1. Home
  2. Cruise Lines
  3. Hurtigruten
  4. Polarlys Review
  5. Polarlys Cruise Reviews

6 Hurtigruten Polarlys Baltic Sea Cruise Reviews

Thursday, March 7 Arrived a couple of days earlier so was over jet lag. I was part of a tour group so had some options for the cruise that were included in the price of the "tour." If I ever return (and I hope I will, ... Read More
Thursday, March 7 Arrived a couple of days earlier so was over jet lag. I was part of a tour group so had some options for the cruise that were included in the price of the "tour." If I ever return (and I hope I will, I'll go as an independent traveler. We boarded the ship MS Polarys at 6:00 pm after a day of sightseeing in Bergen. We were on Deck 5 which is the "promenade" deck. Only OV and Inside Cabins, and we had OV. The cabin was actually bigger than we expected, and we were soon unpacked and deposited our large suitcases with Reception to be stored for the duration of the cruise Dinner the first night was a buffet with open seating. Friday, March 8 - 'lesund We settled into our daily routine. Breakfast and lunch were buffets with open seating. Breakfast items included soft and hard boiled eggs, sometimes a fried egg, a variety of cereals, oatmeal, different breads, several kinds of fruit, salad items (lettuce, tomatoes and other similar things), fish, meat and lots of cheese options plus orange juice, apple juice, coffee and tea. Lunch included soup, some hot foods such as cooked fish and potatoes, an assortment of salads and fish and meats and caviar, fruit, many kinds of cheeses, breads and different desserts along with coffee and tea. Dinner was a set menu, and there were two seatings. We had early seating. Dinner began with bread, a starter, then a main course of meat or fish with vegetables, ending with dessert. Coffee and tea were served in one of the lounges after dinner. We stopped long enough this first full day for a walking tour of 'lesund. Dinner: Clipfish bolinhos with ruccola salad, free range chicken with barley risotto and chocolate fondant with pear sorbet. Saturday, March 9 -- Trondheim We took a bus tour with a stop at the Nidaros Cathedral. This was part of our tour package. Entrance to the cathedral was extra, but I paid it. Unfortunately I only had about 15 minutes in the cathedral. Dinner: Cauliflower soup, baked filet of trout with root vegetables and panacotta. Sunday, March 10 - Arctic Circle and Lofoten Islands The big event was crossing the Arctic Circle. King Neptune poured ice down down the back (inside clothing) of anyone who was brave enough. I just watched. Dinner: Selbu Bla on baby-leaf salad with cloudberry syrup, braised ox fillet with vegetable stew and red wine jus, brown betty with caramel sauce. Monday, March 11 - Troms' My friend and I went dog sledding while in port at Tromso on a Hurtigruten excursion, and it was just wonderful. Dinner: Seafood buffet that included reindeer stew. This meal was my only disappointment of the trip, but I did like the reindeer stew. Tuesday, March 12 - Honningsv'g and the North Cape We took a Hurtigruten excursion to the North Cape. Stunning snow covered landscape on our 45-60 minute bus ride. I had seen many photos of North Cape and was not disappointed. It was very windy since the cape is at the top of cliffs that plunge 1000 ft. down to the sea. And very cold. But worth it. Dinner: Green pea soup, grilled stock fish with potato puree and cheesecake. Wednesday, March 13 - Kirkenes which is the turnaround port. We took a bus tour which was included in our tour package to a snow hotel that also had a small reindeer park. We had extra time so we went to the nearby Russian border, and I walked about 10 or 15 ft. past the gate. The guard house was another 200 ft. or so away so I dared not go further. We stopped in Vardo about a hour after we left Kirkenes. Several "crazy" people had a dip in the icy water! I watched from the open deck at the back of the ship. Dinner: Barents salad with seafood and spicy mayonnaise, venison medallions with sauteed vegetables and potato puree, then raspberries with sour cream for dessert. We'd seen very faint Northern Lights one night on the journey north, but they were spectacular this night. It was another experience of being outside on a moving ship and freezing while gazing in amazement at the sky. We were told they were seen another night, but we didn't hear the ship's announcement. Thursday, March 14 - Hammerfest and Troms' We arrived in Tromso at 11:45 p.m. and were whisked away by bus on a Hurtigruten excursion for a midnight concert in the Arctic Cathedral. One woman played the organ and piano, another played several kinds of flute, and one woman with a beautiful soprano voice sang. The concert included traditional Norwegian and Sami pieces as well as one Bach. It was just lovely. Dinner (earlier that night): Aquavit-cured reindeer topside with herb salad, Arctic char with asparagus and potatoes, North Norwegian blueberry parfait. Friday ,March 15 - Vester'len and Lofoten islands I took another Hurtigruten excursion. We got off the ship in Harstad. First, we visited a lovely medieval stone church and then had about a 2 hour drive across the countryside along a couple of lovely fjords. We rejoined the ship two ports later at Sortland. Dinner: Potato and leek