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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2019
Overall a good cruise with a new ship where you need to accept that some proccesses dont work. The new ship is great. Our suite on deck 9 was really perfect. The main restaurant has a structure we dont like. Its like a quick ... Read More
Overall a good cruise with a new ship where you need to accept that some proccesses dont work. The new ship is great. Our suite on deck 9 was really perfect. The main restaurant has a structure we dont like. Its like a quick restaurant. The extra restaurant for suite guests is really good in service. The expectation is that the menu will change within a 2 weeks cruise. Visiting areas without a harbour means uising small boats to enable guests to go on land. To handle this for 500 guests with 12 guests on a boat means that you need a lot of time until you can go on land. The qualification of the expedition team (not a holiday - an expedition) was good. But they have to learn that the guests have paid for a holiday alo and not only for an expedition. The absolut negatives experience ever was the flight back from greenland to denmark in the middle of the night. Out conclussion: never flight back from greenland in the night. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2019
The Roald Amundsen is a brand new ship of a very high standard, but there are issues with how it is run. We chose this cruise because we wanted to go to Greenland and this seemed to be a good itinerary. We were excited by the thought ... Read More
The Roald Amundsen is a brand new ship of a very high standard, but there are issues with how it is run. We chose this cruise because we wanted to go to Greenland and this seemed to be a good itinerary. We were excited by the thought of a new ship, and thought there were a couple of cruises before ours, so that any teething issues would be sorted out. This proved not to be the case. The expedition crew seemed not to have worked out that dealing with 500 passengers was totally different from 200. The sound system didn't work properly so that briefings were difficult. There is no area on the boat to brief everyone, even when split into two groups. The food was very good, but tables were not allocated, so that people queued up for up ot 30 minutes before their seating time, obstructing the stairwell. When dinner was "set menu" it was great, but the buffet didn't work very well because the access into the restaurant was through the main food service area. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2019
This second trip we've made with the Hurtigruten was perfect. The combined destination Iceland and Greenland was great. The ship and his complete crew, from Bridge to cleaning and "Tender crew" where great and very ... Read More
This second trip we've made with the Hurtigruten was perfect. The combined destination Iceland and Greenland was great. The ship and his complete crew, from Bridge to cleaning and "Tender crew" where great and very professional! The fellow passengers from all over the world; German, Northern Europeans and South Europeans, Chinese and Japanese, matched perfectly. No irritations or wash so ever noticed. The choice of landings on this expedition voyage where well chosen and the tender boats also. The Expedition Team of the Fram was great with high professional attitude and knowledge. The given lectures where for everybody a change to learn more in dept about the North Atlantic/Artic environment. The weather, normally unsure at these destinations was superb. This trip was a life time experience and the following trip will be done with this company. No gala diners or Black Tie, this is a perfect match for cruising without all the gizmos and "bling bling" some people are expecting or want! Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
We paid a deposit at the time of booking. When it came time to pay the remainder, I hadn't heard anything from Hurtigruten. I contacted them to ask for an invoice saying how much we owed. They sent it but failed to mention that their ... Read More
We paid a deposit at the time of booking. When it came time to pay the remainder, I hadn't heard anything from Hurtigruten. I contacted them to ask for an invoice saying how much we owed. They sent it but failed to mention that their banking information had changed. Fortunately I caught it last minute otherwise some stranger would have received a lot of money. Food is only available at breakfast, lunch and dinner. There are no snacks available in the evening. As a result, I would have to remember in the morning at breakfast to take some snacks back to the room to store in the fridge. If I forgot we went hungry. The delivery of lectures is poor. It was regularly difficult to hear in the back of the room, and it was impossible to see the screen unless you sat in the first few rows. A room with a graded floor would help avoid that problem. The door design to the outer deck 5 is absurd. It opens right into part of the ship giving about 10 