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29 Hurtigruten Polarlys Norwegian Fjords Cruise Reviews

Just returned from a six-night trip from Bergen to Kirkenes. While we did sail on the MS Polarlys I think my comments are germane to all of Hurtigruten's ships. The main purpose of our trip was to see the Northern Lights and we did. ... Read More
Just returned from a six-night trip from Bergen to Kirkenes. While we did sail on the MS Polarlys I think my comments are germane to all of Hurtigruten's ships. The main purpose of our trip was to see the Northern Lights and we did. We saw them all three nights we were in the Arctic Circle; two nights they were pretty weak but the third night they were really nice. So that was cool! Our cabin was very nice (we splurged on a suite) and the food was good. On all of our previous cruises, mostly on riverboats, the highlights of the trips were the excursions. Nothing could be be further from the truth on this trip. We booked five excursions - Art Nouveau Walk in Alesund, Trondheim with Nidaros Cathedral, Lofotr Viking Feast, The Arctic Capital Tromso and the Winter Hike in Bodo - and they were all pitiful. Had they been free - and they were far from it - they would still have been a bad value. I'd strongly advise getting a map at the desk and exploring the various ports on your own; you'll see a lot more. But the excursions were not our biggest issue. The most annoying and offensive issue was Hurtigruten's policy on water. While you could help yourself to a glass of water at the breakfast buffet, you could not at at the lunch buffet nor at the sit-down dinner. If you wanted a drink of water you had to buy a bottle, which cost 29 NOK (almost $4US) for a half-liter plastic (so much for their avowed commitment to the environment!) bottle. I know many riverboats no longer charge for wine at meals but I have no problem with Hurtigruten charging for wine (why should passengers who don't drink subsidize those who do?) but not providing water at meals in unconscionable. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
Re Norway - Hurtigruten Cruise - Hunting the Light - 12 days Just back from a fabulous holiday. The whole package was superb. Everything was very well run. The ship, Polarlys, was superb - so beautifully equipped. The staff very ... Read More
Re Norway - Hurtigruten Cruise - Hunting the Light - 12 days Just back from a fabulous holiday. The whole package was superb. Everything was very well run. The ship, Polarlys, was superb - so beautifully equipped. The staff very helpful, friendly and professional. Food - great; lovely to have the 'Coastal Kitchen' menu which centred on local recipes and produce - fantastic fish dishes. Lunch buffets were wonderful, masses of choice, hot & cold, something to suit everyone. Excursions well organised and interesting, only disappointment was that due to lack of snow we couldn't do the dog sledding. North Cape was amazing and Tromso Cathedral concert a wonderful peaceful experience, and there's something special to look forward to as you cross the Arctic Circle! Certainly a good company to travel with and provided some stunning locations and scenery. Highlight is that we saw the Northern Lights on two occasions and the second time it was especially clear - dancing curtains of pale green right across the sky. Yes we can certainly recommend this trip. If you like something a bit different, enjoy spectacular scenery and like some comfort and relaxation and have a hearty appetite then this is for you! Recommend a good quality down jacket (so glad we bought ours) as it's rather chilly on deck and that's the best way to appreciate the views as you gently sail through the fjords and islands of the Norwegian Coast. Also do the whole return trip so that the parts you pass in the dark on the journey North you will see in daylight travelling south. An upgrade in cabin was a good move to provide that extra space and on a higher deck, quiet and with good views. And KLM were a great airline, talking to others we were the only ones that got any refreshments on board! Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
Hurtigruten started out as a shipping company that took passengers along, but over the years the passenger business has expanded to become a more important source of business. Nonetheless, Hurtigruten still operates as a shipping company ... Read More
