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poz222

My recap of winter Norway voyage on Nordkapp

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I had a few people asking about the cruise. We were on the Norwegian ferry/cruise the Hurtigruten on the MS Nordkapp Feb 17 - 24. I enjoyed so much the Bergen to Kirkenes western coast of Norway 7 days and thought it was a perfect amount of time when combined with other Norway cities. The 34 stops in 7 days it is neat to see all the places. Some are little villages where we stop for 15-30 minutes to offload/onload goods or people. Being The ship holds a maximum of around 450 pax (the larger ones up to 650) it is not too big/too small.  Our sailing is about 300 as it is winter. Most guests are "older" but generally in the 45-60 range. There are big German tpur groups and thry pretty much kept to themselves (even had their own dinner times. Tge rsdt of pax are a lot of English, handful of American and quite a few Australians?? The lounges, a cafe/coffee shop, main dining room... are all very "homey" decorated and great gor mingling. I personallyloved the protected outdoor space with the heaters and spent much of our cruise hanging there watching the sceney.

 

The cabins are definetly small but functional, we took a superior and have a double bed, small bathroom and tea kettle/makeup table. Food is AMAZING! They have buffet breakfast and lunch and set dining time. If you like fish/seafood it is soooooo delicious! They load fresh food each port and tell the story of the food and history of the local producers.

 

There is no entertainment to speak of, but the scenery is the entertainment as it is breathtaking. They do have an expedition team which host programs throughout the day about Norway, the weather, northern lights, language/customs etc as well as host hikes in ports.

 

The ship excursions are expensive but offer stuff like dog sledding, viking dinners, snowmobiling etc. We did a mix of DIY (they are hrest sbout giving port maps and such onboard) and the North Cape and husky excursions, both of which were excellent. 

 

I have to add again how amazingly beautiful the voyage is and how great the food is. They have a service that will announce in the cabin when the northern lights are out! If you do port to port, you can opt for 1 meal or no meals and eat at cafe. There are always locals traveling.

 

Its a neat experience! Its not cheap (Norway is an expensive country) and dont even think about buying drinks at the bars (its like $12-$15 glass of wine or $10 a beer) but we brought a few mini bottles of Baileys and cognac to enjoy cabin cocktails ... brought hot cocoa mix and cappuccino and have Baileys/cocoa yum)! Kettle was in the superior room. Big double bed was comfy, loved the window. We loved deck 5 as we coukd pop right outside if we saw something. People passing not a huge issue as it is winter, perhaps summer would be different story? We hot to see northern lights from the comfort of bed with jammies and a cocoa one night!

 

Tips, bring a pair of comfy slip on shoes for the ship and some lighter tops/tunics/leggings as it is warm inside. Winter trips bring the little rubber ice spikes and a headlamp as it is dark and icy. A thermal mug with lid and hot cocoa packs were great. Bring less clothes and do laundry. The laundry room is convenient (soap  AND dryer included for $3 a load)! The heated floor in bathroom dries hand washed stuff quickly. Bring gloves with the cell phone enabled fingertips as you well be outside A LOT taking pictures. Take a picture of the stops schedule on your phone as you will refer to it often! Taxis are not as expensive as you think and time is more precious to get where you want to go. Cash is really not needed as EVERYWHERE takes cards.

 

It is an amazing trip, life is short, eat the cake, buy the shoes, take the cruise! 

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Thanks for the report and the great pictures. My wife and I are from South Florida too and sailing on Nordnorge September 19. You mentioned DIY in some ports. May I ask what you did? What other cities did you visit in addition to the Hurtigruten ports?

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Hi, you will love it. We flew into Oslo and spend 2 days. Then we took the train to Bergen (an amazing trip and a highlight) and stayed 2 days. When we disembarked in Kirkenes we stayed 2 days to do the snowmobile crab fishing then a day trip to snow hotel and evening husky ride (did not sleep there just visit). Afterwards we went to visit our Norwegian exchange student in the south for 5 days and did corss country skiing and cabin stuff. A fabulous trip. 

 

The DIY in Alesund we hired a taxi to take us to top of mountain and we walked fown then around the Art Nouveau city. Trondheim we walked to town and around and bought tix to Cathedral on our own. Trondheim we taxi to the base of cable car and took to the top then taxi to the Mack Brewery and walk around town. Bodo you might do a tour (not the walking one but one that gets you out of town) as we were not very impressed here. Svolvaer quick stop we did the ice bar located on the dock. Kristansand we got off on the quick stop to see the Nordstjernen ship at dock there. 

 

We said if we did it again we woukd do Bergen-Kirkenes - Tromso (seemed to have so much to do) or to Lofoten (stunning scenery) and spend time there. But happy we experienced the Kirkenes king crab and husky and snow hotel.