inches of clearance to get through the door when coming back inside from the front of the boat. Apparently excursions booked at the time of booking are non refundable. This was never told to me in writing or in person when I booked the cruise over the phone. It was never written on any of the invoices from Hurtigruten. This made it very challenging during the cruise to cancel excursions, although before we left the boat we were assured that the paperwork for the cancellations was complete and that we would be receiving a refund. Our cruise finished Jun 30, and today it is July 17. After many back and forth emails, I have received a partial refund (although they insist the full refund was issued) and my husband has received nothing. It takes at least a week if not longer to hear back from them. Hurtigruten is by far the most unprofessional company I have ever had to deal with. I have no intentions of traveling with them again in the future. The cruise industry is competitive and I have many other options. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
We cruised around Iceland over eleven days, stopping at small ports and islands, sometimes twice in a day, and enjoying rubber boat trips to bird cliffs, etc. Absolutely no problems over embarkation and disembarkation, and the transfers ... Read More
We cruised around Iceland over eleven days, stopping at small ports and islands, sometimes twice in a day, and enjoying rubber boat trips to bird cliffs, etc. Absolutely no problems over embarkation and disembarkation, and the transfers from/to the airport were on time and trouble-free. The ship was compact - 121 passengers in all - yet had all that we needed in terms of facilities, including a training room and outdoor jacuzzi for those who wished. The cabin was equally compact, but the double bed was superbly comfortable and the en-suite entirely adequate. There were two lounges and one restaurant, with a bar in one of the lounges. Dining was at specified tables on some evenings, but for breakfast, lunch and 'buffet' evening meals the seating was open. The food was invariably good, with a few 'themed' cuisines such as 'South American' or 'Italian Style'. There was no 'entertainment' in the sense of shows, but every evening there were talks about what we had seen, or what we were to see the following day, and on one evening the crew pt on their own show for us. Books and games were available in the panorama lounge. There was an excellent range of excursions, which were impeccably organised, whilst the crew were well trained in ensuring safe transfers into and from the tenders when at anchor rather than alongside a jetty. For anyone interested in seeing this fascinating country it was a superb cruise - the only thing they didn't organise for us was an eruption of any of the volcanoes! Read Less
18 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
The main reason for taking this cruise was to see exotic Greenland and Iceland at the same time. This cruise only offered 1 stop in Iceland after leaving Reykjavik but I spent a full week in Iceland on my own using a rented car to ... Read More
The main reason for taking this cruise was to see exotic Greenland and Iceland at the same time. This cruise only offered 1 stop in Iceland after leaving Reykjavik but I spent a full week in Iceland on my own using a rented car to appreciate that wonderful and scenic island. We were lucky to have smooth sailing the whole trip, slightly bumpier going across to Greenland but still pretty smooth considering. Weather was also in our favour 90% of the time, with fog lifting when appropriate. All of the stops on this itinerary where worthwhile and Hurtigruten does a great job of getting everyone off and back on with their small tender boats (max. 8 people). Generally, the stops were interesting enough on their own but most stops had excursion options if you wished, like escorted hikes, glacial boat rides, kayaking, etc. Two stops included a guided hike without charge. The first stop in Greenland included a natural warm water spa which was fun to partake with a small changing hut nearby. The regular cabins are done well while the suites (which I had) are that much better in the bedding, amenities, wine & beer at lunch/dinner, espresso/cappuccino at breakfast, 2 bottles of water and chocolate each evening and housecoats to keep. The vast majority of the crew and staff are friendly and helpful. The front desk staff stood out for me. Most of the expedition team are interesting, friendly and approachable. Among 14 expedition team members, there were only 2 natural English speakers and the rest were mostly from Germany originally (although 1 was from Netherlands, another from Poland, 2 from Greenland and 1 other from Iceland). All lectures, information sessions and excursions were in 2 languages: English and German. I am sure the Germans had it easy with so many German native speakers in the team, but the lectures in English were often difficult to follow or at least awkward to listen and understand, except when the very