I have just returned from a sector of Hurtigruten’s Classic Round trip of Norway. The full trip would last 12 days and sail along the coast, northbound from Bergen to Kirkeness then the return southbound to Bergen, taking in 34 ports of call and all led by the Hurtigruten expedition team. For my trip we sailed from Trondheim to Tromso taking in 15 ports and we also managed a sighting of the elusive northern lights!
The 12 day Norwegian Coastal Voyage should be on everyone’s bucket list, it is an experience that is similar to none. If you feel as if you have been everywhere or you can’t agree on next year’s holiday, then you should definitely try this! Hurtigruten also offer a Northern Lights Promise which means that if you sail between 1st October – 31st March and if the Northern Lights don't make an appearance during your cruise, they will give you another 6- or 7-day Classic Voyage free of charge! This shows how confident they are of the sightings once away from the light pollution of the cities and populated areas.
Hurtigruten have a total of 15 ships, 11 of which sail along the Norwegian Coast as working ships – ferrying cars, loading and unloading produce and delivering post to the most remote areas of Norway. This is not your usual cruise – don’t expect west end shows, afternoon tea and cabaret… what you will get is a friendly and welcoming expedition team taking lectures and excursions to guide you through ‘The World’s Most Beautiful Voyage’ and show you how to get the most of your adventure. Hurtigruten are the world leader in exploration travel and will give you an authentic coastal expedition as they have been sailing since 1893. The expedition team are charismatic, knowledgeable, informative and fun, they are dedicated to their roles aboard ship. We had one or two lectures per day plus out on deck points of interest. This is all designed to enlighten you on location, weather, wildlife, culture and history – all injected with a little extra Norwegian laid back humour!
I was aboard the NordeNorge and the ship operates with much efficiency. The transfer and embarkation process was almost over before it began! Each port progressed in the same way and it was so impressive to watch that I even set my alarm extra early so I could squeeze in additional ports to marvel from the outside deck as the crew unloaded and loaded with precision.
The Hurtigruten experience is extremely varied – you can do everything from sitting back for hours on end in the comfort of the Explorers Lounge to watch the captivating scenery shown in all its glory through the panoramic windows to hiking the hills – all of which I did. The best idea is to let the Hurtigruten experience immerse you – relax, enjoy, join in, sit back or watch, you will soon understand which is best for you!
My two most favourite experiences of my trip would have to be crossing the Arctic Circle – the anticipation and excitement of passing the Arctic Circle Monument followed by a traditional ceremony of those who cross to have the captain ‘baptise’ you with ice down your back and a shot of cloudberry wine! It was a humorous and light-hearted take on the tradition. My second is the mountain hike in Bodo where I was able to take in spectacular views, clean air and a hot chocolate at the top!
My top tips would be…
- Relax – let the journey take over. You should take a seat in the warm comforts of the Explorer Lounge and don’t move… for hours! The scenery is endless and you may never beat the beautiful view.
- Upgrade – if you can. A polar cabin will have all you need but if you can stretch to an Artic Superior or higher it will be more comfortable and the location on deck 5 will give you the best access to the viewing deck. If you have the choice, opt for starboard side too as you will be less likely to be disturbed when the ship is in port. If you don’t want to upgrade there are plenty of wonderful public areas with ever changing panoramic views.