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Bella0714

Information about Hurtigruten Nordstjernen

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I called Hurtigruten customer service in the U.S., but the person I spoke to didn't know much about the ship or the six-day Svalbard cruises because they don't market them from the U.S. I'm hoping somebody here can help.

 

My wife and I are looking at one of the six-day trips (Svalbard Polar Bears and Arctic Adventure), but to keep costs down, we're looking at an inside cabin. None of the inside cabins have private bathrooms, so we're wondering: 1. How many bathrooms are on the ship and where they're located in relation to the cabins; and 2. How many showers are there and how are they laid out? Are they private or all in one large area? The deck plan doesn't make the answers to these questions obvious. 3. Any other comments about the ship? I've read that it can be very noisy on the bottom dock.

 

One more question: Polar bears are a part of our reason for taking this cruise. I realize that seeing polar bears is a matter of luck, but is early September pushing our luck even further? The latest departure is Sept. 8.

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I have never sailed MS Nordstjernen and I doubt that many CC members have sailed that ship. But hope you’ll get some responses and answers to you very valid questions

Total of  76 cabins, of which 24 only have a washbasin and shared bathroom facilities. Most have upper and lower berths.
As I understand the deck plan no shared bathroom located on Deck A (lower deck) - only located on deck B (middle deck) - and only one shared bathroom area for the 24 cabins. So guests at deck A might go to bathroom at deck B - but do not know for sure and do not know details.

I’ll suggest you do ask for more detailed information by emailing Hurtigruten at booking@hurtigruten.com, or by calling the office in Norway at +47 81 03 00 00 - press 9 for English!

you might also want to check the price in NOK - I just checked - lowest price is NOK 9,975 which is USD 1,160  - cabin with private bath does start at USD 1,700 - let me have the dates you want to travel and I can check the price if you can’t access Hurtigruten.no - might be savings if booking in Norway rather than US.

The best time to see polar bears is between May and september.

Edited by hallasm

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Thank you, hallasm. I have emailed Hurtigruten's UK office, and I will report back when I receive an answer.

 

I am able to access Hurtigruten.no through a VPN. We're looking at the Sept. 5, 2019 sailing because the Thursday-Tuesday itinerary seems to be slightly better than the Monday-Saturday.

 

FYI, we were originally planning to go to Norway in March with Northern Lights being the main objective. The plan was to travel Bergen to Svolvaer on Hurtigruten then spend 5-7 days in Lofoten before heading home. This would've given us 11-13 days above the Arctic Circle.

 

But then I saw how inexpensive Svalbard can be on Hurtigruten, and since mid-Sept. is good for NL, we're now looking at the following:

 

Sept. 5-11: Hurtigruten Svalbard. Fly to Bergen in the morning.

Sept. 12-20: Hurtigruten Bergen to Svolvaer via Kirkenes

Sept. 20-22: Lofoten then home.

 

So fewer days above the Circle (as far as NL viewing is concerned because Svalbard is not good for NL in early September) but we get to see Svalbard and, maybe, polar bears.

 

We'd be sacrificing snowy landscapes for autumn colors, we wouldn't get to see the ice hotel or go dog sledding, but we would have far less weather concerns (snowy roads, etc.) in Lofoten and might be able to see more of Lofoten in less time. I am a little concerned that September seems to be cloudier than March for NL but it seems to be just as good for NL activity since it's around the equinox.

 

Sorry if I'm thinking out loud. The more I research, the more our plans change.

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Thank you for the update. Looks like a great trip. 

7 minutes ago, Bella0714 said:

Sorry if I'm thinking out loud. The more I research, the more our plans change

It’s important to plan the travel well and do a proper research. This will be a onvpce in a life time experience.

 

Edited by hallasm

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Sounds like a great trip!

I have been looking at that same Svalbard trip on Nordstjernen myself. I found out so far that the cabins on the lower decks are really tiny and a lot if not most have bunk beds one on top of the other. As our age and health prevents us from climbing into the upper bunk we weren't able to choose those. A few cabins have two lower beds and bathroom en suite, one single cabin ( in general a well-kept secret...) has a double bed. Quite a lot of past passengers love her because of the special old-world experience you have on her but you have to keep in mind that she's an old ship with few amenities. We have done a similar trip on Holland America's Prinsendam which took us to to Longyearbyen, Ny Alesund, the fjords north of that and up to an island where we saw quite a lot of wildlife (walrus, seals, polar bears twice) - but as the Prinsendam is not an expedition ship she was not able to get really near. Besides Hurtigruten there are also quite a lot of other sites offering similar expeditions on ships like Ocean Atlantic, MS Expedition etc. I noticed some of them having special offers for the 2019 season.

The rest of your journey sounds great, too. The Lofotes are really beautiful and I think it's a great idea to discover these islands using a rented car!

