Hurtigruten in Norway
Above pic shows the view as we prepared to leave Alesund for Bergen on the overnight Hurtigruten.
Booking & Information: 1-866-552-0371
http://www.hurtigruten.us (for United States site)
Hurtigruten has been sailing the coast of Norway for over 100 years, and in the past 10 – 15 years has added voyages to Antarctica, Greenland, Iceland and other destinations. We took took two Hurtigruten ships during our Norwegian vacation; one on an excursion to Geiranger Fjord and one port-to-port trip from Alesund to Bergen. Geiranger Fjord was so spectacular that I honestly couldn’t tell you what the ship was like. I know it was the MS Vesteralen, and I know that there was plenty of room both on deck for viewing and in the interior. The scenery was the star of the day, and I took no notes or photos of the ship itself! We were out on deck pretty much the entire time, taking in the fjord. I do remember that we had some bags to stow during the excursion, and they had an area near reception for luggage but the staff were not particularly helpful.
Our second Hurtigruten experience was more indicative of what it’s like to utilize it for transport. We had been told that the ship, the MS Nordnorge, would arrive in Alesund at midnight, at which time we should be there ready to board for departure at 12:40 AM. We got to the dock at midnight, but the ship was late, and didn’t arrive until 12:30 AM. (And some members of the Taiwanese family waiting with us were freezing, because they weren’t prepared to stand outside for an extended time.)
We were promptly rushed onboard and the doors shut at 12:41 AM. The crew was clearly rushed, but they were also fairly rude as they handed us key cards for our cabins with no further instruction or information. It was fine, the ship’s not THAT big, and we found our way around easily. There was a cafe on the fourth deck and a nice lounge on Deck 7, with comfy chairs and windows all around. The entire boat was very clean and well maintained. We were booked in Cabin 529, which had twin beds that pulled down from the wall on either side of the room, along with a small desk, chair, wardrobe, and bathroom with a shower and a multi-use soap dispenser. I took some Dramamine and went to sleep (as the boat was rocking a bit).
In the morning, there was an announcement a few minutes before 10 AM stating that we had to vacate the cabins AT 10 AM, which of course we didn’t know because no one told us anything at all in the rush to get us onboard. We ignored the announcement, since we were not going to leave the room without taking showers. We left the room at 11 AM, with no issue. No one had instructed us of what to do with luggage either, so we took it with us; we eventually found out the procedure for luggage upon disembarking, but we just took our bags to lunch and then to the lounge on Deck 7, and since we only had a small carry-on each, it wasn’t a problem, and we weren’t the only ones with bags. Lunch was a buffet, not included in the price, and all considered, I think it was too expensive – the equivalent of approximately $50 per person, plus extra for beverages, even water. The food was decent, but not an extraordinary selection for the price: turkey stir-fry, cod, pork, potato pancakes, veggie pancakes, rice, assorted meats and cheeses, caviar, smoked fish, and a menagerie of funky salads. (On a side note, every buffet in Norway had these funky salads. I’m not a fan.) The desserts were actually quite good. The dining room was immaculate, but yet again, both the hostess and the server were rude. I’m not sure what was going on with the Hurtigruten staff, but we didn’t find one pleasant person on the trip. After lunch we relaxed in the ounce on Deck 7 until arrival at Bergen at approximately 2:00 PM.
As a mode of transport, it was a nice option, and it was priced as part of our overall tour (with the exception of lunch). It was also a good way to get from Alesund to Bergen overnight, rather than driving or taking a bus during the day. I’m sure the scenery would be beautiful, but our time in Norway was limited and this fit perfectly into our time table.