interesting and knowledgeable Canadian guy lead a session or a group/excursion ashore. Of the 12 European expedition team members, I would say 2 of them had great English (as a second language) and 2 more were pretty good, while the rest ranged from OK to terrible English. Food was EXCELLENT overall with a good variety and different menus such as Norwegian (of course), Greenlandic, Filipino, sea food and lots of great lamb. All of the service staff (restaurant, bar and stewards) were from Philippines. They worked very hard and most were super friendly. The Fram ship is fantastic and well dressed for sailing polar waters in great comfort. The decorations around the ship are interesting and well done, relating to polar expedition history and the original Fram vessel from the 1890s. There is a wonderful lounge and bar on the top level, 2 hot tubs, good size gym, 2 lecture rooms, a bistro and games room and a spacious and well appointed restaurant at the stern on deck 4 (of 8). There are also great outdoor viewing spots on decks 5, 7 and 8. One day, we could not get to our planned port of call because of too many icebergs blocking the entrance. To make up for this, the captain stopped in a strategic spot in a large fjord with several stationary icebergs around and we spent a few hours exploring these bergs close-up with the small tender boats (either 7 or 10 pax at a time, depending on the boat size). This was an unexpected great surprise which really added a wonderful experience to all to feel the wonder and awe of these creations of nature. The last 3 days on this trip were perhaps the most memorable starting with viewing the ice berg factory at Ilulissat, then stopping at a small hamlet where we got to visit inside a Greenland home for coffee and sweets, participated or watched a football match between the Fram crew/guests and the village (they won easily), enjoying some Greenland music in a sing-along with villagers, and on the final day a well orchestrated day of visiting the Greenland ice cap, looking for animals (Musk Ox was spotted) and a wonderful outdoor meal before being flown overnight to Copenhagen on a chartered Airbus 330 Greenland Air flight ... which was also excellent with open bar, full hot breakfast served, headphones and in-seat personal entertainment system. This was a super experience with an excellent and appropriate ship which is well thought out and executed by Hurtigruten. Highly recommended. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
Notes on Hurtigruten National Park Expedition, 10 September to 24 September 2015 We had been looking forward to our third Explorer Voyage, to Iceland, North East Greenland and Spitzbergen National Park for some time but, unfortunately, ... Read More
Notes on Hurtigruten National Park Expedition, 10 September to 24 September 2015 We had been looking forward to our third Explorer Voyage, to Iceland, North East Greenland and Spitzbergen National Park for some time but, unfortunately, this last voyage was such a massive disappointment that, instead of us now planning our next trip with Hurtigruten, it is most unlikely that we will travel on the Fram or with them again. Signs of what was to come started with the mandatory safety drill. Compared with those on our 2012 and 2013 voyages when the drills went like clockwork the contrast could not have been greater: it was disorganised chaos made worse by the fact that many of the large Chinese contingent on board talked loudly and incessantly over the instructions when they were being given in English or German. Instead of standing in relatively small groups, a large number of passengers had to just mill about trying to catch a glimpse of the crew member demonstrating procedures. Now, it is most important to recognise and acknowledge that cultural and behavioural differences exist and one needs to be tolerant. However, it is a sad fact that the behaviour of many, a majority, of the large number of Chinese passengers left much to be desired. They seem to have no concept of personal space and constantly elbowed their way in wherever, be it on deck or in the lifts or in the dining room. In general, they took little notice of the timings of excursions, demanding to be carried even when their group had not been called, and then refusing to return to the boats at allotted times. It was also an unpleasant experience to follow some of them in the queues for the buffets watching them handle food before returning it to the counters. As for the trip itself well something went wrong early on. It appears that the wrong fuel had been delivered and put into some of the boats and so we hung about for a couple of days, in the, admittedly, beautiful scenery of the Scoresbysund waiting until the Fram could take on-board the correct fuel during a second stop at Ittoqqortoormiit. I am still not sure what actually went wrong as communication with passengers left a great deal to be desired. Whatever the reason, the delay put us two days behind schedule from then on. Now, it is obvious and right that the safety of the ship