soup, steamed haddock roulade with steamed vegetables and baked amandine potatoes and then rhubarb and strawberry soup (which was more like a pudding) with puff pastry and sour cream. Saturday, March 16 - Arctic Circle, Seven Sisters We did not get off the ship again but enjoyed the comforts of being warm and onboard. Today we crossed the Arctic Circle on our way south. Dinner: Viking Wraps with marinated and seasoned smoked salmon, sour cream and lettuce, Classic Pepper Steak with Hasselback potatoes, The Ship's Ice Cream Bombe with fresh fruit. Sunday, March 17 - Trondheim and Kristiansund Dinner: Hurtigruten's classic fish soup with freshly caught fish, BBQ-marinated Pork Neck with root vegetables and lime posset. Monday,March 18 - Bergen, disembarkation Buffet breakfast and lunch. We didn't disembark until 2:30 p.m. but had to be out of our cabins by 10:00 a.m. Disembarkation went well, and we were soon in our hotel for the night before flying home the next day. General Observations First, this was not a traditional cruise. The ship was about 450 ft. long and 65 ft. at the beam. The Hurtigruten ships remain working ships carrying cargo, vehicles and port-to-port passengers. We stopped at 64 ports at all hours with repeats on the way south. Sometimes we were only in port 15 minutes. There was no entertainment except a guy who played the piano and sang in one of the lounges. The voyage is about the scenery, and it was magnificent. Just when I'd think it couldn't get better, it would. The word I kept using was mystical. People gathered day and night in one of several lounges, mostly in a large forward lounge on Deck 7 with big windows. Yes, it was cold -- very cold. But that only added to the experience, plus I went prepared with thermal underwear, heavy socks, snow boots, ski pants, a buff, a knit cap, my new coat lined in fake fur and heavy gloves. I also took disposable hand warmers which I sometimes put underneath the buff on my face. The best buy I made was Yaktrax ice grippers that fit on the bottom of my boots sort of like tire chains. I was still careful walking on the snow and ice, but they gave me good traction. There is nothing formal about these cruises. No dress up clothes needed at all. I first heard of the Norway Coastal Voyages in the mid 1990s and had wanted to go ever since. The trip was worth the wait. Read Less
Sail Date March 2013
Voyages in Search of the Northern Lights If your main purpose for travelling with Hurtigruten, is to see the Northern Lights, you could be in for a big disappointment. Hurtigruten provide a well oiled transportation system, linking the ... Read More
Voyages in Search of the Northern Lights If your main purpose for travelling with Hurtigruten, is to see the Northern Lights, you could be in for a big disappointment. Hurtigruten provide a well oiled transportation system, linking the many coastal villages and towns, throughout mid and north Norway. The shipping line is efficient, almost to obsession and makes it clear from the start, not to compare its smaller vessels, with the larger, traditional cruise ships. We stayed in an N class cabin, which was extremely comfortable, well designed, with a large outside window, definitely a plus, on the 11 night, round trip. The weather in Feb, can be variable, often changing minute by minute, the scenery is breathtaking, numerous stops on the way, allow you to sample the many Norwegian delights. As always, the unwritten travellers code applies, your attitude will dictate the mood of your fellow guests, crew and your overall experience. The Ship.............. Depends entirely on your requirements, we sailed on Polarlys, a ship, midway between the much smaller traditional vessel the Lofoten and the larger Midnatsol. You need to think carefully, if you are prone to sea sickness, stick to the larger ships with stabilisers. Hurtigruten under- play the chance of rough seas, believe me there are a number of open sea stretches, which if you are unlucky, will test your sea legs. The Polarlys rode the rough well, but did rock around a fair bit! I am an average sailor and coped by taking Stugeron and lying down, but this can be inconvenient, if your set evening meal, corresponds with heavy swell. Cabins.............. For a trip like this, an outside cabin is a must, the cheaper L class cabins can be a lottery, with small portholes and restricted views, the package is normally half board, a false economy, when you find out, just how expensive, extras work out on ship. N class cabins, although more expensive, work out better value in the end, with picture windows and the benefit of full board. We travelled in cabin N317, on deck 3, near reception, proving a very good choice. We had absolutely no complaints, all to a very high standard. If you do not travel well, choose the pull down bed adjacent the window and sleep with head facing forward. Meals............. Hard to fault, well thought out, with plenty of choice at breakfast and lunch. There are two sittings, to the set table, set evening meal, with no choice, except on the sea food buffet evening , vegetarians can pre arrange their requirements. On embarkation, you are advised which sitting you are on, normally 18.15 or 20.15. Some couples, might not find the arrangements satisfactory, but if you go in a larger group, as we