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6 Hurtigruten Nordlys Baltic Sea Cruise Reviews

This year, instead of hunting out Winter Sun for our New Year's break, we decided to go to the other extreme and look for snow, ice and Northern Lights. We booked a 12 day Bergen/Kirkenes/Bergen round trip on Hurtigruten's MS ... Read More
This year, instead of hunting out Winter Sun for our New Year's break, we decided to go to the other extreme and look for snow, ice and Northern Lights. We booked a 12 day Bergen/Kirkenes/Bergen round trip on Hurtigruten's MS Nordlys. Hurtigruten ships are not Cruise ships - they are ferries. But ferries with 'extra's'. There is little in the way of formal entertainment, but our ship had a very knowledgeable 'Tour Leader'. He was responsible for bookings for and co-ordination of shore excursions, as well as organising onboard activities. He had a dry sense of humour and spoke fluent English, French, German and Norwegian, switching comfortably between each depending on the Nationality of the guest. He also made announcements in multiple languages as we approached each port to tell us more about the destination, and announcements when there was something interesting to see outside (eg crossing the arctic circle, sea eagle ahead, spectacular rock formations, other Hurtigruten ships!). On New Years Eve the ship missed a couple of ports in the Lofoten Islands so that we could spend the evening in Hurtigruten's home port of Stockmarknes. We had a gala buffet for dinner and then they opened up the Hurtigruten museum especially for us to make an evening visit. At the museum they have a 'retired' ship in dry dock and it was quite eery exploring this ship in the dark. All guests were invited to celebrate the turn of the year out on the 'sun' deck with a glass of complementary fizz. The local fireworks were spectacular. Some guests were quite disturbed by the shortness of the days and the lack of light. For my part I had expected it to be worse. We were lucky that the days we spent North of the Arctic Circle were clear so we had the best light possible. OK it was never bright, but for 3 or 4 hours there was as much light as you would get on on overcast day in England, and when you are out enjoying snowey activities such as Husky Sledding it feels even lighter. Northern Lights are almost guaranteed at this time of year if the sky is clear. We were lucky enough to see them on 3 nights. They make an announcement if the officers on the bridge spot Northern Lights in the sky, so you have no excuse for missing them. Having said that, they weren't as spectacular as I was expecting, and to the naked eye lacked the vivid colours that you get when you photograph them. This may have been due to the full moon. The ship was very quiet - only around 200 passengers on the Northbound journey, which was enough to be sociable but meant that there were no crowds. On the way south there were less than 40 passengers. We could have had a table each at dinner!   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Nothing more far from the propragrand published by Hurtigruten company ".. Through our enlightening and eventful adventures the true diversity of our landscape, history and culture bacomes aparent..."In 6 days from Bergen to ... Read More
Nothing more far from the propragrand published by Hurtigruten company ".. Through our enlightening and eventful adventures the true diversity of our landscape, history and culture bacomes aparent..."In 6 days from Bergen to Kirkenes you will visit 37 diferent harbours, many of them during 15 to 30 minutes, near ten during the first hours of early morning. Each arrival will wake you up beacuse the noise ony the approximation, docked and departure of the ship. Named the "express of the coast" the cruiser leave and pick up any kind of merchandise, something thet company forgets to explain when you buy the tickets. All the cruiser is focus on the Hurtigruten convenience never focus on the costumer The meals, excurssions, cities visits and the scarce events planned during the trip are designed to maintain the express of the coast time schedule. So, it was one day necessary to take breakfast between 8-10 o'clock and get the lunch between 10,30 and 12!!!!. Interesting villages like Standsund or Svolvaer must be visited in 28 and 42 minutes, because we had docked 6 other harbours in the same day. The worst event in the trip was the cancellation of the whale watch principal excursion based on the dangerous broadcast announcing a windy day and tidal waves. They lied because internet broadcast didn't confirm their expectations and the day passeed by no wind nor brave waves. The truth was that they had no enough costumers interested in that excurssion and because that decided cancelled. I'll never accept a lie about one event that I have flieght more than 4.000 km. just to enjoy the sea wildlife. Hurtigruten .... never... never more. Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
I was so looking forward to this cruise for years, anxiously waiting to experience the midnight sun as we cruised up the Norwegian Coast from Bergen to Kirkenes. Food was good, not excellent. Dining room waiters and waitresses were ... Read More