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I have been on a shorter (3 nights) Svalbard cruise on MS Nordstjernen few years ago in June. Indeed the ship has some old world charm, although that means that most of the cabins may seem to be tiny compared to the cabins on newer ships. But then at least in my opinion, you don't travel that part of world to spend too much time in the cabin, you will see more either on the outdoor decks or at least from a lounge windows since at least the lower deck cabins feature classic port hole windows with a metal shade to block the midnight sun. I'm afraid my recollection of the shower facilities is very vague, I think I eventually skipped showering as I didn't feel to be in great need of shower and the shower room was little far from my cabin. If I recall correctly, the engine noise didn't bother me.

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I might have some interesting information for those contemplating a voyage on Nordstjernen :classic_smile:

Hurtigruten seems to offer a Valentine's Special for Svalbard /Nordstjernen = 25% off. Somebody told me it's an offer in the Norwegian newsletter and due to appear officially on Febr. 14th.

It might be worth checking on the website on the 14th. or by calling the Norwegian office.

 

At the moment the price for the most expensive cabins was 21.000 NOK ( or 2400 US)  - cat. N2 which - as far as I know - are the cabins with own bath and two single beds or even a double and are situated on the upper deck.. The other categories are lower in price.

Good luck!

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On 2/8/2019 at 1:28 PM, hallasm said:

I have never sailed MS Nordstjernen and I doubt that many CC members have sailed that ship. But hope you’ll get some responses and answers to you very valid questions

Total of  76 cabins, of which 24 only have a washbasin and shared bathroom facilities. Most have upper and lower berths.
As I understand the deck plan no shared bathroom located on Deck A (lower deck) - only located on deck B (middle deck) - and only one shared bathroom area for the 24 cabins. So guests at deck A might go to bathroom at deck B - but do not know for sure and do not know details.

I’ll suggest you do ask for more detailed information by emailing Hurtigruten at booking@hurtigruten.com, or by calling the office in Norway at +47 81 03 00 00 - press 9 for English!

you might also want to check the price in NOK - I just checked - lowest price is NOK 9,975 which is USD 1,160  - cabin with private bath does start at USD 1,700 - let me have the dates you want to travel and I can check the price if you can’t access Hurtigruten.no - might be savings if booking in Norway rather than US.

The best time to see polar bears is between May and september.

 

Much of this is inaccurate.  I went on this exact tour on the Nordstjernen in August 2018, so I can tell you exactly how this works.  As a solo traveler, I was assigned an inside cabin on the "E" level, which is located at the lowest level of the ship.  Noisy doesn't even begin to describe the cabins down at this level.  Also, the interior cabins are the size of a small closet, which is literally the depth of a bunk bed and double the width of a bunk bed (a couple across from me said that one person had to step outside every time something needed to be retrieved from a suitcase).  I had barely room for myself and my suitcase; I couldn't even begin to imagine how two people could split this cabin.  Definitely not for anyone with claustrophobia or light sleepers.  In addition to the constant drone of the engine, everything rattles and creaks.  And although the bunks themselves were comfortable (that is, if you are not a taller/larger person), it just overall looked like a utility closet inside, complete with exposed pipes and really poor lighting.  Very depressing.

 

Regarding the plumbing situation, there is one private toilet room on that "E" level.  One level above there are two small private shower rooms and a third "luxury" shower room with its own toilet and a nice porthole window to look out whilst showering.  There are also separate mens/ladies rooms with 4 toilet stalls each on this level.  The bathrooms are kept immaculately clean and you can even see a housekeeping log that indicates that the bathrooms are serviced hourly.  I personally made sure I woke up no later than 7AM so that I could claim the luxury shower each morning.  I never had to wait in line.

 

Also, the trip comes with two nights of accommodation at the Radisson Blue or the Coalminers Cabins - they choose for you depending on the level of cabin you buy on the ship.  I ended up at Coalminers Cabins, which is on the far, far side of town, which I actually enjoyed.  There are trails to explore, and if you're really ambitious, you can hike all the way to the glacier (although that is probably not recommended due to the ever-present threat of polar bears).  It's a 30-minute walk to the center of town, but you do get a more remote perspective out there.  A small herd of Svalbard reindeer crossed my path as I was walking back one time.  Anyway, the Coalminers Cabin also has shared bathrooms, but there are plenty of them, so there is no need to worry about waiting.  But definitely bring your own shampoo and soap!

 

On our trip, I believe we saw 13 polar bears, which I recall was a surprisingly large number for this particular tour, as polar bears are more likely to be seen in the northern/eastern parts of Svalbard.  But they were all very distant sightings that, even with binoculars, barely registered as white blips on a green canvas.  Still, it was cool to see mothers and cubs hanging around and doing their thing, and the cubs especially looked well-fed, which is a good thing.