and of her passengers is paramount and that important decisions must be left to the captain. Nevertheless, when still in Iceland we had been told that the earlier trip from Spitzbergen had been unable to get into some of the planned landing places because of extensive sea-ice. The sea conditions we would meet were known, therefore, before we left Scoresbysund. Slowly, we made our way through sea mist and lots of ice to Myggbukta and then to ‘Dead Man’s Bay’ which was to be our last landing in Greenland as it was decided that the ice would not permit further progress north. Not a surprise really as that, as I have said, was already known. The Fram took a day extricating itself from the ice and then only after having tried all sorts of directions including reverse. The way that it eventually succeeded was to sail south again giving rise to rumours that we were heading back to Iceland. That was not to be so but the Fram, instead of just taking one day to cross to Spitzbergen, actually took two and a half days which severely curtailed the time that we had to see Spitzbergen. A visit to Ny Ålesund was cancelled as it was said that there was to be an oil clean-up drill there. The question then asked was whether Ny Ålesund did not know of the visit by the Fram or whether the Fram did not know of the oil clean-up drill? The Spitzbergen element of the holiday was severely curtailed. Luckily, we had previously circumnavigated the archipelago and had seen it but a number of our fellow passengers was very disappointed. There were good points, however, it was not all negative. The Filipino staff was as welcoming, friendly and courteous as ever, we were very fortunate to have had excellent company at set meals and then there was the wildlife.The high point of the trip was the seeing Humpback, Minke and Orca whales, polar bears, musk oxen, reindeer and Arctic fox. None of the above, however, was sufficient to make up for the serious problems we encountered on this voyage. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
“We had been looking forward to our third Explorer Voyage, to Iceland, North East Greenland and Spitzbergen National Park for some time but, unfortunately, this last voyage was such a massive disappointment that, instead of us now ... Read More
“We had been looking forward to our third Explorer Voyage, to Iceland, North East Greenland and Spitzbergen National Park for some time but, unfortunately, this last voyage was such a massive disappointment that, instead of us now planning our next trip with Hurtigruten, it is most unlikely that we will travel on the Fram, or with them again. Signs of what was to come started with the mandatory safety drill. Compared with those on our 2012 and 2013 voyages when the drills went like clockwork the contrast could not have been greater: it was disorganised chaos made worse by the fact that many of the large Chinese contingent on board talked loudly and incessantly over the instructions when they were being given in English or German. Instead of standing in relatively small groups, a large number of passengers had to mill about trying to catch a glimpse of the crew member demonstrating procedures. Now, it is most important to recognise and acknowledge that cultural and behavioural differences exist and one needs to be tolerant. As for the trip itself well something went wrong early on. It appears that the wrong fuel had been delivered and put into some of the boats and so we hung about for a couple of days, in the, admittedly, beautiful scenery of the Scoresbysund waiting until the Fram could take on-board the correct fuel during a second stop at Ittoqqortoormiit. I am still not sure what actually went wrong as communication with passengers left a great deal to be desired. Whatever the reason, the delay put us two days behind schedule from then on. Now, it is obvious and right that the safety of the ship and of her passengers is paramount and that important decisions must be left to the captain. Nevertheless, when still in Iceland we had been told that the earlier trip from Spitzbergen had been unable to get into some of the planned landing places because of extensive sea-ice. The sea conditions we would meet were known, therefore, before we left Scoresbysund. Slowly, we made our way through sea mist and lots of ice to Myggbukta and then to ‘Dead Man’s Bay’ which was to be our last landing in Greenland as it was decided that the ice would not permit further progress north. Not a surprise really as that, as I have said, was already known. The Fram took a day extricating itself from the ice and then only after having tried all sorts of directions including reverse. The way that it eventually succeeded was to sail south again giving rise to rumours that we were heading back to Iceland. That was not to be so but the Fram, instead of just taking one day to cross to Spitzbergen, actually took two and a half days, which severely curtailed the time that we had to see Spitzbergen. A visit to Ny Ålesund was cancelled as it was said that there was to be an oil clean-up