I was so looking forward to this cruise for years, anxiously waiting to experience the midnight sun as we cruised up the Norwegian Coast from Bergen to Kirkenes. Food was good, not excellent. Dining room waiters and waitresses were excellent. With one exception, all cruise directors and officers on the ship were unfriendly, at times quite unprofessional and rude. Dining room always opened late with long lines waiting to get in. Disembarkation area was always cramped. Information about what would happen to your baggage at the end of the cruise when one had to go on an excursion was nonexistent to confusing, once you pursued it. Excursions were quite expensive as well as beverages. This is a working boat, carrying cargo and passengers between ports and therefore the cost for the cruise was outrageously high. We have taken numerous other cruises and all our previous experiences were positive. Quite disappointed that this dream cruise of mine was a total disappointment. You can spend your money much better elsewhere even though the idea of midnight sun and northern lights are very appealing. Read Less
Sail Date June 2012
We traveled with Vantage on the Grand Norwegian Coastal Voyage September 1 15, 2011. Our ship was the MS Nordlys which was severely damaged by fire the day after we departed the ship. Two crew members were tragically killed during the ... Read More
We traveled with Vantage on the Grand Norwegian Coastal Voyage September 1 15, 2011. Our ship was the MS Nordlys which was severely damaged by fire the day after we departed the ship. Two crew members were tragically killed during the blaze. What a sad memory at the end of a wonderful adventure. We have traveled with Vantage in the past. In 2007 we did Imperial Russian Waterways, Moscow and St. Petersburg with Vantage and had a wonderful experience. FLIGHTS Since we live near Boston, we expected to travel direct to Europe from Boston. Such was not the case. Vantage arranged for us to travel to Dulles, Copenhagen, and Bergen. This added to our travel time, especially on our return. We will never again come through Dulles from Europe with hopes of making an on time connection. Copenhagen is a very large and busy airport and the walk to our connecting flight was very long. Anyone with the slightest problem walking should ask for help. A Vantage rep met us in Dulles at the start of the trip to be sure we were all set with boarding passes, etc. It was a nice touch. WEATHER - We traveled September 1 15. The temperatures were in the 50s and 60s during the day and probably down to the high 40s at night. Our first few days in Bergen were very rainy. We were told this was very normal. It became sunnier as we traveled north. Sturdy shoes, umbrellas, and water repellant wind breakers were best. Appropriate layering for wind, on deck, rain, and varying temperatures kept us plenty warm and dry. THE HOTEL - We arrived at the Bergen airport right on time and were met by Eva Stiegler, our Vantage Program Manager. She was brought up in Bergen. Her English was flawless. Our luggage was whisked away to the bus, we exchanged some money and off we went. The Radisson Blu Norge Hotel was perfectly situated close to everything. Our luggage was unloaded from the bus for us and delivered to our rooms. The rooms were clean and bright and a good size with desk and easy chair, 2 single beds, a coffee maker and iron and ironing board. The furniture was a little dated but well cared for. Free wifi was available. Breakfast was a large buffet with all kinds of choices from meats and cheeses to an egg station to fruits, cereals, juices and coffee and tea. Delicious. We had dinner in the hotel with our group of 49. The menu was preset white asparagus soup, chicken with mushroom, and apple cake with ice cream and coffee also a free glass of beverage, wine, soda, etc. Throughout the trip, Eva would arrange for any diet accommodation from allergies to likes and dislikes. The only down side to the hotel location was the large amount of street noise into the early morning hours. Eva distributed earplugs to us so we could sleep. Evidently there are nightclubs nearby and both their music and customers extend to outside. We were so tired that nothing would have disturbed our sleep but when up, we did hear the noise and Im sure some people are disturbed by the it. BERGEN - Bergen is a wonderful city. We wish we had planned the pre-extension here. Not only is the city beautiful, but there is so much more to see than we originally thought. The funicular, fish market, and countless historic buildings and museums could easily use several days. THE SHIP - The Nordlys far exceeded our expectations. It was beautifully maintained and all the public rooms were lovely. The dcor had lots of brass colored metal, Norwegian art and tasteful colors. The dining room was large. At dinner we had an area reserved for Vantage so we didnt have to struggle to find a place to sit. Large windows gave a great view as we sailed along. Linen