Hurtigruten started out as a shipping company that took passengers along, but over the years the passenger business has expanded to become a more important source of business. Nonetheless, Hurtigruten still operates as a shipping company when it comes to scheduling, selection and length of stops. Charming towns without much trade get stops too short to get off the ship, and even the big ones, like Trondheim, are rushed. Our guide was very upset that two of us were a few minutes "late" getting back to the bus because we were stuck in the cash register line at Trondheim Cathedral. Taking the bus ride, by the way, means no time for independent walking in town. You either walk or you ride, but not both. The most annoying part of the operation, however, is that Hurtigruten's business model means they charge extra for everything but the air you breathe. Want a lanyard to hang your id card on? It's the equivalent of $3.50 US. A coffee cup to use during non-restaurant hours? The equivalent of $30 US. A glass of house wine? $11 US. Water bottle? $3.00 US. No onboard lectures, no explanations of the formation of the fjords, no "free" excursions of any sort, no touor of the ship, officers sit at a separate table from the masses, extra charge to go from the ship to your hotel. Our trip, FYI, went south, from Kirkenes to Bergen. (Kirkenes and the other towns in Finnmark, the far north of Norway, were burned to the ground by the retreating German Army in 1945, which accounts for their somewhat bleak post-war architectural style.) Food was good and ample, cabin was small but adequate, staff was generally friendly but for a few in the dining room who had clearly been on board too long. Hurtigruten has been trying a new "a la carte" dining alternative, at extra cost, since April of this year, but does little promotion of and seems ambivalent about it. The Polarlys goes into drydock in January, 2016. We will see what emerges in this vein. Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
I am a 64-year-old, single female traveller. By day two of this cruise, I was so bored and disillusioned, I wanted to jump ship. I was quite prepared to forfeit the $9K I had paid for the cruise just to put an end to the monotony. This ... Read More
I am a 64-year-old, single female traveller. By day two of this cruise, I was so bored and disillusioned, I wanted to jump ship. I was quite prepared to forfeit the $9K I had paid for the cruise just to put an end to the monotony. This email (below), which I sent to my friends while still on board the ship, provides a glimpse into what "The most beautiful voyage in the world" is really like. My advice: Take a Holland America cruise, and include Iceland and Faroe Isles. Well, there have been some highlights in Norway, but overall I have to admit that the trip has been disappointing (an expensive mistake, in fact). I had wanted to jump ship on day 3, but after looking into the limited overland options, it just wasn't logistically or financially viable to do so (renting a car in Kirkenes and driving 1900 km back to Trondheim just seemed like adding insult to injury). I have yet to work out how I got it so wrong (Hurtigruten markets this trip as the most beautiful cruise in the world), but I certainly won’t be recommending it to other people. Frankly, I have found it boring. Yes, some of the scenery has been lovely, but there is an awful lot of “nothingness” (as one American passenger described it), today being another example! This is exacerbated by the fact that there is also absolutely nothing to do on the ship (no lectures, no videos about the area/history, no TV, very little internet, and no shampoo, conditioner, or tissues in the bathrooms). Someone asked if I had brought a book. Well, certainly didn’t spend $9K to read a book! I had in my mind (stupidly, as it turns out) that we would be visiting lots of fjords, a la the ones you see in the photos of the tiny ship at the bottom of a 1000 foot cliff drop. But for the most part it has been coastal cruising, and many of the darling little ports I was looking forward to seeing really have little to offer. The ones that did have something to offer (Trondheim and Tromso, for example), we only spent a couple of hours at, because the boat runs on a tight ‘ferry’ schedule, and although they claim that Hurtigruten is now focussed on the tourist, they really are not (and this opinion was corroborated by a lady from Melbourne. A very fair lady, but clearly sees the shortcomings. She is going to recommend to her friends that they change from Hurtigruten to Holland America). I've stuck it out, and I will chalk it up to experience, and cross it off the list. There was not enough time in port to get away from the ship. We were nearly always a little bit late arriving in port, which meant what little time was scheduled on shore was often reduced, e.g. 30 minute stops were often reduced to 15 minutes. Tap water is not available for lunch or dinner. You are forced to buy bottled water (and if you don’t, you have your glass removed!). One American couple was quite upset about this, and said “It was very poor PR on the part of Hurtigruten.” There was nothing to do on board ship. Many of the passengers were either reading books, or playing cards or Scrabble. It was days of monotony that could easily have been alleviated by showing some specialty videos on Norwegian history, culture, points of interest, flora, fauna, etc. I only found out about the UNESCO Geodetic Arc Monument because I was told about it from another passenger! Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
Polarlys Ratings
Category Editor Member

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