Nobody knows Norway better than Hurtigruten after they successfully mapped the first trading route along the country’s west coast in 1893 and have been transporting people along this beautiful waterway throughout more than 120 years since. Once just a passenger ferry company offering travellers an efficient route from the south to the north of Norway, they have evolved into a cruise operator that is at the forefront of ocean based tourism in this breath-taking part of the world.
Their fleet of twelve ships, all bearing Norwegian inspired names, includes a mix of modern, traditional and explorer vessels which sail to both tips of the planet in order to provide an experience like no other. And whilst Hurtigruten still provide trips along the quintessential coastal route that help to show Norway off in all its glory, the addition of sailings to places such as Antarctica, Iceland and Spitsbergen have really captured adventurers’ imaginations.
Across all twelve ships there are differing grades of accommodation to help you find exactly what you need. Whilst the lowest grade (D) cabins, only found on MS Lofoten, offer just a basic arrangement of an upper and lower bed and a wash basin, the highest grade (MG) includes a seating area as well as the bedroom, TV, stereo, internet access, mini-bar and a private balcony in most instances.
Most cabin grades are spacious and with plenty of storage space for all your belongings. They are stylishly finished and provide a comfortable home from home for the duration of your journey. There are also special cabins available which provide access and assistance for any disabled guests.
Everything that guests consume during their Hurtigruten cruise will have been carefully planned and thought out, with almost all of it being locally sourced and heavily influenced by regional delicacies that are found in the areas to which you will travel.
Menus in ‘Norway’s Coastal Kitchen’ change with the seasons and Norwegian specialities are usually at the forefront. Guests will be able to sample dishes such as baked Arctic char, kvæfjordkake (a dessert made from almonds, meringue and vanilla cream) and, of course, reindeer meat. However, the tastings will not always be offered in formal surroundings as flavourful morsels are often provided on deck to allow cruisers to get a feel for what’s available.
Whilst around 85% of Hurtigruten’s current cuisine is provided by local producers from the thirty five different ports that they visit, the company is working on increasing this even more. By partnering with the government and ‘Innovation Norway’ they are helping independent suppliers grow their businesses to be able to then sell their products to the ships in the future.
There are plenty of excellent public facilities for you to use during your time with Hurtigruten that range from comfortable lounges, in which you can sit back and relax, to spacious conference rooms which can be privately booked.
There are multiple cafés and bars which provide lighter food options than the main restaurant and an extensive range of drinks to ensure your glass, and your general disposition, is always more than half full. The sauna and swimming pools will provide a serine environment in which you can while away the hours between ports, whilst the laundry and internet facilities allow you to keep in touch with everyone back home and ensure you always have something fabulous to wear in the evenings. There is even a playroom on some ships to help keep younger guests occupied during your time at sea.
Your experience with Hurtigruten will really come alive when you start to plan what activities and excursions you would like to do in each destination. However, with trips that focus on breath-taking natural wonders such as the northern lights, the midnight sun and the stunning Norwegian fjords; your trip is sure to be filled with awe even if you just decide to stay on the ship.
The activities available in both Norway and on Hurtigruten’s explorer voyages are extensive and exciting. They range from generally easy-going trips that involve learning about the Vikings and indulging in a traditional feast, all the way up to full-on excursions that include husky sledding, driving snowmobiles and hiking up mountains in Tromso. There are also some great opportunities to see the amazing wildlife that inhabits these areas; including whale safaris, bird watching trips and even chances to glimpse polar bears in Spitsbergen.