drill there. The question then asked was whether Ny Ålesund did not know of the visit by the Fram or whether the Fram did not know of the oil clean-up drill? The Spitzbergen element of the holiday was severely curtailed. Luckily, we had previously circumnavigated the archipelago and had seen it but a number of our fellow passengers was very disappointed. There were good points, however, it was not all negative. The Filipino staff was as welcoming, friendly and courteous as ever, we were very fortunate to have had excellent company at set meals and then there was the wildlife. The high point of the trip was seeing Humpback, Minke and Orca whales, polar bears, musk oxen, reindeer and Arctic fox. None of the above, however, was sufficient to make up for the serious problems we encountered on this voyage.” Read Less
23 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
Hurtigruten’s North East Greenland National Park Expedition. 10th to 24th September 2015. This voyage on the Fram to the North East Greenland National Park was so seriously flawed that we will not be travelling with Hurtigruten ... Read More
Hurtigruten’s North East Greenland National Park Expedition. 10th to 24th September 2015. This voyage on the Fram to the North East Greenland National Park was so seriously flawed that we will not be travelling with Hurtigruten again. We had rated previous voyages as excellent, including one on the Fram, and the comment that Hurtigruten is Norway’s national treasure was, in the past well deserved. The voyage was booked two years ago and chosen because of the focus on Greenland’s National Park. As soon as we set foot on board it became evident that something had changed. The embarkation process was chaotic with people milling around all over the place. Later the mandatory safety drill was so badly organised that it would be surprising if anyone knew what to do in an emergency. The drill was also disrupted by a large party who talked noisily amongst themselves throughout. During the evening introduction of the crew and the Expedition team we were dismayed to find that there were hardly any mature Arctic experts, or experts of any kind on the team. These observations were widely discussed by the returnee English and German passengers, many of whom had travelled on the Fram many times before. Three factors ruined this holiday, two of which were known in advance by Hurtigruten and thus were avoidable and the third was complete incompetence by Hurtigruten staff on board. 1. The bad ice conditions were well known to Hurtigruten before we left Iceland because they had been experienced on the Southbound journey of this voyage one week earlier but also because of the Danish Meteorological Office Ice Charts and Satellite pictures. Early in the voyage we were told we would NOT be going into the National Park due to the danger presented by ice conditions and that it was unlikely that we would be able to land anywhere. A few days later this decision was reversed with no satisfactory explanation and this resulted in us spending nearly three days at sea trapped in the ice. 2. We became aware from talking to the crew that Hurtigruten are actively pursuing the Chinese market. The presence of a group of 34 passengers considerably diminished the enjoyment of this holiday from the outset. None of this group spoke any European language and regrettably their behaviour left much to be desired. They did not understand or seem to want to observe mandatory hygiene rules in the restaurant, queue outside the restaurant when asked, keep quiet when observing wild life, respect the AECO rules about leaving the Arctic unspoilt. They pushed and shoved when others were trying to take photographs of wild life. None of the Hurtigruten staff were Chinese speaking and very little action was taken to ameliorate their behaviour or observe on board etiquette. Regrettably this was not a comfortable or positive experience. 3. We were told by the Expedition Team Leader that Hurtigruten somehow managed to contaminate the stock of fuel for the fleet of landing boats such that diesel and petroleum containers got mixed up. As a result some boats loaded with passengers had to be towed back to the ship as their engines failed. The three days spent cruising in Scoresby Sund where two landings took place was not on the itinerary. This was either a diversion due to the ice conditions or delaying tactics whilst waiting for clean fuel to be obtained for the landing boats – neither excuse was properly explained. As a result of these key issues and poor decision making this holiday was a fiasco. We only spent two days in the National Park instead of seven and only half a day in Spitsbergen. There were periods when no update information was given during which time passengers wondered what was going. The sighting of two adult polar bears, one with a cub, on the ice in Greenland, or the beautiful afternoon spent on the ship surrounded by whales in Iceland did not make up for this very disappointing holiday. There were very few birds due to the time of year. We were told that there were musk oxen and arctic foxes but they were so far away as to be virtually invisible. Our previous experiences on the Fram have been very positive, and even allowing for difficulties of weather and ice conditions the Expedition team have come up with alternative itineraries which have been perfectly acceptable. Not so on this voyage - it was evident something went very badly wrong early on. We got the impression that the Expedition team had basically given up. Possibly the reasons might be due to the change of ownership in late 2014 when Hurtigruten was taken over by a group of British investors. Read Less
