Jump to content
Cruise Critic Community
linderbelle

So confused about Hurtigruten

Recommended Posts

We are going to Norway in 2016 and I have booked so many cruises and thought I had finally made up my mind with Holland America July Midnight Sun cruise and then blasted it I got an email yesterday about Hurtigruten (spelling) and guaranteed seeing Northern Lights from Oct-can't remember when till but went hmmmmmm maybe go in October as I've always wanted to see the Northern Lights and it's guaranteed--if you don't see them you get refund I think it was. I had researched Hurtigruten before and I just don't get when it goes to port as all the scheduled stops I saw were very very short. Longest I think I saw was 1.5 hrs. How can you see anything on shore?

 

Please help!!!

 

Also, wondering how cold it is in Norway in October.

 

Linda

Edited by linderbelle

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hurtigruten was originally a "mail boat" fleet, delivering supplies to coastal towns where there was no other access. Over the years 1) roads were built and 2) people discovered it was a beautiful voyage.......the ship's got bigger, more passengers, more amenities (but nothing like the cruise ships). It was the trip itself and the scenery that people wanted. Excursions were added (check the website for the excursions) and this year they seem to have added a few new things, like the Northern Light guarantee. Call them for information and a catalog, 1 800EXPEDITION. It is a great trip!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Have a look at http://www.hurtigruten.com/uk/Travel-planner/Timetables/ where you will find that some stops, like Trondheim and Alesund, are several hours long and much, much longer than 1.5 hours. Do note, though, that if the stop is long on, say, the northbound trip, it will probably be short on the southbound.

 

The longer stops offer opportunities for some fairly significant sightseeing, while the shorter ones allow you to explore and regain your land-legs for a few minutes or just a quick view from the ship of the goings-on in and around the port.

 

How cold is it in October? Not too cold. If you hail from Greenland it will probably be 'warm', if you're from the Sahara you might want to wear more than a few layers! Compared with the UK (you don't say where you are from) it amounts to a cold winter's day once you are well above the Arctic Circle. You can find historical data at http://www.wunderground.com.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The unique style of the cruises is what is attractive to me. On those short stops, not sure you even get off. On longer stops, usually one per day, you have as long as 3 hours to explore the town or take an excursion. It is more about scenery in Norway than actually doing something like you would in a Med cruise.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hurtigruten trips are all about the landscape. The ship will stop in 34 ports during the journey between Bergen and Kirkenes so you are sailing all the time near the coasts, in fjords, between islands. There are a few stops when you have time to walk around and visit (Trondheim, Alesund, Tromso) and also some excursions will pick you up at one port and return to the next. There is little entertainment on board, it is not a cruise in the usual sense of the term. Ships are comfortable and food is good but you need to be able to be self-sufficient for keeping busy on board, and enjoy watching the world go by. If you are interested in beautiful scenery and interesting, changing lights then it can be an absolutely wonderful trip. I have taken it 6 times! ;) (my trip reports are on my blog http://voyageterremer.blogspot.com/ ) It's a wonderful way to discover all the magic of the Norwegian coast landscape.

 

A word of caution about the "NL guarantee". An "official" Northern Light sighting for Hurtigruten is a sighting that is announced from the bridge officer, and from experience it can be a very faint display (which looks like a greyish cloud and can be disappointing when you expect green and red exploding lights). I have seen Northern Lights on all the trips I have taken during the right season, but they were sometimes very subdued (and sometimes incredibly beautiful). I don't think you should take this trip for the only purpose of seeing Northern Lights, but consider NL as the cherry on the cake. Research this trip and its specificities and see if it would appeal to you even if you don't see NL.

Edited by SarniaLo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Read SarniaLo's blogs and the Hurtigruten reviews on Cruise Critic. That will give you an idea of what the voyage is like. As others have said, the trip has basically non-stop scenery from the ship and multiple stops for varying amounts of time in small to large coastal towns. Those who were not informed, or expecting a traditional cruise vacation, were generally disappointed with the trip. Those who did the research and knew what to expect - many of us who participate in this forum - loved the magnificent scenery and ambience on board.

 

Also, read about the different ships - they vary from the Lofoten, a 1960s, small "museum" ship - to larger, modern ships like the Midnatsol. Each day a different north and south bound ship leaves from the various ports. When I went I chose the Midnatsol since I wanted the amenities of a larger ship - there is a small gym and two hot tubs. Not all ships have these. Others prefer the quaintness and ambience of the Lofoten. You can read about the different ships on the Hurtigruten web site and the reviews on Cruise Critic.