were, things can be more relaxed. British travellers are in the minority, but thankfully, most Europeans speak some English, much to their credit! One disappointment, is the ridiculous cost of alcohol, which rather precludes drinking with your meal, the waiters were clearly embarrassed, at trying to sell, very poor wine, at anything from £40-£70 a bottle and beer at around £6 a half pint. We purchased ships, filtered water, at approx £2 a bottle most evenings. This appeared at odds with the policy of providing water with breakfast and lunchtime f.o.c. In my opinion, Hurtigruten could be making a big mistake. Not withstanding the general high cost of alcohol in Norway, ships charges were outrageous. Budgets................. The basic N class, 11 night round trip, is good value, if you are contemplating this voyage, it is a no-brainer, to cut the experience short. North bound from Bergen, allows plenty of time for excursions, South bound is extremely restricted. The costs however, can start to escalate, once on board and it takes a strong will, to contain expenses. Although you would expect a certain mark up , nothing prepares you for the Norwegian cost of living, compared with the UK, like for like, almost everything, is approx 3 times, the price. Excursions............. Do not be pressured into pre-booking excursions, the Hurtigruten experience, is more about travelling, on a day to day, passenger ferry, visiting the 31 ports of call. Hurtigruten, in fairness, have tried to accommodate the cruise fraternity, but have to work to a tight schedule, some of the excursions, as previous reviewers have pointed out, are very rushed, but Hurtigruten are not in the cruise ship business and probably shouldn't even try. One excursion, which I would not have missed (its not advertised in the book, but arranged locally, ask the tour guide on ship.) is to the fishing village of Skarsvag, on day 6, of the northbound voyage, from the port of Honningsvag. While all your fellow guests are being herded to 71 degrees north, you will experience a real Norwegian fishing village, a very humbling experience, I might add and not what you would expect. To Conclude.............. We wouldn't have missed this trip for the world, it was a privilege, in nearly all respects it fulfilled a dream, we did see the Northern Lights and shall never forget them. Travelling with friends, , allowed us to share the experience. We have travelled extensively and would place this trip at the very top. Read Less
Sail Date February 2012
We bordered at Kirkenes and embarked at Bergen. Before driving on board the luggage was taken off the car and brought to the cabin by ship staff. It is not possible to go to the car after it has been left on the small car deck, approx 20 ... Read More
We bordered at Kirkenes and embarked at Bergen. Before driving on board the luggage was taken off the car and brought to the cabin by ship staff. It is not possible to go to the car after it has been left on the small car deck, approx 20 cars are accommodated. The cabins are small but sufficient. However, there is no minibar but the bars on board are very helpful and offer ice cubes. Wine and spirits are very expensive on board. Restaurants and other places on board are very nice. Staff is over all helpful and pleasant. At booking we were informed that the price included gratuities but in fact the staff expect tipping. Envelopes marked "tips" are available at several places and at the end of the trip several envelopes were discreetly passed to "favourites". Excursions are very well organized and if the weather is fine, good opportunities for sceneries. The guides speak excellent languages at least English,German and French and are in general very professional. The Norwegian coastline is very beautiful, probably the nicest in the world.The ship stops at 33 ports, very often for 15 minutes only. In other ports a little longer and it is possible to take a short walk.Hurtigruten is basically a passenger ferry and approx. 50% of the passengers are on board between a few ports only. Our journey took place at the end of July and in the middle of the summer. But the weather was unreliable, sometimes nice with warm sunbathing at sundeck but most of the time foggy and rainy. Finally, trip can be recommended. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
My sister, mom & I had a splendid time aboard MS Polarlys & only wish we had taken the complete journey North & South! All staff was very friendly & helpful. Views from both inside the Panoramic suite & outside on deck ... Read More
My sister, mom & I had a splendid time aboard MS Polarlys & only wish we had taken the complete journey North & South! All staff was very friendly & helpful. Views from both inside the Panoramic suite & outside on deck were breath taking. The variety and freshness of food was exquisite. The price of drinks in particular water and alcohol was in my view very expensive though. Alesund - A very pretty and picturesque town with its characteristic harbour and buildings. Trondheim - We had a very nice walk along the river and caught sight of the beautiful Nidaros cathedral Svolvaer - I would describe this town as the "perfect picture postcard town" it looks very surreal and quite beautiful. Tromso - We enjoyed the Fjellheisen Cable Car experience, the views of the city and surrounding mountains from the top of mount Storsteinen were spectacular and breathtaking. Honningsvag - Was the last town we visited before departing for England the history behind this town was of great interest with its church being the only original building still standing after the 2nd World war! A very enjoyable and memorable holiday. Thank you! Allison Barwell - Warwickshire England Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