35 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
We have done some pretty special cruises including Inside Passage, Panama Canal, Mexican Riviera and Tahitian Islands. My wife particularly wanted to see some Polar Bears. We told the Hurtigruten cruise consultant this and wanted advice as ... Read More
We have done some pretty special cruises including Inside Passage, Panama Canal, Mexican Riviera and Tahitian Islands. My wife particularly wanted to see some Polar Bears. We told the Hurtigruten cruise consultant this and wanted advice as to a Stitzbergen cruise or the Greenland cruise. I think we were upsold to a more expensive cruise. Boarding was a nightmare, the computers were down. Champagne was set out for suite guests, not a thing for the rest of us, not even a glass of water while we waited. The lifesaving demo was a complete farce. After 45 minutes waiting most of us had lost interest. I was pleasantly surprised by the dinner as I had read the food was average. Things went downhill from there. In 14 days you could count 3-4 memorable meals. On my feedback form I wrote, you are serving $5 meals with $40 bottles of wine. The cook (you couldn't use the word chef) killed the food. Mostly it was cooked to the point of burnt. The battered calamari was like rubber tyres both times it was served. The steaks were charred. The meal on the last night was so salty, no-one at out table could eat it. As previous critics have said, there were a lot of fish dishes. Most were quite bland and the fish tough or full of bones. One traditional fish soup tasted good but the fish could not be chewed. Service at the table was very friendly, but the staff were poorly trained. Drinks were slow and plates remained when you returned with another course. I finished the red meat dish before my bottle of red wine arrived. BTW you have to pay extra for filtered water, the tap water is not so good. No filtered water at breakfast, no cappuccino until 10am in the bar. Ice-cream, 6 flavours for 14 days, no imagination, vanilla, chocolate, orange, pistachio, strawberry and coconut. Bar staff in the observation deck were friendly and efficient, well above the dining room staff, drink prices not too bad. Shore excursions were somewhat of a joke. Early sea-ice forced the ship into a fjord they hadn't been in before. Park restrictions meant no more than 100 people could go ashore at any one time. We rotated through 8 groups. If you were last, the chances of seeing wildlife was zero. An unexplored fjord meant we sailed km's off the shore again seeing nothing. We saw more wildlife on the Inside Passage cruise. A passenger we met from a different cruise-line from Stitzbergen saw 22 polar bears, we saw 3 and virtually nothing else. All the birds had left for the winter. This cruise is the very end of the season and only runs to top up the company coffers before heading to the Antarctic. We also went on the Cirkle Boat tour at extra cost 270NOK ea. The free shore excursion saw more wildlife. While dinner was served the ship traced the same route as we had just paid extra for, RIPPED OFF. Did I mention that the captain had never been to Greenland and we spent a long time poking along in heavy sea ice without ice charts (it was the weekend). We lost so much time (more than 24 hours), shore excursions in Spitzbergen were cancelled. They also took on drums of diesel instead of petrol, causing chaos with the tenders and a further 6 hours delay stopping for the right fuel. The internet was so slow they refunded me the first 60NOK for one hour and gave me 2 hours for 60NOK the next time. I managed to sent two text only emails and gave up. The lectures were very average. The photographer was good and very helpful. The expedition team were enthusiastic but young and in the main inexperienced. Eric, the SAS guy was leaving after the cruise. His experiences in Greenland on patrol were interesting. Cabin was tight but clean and functional. Movie selection was basic but ok. Laundry expensive but on the last day you could get a whole bag done for 160NOK. We washed socks and undies and took line, pegs and some laundry liquid and had clean dry clothes in 36 hours, big saving. Others told us they had great experiences in the past with Hurtigruten but rate FRAM 2/10 for this cruise. We think 2 was generous. I was so glad I didn't try to convince any friends to cruise with us. I recorded the best part of the trip as "getting off". This is a very expensive cruise and could easily have been one to rave about. I wouldn't recommend it to any one. My wife and I felt cheated out of what should have been the trip of a lifetime. Every other cruise we have been on has been memorable for all the right reasons, this one for all the wrong ones. I firstly shared my concerns with the company and as they didn't even acknowledge my feedback, I though I'd share with other cruisers. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2015
