Deck 8 has an open lounge in the front, with windows extending up to the ceiling in deck 9. Three-quarters of deck 9 is an outside deck with chaise lounges, a bar and two jacuzzis. There is a larger bar and lounge on deck 8, with live entertainment after about 7 PM. Deck 8 also has a self-service coffee/tea bar—at five bucks a cup! At the start of the cruise passengers are offered an opportunity to purchase a "coffee/tea deal," where for one price you get a Hurtigruten metal mug and all the coffee or tea you want at the self-service bar for the duration of the cruise. We bought it, but I don't remember the cost. Unfortunately, the coffee was virtually undrinkable (somewhere between snake venom and battery acid), so I ended up with just a high-priced mug. My wife made out: she drank lots of tea from the large assortment of tea brands available at the self-service bar. Our cabin (inside; no windows; the cheapest) was small but very efficient. It included one fulltime single bunk style bed and a sofa that converted into a second bunk style bed. Both were hard but comfortable. There was a mirrored ladies make-up station, a small TV with 8 cable channels, a closet and other storage. The shower was small but quite adequate, except for its propensity to oscillate between hot and cold. For $350 more we could have had the same cabin with a window, but we decided against it because we knew from prior cruises you spend so little time in your cabin. Eating on the Ship The food we ate was in stark contrast to the sumptuous fare we had on an Oceania cruise to the Caribbean two years ago. Norwegian food, like the Norwegians themselves, is hardy. There was heavy emphasis on seafood and (usually seasoned) boiled potatoes at nearly every meal. Cold cuts, cheeses, pickled fish and beets and regular pickles were featured at breakfast and lunch, which were served buffet style. There was also coffee and tea available. The coffee was fresh made and very good, unlike the coffee at the self-service bar. Various mostly forgettable desserts were available with lunch and dinner. To my great disappointment, pastries were never served, even at breakfast. The dining room is decorated like the rest of the ship, with neo-art deco furnishings. The silver service is spartan, usually only four or five pieces. The tables are covered with attractive oilcloth tablecloths, with heavy paper napkins. Hardy. Both lunch and dinner have two seatings, with reserved seats at both. Tables are assigned by table number, and we always sat at the same table. Water in a spring-capped bottle is served at lunch and dinner, if you had purchased the "water deal" at the start of the cruise. There is also free water available, but you would have to wait for refills. A "wine deal" was also available at the start of the cruise, whereby you would receive one bottle of wine at each dinner, specially picked by the head chef to accompany the menu. We passed on that deal since my wife doesn't drink wine. I probably wouldn't have purchased it anyway because of the high cost. On the wine menu, prices started at $65 per bottle and ranged on up to about $115 per bottle. I don't believe these were particularly premium wines, either. Only the dinner meal is served by the staff, restaurant style. But even then they work the tables in order, starting at the first table with each course. At breakfast and lunch you serve yourself and the staff merely cleans up or takes special orders for the bar. I should say here that the staff were nearly all very friendly and accommodating, and most could speak Norwegian, German and English. One peculiar and unsavory practice at each meal occurred when you were through eating. The waiter or waitress would scrape any leftover food off your plate onto another dirty plate while standing at your table. As with other cruises and tours we have taken with people from other countries, we were again amused and entertained by the European custom of eating with both handknife in the right and fork in the left—making it seem to take twice the effort. No doubt Europeans are just as amused at our style of eating. Costs No comment on our cruise would be complete without a note about the high costs in Norway. To start with, our Bergen hotel (the Neptune) which we stayed in two nights, one each at the beginning and end of the cruise, cost $300 a night! It was in the process of being redecorated, but not really upgraded. I would compare it to an older Holiday Inn Express. We understand that the cost of living in Norway is among the highest in the world. Believe it. After checking in to our hotel we went for a walk abound Bergen, a truly beautiful city. We stopped at a cafe with outdoor seating overlooking the bay and fish market (a big tourist attraction). I had a hamburger and beer and my wife had a small pizza and a coke. Total cost: $85! Welcome to Norway. My wife looked at some gorgeous knit sweaters, but at $300 and up we had to pass. As might be expected, costs on the ship are even higher. For example, at one dinner we ordered Pepsis at $7.20 each, and at another meal I ordered a local beer which cost over $8. One of the reasons for the high costs is Norway's sales tax, which is 25% on almost everything! Conclusion Despite any negative comments above, we thoroughly enjoyed our cruise. If we had to do it again, we would probably take the 7-day instead of the 12-day cruise. One of the factors that influenced us to go for the 12-day cruise was the very high cost of our airfare—almost $2,700. This cost would have been the same with either cruise. Moreover, we would have had the added cost of airfare and associated costs from Kirkenes to Bergen if we had taken the 7-day cruise. We had to take a three-legged 24-hour flight as it was (Bergen to Amsterdam to Detroit to Denver) just to keep the fare under $2,700. Another leg would have made it even worse. Read Less
Sail Date September 2008
Midnatsol Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 3.9
Dining 4.0 3.9
Entertainment 5.0 2.9
Public Rooms 3.0 4.4
Fitness Recreation 1.0 3.0
Family 2.0 3.0
Shore Excursion 2.0 4.0
Enrichment 2.0 3.7
Service 3.0 4.2
Rates 4.0 3.2

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