 

If your priority is non-stop scenery of fjords, mountains, and small coastal villages, then you will love a Hurtigruten voyage. If you prefer ship board activities and shows, you will be disappointed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks all. A very very hard decision. I'm not going for the shows etc. I'm a full blooded norwegian wanting to see some of my heritage and the country that my blooded relatives came from. I am also into landscape photography. Good point about the northern lights. I'm not sure how much you can see in 3 hours in a port. Such a hard decision and this literally has driven me nuts.

 

Your responses are invaluable and can't thank you enough. Guess what we're going to be discussing this weekend.

 

Linda

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you are into landscape photography then this is the trip for you for sure. One option is to exit the ship at some point and spend a few days along the way, and then catch a later ship for the remainder of the trip (or fly home from there). I have done this a couple of times, stopping for a few days in the Lofoten islands (Svolvaer) on the way back. You can then for instance take the ship back to Trondheim (2 nights, not too expensive) and the train back to Oslo, if Oslo is your point out of the country (very cheap train tickets possible when booked in advance with Minipris http://www.nsb.org). This would not give you access to the "NL guarantee" as I think Hurtigruten offers it only for full round-trip journey, but it can make for an unforgettable trip.

Do you know which part of Norway your family is from?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thanks all. A very very hard decision. I'm not going for the shows etc. I'm a full blooded norwegian wanting to see some of my heritage and the country that my blooded relatives came from. I am also into landscape photography. Good point about the northern lights. I'm not sure how much you can see in 3 hours in a port. Such a hard decision and this literally has driven me nuts.

 

Your responses are invaluable and can't thank you enough. Guess what we're going to be discussing this weekend.

 

Linda

 

If you want to see Norwegian heritage, Hurtigruten has several major advantages over conventional cruise lines:

  • The ship and crew are Norwegian.
  • The food is Norwegian. A conventional cruise line will have the same menus as in the rest of the world, with perhaps one or two "Norwegian specialties" added. I still remember the choice of at least four different kinds of pickled herring for breakfast.:)
  • The food is fresh. They do not have the big freezers that the conventional cruise ships have. With the number of port stops they have for loading and unloading, they load food daily. The fish you have for dinner may have been caught that morning.
  • Many of the passengers are Norwegian. In addition to the cruise passengers, many local people use the ship to travel from one place to another.

Hurtigruten has several excursions available that disembark in one port, travel by bus and/or ferry, and embark in another port. You have the opportunity to see the interior if you want.

Another possibility for seeing the interior is to fly round trip to Oslo instead of to Bergen. Take the Norwegian Discovery voyage (Bergen - Kirkenes - Trondheim). Take the train from Oslo to Bergen and from Trondheim to Oslo. That way you take two different train trips across Norway in addition to the cruise. You can purchase the train tickets yourself (as mentioned by some other posters) or, if you want to pay for a little more convenience, you can purchase them through Hurtigruten.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You guys are really helping and we are discussing here. We have been on many cruises and many different cruise lines but this one is totally different. In regards to norwegian menu that kind of scares me--lol. My Mom made many different norwegian dishes such as lutefisk. lol. Yuck!!! I remember the pickled herring. Sorry for those of you that like it. lol. Now give me some lefse and I'll be fine. I'm thinking of going both ways and then a train from Bergen to Oslo. We are booked on a Holland America cruise right now and we would miss Oslo. Most cruise lines you do miss Oslo. The rooms have turned me off and we don't go on the big huge rooms on cruises but know that you don't spend time in your room. This is all about seeing the beauty. Did they have other dishes besides the normal norwegian fish? Again, this isn't about food. Thanks so much all of you. This site is so helpful and I so appreciate your opinions.

 

Linda

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just FYI I have been getting bombarded with emails from hurtigruten about the Northern Lights guarantee..... If you do not see them you get another cruise, not a refund..... Just thought I'd point that out. I'll be able to speak to the experience when I'm back in a month!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Breakfast and lunch buffets have many other choices in addition to the pickled herring. I'm sure you would find something you would like. It's nice to try several different Norwegian dishes with other options when wanted. You have a choice of entrees for dinner, so there should be something that would be OK.