tablecloths gave an air of formality to the room and made meals a special occasion. Our room was small but very efficient. It was a category U cabin on deck 6. Our traveling companions were on deck 5 which was the promenade deck. They wish they did not have passengers walking outside their cabin. The cabins themselves were identical. The 2 single beds were perpendicular to each other and one made a sofa during the day and the other folded up against the wall. The beds were comfortable. The cover was a duvet. There were 2 wool blankets in the closet - great for sitting on deck. There was sufficient closet space. There were about a dozen hangers but we always bring extras. The closet rods go front to back in rather than left to right which may finding things slightly more difficult. The bathroom is small. I thought the shower was much smaller than on large cruise ships and the floor was always wet. Heat in the bathroom was in the floor so it helped the water evaporate. There are no facecloths and bars of soap are not provided. There is a dispenser of liquid soap at the sink and a combo of liquid soap/shampoo/conditioner in the shower. There is a hair dryer in the bathroom. I would suggest bringing your own soap, shampoo, and conditioner. It was chilly on deck. There were chairs and lounge chairs for sitting. A small area on each side was protected by glass and was heated. One side was reserved for smokers. There are plenty of public rooms with great windows. On the top deck there was entertainment in the bar every evening. We had 2 talented female musicians from Bulgaria who sange and played keyboard, violin and saxophone. There was no wireless internet service available on the Nordlys. There were 3 computers for passenger use which was so slow we were not charged to use it. I believe this varies by ship. There were 2 washers and 2 dryers available. It cost about $4.00 to do a load of wash including the soap which was automatically dispensed by the washer. The dryers were free. The staff was wonderful and friendly. FOOD AND DRINK The food was very good. Breakfast and lunch were always buffet. Breakfast included coffee, tea, juices, fruits, cereals, meats, cheeses, hard or soft boiled eggs, bacon or sausage, all kinds of bread, fish, and a hot special daily fried eggs, pancakes, etc. Lunch always included a soup which was delicious, salads, meats, fish, stone crabs, cray fish, mussels, shrimp, cheeses, fruit, and one or two hot entrees. Dessert had many fancy jellos, fruit, cakes and fruit and custard sauces. Dinner was a set menu posted daily. Most nights the main course was fish. Eva made arrangements for anyone who had special likes or dislikes or allergies to be accommodated. We had arctic char, salmon, pollack, reindeer, chicken, and cod. One evening there was a seafood buffet which included cold water lobster, king crab, salmon, scallops, shrimp, and a multitude of other choices. Sauces and vegetables were also very tasty. Small boiled potatoes were often served. Desserts were fine not amazing and included cakes, puddings, and ice cream. Dinner coffee was served in one of the forward observation rooms. This made it easier for the crew to get ready for the second serving of dinner. There was a full wine and drink menu on the table at lunch and dinner. Drinks were very expensive. Except during meals there was a charge for coffee. A coffee deal is offered. For about $40 you can buy a coffee cup which is refillable in the coffee shop whenever you want it. We each bought one but I thought the coffee was deplorable and seldom drank it although it could also be used for tea. Eva took us to liquor stores to buy wine which we kept in our rooms. We werent supposed to bring our own wine into the dining room or public spaces but we usually filed our coffee cups with wine and walked into the dining rooms. A box of wine in the state liquor stores cost about $80. Sometimes at lunch we would put some crackers and cheese into a plastic baggie and save it for cocktail hour in the afternoon. VANTAGE AND THE TRIP As I said before our Program Manager Eve was wonderful. At the beginning of the trip she talked about what to expect and about the optional tours offered by the ship. We went to the midnight concert at the Arctic Cathedral in Tromso and the Sea Eagle tour. We love both. I cant speak to any of the others. However, Eva did provide previous passenger ratings so we had some idea of which ones were enjoyed most. She gave us talks on Norwegian history, life in Norway, trolls, and the Norse Gods. She gave us tastes of Norwegian pastry, candy, Aquavitt and chocolate. She showed us movies about heavy water, the Amundsen expedition to the South Pole, Max Manus (Norwegian WW II resistor) and Cool and Crazy. She arranged a pizza party on our last night in Bergen. Every town we visited we had a walk of the area. Her knowledge of each town and its history was amazing. She offered us her computer if we needed to make contact back home. Wireless was available to her. I cant go into every town and tour we had but they were all great. I loved Trondheim. The tour to the North