Cathy's Norwegian Coastal Voyage

26 Feb 2020

Travel Journal by Cathy Hewitt

I was lucky enough to have been able to go on a Hurtigruten coastal voyage from Tromsø to Bergen. This was my first time on a Hurtigruten ship, having only experienced regular cruise ships. So was looking forward to experiencing it.

We had an early morning flight from Gatwick South Terminal with Norwegian Air. Again this was a first for me (flying Norwegian Air) not the early mornings! Nice big leather seats and plenty of leg room. You are able to buy food and drinks on board. Because we were doing the North to South route from Tromsø we had to change planes in Oslo with a very efficient transit.

Once we arrived into Tromsø, we were transferred by coach to the Scandic Hotel in the town, which took approximately 9 minutes. There were other passengers on the transfer coach that were being dropped at other hotels around the town en route.

Because we could not board the ship until midnight, we dropped our cases at the Scandic Hotel and went for a wander to the Ice Bar. It was very cold, but a great experience. The entrance fee includes a drink and the use of a thermal coat and gloves - definitely needed! We then went back to the hotel for a lovely 3 course meal, before collecting our things and heading to the ship. All within walking distance.

So our home for the next 4 nights was onboard Richard With. After a very efficient check in we made our way to the cabin. This was a fixed twin cabin with quite a bit of space between the beds. There was a desk area with tea and coffee making facilities, plenty of storage but I found it did lack plug sockets around the bed area (European 2 pin adaptors are needed). The bathroom was quite compact and the shower was tiny with a plastic curtain that stuck to everything like a magnet! There was a hairdryer in the bathroom and shampoos, conditioner and body wash all provided.

The following morning we went for breakfast, which was buffet style, with a really good choice of hot and cold food, pastries, Twinings teas etc. The restaurant seating area was as you would imagine on a regular cruise ship. It was very clean with nice big windows, smaller and larger tables, all laid out and the staff were very attentive. There is no set seating. It is buffet for breakfast and lunch and then a set dining for dinner - although this can change to buffet if there is a lot of excursions on around that time.

We then met for our first excursion of the trip – A Taste of Vesterålen. We took a coach to The Trondenes Church, the oldest church in the region, for a little service. It was lovely as we drove around seeing the scenery and styles of the houses and buildings, which are mostly wooden.

It was then back to the ship for lunch, which again was buffet style with a good selection. We had then arrived into Stokmarnes were we departed to visit the Hurtigruten Museum and the ghost ship Finnmarken - an old traditional Hurtigruten ship, which had been taken out of service.

Back on board we were able to go up on deck to experience some of the stunning scenery and the magnificent Trollfjord. We also managed to have a look around the ship, which included a small gym, sauna, a la carte restaurant, bar area, gift shop, excursion desk, coffee bar and the Horizon area right at the front of the ship, with full glass windows and lovely comfy seating.

The following day was a chance to experience the crossing of the Arctic Circle on board. If you do it North to South as we did, you get a spoon of cod liver oil and get to keep the teaspoon or if you do South to North, the crew will put ice down your back! On both occasions you can purchase a glass of bubbly for approximately £10 to celebrate the occasion. While on board we also sailed past Torghatten, the mountain with the hole in it, and also the famous Seven Sisters mountain range.

Day 4, we had a very early start for our coach pick up and a morning excursion city tour of Trondheim, the third largest city in Norway. A man-made harbour was specifically built for the cruise ships and businesses here. We then headed to The Nidaros Cathedral for a private tour.

Day 5 was a chance to listen to the exhibition team talking and showing clips of the highlights of the whole cruise before disembarking for our coach transfer to Bergen airport.

To summarise on the whole, Hurtigruten is a working ship that carry cars, cargo and passengers and is stopping at numerous ports both through the day and night. Cards and cash can be used on board. There are a couple of wheelchair accessible cabins on the ships, but they would have to be wheeled through the car deck and up in the lifts. Due to Norwegian drinking regulations, you can't buy an All Inclusive Drinks Package, but you can purchase special packages for beer or wine, with the number of drinks restricted and quite expensive. To buy drinks on board, you would be looking at around £4.50 for a soft drink, £3.00 for coffee, £12 for cocktails or £10 for a glass of wine. They are able to cater for all food requests except halal or kosher. All the fresh foods, meat, fish etc. are really fresh because they are picked up along the route! All staff are Norwegian and the exhibition team are so knowledgeable. I could not get over the cleanliness of the ship, the friendliness of the staff or their immense pride in their country. It was very beautiful.

I would highly recommend experiencing a Hurtugruten coastal voyage. It's not like a traditional cruise, but its not exactly a ferry either, it is a unique experience! Also Hurtigruten don't just do Norway - you can also experience Antarctica, Greenland and more!