Hurtigruten - a working ship along Norway's coast
Our guest blogger, Berenice shares her insight into the working side of the Hurtigruten Norwegian Coastal voyage.
OUR NORWEGIAN ADVENTURE - A guest blog by recent Norway traveller, Berenice Kincaid.
The primary reason to be travelling to Norway during our European holiday was to join the MS Nordlys (Norwegian for the Northern Lights), part of the HURTIGRUTEN Company. This shipping line runs the mail delivery ships up the Norwegian coastline between Bergen and Kirkenes, which is located very close to the Russian border.
This particular journey had captivated my husband, John, for quite a few years and this year it all fell into place and he was one happy camper. Leaving in May, we were looking forward to it immensely. We knew it was not a dinghy, rowboat or yacht but a mail boat delivering supplies to the small towns and cities along the coast and to some of the thousands of islands along the spectacular and ever surprising Norwegian coastline. During the planning, prior to leaving, we saw photos of the boat and were initially surprised as to how big it looked! And it is big! Our particular Hurtigruten ship, the MS Nordlys accommodates quite a lot of passenger cabins, a fantastic dining room, a deck for vehicles of all descriptions, lounges, a bar and areas of all varieties for necessary staff and equipment. We even had an entertainment officer! But it is not a cruise ship...not a lot of time for dusting and bingo. It definitely is a working mail boat delivering all sorts of things along the way, at all times of day and night.
Often, the boat would ease its way into a landing, the gangplank would be lowered, several pallets dispatched along with a mail bag or two and then we'd be on our way again within 20 minutes or so. Easy! Most times there would also be passengers embarking or disembarking; locals, hikers & tourists, with or without vehicles, who'd be visiting the area for several days. They would just pick up the next convenient mail boat that came through. The Hurtigruten sails daily, greatly enhancing the accessibility of this coastline for the locals living along it.
An amazing, interesting array of activity took place on the MS Nordlys around its role as a working mail boat which we enjoyed watching. The ship received a warm welcome everywhere we stopped and we counted 35 ports... Maybe more, when we were asleep? There would be people waiting for us even at our midnight rendezvous’. Maintenance on the MS Nordlys was ongoing which just added to the feel that you were part of this functioning service along the Norwegian coast, the reason, in fact, that we were there. I can absolutely recommend this Hurtigruten experience to all travellers interested in more than traditional cruising and then, of course, the mail boat does have that Entertainment Officer. And that is another story!