Kapp was amazing. We were luck enough to have perfect weather and could see forever! The tour to the Rokenes Farm in Harstad was memorable. Enroute we stopped at an ancient chapel and had a moment of silence in honor of 9/11 (we were there on that day.). We even saw some Northern lights. They were minimal and very pale in color but even a hint of them was more than we expected. The ship celebrated our crossing of the Arctic Circle and the Trollfjord with fun events. In between town and stops the scenery was lovely either the sun shining on the fjords and villages or the rain and clouds hanging over the tree and mountain tops and glaciers. It was all lovely. We toured with an amazing group of travelers. There wasnt any one of us who complained. We all liked each other and helped those who needed assistance. Wed do the trip again in a minute! Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Not many reviews have been written on the ships belonging to the Norwegian Hurtigruten company, so it was with some little ignorance and trepidation that we booked our Arctic Highlights 4-day cruise in an attempt to witness the often ... Read More
Not many reviews have been written on the ships belonging to the Norwegian Hurtigruten company, so it was with some little ignorance and trepidation that we booked our Arctic Highlights 4-day cruise in an attempt to witness the often elusive Northern Lights. We'd read that the Nordlys was commissioned in 1994, had a capacity of 475 passengers and that it was a working ferry."Hmmm" we thought, "back to basics then, a bit of an old tub". Well, how wrong our perceptions were. The Nordlys (and Hurtigruten) was refreshingly honest without the unsubstantiated marketing hype that has proceeded our cruises with Celebrity, P+O, Cunard et al. We'll run through some basics which may help in developing a more accurate picture of what to expect than we were party to. We flew out from Heathrow (at 07.30) with SAS to Oslo, coupled with another 2hr transfer flight to our embarkation port of Tromso. The H'row / Oslo flight offered us no complimentary beverages at all so be prepared for a 2 hours of no grub. For some reason on the internal transfer flights you are offered soft drinks, tea and coffee. We were met at Tromso airport by a Hurtigruten rep and very efficiently herded on to the coach transfer to our ship at the port. Being a working ferry, it was like waiting for a bus - and it was blooming cold. After about 25 minutes the boat pulled in and the chaotic check-in commenced, carrying our own luggage over the snow and ice, up the gangway to a very small reception desk for check-in. Not an impressive start but where did it say we would be waited on hand foot and finger? It didn't. But, the crew were very obliging and polite in helping us all out and this was generally the theme throughout our cruise. Our cabins were not ready immediately but we waited in the lounge to be informed, which was about an hour. The cabin itself was small - very small - and equipped with 2 single beds (one was the lower half of a bunk bed, where the top bunk was folded against the wall, the other was a sofa bed). The bathroom was small but, in fact, not that much smaller than the one we endured on our recent Azura cruise and the shower was 10 times better! The beds were quite firm (well Lynne said uncomfortably hard). Our cabin (note -not hyped up a Stateroom)was positioned on the 3rd deck and about two thirds down towards the aft. This meant you had fairly constant engine noise and other mechanical noises as the ship manouvred and docked throughout the day and night - remember it's a working ferry. We were half board and enjoyed a fairly substantial buffet breakfast of typical European fayre comprising cold meats, cheeses, fruit, cereal, rolls and bread, fruit juice etc together with some cooked items for us Brits. No queues, no fighting for tables, carrying your tray for miles. All very pleasant and freshly prepared and replenished. For lunch and snacks there is a small cafe but be warned of the prices - £4 for half litre of water, £5 for a coffee, £7 for a baguette. Ouch! The evening meals were taken at designated tables at either 6.30pm or 8.30pm. It was very re-assuring to be greeted by a supervisor at the door insisting on the use of a hand sanitisor. We enjoyed such things as fresh soup, freshly prepared fish (pollock, salmon, cod) and venison steak all presented from a set menu. One evening saw us tucking into a wonderful fresh seafood buffet including salmon, king crab, lobster, mussels, king prawns, cod etc. Indeed, the food generally was more than a match for the "exquisite and sumptuous 5-star gourmet fayre" Celebrity would have you believe you are in for. But another "Ouch" - £8 per glass of house wine. The decor is what you would call "traditional" with much use of wood (not veneer, P+O) brass and glass. The seating areas are comfortable with 2 bars, a very good observation lounge at the bow and a quiet area with library. And - BLISS - not a shred of that awfull intrusive piped music. No art auction. No constant announcements of yet another