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