I will place emphasis on the cruise portion. With a group reservation the tickets were waiting at the pier and we quickly boarded. Our cabin number was only then provided based on the chosen category. My cabin proved to be a problem ... Read More
I will place emphasis on the cruise portion. With a group reservation the tickets were waiting at the pier and we quickly boarded. Our cabin number was only then provided based on the chosen category. My cabin proved to be a problem because it was next to the loading ramp and by the laundry room. There was little chance to change the cabin as all cabins were booked well ahead.       The Ms. Polarlys is a typical fleet ship with about 550 passengers as well as cargo and ferry service. The ship kept tightly to schedule and stopped at about 34 ports (same group) in each direction on the round trip voyage. Day and night schedule alternated. The departure date was on the Winter Schedule and just before the switch to Summer Schedule. This limited some stops and excursions.       All meals were included with the package. Breakfast and lunch were buffet and open seating. Dinner was a fixed (feature) menu with reserved seating. It would be very costly to purchase the meals on your own. The food was varied and typical Scandinavian with lots of fish but plenty of choices. Reindeer was presented, too. Cruisers with dietary concerns were accepted but the menu was limited.       The cabin was smaller than some ships but fine for me. I had a futon style bed by the window and fold down bed from the wall. There is a small desk. Power is controlled with the room's key card and there is both 220 and limited 110 ac power. Linen/towel service is on demand or weekly bed change. There are no televisions in the cabin. A phone with radio was in each room. For two people, the storage space might be tight. The bathroom was good and water temperature is great. In rough weather there is some water noise. My cabin had a window and seemed close to the sea (on deck 3).       Decks notes: Deck four has the dining room, snack area, Internet room (free for many users), tour desk, bar lounge, child play area, meeting rooms, shop and viewing seats. Deck three is the service desk, laundry and most of the gangway use. Deck five is the boat deck and outside viewing in some sections. Deck seven has the panorama lounge, bar lounge, library and more viewing areas.       Other passengers without cabins, slept on overnight portions, in the viewing lounge and the library. Some children were along but I might not be sure that all tourists would want their children along on this trip. Announcements were usually in four languages as needed: Norwegian, English, German and French. The currency on board is Norwegian Kroner or an arrangement with your credit card. Americans will be frustrated with what we see as high costs and as compared to our money and economy. English is commonly spoken.       The scenery is the prime entertainment. If you take photos, be prepared to shoot through glass (often dirtied by weather) or be dressed to go on the outside decks. The weather will have great effect.       The trip can be very relaxing in most cases with plenty of time to socialize and watch the "world's most beautiful" scenery pass by. Don't expect a fancy, upscale cruise line arrangement. This is a great trip for those who want the adventure and experience. I am sure that I did not tell all here so I may be able to help your questions but do the research, too. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
Having booked the Hurtigruten Tour with the operators in London, I was disappointed with the level of information I had been provided with,even after requesting details and switched my booking across to Thomas Cook to continue. They were ... Read More
Having booked the Hurtigruten Tour with the operators in London, I was disappointed with the level of information I had been provided with,even after requesting details and switched my booking across to Thomas Cook to continue. They were far more helpful but still got little information out of the staff booking at Head Office. As a first time traveller on this cruise line I had no idea how to dress,what we would eat,cabins, ports of call and tour guide information on board. However, as it was for my husbands 50th Birthday I booked it and I felt it essential I write this guide to impress to other travellers how different the experience on board is compared with the initial view of Hurtigruten's capability to organise tours. Perhaps I just got hold of the wrong booking operator! Hurtigruten staff and Polarys crew are the friendliest you could want to meet and i would encourage everyone to do this tour of the Arctic for an amazing experience at Wintertime. For anyone wishing to travel here are the FACTS; You are met at the airport by an operative of