The on-board highlights when sailing with Hurtigruten, Norway

Hurtigruten started as a small ferry company in Norway picking up and dropping of, merchandise/supplies and people within the small coastal towns of Norway.  Back in 1838 the first coastal trade took place then it was thought a faster and more direct service was needed.  Then in 1893 Hurtigruten began when director Mr Richard With signed a contract for 4 years to sail between Trondheim and Hammerfest during the summer and between Trondheim and Tromso during the winter months.  Now it set sails from Bergen all the way up to the Northern port of Kirkenes, at only 10 miles from the Russian Border, on a daily basis all year round.

Hurtigruten Cruise Highlights: Ms Richard With in Stokmarknes, Norway alongside the monument of Mr Richard With. ©MDHarding
MS Richard With in Stokmarknes, Norway alongside the monument of Mr Richard With. ©MDHarding

The fleet of 11 ships sails in Norway, Iceland, Greenland, Antarctica and more with itineraries throughout the year covering highlights such as the Northern Lights, Midnight Sun, geological phenomenon’s such as the Ice and Fire of Iceland, Glaciers and fjords of Norway.

We weren’t sure what to expect on-board Hurtigruten having read mixed reviews of the ships, as they are working ships and having sailed on luxury cruise ships we might be disappointed.  We love cruising as it gives you a taster to so many different ports, that if you like one you can go back and stay for longer or have the option to do a pre or post cruise stay.  We decided on the 12 night round trip from Bergen to Kirkenes stopping at all 34 ports! Our main goal was of course to see the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis and with the guarantee if you don’t see them, Hurtigruten will give you a free cruise to try again.  Who could pass up on such an incredible offer!

Hurtigruten Cruise Highlights: King Crab demonstration onboard Hurtigruten ©MDHarding
King Crab demonstration on-board Hurtigruten ©MDHarding

Hurtigruten Cruise Highlights

What to expect on-board

We set sail on the Hurtigruten Ship MS Richard With, it wasn’t as bad as anticipated.  Berthed in a third deck twin cabin, we had all the amenities we needed.  Towels, soap/shampoo and hairdryer were all provided in the comfortable bijou cabin.  Being based on the third deck it made it easily accessible for getting off the ship in the various ports of call, as the gangway was located midship portside for the duration of the cruise except in Bergen which was located on deck 5.  We also discovered being portside had another advantage! Most key sights including Kjeungskjaer Lighthouse and the Arctic Globe monument could be seen on the portside from our oversized square porthole. Which was great if you didn’t want to jump up on deck in the early hours! (Please note not all cabins have the square portholes on deck 3).

Key Hurtigruten Cruise Highlights on-board

Hurtigruten Cruise Highlights: God Jul onboard Hurtigruten ©MDHarding
God Jul on-board Hurtigruten ©MDHarding

The first night on-board we were greeted with a buffet, which had a large selection of delights! The food throughout the cruise could not be faulted.  There was something available for everyone.  If you preferred you could also upgrade for a supplement or eat at an additional cost in the 24 hour café, which offered a range of snack food including burgers, chips and pizzas. There are a few drink packages available including wine, beer, water and tea/coffee. The wine package is incredibly good value for money,  with just one bottle of wine costing £50.00!  The package gives you one bottle of wine in the evening along with two bottles of water. (Please note that a bottle of either red, rosie or white is brought to the table. No choice is given).

Hurtigruten Cruise Highlights: Kjeungskjaer Lighthouse at Sunrise, Norway. ©MDHarding
Kjeungskjaer Lighthouse at Sunrise, Norway. ©MDHarding

The first sight we past was the red octagonal Kjeungskjaer Lighthouse standing at 20.6 metres (68 ft) tall, now automated and illuminated from July till May every year.  The scenery is not to be missed! If blowing a gale outside, head to the panoramic lounge on deck 7.

Hurtigruten Cruise Highlights: Crossing the Arctic Circle in the early hours, Norway. ©MDHarding
Crossing the Arctic Circle in the early hours, Norway. ©MDHarding

Crossing the Arctic Circle is a great highlight of this trip.  The Arctic Globe marks the spot, illuminated by the ships spot light. All the while celebrations take place on deck 7 with champagne.  Don’t worry if you don’t see it on the North bound journey at 7am, as you will pass it again later in the morning South bound.