 

As my cruise was during the later part of August, I'm not sure what you can expect to find in September.  I did see some birds, but most of them hard already migrated for the winter.  There were a few seals and a few blue whales too.  A handful of small icebergs here and there.  I think we may have missed a landing or two due to conditions

 

It was a fun trip overall and you do get the opportunity to get friendly with lots of people since there aren't many passengers on the ship.  It was definitely a good experience overall, although I would spend a little more money to upgrade to an exterior cabin with its own bathroom (one less thing to stress about) and I'm sure the Radisson Blue is much more posh than Coalminers Cabins.  One minor complaint I have is that there were no optional excursions to explore/hike deeper into the terrain.  At each landing, everyone was kept on a very tight leash (presumably due to polar bears) and the hikes were very slow/unchallenging due to the physical limitations of most of the passengers.  Anyway, definitely go on this trip, but keep your expectations in check.

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On 2/8/2019 at 1:42 PM, Bella0714 said:

Thank you, hallasm. I have emailed Hurtigruten's UK office, and I will report back when I receive an answer.

 

I am able to access Hurtigruten.no through a VPN. We're looking at the Sept. 5, 2019 sailing because the Thursday-Tuesday itinerary seems to be slightly better than the Monday-Saturday.

 

FYI, we were originally planning to go to Norway in March with Northern Lights being the main objective. The plan was to travel Bergen to Svolvaer on Hurtigruten then spend 5-7 days in Lofoten before heading home. This would've given us 11-13 days above the Arctic Circle.

 

But then I saw how inexpensive Svalbard can be on Hurtigruten, and since mid-Sept. is good for NL, we're now looking at the following:

 

Sept. 5-11: Hurtigruten Svalbard. Fly to Bergen in the morning.

Sept. 12-20: Hurtigruten Bergen to Svolvaer via Kirkenes

Sept. 20-22: Lofoten then home.

 

So fewer days above the Circle (as far as NL viewing is concerned because Svalbard is not good for NL in early September) but we get to see Svalbard and, maybe, polar bears.

 

We'd be sacrificing snowy landscapes for autumn colors, we wouldn't get to see the ice hotel or go dog sledding, but we would have far less weather concerns (snowy roads, etc.) in Lofoten and might be able to see more of Lofoten in less time. I am a little concerned that September seems to be cloudier than March for NL but it seems to be just as good for NL activity since it's around the equinox.

 

Sorry if I'm thinking out loud. The more I research, the more our plans change.

 

 

That sounds like a lovely itinerary!  It's a shame that you aren't spending more time in Bergen; it is a very interesting city.  Definitely check out the Bergen Castle and Rosenkrantz Tower.  There is also a nearby military museum that is more interesting that it may sound.

 

I've traveled around Lofoten in September and it does get very chilly.  And there were almost always low-lying clouds with peeks of sun.  Just the most stunning landscape I have ever seen.  I did see the northern lights very, very faintly in Leknes one relatively clear night.  I heard I missed out on a really dazzling show in Svolvaer another night.  Anyway, regardless of whether you see NL, Lofoten will be awesome.

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Thanks to all for your very helpful responses. I'm starting to have second thoughts about this. Maybe September isn't the best time for Svalbard. Also, hejiranyc's comment about seeing polar bears from so far away. We went to Alaska last summer and saw grizzlies from a distance in Denali. Then later in the trip, we spent three days seeing them very up-close at Katmai National Park, where bears go to feed on salmon every summer. Katmai pretty much ruined us for far-away bear sightings (although I know you don't want to get too close to a polar bar, and there are many other things to see on this expedition). We might just stick to our original plan of nine days on Hurtigruten and a week in Lofoten and the surrounding area.

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To the OP, even though it seems like you have changed your mind and will not be doing the Nordstjernen Svalbard cruise after all, I just wanted to post a reply to your original question regarding the bathroom situation. As there ARE inside cabins with private bathrooms as well, I know because I have booked one for my husband and myself for August 2019. We booked the I3 category cabin, that are for up to three persons, and they come with a private bath. Paid for only 2 persons though, but was not "cheap"... 

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Curious if you booked on the MS Nordstjernen?  My husband and I are booked on the September 5th, 2019 cruise.    I did the same thing trumpynor did and called Hurtigruten USA and got the cabin for 3 that hadn’t sold yet but was only charged for 2.  You can see what cabins are left on the Hurtigruten UK site and book from there as well, even the website lets you book the 3 person cabins for 2 without a surcharge.  When I booked originally it was still being shown on the US site but for some reason,  as was said earlier, they don’t market it in the US anymore. 

If you book a polar outside you should be booked in the Raddison.  We are really looking forward to this part of our Scandinavia TripAdvisor hoping the polar bears come out to be seen!

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