We loved every bit of the Climate cruise on the Fram...we chose a balcony suite which was great lots of room and even on cold days we could sit outside with a drink and watch the ice slide past! We were blessed with really good weather ... Read More
We loved every bit of the Climate cruise on the Fram...we chose a balcony suite which was great lots of room and even on cold days we could sit outside with a drink and watch the ice slide past! We were blessed with really good weather so were able to see and do loads of expeditions including Jan Mayan volcano and kayaking past Glaciers... We also saw Polar bears,Reindeer ,Walrus,Seals,and Whales. The on board talks were on the whole pretty good. There is no real entertainment ..apart from one night of mini cabaret by the crew and an on deck BBQ but that was fine with us as we just wanted to soak up the peace,quiet and beauty of the area. We had the best of times and will remember this trip for a very long time Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2011
Before we began the cruise, we spent three days in an apartment in Reykjavik. I would recommend a stay in Iceland to anyone cruising in that part of the world. Iceland is beautiful in a wild and unique way. MV Fram, built by ... Read More
Before we began the cruise, we spent three days in an apartment in Reykjavik. I would recommend a stay in Iceland to anyone cruising in that part of the world. Iceland is beautiful in a wild and unique way. MV Fram, built by Hurtigruten in 2007 especially for cruising the polar regions, is a wonderful ship. According to Hurtigruten, it carries 318 passengers, but we were told the ship was full on this voyage with 227. The average age of passengers was typical for an expedition-type cruise, i.e., younger than on large ships. There were two or three people with physical handicaps (one in a wheelchair) and a number of children. Eighty to ninety percent of the passengers were Scandinavians (93 Norwegians) and Germans. There were only four Americans aboard, along with a handful of people from other English-speaking countries. The official language of the voyage was English. Check-in on the ship in Reykjavik was chaotic. Help with luggage was available upon request; otherwise everyone managed their own bags. As on more traditional cruises, a cruise card was used for all purchases aboard. There was a small gift shop with clothing appropriate for the voyage, along with some souvenir items and toiletries. Alcohol, soft drinks, and premium coffees could be purchased. Shore excursions were included in the cruise price, and all passengers were given windbreakers as a memento of the voyage. There were two dinner seatings with assigned tables, but due to the nature of the trip, all but two nights were buffets with open seating. The food was Scandinavian, meaning good fresh fish (such as salmon) at dinner, and smoked or marinated fish as a choice at every buffet. Besides the fish and excellent desserts, the food was uninspired, to say the least. Vegetarians, diabetics, and people with gluten intolerance were provided for. A snack bar with complimentary coffee, tea, hot chocolate, cookies, and small sandwiches was open 24/7. There was no room service. The cruise itself was an unforgettable experience. After one sea day we reached Jan Mayen Island, a tiny Norwegian outpost 370 miles NE of Iceland. It is inhabited only by fourteen hardy souls who run the weather station there. There is no harbor, no regular air service, and no tourist facilities. The only visitors are the occasional yachts that anchor there. The Fram was the first cruise ship to call there. Our landing was made on a rocky beach from "Polarcirkel" boats (similar to Zodiacs), and required waterproof boots. Jan Mayen is a wild, desolate place with essentially no vegetation. The perfectly shaped volcano last erupted in the 1970's, and the whole island consists of lava rock. The weather was relatively mild, with calm seas and temperatures in the forties. While we were ashore the volcano was obscured by clouds, but later that night the midnight sun appeared and illuminated the snow-covered peak with its glaciers. As if on cue, three Minke whales also appeared. After another sea day we arrived at Spitsbergen, where our first stop was to be Longyearbyen, the largest settlement in the Svalbard archipelago. As luck would have it, an ice-field totally filled the Isfjorden. The Fram is designed to break through such ice floes, but progress was so slow that after two hours the captain made the decision to cancel that