 

My wife is not very adventurous in her food choices, and she never had any problems finding something she liked.

 

However, one of the biggest advantages of Hurtigruten is that you are in Norway - unlike on a traditional cruise ship stopping at a few Norwegian ports.

Edited by NavyVeteran

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't do 'adventure' when it comes to food but I've never starved on any of our Hurtigruten trips!

 

If you're Norwegian then you don't need HAL (we have travelled with them on several cruises so know the 'product'), you need Hurtigruten.

 

And, as has already been pointed out, read the Northern Lights guarantee carefully. Claiming on it from here in the UK would be much more doable than it would from the US.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One more question and this is going to be the breaker and again you guys rock with your opinions and feedback. The beds or mattresses look like our lounge chairs in our back yard and afraid on day 3 we wouldn't be able to move with our backs. We've been married for 42 years so can handle the twin mattresses but they really don't even look like mattresses in the photos.

 

Linda

 

I did google quite a bit last night on this question and really didn't come up with much.

Edited by linderbelle

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have nothing bad to say about the bed (and I have a very sensitive back), I actually find them quite comfortable. I sleep very well on board, even through the port stops at night (the fact that I spend most of my time outside probably helps).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Another thing I am thinking about is the time in ports and can you venture out by yourself like a tour guide or something or are you limited to the excursions only by Hurtigruten? I just said to my husband who really is leaving this up to me because this is my dream trip "I just don't know what to do". I guess there isn't a perfect cruise or ship as I can't pick out where I want to go and have a day there. As I've mentioned I'm into landscape photography and on Holland America I'd be giving up the bridges around Tromso which I so want to see and the Lofoten Islands. Most of the excursions I see with Hurtigruten are very short--2 to 3 hrs max. That's not much time. Uggggghh. The saga goes on and so much unknown as to base decision on. I've never ever had this much trouble with a vacation and it's been ongoing for about a year--gone from us doing it on our own to a land tour to cruise and lol. :confused: I guess this 3-day weekend will be spent reading alot on cruise critic. Also, does it really go into any fjords?

Edited by linderbelle

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Another thing I am thinking about is the time in ports and can you venture out by yourself like a tour guide or something or are you limited to the excursions only by Hurtigruten? I just said to my husband who really is leaving this up to me because this is my dream trip "I just don't know what to do". I guess there isn't a perfect cruise or ship as I can't pick out where I want to go and have a day there. As I've mentioned I'm into landscape photography and on Holland America I'd be giving up the bridges around Tromso which I so want to see and the Lofoten Islands. Most of the excursions I see with Hurtigruten are very short--2 to 3 hrs max. That's not much time. Uggggghh. The saga goes on and so much unknown as to base decision on. I've never ever had this much trouble with a vacation and it's been ongoing for about a year--gone from us doing it on our own to a land tour to cruise and lol. :confused: I guess this 3-day weekend will be spent reading alot on cruise critic. Also, does it really go into any fjords?

 

 

I looked at the port schedule to see where we would have the longer stops then used my travel guides to see if there was anything we could easily do on our own. We are actually booked through Vantage so we have five tours included as part of our package that are mostly at the longer stops but there are a few where we should be able to hop off and take a quick walk around. You can do whatever you want, just be back on time or be prepared to find your way to the next stop, because when it's time to go, they go.

 

As far as the fjords question, I'm guessing you meant the longer fjords and it depends on the time of year. I know that we are missing the Geirangerfjord by a week but will be going through Trollfjord. They have the different schedules listed on their website by season which I found helpful.

 

As far as which line to go on, I had always thought I'd want the comfort of a big ship like the ones I am used to but there are so many advantages to Hurtigruten - only a few hundred people in town instead of a few thousand, real Norwegian food, Norwegian passengers, being able to see the amazing scenery that the big ships can't get to... And although the stops are shorter there are a lot more of them and the bigger cities have the longer stops anyway. Certainly you can't see as much in three hours as you could in eight but with careful planning you can still see a lot. And you can always plan an extra day or two before or after on land.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In ports you can do whatever you want. In most cases you dock right in the city center (the furthest is Trondheim, you need to walk about 20 minutes to the Cathedral). You can explore on your own all your want. I actually think you don't need Hurtirgruten excursions to visit the cities.

