Stunning scenery and exquisite food, sum this trip up. We did the 6 day Northbound passage from Bergen in southern Norway to Kirkness, close to the Russain border on Hurtigruten’s MS Polarlys.
Although the Hurtigruten [literally – fast route] service is run as a post/ferry connecting remote communities and large towns, the vessels also cater for a limited number of cruise passengers making either a 6 day [north or southbound] passage or a 12 day round trip. Most of the time the route is in very sheltered waters passing thought the scenic Lofoten islands so there is little risk of sea sickness and always something to look at or photograph. Should you want, the crew can call your cabin if the Northern Lights put in an appearance after you have gone to bed.
The accommodation in our inside cabin was as basic as you would expect on a ferry boat, but adequate and comfortable enough for our needs. There was ample seated viewing places both inside the ship and outside on viewing decks. Dining was altogether a different experience and was most definitely in the same league as that found on a cruise liner. Breakfast and lunch was served buffet style and comprised a large selection of both hot and cold dishes. It was a fish lover’s dream. There was a fixed menu for the evening meal that focussed on locally sourced produce which reflected the locality the ship was in at the time.
An on board entertainment team provided useful informative talks, arranged demonstrations and activities as well as producing a daily itinerary that listed places of interest, other Hurtigrtuen ships we would pass, the ports of call and duration of stay, which always included a stop of around 3 hours in one port during a 24 hr period to enable the cruise passengers to go sightseeing or to participate in an activity such as dog sleding.
The scenery and weather was very dramatic and changed as the ship progressed northwards, from lowland scenery and towns below the snow line, up to and across the arctic circle into a snowy landscape and towns with a heavy covering of snow, until reaching Kirkness where even the sea was frozen over. A night in the snow hotel at Kirkness and more sightings of the Aurora Borealis completed the magic and rounded off our Northbound voyage.
For me, the stunning scenery and snowy landscape made the voyage special and I would have no hesitation in recommending this experience to anyone. Whilst it would be interesting to make the voyage in the summer, in order to see the difference in the landscape, I would be hard pushed to decide whether or not to do that in preference to joining those who have repeated the winter voyage.