Hurtigruten and taken by bus to the ship. The ship docks and you carry your luggage on board to check in. It works like a ferry so you take your luggage to your apartment and you can then go back to the town until the ship leaves. It blow its horn to tell you it's departing and you get time to board. CABINS Basic but comfortable and warm. We had 2 beds in ours with a porthole window. A basic hairdryer and room for clothes and cases in the cupboards. No mini bars, no toilettries other than a soap/shower dispenser on the wall but towels are changed daily. There is no room service but you can take food from the restaurant to the room if you do not want to attend for dinner. ON BOARD The ship is warm and you just need a cardigan for walking around. The Polarys has the most amazing lounge which is darkened during the day so you can sit and gaze out at the snow covered fjords. Some of the regulars sleep up here when they board for short journeys so its peaceful, calming and tranquil. Even my 22 year old son enjoy sitting with his walkman looking out at the weather, mountains and views. There is a lounge also where a duo sang for all of our 3 nights, they also show films here sometimes and on one evening brought on board Arctic Crabs which we all ran outside to see. There is a wash room down by the pursers office where you can dry clothes after coming back from excursions. Relatively cheap to do this and better than leaving them in the cabin. They make announcements regularly so you do not miss the Northern Lights. They inform you about highlights on the ship and the tour guide was wonderful and informative. The ship stops in ports up and down the fjords some for 15 minutes, others for 2 hours. You can disembark at any port as long as you are back on board for sailing times. If you miss the ferry it goes without you! Some places we would have loved to have stayed longer but as it is an essential ferry making scheduled stops it gave us the opportunity to visit places we can now return to. RESTAURANT Serves a vast selection of food and if you are full board on ship you are provided with breakfast and dinner. Although they offer you are coffee deal you actually get coffee at breakfast and are offered it again after dinner up in the lounge so we didn't think it was worth paying the extra for this and saved it for soft drinks for the kids. Also when you get off in port you tend to buy coffee as its so cold on land you need respite and warmth! There is also a shop on board and a canteen style restaurant where you can buy burgers, food etc if you are hungry lunchtime as well. To be honest we had so much food morning and evening the kids managed on crisps and snacks and saved us money! TOUR GUIDE He has his own little area where you can book additional trips. He arranges for films to be shown, he gives lectures on Arctic life and generally you see him around ship if you need advice. Some of our trips were cancelled due to weather conditions and he advises of new tours, or refunds in KRONER what you cannot attend. He was friendly, helpful and made our trip really nice. Every tour has a guide to take you on your way and make sure you do not miss the ferry back. CLOTHING We bought boots, hats, good quality jackets, undergarments and socks. We also bought ski trousers. At the dogsledding you are provided with boots, gloves, outerwear and blankers (if going to Tromso). You do not need to go mad as you can dry all your clothing on board if it gets wet and you have time in between ports to do this. TROMSO A nice town with some lovely hotels and of course during our visit it was dark the whole time. We stayed at the Bryggen Clarion which is located right on the waters edge and is medium priced compared to some of the others. The rooms are large, nice showers, hairdryers and good hearty breakfast. It was all pleasantly decorated for Christmas and staff were helpful. In TROMSO you can go on for excursions and we decided to go for the dog sledding option. We were picked up from the boat with our cases and then after the tour dropped back at the airport for our flights home. A wonderful experience with Arctic Pathfinders booked via Hurtigruten. 300 huskies desperate to pull sleighs. Afterwards a lovely hot soup and reindeer stew in a sami tent. The town has a lovely church to visit and a high street, shops and you can get around in a couple of hours. KIRKENES This was the highlight of our tour and I wished we could stay longer. You can visit the snow hotel, reindeer farm and husky ride and the journey through to the centre is lovely with snow covered hills all along the way. Most enjoyable only too short a time. I would re-visit this town as we did not get time to stop in town and go on the dog sledding. HAMMERFEST Another pretty town with the Polar Bear museum which is worth visiting. We looked around the town and went into the indoor centre (the size of a small Debenhams) where the locals were drinking coffee and carrying on life in the Arctic. This is the Northernmost town in the Arctic and interesting to see in winter when its dark all day. We arrived at 11.45 and it felt like 6pm..Cold, snowing and full of glowing lights. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Polarlys Ratings
Category Editor Member

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click