 

As for the fjords, if you mean the iconic fjords (such as Geiranger) then Hurtigruten does a special fjord sailing, depending on the time of year you have sailing either into Geiranger (June to August I believe) or Hjorunfjord (Sept-Oct) which is close to Geiranger and as beautiful, and in the spring they sail into Lyngenfjord in Tromso. And they will also enter the Trollfjord in the Lofoten Island (except in winter), which no other cruiseship will do. In Lofoten also they will sail through Raftsundet which is a very narrow passage between Lofoten and Vesteraalen and is for me one of the most beautiful moment of the trip.

 

And in addition as previously said you are constantly sailing near the coast, and actually most of the time between islands and mountains, so the landscape outside is breathtaking almost 24/7.

 

And the great thing with Hurtigruten is that yes, you can actually choose the place you want to go and stay there! You can exit the ship at any point and stay for a few days, and hop on the next ship since there is one every day. For me now my ideal trip would be : fly into Oslo, take the Oslo-Bergen train, take the ship Bergen/Kirkenes/Svolvaer, stay a few days in the Lofoten island, take the ship Svolvaer/Trondheim, take the train Trondheim-Oslo. You could also sail Bergen/Tromso, stay a few days there, then sail Tromso/Svolvaer (via the Northbound route to Kirkenes if you want to see the North, or direct by the Southbound ship), stay a few days in Lofoten islands, and sail back to Trondheim or Bergen or fly back from there.

 

In Lofoten islands you can hire a car and drive around as you wish, it is very easy (probably similar in Tromso). Of course the issue with this kind of journey is that numbers add up very quickly...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a bad back - have had surgery on my neck and lower back, so I'm sensitive to poor mattresses. I had no problem at all with the beds on the Midnatsol.

 

As for some of your other questions - I've been to Norway twice: once in August for a two and a half week "land" tour (we traveled by car/ferry and plane), and once in a combo land/Hurtigruten trip. In both trips we were traveling with Norwegians. Both trips were incredible. I'd be hard pressed to say which one was better and which one gave us more of a Norwegian experience. It sounds like you have decided on a cruise, and if you love landscape photography and want to experience Norway, I'd definitely choose the Hurtigruten experience. The cruise was non-stop photography! Since we went over the winter holidays, the ship had about 500 passengers at its fullest. Most were from Germany, then a mixture of countries all over Europe. We met several Norwegians who were taking the ship for transportation to another coastal town. There were only about six to eight Americans on the ship, although all instructions etc were in Norwegian, German, and English. The ship's staff were fluent in English, and I'm guessing German. Maybe it would help if I described a bit of what we did.

 

We flew into Oslo a few days before Christmas, spent a few days with our friends, and then took the train to Bergen (our Norwegian friends flew to Bergen). We stayed one night in a hotel near the wharf, so we had time to walk around Bergen, go up the Flamboyen (sp?), and other touristy things. The Lofoten was in port the night we stayed in Bergen, so we got to go onboard and see what an interesting ship she is.

 

The next day we boarded the Midnatsol. I've love fjords, glaciers, and scenery, so I was enthralled with the trip. We got off the boat even at the 15 minutes port stops - it was fun to walk around the village and stretch our legs. We took very few excursions, and even in some of the longer stops, went off on our own. In Alesund we hiked to the top of Aksla Mountain with magnificent views of the city and wharf below. In Trondheim we visited with family of our friends, but there was plenty of time to walk to the cathedral and the bridge over the River Nid. We took our first expedition in the Lofoten Islands where we went to the Viking Feast. I thought it was cute, but not the type of thing I'm particularly interested in. Others in our group really liked it. Again in Tromso we walked around the town and over to the Arctic Cathedral (on the southbound part we went to the midnight concert at the church - very nice). In Honningsvag we walked up to the church and cemetery, and then up the hillside behind the town and overlooking the water. In Kirkenes we took an excursion to the Ice Hotel and went dog sledding - a great trip. On the way back to Bergen it was sort of more of the same - stopping in coastal villages and some cities, walking around, going into a few museums, and being amazed with the scenery. When we got back to Bergen, we did some more sightseeing and a little shopping, and then took the midnight train to Oslo with a transfer to the airport.

 

When we took the trip, Hurtigruten gave us a guide book for each of the stops. The book followed the route we took. I also had a Lonely Planet Norway book. Between the two books we knew what we wanted to do in each of the stops.

