Travelling along the coastline of Norway is often hailed the world’s most beautiful voyage.
It’s easy to see why, not many countries have a coastline as dramatic as Norway’s west coast. It’s a maze of channels, inlets, islets and headlands, providing shelter for the ship and endless visual stimulus for deckbound passengers – especially during the Midnight Sun when daylight shines for 24-hours.
To appreciate the extent of the Hurtigruten operation, a grasp of the geography is essential. Inconceivably long and thin, Norway is like a Scandinavian Chile. From Kirkenes, Hurtigruten’s northern terminus to Bergen, it’s southern terminus is over 2000 km – longer than Edinburgh to Casablanca!
What to Expect On Board
After boarding and obtaining a Hurtigruten card to be shown at meal times, head to your cabin to settle and unpack. Standard rooms are comfortable, not too big, or too small and come accompanied with a stunning view. That’s the special thing about being on board Hurtigruten, the emphasis is on relaxation and escapism, you won’t find the commercial entertainment which so often defines conventional cruises, their aim is to get closer to unique cultures and nature. With this you’ll be able to enjoy occassional lectures provided by experts about wildlife and Arctic exploration. It’s a fun way to learn about the environment you’re travelling through.
We encourage you to go out on deck for panoramic views and to breathe in the wild and freshest air you’ll ever experience. Pull up a deck chair and simply whittle away the hours, the feeling of freedom which you gather from passing Norway’s nature is something that can hardly be described in words.
You’ll be spoilt with wildlife and waterfalls tumbling down steep granite slopes, snow-covered mountain peaks glistening in the warm sunshine. Deep, narrow fjords that are expertly negotiated, the precision can be surprising when you see how narrow areas like the Trollfjord really are!
Each day the ship docks at various cities and towns where you’ll have a few hours of exploration. For example, on route to Kirkenes from Trondheim you can pull into Tromsø (Scandinavia’s largest city in the Arctic) and go straight from the ship over the bridge and in less than 25 minutes you’ll be marvelling at the famous Arctic Cathedral. After another 20 minutes uphill walk, you can hop on the cable car to the top of Storsteinen and back down.
On a clear sunny day, there are few views that can beat Tromsø’s panorama, a colouful city surrounded by fjords and mountainscapes, it’s truly a kodak moment. If you’re feeling peckish we suggest heading to the cafe on top of Storsteinen for warm waffles with jam and a dollop of cream!
What Kind of Activities can I do?
All sorts! Every time you step off the ship to explore a new place by foot you have the chance to participate in an activity, or simply enjoy time by yourself to explore. On my last Hurtigruten trip I went on a thrilling RIB Boat Safari along the fjord, I recommend it to anyone who enjoys speed and a blast of fresh air to the face and lungs! But of course, the best part about this excursion is the proximity to nature and wildlife. One of the greatest places to join a boat safari is the Lofoten Islands where the scenery is unparalleled and swooping sea eagles are in abundance.
During the winter months there’s a strong focus on seeing the Northern Lights, and being on a ship under the night sky means your chances of seeing them are maximised. Instead of star-gazing you could say you’re really Northern Lights gazing, and adding a bit of quirkiness to the Hurtigruten experience is the chance to sleep out on deck in a sleeping bag – not something for the faint-hearted!
Coastal Kitchen Concept – Let’s talk about the food!
Food is an important part of any trip, and Hurtigruten team agrees. The cruise line recently launched a new dining concept called ‘Norway’s Coastal Kitchen’, which focuses on seasonal ingredients and aims to build strong partnerships with local suppliers. Most of the produce, seafood and meat is sourced at the 34 ports visited on each ships’ itineraries along the west coast of Norway – so you can be rest assured you’re getting the freshest food.
With local and fresh produce being at the heart of their menu, it comes as no surprise to learn the restaurant menu changes four times a year to reflect the progression through the seasons. The menus have been designed to reflect seasonality and to make the most of local produce abundant in the region. During my Hurtigruten adventure in March and April the menu made plentiful use of fish including Arctic Char, as well as king crab, meats such as beef and reindeer, and local fruits such as cloudberries.
“Our guests are eager to learn about all aspects of Norwegian culture and we’ve found that connecting with traditional Nordic cuisine is an important part of the travel experience,” said Daniel Skjeldam, CEO at Hurtigruten.
As well as the à la carte menu, you also have the choice of a delicous buffet dinner, similar to breakfast and lunch which offers hot, cold, sweet and savoury choices – the only thing that may concern you is your expanding waistline because resisting temptation is impossible on board the Hurtigruten.
About the Ships
The fleets offer a mixture of traditional interior while others are furnished in contemporary Scandinavian design to suit various tastes. I recently boarded the newly renovated MS Kong Harald, and fell in love with the new Scandinavian design that swept across all elements of the ship, in fact you could have mistaken some rooms for a design hotel! The light and airy interior certainly ensures a peaceful environment to relax and enjoy the ever-changing scenery through floor to ceiling windows.
To view out latest Hurtigruten holidays, please see here.