Hurtigruten Cruise Highlights: Neptune has arrived on-board Ms Richard With, Norway. ©MDHarding
Neptune has arrived on-board Ms Richard With, Norway. ©MDHarding

A little later in the day Neptune comes on-board (North Bound) for a fun surprise activity!

Hurtigruten Cruise Highlights: Northern Lights in Arctic Norway. ©MDHarding
Northern Lights in Arctic Norway. ©MDHarding

We were very lucky on this trip not just to see the Northern Lights once but four times!  When they put on a great display dancing across the sky, it is truly captivating.

With the Hurtigruten ships being working ships we weren’t expecting announcements to key sights on the journey, great food and a daily planner with additional activities such as movies on key parts of Norway and coastal kitchen specialities out on deck. We thoroughly enjoyed it!  The cruise was more relaxing than your luxury cruise and dressing for dinner was so much simpler with casual attire. We travelled in early November and it wasn’t as smooth sailing as I anticipated.  I have heard that as the winter months go on the waters can get quite rough.  Please do keep this in mind, as the majority of the time you are on-board.  We had great access to Wi-Fi throughout the cruise, it is complimentary and accessible on decks 4 and 7.  However we gave it ago in our cabin (deck 3) and had great reception/connectivity (If sailing on-board MS Richard With).

As always we would love to hear from you. Please comment and leave your questions below.  We hope you are inspired to visit Norway and travel on-board Hurtigruten to witness the incredible Northern Lights.  Happy Travels:) x

About MichelleDeansHarding


 Michelle has a love of travel and photography, which has currently taken her to six continents. Experiencing other cultures/history and food both independently and while working on-board luxury cruise ships. Discover more about Michelle, her enthusiasm for travel and photography via:

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4 Responses

  1. Avatar for MichelleDeansHarding

    Jeanette Basson

    Hi Michelle, We are thinking of going on the Ms Richard With on the Bergen Kirkenes Bergen round trip starting on 16 November 2017. You also travelled in November so I am very curious to know if the days are really just 4 hours sunlight and then 20 hour darkness? Surely you will miss out on a lot of the scenery being dark almost all day? We are from South Africa so this is a very expensive trip but the Northern lights are on our bucket list. Will there be any positives in going earlier in November? Thanking you for your time and input. Jeanette Basson

    • Avatar for MichelleDeansHarding


      Hi Jeanette, It is an awesome trip! One we have such fond memories of. There were lots of opportunities to enjoy the scenery up on deck including cascading waterfalls and for special monuments, there were announcements either over the tannoy or in the daily cruise planner. If you do miss or it’s dark going one way, it could be possible to see on the return voyage. We had good weather early November, the water wasn’t too rough (heard it can be quite choppy) and good sightings of the Northern Lights. Some of the Hurtigruten packages include a guarantee, if you don’t see the Northern Lights then you get to cruise again. Norway is a magical place both during the winter for the Northern Lights and also during the summer for the Midnight Sun. Hope this helps. Have a wonderful trip. Best wishes, Michelle

  2. Avatar for MichelleDeansHarding

    Smriti Tandon

    Hi, Thank you for the blog. Just wanted to know if you would be able to help us with information on how the food and drinks are priced at the cafe on the ship. We are contemplating if we should go for a full board plan or pick up food from different ports / manage with the cafe.

    • Avatar for MichelleDeansHarding


      Hi, Yes would love to. We had the full board package as well as the wine package. The wine package included a different bottle of wine every evening but there was no given option to brand or if you would prefer white, rose or red. We did however, enjoy all of them. We visited the cafe once during our trip as we decided to have a lay in and missed breakfast. We found it quite expensive but Norway is more expensive than the UK. Other than that the meals provided for breakfast, lunch and dinner were delicious! On some evenings a buffet was available instead of the sit down menu. There was lots of choice, all fresh and nicely presented. There is also a tea package where you are given a mug and can refill it as many times as you would like. At some ports there is also special events with different food and drink available at an additional cost. One port offered a mug of hot chocolate which you could enjoy with or without cognac and another crab dishes. Sorry, we didn’t eat in any of the ports due to timings and pre-booked tours. Hope that helps. If you have any other questions, please do get back in touch. Hope you have a wonderful time. Michelle


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