Hurtigruten - What you need to know!
Hurtigruten ships have been a staple along the Norwegian coast since 1893. The current fleet consists of 11 classic ships. The smallest ship, MS Lofoten, has a capacity of 151 beds (licensed to carry 400 passengers) to the largest and newest, MS Midnatsol, which has a capacity of 638 beds (licensed to carry 1,000 passengers). Several of the ships have recently be refurbished with modern Scandinavian interiors and cabins.When you choose your date; you choose your ship, so ask us for advice.
The ‘classic’ voyages run all the way from Bergen to Kirkenes. (7 days), Kirkenes to Bergen (6 days) or up and back (12 days). Travellers coming to experience the spectacular coastline of Norway more often enjoy classic voyages.
Hurtigruten is perfect for shorter voyages. These so called port-to-port voyages are often enjoyed also by Norwegians using the ships as a ferry service along the coast, which is really what the Hurtigruten concept is designed for. The ships service 34 ports along the Norwegian coast (same ports going north and south), so that people living in these remote outposts have regular transport options in and out. So, do ring us at 50 Degrees North and speak to a Norwegian, and ask for advice. You can really hop on and off as you like, although this becomes a bit of a challenge when pre-booking. Our tip for you: combining a short voyage with a magnificent stay in a fisherman’s cabin (rorbu) in the Lofoten archipelago is something really worthwhile that most people miss out on.
All Hurtigruten ships have a wide range of comfortable cabins. They vary in size and location. Most packaged tours including a Hurtigruten cruise use the entry level N-class cabins as the cabin of choice. These are about 7 & 13 sqm, and more often do not comfortably fit two regular large suitcases. Especially on longer voyages, we will always recommend you to spend the $40- $70 extra per night and upgrade to an Arctic Superior Class (P-class, or better even, a U-class cabin). A bit more space for comfort and enjoyment!
If you are on a budget, inside cabins with no windows are affordable, and you can spend your evenings on the dance floor. If you like a splurge, suites are very nice and offer double bed options, a seating area and a TV with Norwegian channels if the scenery really disappoints (we don’t dub English movies though!).
Do also think about which side of the ship you want to be on; remember ‘SNPS’; starboard north port south. A bit like when the Brits travelled by ship to India; ‘POSH’; port over starboard home.
Travelling along the Norwegian coast is spectacular in all seasons, even the Autumn storms in November are an experience. Winter, from December to mid April, is great for the Northern Lights and enjoying winter landscapes. Spring, summer and early/mid autumn, from mid April to October offers spring blossom, long light days of Scandinavian summer and magnificent autumn colours.
From 01 Jun to 31 Aug the Hurtigruten voyage north from Bergen includes a side trip into the infamous Geirangerfjord, while from 01 Sep to 31 Oct the side trip is into the Hjørundfjord.
Seasonal pricing varies from winter, spring, summer and autumn. Winter; Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb & Mar is low season, and prices are good. Spring; Apr & May is a popular time and is shoulder/high season. Summer; Jun, Jul & Aug is high season with prices approx. 50% higher than in low season. Autumn; Sep & Oct is shoulder season. A voyage starting in Bergen on 01 April can be 25-30% higher than starting 31 Mar, so ring us and we will talk you through the best options.
From April 2017, there is a new fare structure available. The three different fare alternatives are:
Basic gives you essential services - you won't be able to select your cabin - but all meals included.
Select provides the services that are most important to our guests on classic voyages. Full board and you can choose your preferred dining time. You can choose your cabin category and cabin number. There is also free Wi-Fi and complimentary tea & coffee.
Platinum means discovering the Norwegian coast in the ultimate way. This option includes full board, choice of preferred dining time and guaranteed speciality dining in the À la carte restaurant every evening (with the exception of these vessels, MS Lofoten, MS Vesterålen and MS Spitsbergen). A drinks package is also included each evening.
Enjoy accessing unique shore excursions only available to Platinum travellers such as a North Cape Exclusive tour with a small intimate group with their own private tour guide. Another such shore excursion is seeing the Hidden Rooms of Nidaros Cathedral with the medieval tombstones & hidden chambers of Trondheim's National shrine of Norway. Finally, airport transfers to & from the ship are included with a welcome basket of champagne waiting for you on arrival in your cabin.
The table HERE shows the fare options for Hurtigruten Voyages from April 2017 (Bergen–Kirkenes–Bergen, Bergen–Kirkenes–Trondheim, Bergen–Kirkenes and Kirkenes–Bergen). See what is included in the different fare options and then talk to us about making your experience on Hurtigruten perfect.
Each ship has a different style and design. All ships have comfortable lounges and plenty of deck space offering perfect panoramic views of the world’s most beautiful coastal scenery. The onboard cuisine is influenced by the traditional dishes of the region and the different seasons. Being on the coastal voyage, seafood is often on the menu and each dinner ends with delicious traditional desserts. Breakfast and lunch are varied buffets. The restaurants are fully licensed, however, alcohol is taxed heavily in Norway so be warned. You can bring some duty free alcohol onboard and purchase mixers onshore.
All of the ships have a small library where you can relax reading a book, and a café serving drinks and snacks 24 hours a day. Some ships also have Jacuzzis out on deck and a fitness room available. The welcoming and informal atmosphere combined with a wide choice of cabins, lounges and decks will ensure a comfortable and scenic voyage. There is generally no entertainment on board a Hurtigurten voyage - so bring your cards or kindle.
Just remember that when you are travelling along the coast on the Hurtigruten, you are joining a piece of history and practical everyday life in terms of the boats still operating to support the local vicinities they visit: locals bringing their cars home, post being delivered and supplies being dropped off and collected. When the boats stop for a few hours it is not just to let you have a stroll around the local World Heritage Site.
From 2018, nine out of the 11 ships along the Norwegian coast have an Expedition Leader, an expedition team and special activities on board like lectures and presentations, on deck guiding, gatherings and environmental actions. These ships function as a “base camp” – the place where you sleep, eat and share experiences - and they are the starting point for all the onshore activities.
Book early and the better your early booking discount will be. It works a little like an airline pricing model. The general rule, though, is to book before 31 October, for travel the following year. If you are able to do that, you will be eligible for an ‘early booking’ discount of up to 25%. Note, however, that if you want the full 25% for rounding the North Cape on 21-23 June (the longest day(s) of the year) you need to book even further in advance. Other promotions and discounts are being announced ad hoc, so ask us if a discount applies for your dates.
_Image credits: Hurtigruten _