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We're doing Bergen to Svolvaer via Kirkenes and spending a week in Lofoten. Two days in Bergen to start the trip and two days in Oslo to finish it. We wanted to do the huskies and the snow hotel, but we decided to avoid winter because we want to spend a week in Lofoten and the area around it and were worried about winter storms. So, we traded off snow scenery and activities for a more-predictable week, driving-wise, in Lofoten. But every time I see photos of Norway with snow, I wonder if we did the right thing.

 

Thanks for the tips re-DIY. We can still do the king crabs in Kirkenes. Glad you had a wonderful time.

 

 

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Alesund is very doable on your own. Time enough to walk a bit and enjoy the town and its beautiful buildings. There's a small museum offering a virtual trip into the beginnings of the 19th. century.

In Bodo we took a taxi to the local museum which showed planes ( civilian as well as military) and offered a good insight into the history of Norwegian life with and around planes.

In Trondheim I'd also recommend using a taxi if you are not a fast walker. If you tend to using one of the offered excursions do it on the northward bound leg - more time!

Take time for at least a day or two in both Oslo and Bergen. We saw quite a lot of people using one ship for the northward bound journey, hop off for two days to enjoy the snow, northern lights and husky farms etc. in Kirkenes and board another southbound ship later.

Our personal choice would be to do the tour Bergen-Kirkenes-Trondheim, stay a bit in that beautiful city and then go back to Oslo by train. We stayed in Oslo , then used the train to Bergen which offered beautiful sceneries and then boarded the Hurtigruten ship in Bergen.

I'm not too sure if I would want another winter cruise, though. Perhaps it might have been different if we had had any northern lights and seen a bit of blue sky instead of days with rain and snow on end, heavy storms and high seas and on some days no chance to leave the ship much because the ship was delayed so much it only stopped for a short while or left out some ports altogether. Upward of Tromso the roads and streets were icy and slippery that I wasn't happy despite ice spikes on shoes and walking cane. On the other hand we might be more lucky in regard to the weather next time...

The ship itself ( modernized in 2018), crew and excellent food couldn't be faulted!!

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Posted (edited)

Yes, weather luck is the key unknown for winter arctic cruises! We were certainly extremely lucky with weather (unseasonably warm for February arctic) and only 2 semi-rough patches and we even discussed how a few of the cruises behind us were not nearly as lucky as we were weather and sea wise (and a few ships routed ahead of us got even more NL viewing than we did) and thus had a completely different experience. Luck of the draw for sure. This was my 3rd try to see the Northern lights (previously being Iceland in a January and Alaska in a November both with weather issues or the NL did not cooperate) so I was THRILLED to finally see them 3 nights. But the experience of seeing the Arctic north covered in snow and the amazing sunsets and the ever changing scenery on a cozy ship with amazing food and a comfortable cabin was truly a trip of a lifetime for us! 

Edited by poz222

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So glad I ran across your report. Thanks. We have booked the same cruise and ship for October 2021.  Seems a long way away, but they all get here sooner or later.

 

Do you have any other tips for enjoying the cruise and/or the ship?

 

 

 

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October is a perfect time for Northern Lights and still not that cold. Some more inspiration and also examples of daily programs for the North Bound voyage - different ship but same itinerary. Are you staying in Norway pre- and post cruise?

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14 hours ago, hallasm said:

October is a perfect time for Northern Lights and still not that cold. Some more inspiration and also examples of daily programs for the North Bound voyage - different ship but same itinerary. Are you staying in Norway pre- and post cruise?

 

Wow.  Thanks for sharing your blog.  I will read every word, watch the videos, and digest all of your information with a cup of coffee.

 

Yes, we  plan to arrive in Bergen several days before the Hurtigruten coastal, so we'll have some free time to explore and enjoy Bergen.  We'll probably build in some extra time in Norway before we fly back to the US.  Since the cruise is almost two years away, we still have a lot of planning.  We usually start with the scheduled portions - such as a cruise -and then fill in around it.

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1 minute ago, SargassoPirate said:

arrive in Bergen several days before the Hurtigruten

You should consider Gudvangen and Flåm from Bergen by train or bus - or if flying into Oslo take the train from a Oslo to Bergen with a detour to Flåm from Myrdal.

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Not about cruising but we had an outstanding dinner here:

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/18/dining/norway-food-neo-fjordic-chef-christopher-haatuft.html

 

Small plates a la carte or you can do a tasting menu.  We go to spend time talking with the chef/owner who is a delight.  I can't recommend it highly enough.

PS:  Here's the link to the menu.

http://www.lysverket.no/

Edited by clo

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