Hurtigruten Day by Day Travel Guide
Read our Destination Specialist, Asko's account of voyaging on the Hurtigruten Norwegian Classic Coastal voyage.
Day 1: Bergen
Recently, I got a chance to join a Northbound voyage with Hurtigruten on the MS Trollfjord. The Northbound voyage is a 7-day trip from Bergen to Kirkenes and it’s also possible to do a 12-day return voyage from Bergen to Bergen.
The shuttle bus came to pick me up from our Director’s Choice hotel in Bergen at 4pm and after collecting other travellers, we arrived to the Hurtigruten terminal.
The terminal is easy to navigate and it was not busy at all, so I walked straight through to the check in. Here I checked in my luggage and it was delivered to my L class cabin door. After I got my cabin key card and information, I went to the second level of the terminal for a safety presentation. This reminded me of an airline safety demonstration as we watched it on the screen, reassured by the very important information in case of emergency.
The Hurtigruten boats have a quick turn around in Bergen after travelling down from the South but fortunately by 5pm, I was able to board the MS Trollfjord, one of the newest ships in the Hurtigruten fleet. At this hour, the cabins were not ready to use, but the hour’s wait was quick as I explored the ship and the lounges.
After I had unpacked my luggage and refreshed, it was already dinnertime. On the first night there was a buffet dinner from 6pm-8pm. The buffet was very nice with lots of seafood, cold meats, hot dishes and desserts. Travelling solo, I met some other travellers and joined their table. However, on the other evenings, it was set seating for dinner and I had my own table.
At 9pm there was a welcome information meeting, where we met the Hurtigruten staff and learned about excursions, daily programs and safety on board. I also learned that we had an option to get Northern Lights announcements to our cabins during the night.
After this I was ready for bed, but I didn't get to sleep for long as there was an announcement around midnight that there was some Northern Lights visible. So I dressed up with warm clothes and went to the sundeck on Level 9 and yes, there were some Northern Lights already. I couldn’t believe it, as we were not even very north at this point.
Day 2: Ålesund
Today started with a breakfast buffet served in the restaurant from 7am. Again amazing, there was everything you could ask for.
Shortly after breakfast, we arrived in Ålesund but we were there for only 45 minutes as the ship unloaded its cargo and transit passengers so I did not go out at this point. The ship had further to travel up the fjord and on the return leg later in the day; we had a longer stop in Ålesund.
For me today's highlight was the Hjorundfjorden visit, where we sailed after Ålesund and one of the bonuses of travelling on the Hurtigruten at this time of the year as it only visits this fjord in Autumn. It’s one of the most beautiful fjords in Norway; on the way there I sat in the Panorama lounge and watched the view go by. Around midday we arrived at a small village called Urke. Here we took a small boat to get to shore and some passengers went on the pre-booked excursion. I just went for a walk in this beautiful location between the mountains. The locals greeted us on arrival and we got some information about the village. In Urke, there are only 53 people living in this remote village, as a matter of fact, 10 children, 31 adults and 12 older Urke-people, as locals called them.
After returning back to the ship, the lunch buffet was served. At this point I was starting to be worried about how much weight I might gain on board if I was to eat like this everyday. Anyhow, lunch was as good as always and I tucked in.
Everyday you find a menu card on the table, which tells you where the food is from and what is going to be served. The ingredients are from the local farmers in the areas you have visited that day.
This afternoon we sailed back to Ålesund, where we arrived just after 5pm. We stopped here for 2 hours and there was an opportunity to explore the city.
I also needed to get my laundry done, and there is a small laundry room on board. You can purchase a token from the reception (NOK30) for a load. Situated close by was the library so you read or surf the internet whilst you wait.
At 7pm it was a dinnertime, today and for the rest of the voyage, there was a set menu for dinner. Today’s 3-course dinner included a marinated trout from the fjords, leg of lamb from the fjord farms and some apple crumble for dessert.
On your first day remember to ask about wine or water packages. If you like wine, you can purchase a wine package and you will get a bottle of wine and water (still or sparkling) with your dinner. This is a good deal if you sharing, but for me having a bottle of wine alone was maybe too much. Anyhow, with the dinner menu, you have the option to order a daily wine deal as well. With each menu there are recommendations with the food and you can order just a glass or a matching wines with each course. This was better option for me.
With the lunch and dinners, there are no cold drinks included. So I would recommend purchasing a water package on your first day. It’s does not cost much, and then you will automatically get a bottle of water (again still or sparkling) with your lunch and dinner. Coffee and tea are included with lunch and dinner but they are not served in the dining room - rather upstairs on a different deck.
After dinner I was all tired and ready for bed. No Northern Lights tonight.
Day 3: Trondheim
Today started as usual with breakfast and we arrived into Trondheim at 8.30am. Here there were two excursions available, a city sightseeing tour with a Nidarol Cathedral visit or a visit to Munkholmen Island (the Monks Island). I would recommend pre-booking the excursions as today they were fully booked and I missed out, as I hadn’t pre-booked mine.
Anyhow, it’s about 15-20 minutes to walk to the City Centre and the Nidaros Cathedral and it was a nice autumn morning, so I headed off for a stroll. The old part of the Trondheim is beautiful with the wooden houses by the river and the cathedral reminded me of the Notre Dame in Paris.
We left Trondheim at midday and the lunch was served after departure. Lunch buffet was as nice as usual, everyday you are offered something different.
