MS Fridtjof Nansen is all about providing passengers with an authentic and sustainable experience of the destinations being visited. A lot of time and effort has gone into planning the excellent shore excursion programmes of Zodiac cruises and walking tours, some included in the fare and some as optional extras. Passengers are fully briefed at the outset of the cruise on dos and don'ts in order not to damage the environments being visited.
In addition to shore excursions and Zodiac tours, the expedition team organises sighting opportunities on deck at certain times of the day. Depending on the itinerary, these might include whales, polar bears, penguins, walruses, seals, reindeer and abundant birdlife. To make the most of the wildlife viewing, take a good pair of binoculars and a high-capacity memory card as you will end up taking far more photos than you think.
This is a standout feature aboard MS Fridtjof Nansen. Members of the expedition team give an insightful daily programme of talks on various subjects, including marine life, history, photography and geology. These are held in the Science Center on Deck 6 and streamed into cabins via the TV.
The Science Center also includes interactive screens providing information on the destinations visited and microscopes to study various findings. Additionally, the ship has an underwater drone that is deployed when weather conditions allow.
Daytime and Evening Entertainment
This is not a ship for party animals, and anyone expecting traditional cruise ship entertainment will be disappointed. There are some talks and a pianist tickles the ivories in the Explorer Lounge at set times during the afternoon and evening. It's all very low key, and aside from having a nightcap, the majority of passengers head to bed early to watch a film or go to sleep.
Explorer Lounge (Deck 10): This beautiful lounge area is a relaxing place to read, snooze and enjoy a drink. It is the main social hub of the ship with a crackling faux fire leading to comfortable seating that includes some gorgeous daybeds designed for two overlooking the front of the ship. Around the panoramic windows, there are swivelling chairs with integral tables for your book and tipple of choice. Drinks are added to your onboard account or included, with a few exclusions, if you have signed up for the premium beverage package.
Pool Bar (Deck 10): This alfresco bar is next to the pool and hot tubs and opens when the weather allows. The bar menu is the same as the Explorer Lounge.
Two large hot tubs and a heated pool can be found at the back of the ship on Deck 10, with loungers set out in good weather. The hot tubs are open until 10 p.m. and are an atmospheric place to hang out and look at the stars at night. Drinks in plastic glasses can be taken into the tubs. This is also the place to find the ship's only smoking area.
For wildlife spotting the two main areas are the open-air Observation Deck at the front of the ship on Deck 7 and the protected area behind glass on Deck 6.
The reception desk on Deck 6 is open 24/7 and opposite is the shop selling souvenirs and a small selection of toiletries and other items. Also on the same deck is the expedition desk where staff are on hand to answer any questions about shore excursions and other activities. There is a photography room and library and free shipwide Wi-Fi. The ship does not have a self-service laundry.
Unusually for an expedition ship, Fridtjof Nansen has a spa offering a variety of treatments for women and men in three treatment rooms. In common with many cruise ships, they don't come cheap and in this instance are priced by time, with the option to have a 25-, 50- or 75-minute treatments. As always, it is worth keeping an eye out for special offers which included a 30 percent discount on a port day on our cruise.
There is a gym on Deck 7 which has free weights and Technogym equipment. On Deck 10 there is a very large mixed sauna with panoramic windows. The area is accessed by separate male and female changing rooms, and passengers are required to wear swimsuits or cover themselves in a towel.
Deck 11 contains a plethora of 24/7 outdoor gym equipment with instructions for some pretty hard-core exercises. There is also a one-direction walking/running track.
The ship has no activities or onboard facilities for children, albeit the chance to spot wildlife make the sailings suitable for youngsters and teenagers who love nature and animals. Young Explorer is a complimentary, year-round programme on select sailings on Hurtigruten ships -- including MS Fridtjof Nansen -- for curious and active children ages 6 to 12. On these itineraries children learn about other cultures, the importance of nature and the impact humans have on our planet. There is no children's menu or babysitting service.