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6 Hurtigruten Midnatsol First-Time Cruisers Cruise Reviews

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
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
The ship and the staff are first class. Spotlessly clean, very friendly staff and very helpful and polite always. Breakfast was amazing lots to choose from with fruit, dried fruits, cereals, yoghurt, bread, eggs, cheeses, coldmeats, ... Read More
The ship and the staff are first class. Spotlessly clean, very friendly staff and very helpful and polite always. Breakfast was amazing lots to choose from with fruit, dried fruits, cereals, yoghurt, bread, eggs, cheeses, coldmeats, fish, hot dishes and plenty of tea and coffee and juices. The evening meal on the other hand was dissappointing on all occasions. Firstly the second sitting because we were half board was at 8.30pm far too late. Then when we were served the food was luck warm and the portion sizes very small. On the evening when they did what looked like a spectacular buffet of seafood, the seafood was tasteless apart from the mussels. The excusions were like herding cattle and on occasions rushed and we seemed to hang around alot waiting. We saw some wonderful scenery, the North Cape was spectacular, we saw the northern lights which was fantastic, the husky ride was the absolute highlight but do the one at Tromso it is a much bigger operation and you get a long ride. The trip up the mountain in the cable car above Tromso was great but again we had to hang around waiting to go home, should have been back at the hotel for 10pm and didnt get back until after 11pm, and we had all had enough. But the meal at the top of the mountain was very substantial and tasty. Lots of great restaurants in Tromso and I would recommend eating there if you can afford it, it cost us about £250 for 4 people with alcohol. Overall we loved the experiences, but not the cruise or on board food. Which considering you are paying £400 per night per couple the food should have been exceptional. 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
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
My wife & I had been judging in Trondheim & decided to use The Coastal Express as a means of transport rather than travel by car or train. We only did one night south to get to Bergen.The ship was brilliant, clean & full of ... Read More
My wife & I had been judging in Trondheim & decided to use The Coastal Express as a means of transport rather than travel by car or train. We only did one night south to get to Bergen.The ship was brilliant, clean & full of helpful crew. Scenery spectacular fantastic experience, except the measly dinner. Portion control was in the extreme. I know things are expensive in Norway but to charge £100 to your captive audience for portions that my chihuahua would complain at is a bit steep. The bread basket could be measured by the number of crumbs in the bottom hidden by two plastic containers of butter, it was wicked to kill a reindeer & cure him & reduce him to slices so thin you could see through,cover this with a few leaves,sprinkle with rowan-berry jelly & it was difficult to find. The main course consisted of a very small home grown wedge of salmon, mounted by an even smaller piece of halibut, with a hint of gravlax as the crowning glory, TWO regulation size baked new potatoes dusted in garlic powder all on a base of julienne vegetables with basil sauce. The piece de resistance was "pudding" a small ramekin of berry juice with a tiny crown of herb cream. No coffee, no cheese even on offer at extra cost, but the jug of water was free. The flavours were good, the quality was good but the portions were positively mean. The chef I spoke with suddenly could not understand English. At the booking reception desk where we had been asked to pay in advance, it was the same. We think that the restaurant is run on the basis of the more we save the bigger our bonus. Interesting to note that in the menu the salmon should have been on the halibut but of course it is much more expensive so lets switch it around & hope no one notices. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Midnatsol Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabin 3.0 N/A
Dining 4.0 3.9
Entertainment 5.0 2.9
Public Rooms 3.0 4.4
Fitness & Recreation 1.0 N/A
Family 2.0 3.1
Shore Excursions 2.0 N/A
Enrichment Activities 2.0 N/A
Service 3.0 4.2

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