Editor's note: MS Maud is the new name for the MS Midnatsol, which was due to have a multimillion refurbishment in 2020/2021. However, due to the pandemic, that refurb has been delayed until 2023. As part of the refurb, the ship will get new-look public areas using natural Scandinavian materials including wool, pine, birch, oak, and granite; as well as refreshed cabins and suites.
Best for: Adventurous couples or friend groups looking for outdoor experiences and great food
Not for: Guests looking for lots of family activities, onboard entertainment or night life
Bottom Line: The ideal way to experience the Norwegian or British coastline in depth and with passion
MS Maud is Hurtigruten's first U.K.-based ship, operating from Dover. From November through March, it offers a 15-day round-trip to Norway, from Stavanger to Honningsvag, for the North Cape. Come spring, it offers round-trip sailings from Dover to the west coast of Scotland, calling in at the Isle of Man, Isles of Scilly, Ireland and the Western Isles.
This 528-passenger vessel (originally "Midnatsol"), is named after Roald Amundsens "Maud" from 1917. The original Maud got its name from the first Queen of modern-day Norway.
The ship has a dedicated Expedition Team on hand, consisting of an expedition leader, whale and dolphin watcher, a geologist, a micro-bioligist, an historian and a photographer.
Built in 2003, Maud is the sister ship of Trollfjord, designed in the function-over-frills style that's expected of expedition ships. Despite a refurbishment being planned for 2023, many of the public areas (the atrium, lounges and amphitheatre where lectures are held) still sparkle as if new and are an appealing place to spend time after a busy day hiking an icy mountain or kayaking the glassy waters of a fjord. Especially divine are the top decks' two outdoor hot tubs -- a perfect spot to enjoy the scenery come rain, snow or shine.
The ship is designed for viewing, and there are plenty of comfortable places in the public areas to take in the breathtaking views of Norway's or Scotland's dramatic coastline. Indeed, just about everywhere on the ship comes with a view, including the sauna and gym.
Food onboard is exceptional. In Norway whilst breakfast is always a buffet, lunch and dinner are more frequently waiter-served set menus. Wine and beer are included at lunch and dinner.
The ship is classified as part of Hurtigruten's Expedition fleet of sips, and although it follows the route of the classic Coastal Voyage, it does not stop as frequently nor does it go as far (the ship returns at the North Cape, rather than Kirkenes). In Norway, expect long periods at sea, with short port stops (often just the afternoon). You also won't get that eclectic mix of locals using it as a ferry, or other nationalities -- this is an all-Brit ship and the crew are primarily Filipino, rather than Norwegian (as you'd find on the Coastal Express).
It's also worth noting that this ship does not have a Cruise Director or entertainment in the form of shows -- a lecture or port talk is what passes for evening fun.
Overall, if you're after a unique, adventurous cruising experience and enjoy being active in nature, then an expedition cruise on MS Maud is the ideal choice.
Pre-boarding antigen test (at cruise line's expense). You will take this once you arrive to the port. Results will come in roughly 10 minutes.
Sanitizing stations shipwide
Off the ship
Independent shore excursions are allowed
Range of included excursions
Passengers on Maud like to be active during the day and go to bed early at night. The average age is 55-plus, although this is skewed downward during the school holidays when there are families onboard.
Whilst there is no age restriction in Norway and no minimum age for the hikes, many are challenging across rough terrain and require a good standard of fitness) and last between 1.5 and four hours, so they're probably not suited to the under 10s. The same goes for the kayaking and paddleboarding. Evening lectures, though not designed for youngsters, might still be of interest to older children and teenagers, as will the nightly storyelling.
The passenger demographic is almost 100 percent British wherever Maud is sailing.
This is a relaxed, informal ship, with little or no dressing up. The dress code day and night is very casual, though you may want to bring along a few elegant clothes for the evening. The key is to be comfortable for hiking and exploring. What you bring along depends very much on the season, and it's essential to read what the line recommends. Everyone receives a free, waterproof expedition jacket.
The weather is changeable at all times of the year, so bring waterproof trousers, thermals and lots of woollen (not cotton) layers. A good pair of boots is also highly recommended if you plan on doing any hiking. Sun protection (for skin and eyes) is essential as the cold can really dry the skin. And in Scotland in the summer bring bug spray!
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A wonderful expedition with an expert expedition team
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