stop and head north. Standing on the bow (fully covered with wind-proof pants, jacket, hood, boots, and heavy long-johns) watching our laborious progress through the ice, I felt a long, long way from home. We saw many birds taking advantage of the shifting ice floes: puffins, guillemots, auks, fulmars, gulls, and arctic terns. Our trip north along the west coast of Spitsbergen took us past an incredible landscape of mountains, glaciers and blue skies. The next morning we stopped for a guided tour of Ny Alesund, a small settlement made up of scientists from different countries doing various polar research projects. Cruise ships and yachts do stop there, but there are no facilities except a small gift shop and a museum. Ny Alesund used to be a mining town, and most of the buildings are remodeled houses from that era. Later that day we made a landing at the beach in beautiful Magdalena Fjord, where blubber ovens were still visible from the days when whaling ships used this natural harbor (ice-free year round due to the Gulf Stream) as headquarters for their activities in this part of the world. While leaving Magdalena Fjord we saw our only polar bears of the trip, unfortunately far in the distance. It was a mother and cub. After midnight that night (still bright sunlight) we reached Moffin Island off the north coast of Spitsbergen. It's a walrus preserve, so we were not allowed to go ashore but could see the walrus colony quite clearly. There were other wonderful experiences sailing through the many fjords and past the countless glaciers and bird nesting cliffs of Spitsbergen. Days and nights were spent watching the scenery and profiting from the excellent lectures and slide shows of the scientists aboard the ship. Among them were five Ph.D.s in such fields as Geology, Glaciology, and Ornithology. All were experts on the polar regions and also gave talks on the history of polar expeditions, animals of the Arctic, and the like. There was no nightly entertainment per se, just a pianist in the lounge, and a couple of events such as a crew talent show. In addition, all passengers were taken on a tour of the Bridge. The voyage ended on a dramatic note with another passage through the ice-field in the Isfjorden to get to our final destination, Longyearbyen. It took all of the last day, so the scheduled landing had to be cancelled. But the ship's breaking through the ice was such an exhilarating experience that it was worth it. We had a few hours in Longyearbyen before our flight to Oslo (included in the cruise fare). The settlement has a history of coal mining and other attempts at making a profitable permanent town here, including many international disputes over sovereignty, especially between Norway and Russia. The Fram is a beautiful small ship, nicely appointed with a large observation lounge, lecture rooms, attractive public areas, a fitness room, two on-deck hot tubs, and interesting art work. Our cabin was tiny but acceptable. The service was impeccable and friendly, although with mostly open seating we didn't have much personal interaction with the dining room staff. The Expedition Team was fantastic, comprised of exceedingly competent and knowledgeable men and women. All in all, this was an incredible cruise for someone who wants to get way off the beaten path. A memorable experience all around. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2007
OUr cabin was described as "cozy". Try tiny. The separate bunks are small and the mattresses are not much more comfortable than an army cot. The dinners were boring and very poorly organized. In some cases, if you ordered an ... Read More
OUr cabin was described as "cozy". Try tiny. The separate bunks are small and the mattresses are not much more comfortable than an army cot. The dinners were boring and very poorly organized. In some cases, if you ordered an alternate to the featured meal, you might wait for 20 minutes and by that time the other diners had finished their entrees. The bathrooms were not supplied with washcloths and the quality of the towels were not worthy of a cruise that was so costly. The price of the drinks in the bar was too high. I ordered a Martini that cost the equivalent of over eight USD and it was a poor excuse for a martini. The excursions were overpriced. We went on an express bus from Cork to Waterford at a cost of about 20 Euros (around $29.00 USD) The ship's excursion, that covered exactly the same route, cost more than 4 times what we paid. A provision for indoor smoking was not provided. The hot tubs were tepid and even a small pool would have been nice.The servers, cabin attendants and many of the engineering crew were from the Philippines and were most delightful and friendly. Fram is a well-engineered vessel and we found her quite sea-kindly and rode well in moderate seas of up to 20 feet. Her stabilizer system provided excellent roll control with the seas coming from any direction. The noise level from the propulsion system was pleasantly subdued. Read Less
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