This afternoon I decided to have relax in the sauna and spa bath on the sundeck. Even though it was only about 10 Degrees Celsius outside, the spa was nice and warm. The hardest part was to getting out and running between the sauna and spa! From the sauna you can watch the view go by, as the outside wall is just a big double glazed window.
This afternoon we also passed one of the most beautiful lighthouses in Norway called Kjeungskjaer Fyr. We also passed through the narrow sound of Stokksundet. The scenery was amazing with small fisherman villages and big mountains surrounding us.
Dinner was served again at 7pm, again with local products and today we had seafood for entrée and for main. If you have special dietary requirements, please let us know when making a booking and you will get the right meal for you.
Day 4: Arctic Circle and Bodø
This morning we crossed the Arctic Circle. We had an opportunity to purchase some Champagne with breakfast to celebrate crossing the Arctic Circle.
After breakfast, there was a special Arctic Circle ceremony on the top deck and King Neptune came to visit. We also received a special certificate stating that we had crossed the Arctic Circle.
Today I had an early lunch as we arrived to Bodø around midday, and I planned to join an excursion: 4C Saltstraumen. This excursion included a sightseeing tour by bus and then a visit to the Saltstraumen. The Saltstraumen is a small sound and the tidal currents here are strongest in the world. You can also do a rib safari to the Saltstraumen from the port (Excursion 4D).
After returning to the ship at around 3pm, we spent the afternoon sailing north around the islands and mountains. Everyday I’m amazed at the view, as it’s always spectacular. The weather was great as well, blue sunny skies, a bit cool but beautiful.
Just before dinner, we got an announcement that they were expecting a lot of Northern Lights in the sky tonight. We were just entering the Lofoten islands and the night sky was beautiful with clear skies, stars and the Northern Lights.
On our arrival to Lofoten islands, there was an optional excursion available called 4E Viking Feast at Lofoton. But for those who didn't attend the excursion, in the restaurant with the dinner, we had a 3-course Viking menu including barley risotto for entrée, braised beef for main and local pudding for dessert.
After dinner, I decided to go and see if there are still some Northern Lights visible, and there were. Until 11pm, the sky was dancing with Northern lights. Beautiful.
Around 11pm, we arrived to the Trollfjord, a very narrow fjord, where we sailed through the mouth of the fjord. Even though it was dark, the Captain used the two big spotlights to navigate through this narrow fjord and therefore it was easy to see from the decks and cabins.
To celebrate a visit to the fjord that the ship is named after, we were served a Trollfjord soup and hot drink called Trollfjordknert on the top deck. The drink was served from the special mug that we were able to keep as a souvenir. And what made it all more magical were the Northern Lights and the stars in the clear Norwegian sky.
Day 5: Tromsø
This morning, the sky was still clear and we arrived to Harstad, a beautiful small town surrounded by big mountains with white snowy tips. This stop was another short one specifically for the unloading and loading of cargo and passengers, so I went for breakfast instead of going out.
After breakfast we had a quick stop in a lovely place called Finnsnes. And after lunch, at 2.30pm, we arrived to Tromsø.
In Tromsø there was two excursions available, a bus sightseeing tour or a walking tour. As it was a beautiful afternoon, I decided to go for a walk in the town myself instead. It was bit colder here already, maybe -1 or -2 Celsius and there was some ice around. I suggest bringing good winter shoes with you if you are going on the Hurtigruten in the late autumn or winter. Or you could purchase spikes for your shoes from the reception as well.
If you need to get any extra warm clothes or thermal underwear, you can purchase some on board in the small shop. There was a good selection of Helly Hansen winter clothing on offer.
This afternoon, while in Tromsø, there was a short 15 minute concert in the ship’s bar area. A local Sami duet performance some singing, dancing and told us a little about Sami culture here in Tromsø.
After dinner this evening, the Captain made a 30-minute presentation about navigating along the Norwegian coast. He told about the history of the Hurtigruten ships and also how the modern ships navigate these days. He also told us about the Lighthouses and showed some pictures. It was all very interesting.
Around 9pm I went to the outside deck to have a look, to see if there is any Northern lights, and again, there were. Today I finally learned how to set up my camera to take photos of the lights, as I had discovered a guide in the excursions area about how to take photos of the Northern Lights.
Also in the tour leaders area you can find an information sheet about the following days program. This is delivered there at 5pm the day before, allowing you time to plan the day. The lunch and dinner service times might change slightly, depending of excursions. For example if there is an excursion at midday, lunch will be served before that. But of course, if you not taking a part of the excursion, you can eat at the normal time.
Day 6: Honningsvåg and North Cape
This morning the sea was a little bit rough with high winds. However, on board you could not even feel it. Because of the wind however, we needed to skip one of the ports along the way as it was not safe to dock there.
Unfortunately, todays excursions from Honningsvåg were cancelled, including the trip to the North Cape. The reason being that because of the high winds the roads were closed. This was disappointing as I was looking forward to this excursion but safety is more important.
Instead we got a day to spend in Honningsvåg, it a cute little village and also most northernmost city at Norway. It was all icy and cold, - 5 Celsius and the wind made it even feel colder.
As today was my and some others passengers last full day in the ship, there was an information session about departure in Kirkenes next morning.
Day 7: Kirkenes and Departure.
As I departed the ship the next morning, local Sami musicians performed a Yokel for us. It has a great ending to a great trip. Never had I expected to see the Northern Lights on some many nights – we were lucky as I heard later that the voyage behind us had not enjoyed so many Northern Lights shows.