opportunity to part with your cash. Hooray, just the sound of gentle chatter. Hurtigruten offer excursions and they seem to be pretty well run, if not a little pricey. But again, they don't wax lyrical about them in a glossy brochure and there is no hard sell. We went to the Snow Hotel in Kirkenes and it was facinating as well as informative throughout. And all at minus 15 degrees too. There's little in the way of entertainment save learning how to tie knots and being introduced to freshly caught king crabs. Yes, we saw the Northern Lights - twice - and sightings are relayed over the ship's tannoy. You can also arrange to be phoned in your cabin if it's during the sleeping hours. But, don't go out in your nightey!! So, to recap, this is a no frills, honest to goodness cruise in a jolly hostile but very picturesque environment. Be sure to take your camera as the snow clad fjords present a marvellous outlook. It's a working vessel so there is some disturbance but it's certainly not intrusive. The staff and the whole ambience on board is one of helpfulness and welcoming. There are no pretentious promises that fail to live up to expectations. Indeed, this may even undersell itself. What a refreshingly welcome change. Read Less
Sail Date January 2011
I've always wanted to visit Norway and had heard the best way of doing so was on the 'mail boat'. Well the 'boat' far exceeded my expectations and now I want to go back again. We purposely chose to sail in February ... Read More
I've always wanted to visit Norway and had heard the best way of doing so was on the 'mail boat'. Well the 'boat' far exceeded my expectations and now I want to go back again. We purposely chose to sail in February because I wanted to see Norway as I have always imagined it- in snow covered winter conditions. We made our own travel arrangements to Bergen and enjoyed 3 days staying at the Best Western Hotel Hordaheimen before joining the ship. We booked our cruise through the Norwegian office and were very pleased with the simplicity of doing so via email with one telephone call to make payment. MS Nordlys was built in 1994 is one of the fleet sailing the coast of Norway from Bergen to Kirkenes. We chose a basic 2-berth inner cabin because it would be near the centre of the ship with less movement in bad weather. The cabin was clean, well maintained and comfortable (I especially like the Norwegian style of bedding). The lack of window was not an issue because we'd come on this voyage to see the scenery and experience the local way of life. We'd been warned that this was a working ship but the comfort, food, and crew were so good we didn't notice. We met several locals using the ship. Parents with new babies who had been to visit Grandparents for the first time, students on the way to college, business people holding meetings and seniors who popped into the cafe during stops in ports. This ship is part of Norway! The food was very good with a lunchtime buffet and set dinner. (the dinner menu is posted at lunchtime and if you don't like what is available you tell the crew and they discuss an alternative). We took the 'water package' where you pay a set amount and are provided with chilled water at each meal. A wine package is also available. Coffee can be expensive but we got round this by buying a Hurtigruten mug which we could fill up as often as we wanted in the cafe or bar. The service was of the usual high Norwegian standard and efficiency without losing any of the friendly atmosphere that existed on board (the only grumbles were a few passengers who would not have been happy anywhere). Communications were excellent. I confess we didn't go on any of the shore excursions but this was because we wanted to stroll around the ports of call at our own pace. Just make sure you return to the ship on time- they are very punctual. There are no children's clubs as such but there is a playroom that was used both by the young passengers and a few locals who visited during port stops. Entertainment was a Norwegian singer onboard and there was also a ceremony for crossing the arctic circle. There were some theme voyages like digital photography on other vessels. We were there to see Norway- its scenery and wildlife, and this is what we did, I think it would have been spoiled by organized entertainment. We arrived back in Bergen right on time and quickly disembarked. I would suggest that you book the bus or a taxi from the ship because there were no taxis available outside the terminal. This is a cruise for people who want to see Norway. It is a time to relax and enjoy being pampered without being subjected to constant 'organized' entertainment. We met several people who had sailed before- one couple were on their eighth trip! MS Nordlys appeared to be a favorite for returning passengers and, with its family atmosphere, I can see why. Are we going to sail again on MS Nordlys? Yes, I've been spoiled and I might also book on MS Fram after recently having the opportunity to visit her in port. Read Less
Sail Date February 2008
Nordlys Ratings
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