 

It was one of the best trips I have ever been on and would do it again in a heartbeat, except I live in California, so it's not the easiest trip to do - I go to Alaska a lot more frequently!

 

Hope we've given you enough information to help with your decision. I guess the bottom line is, you'll probably be happy with whatever type of trip you go on - Norway is great. If you like scenery and want to have a Norwegian experience, then a Hurtigruten voyage is an excellent way to do that.

 

Have a wonderful trip and be sure to come back here and let us know what you decided!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I did the RT Bergen trip this past May on the MS Trollfjord. I am an experienced cruiser, but did not miss having a casino, lots of shops, bingo, "art" auctions, or a big pool. I found my inside cabin very comfortable and slept well, but I spent very little waking time in the cabin, preferring instead to be in the Vista Lounge and out on deck taking pictures. I did enjoy the scenery (came home with 1500 photos) and meeting both Norwegians and other nationality passengers on the ship. In May, we had 24 hours of daylight once we got above the Arctic Circle...sitting in the Vista Lounge at 1:30AM one night looking at the beautiful views and talking with a new Norwegian friend will be a highlight of my trip for me forever. I did take a few excursions and got lots of photos there too.

 

You must take a RT Bergen (11 day) trip in the winter and not see any Northern Lights to qualify for the "free" trip. Shorter segments do not qualify. I think it would be great to see the Northern Lights, but for me, it was wonderful to see the beautiful scenery we passed through, much of which you will not be able to see if you take a trip in the winter.

 

I also am part Norwegian (my maternal grandfather), but the food on this ship was not what you think of as traditional old-time Norwegian food. I would call it Nouvelle Norwegian (watch New Scandanavian Cooking on PBS for some ideas). The breakfast and lunch buffets had more food that you could possibly eat. Norwegian cheeses, ham, sausage, barley hot cereal (instead of oatmeal), and fresh shrimp, cod, and salmon were highlights for me. The bread was wonderful. There were frequently offerings of different eggs and or pancakes or waffles for breakfast, and salads as well as hot dishes for lunch. It was wonderful to have so much locally sourced food. I remember one night when our waitress told us that the cheese we were eating as part of our appetizer was from a farm we had passed that afternoon! Try some things that you have never had before...like cod tongue (which was delicious) or reindeer meat or cloudberries. I am not a fan of herring, and had plenty to eat without it, and never saw a lefse or any lutefisk the entire trip.

 

I flew into Oslo and took the train to and from Bergen, including a trip to Flam (not the whole Norway in a Nutshell trip) on my return. I booked all of those on my own. In Oslo I really enjoyed the many museums and parks, plus visiting a Norwegian friend, and had 3 days there before returning home. I stayed in AirBnB places where I also had a chance to meet more Norwegians instead of paying the higher prices for the more impersonal hotels.

Edited by Splinter

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Most of the excursions I see with Hurtigruten are very short--2 to 3 hrs max.

 

The North Cape and Russian Border excursions are much longer and we thoroughly enjoyed them.

 

The shorter excursions in places like Trondheim and Alesund were long enough for us to see what we wanted to see. But you don't really need to take an excursion. Self guiding works pretty well.

 

In other ports we had a wander around and got a real flavour of Norway.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's 8:00 in the morning and Im sipping my first cup of coffee and reading new entries and still the mind is going crazy. lol. Last night I was leaning toward sticking with our Holland America and now again I'm leaning towards Hurtigruten. I liked this morning about the reassurance on the beds as we can't afford the expensive rooms with the real beds lets say. I liked reading about meeting new norwegian friends. No lefse!!! I did say yesterday I want a real norwegian lefse. I make them so I can live without them. lol. I work for a medical college and summer is slow so we will still go in the July-August time frame if I choose Hurtrigruten and giving up seeing the lights.

 

More talking today.

 

Linda

Edited by linderbelle

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wouldn't want to try to persuade you either way but a couple of things strike me:

 

- you can sail with HAL anywhere, you can't with Hurtigruten...

 

- unless you decide on an expedition trip to Antarctica, Svalbard or Greenland where you will be entitled to a very worthwhile 5% discount as a past passenger.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Q&A: Cruise Insurance with Steve Dasseos of TripInsuranceStore.com
      • Forum Assistance
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Member Cruise Reviews
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...