Author: Karen Bryant-williams
This is a brief review of the 21st December 2014 Xmas/New Year sailing. I had read mixed reviews about Hurtigruten but was very keen to do this voyage in the winter. The ship was very good - nice size and comfortable warm lounges, good size restaurant - free seating for buffet breakfast and lunch and because of numbers there were 2 dinner sieatings onboard at allocated tables. The waiting staff were extremely cheerful and helpful - my husband couldn't eat some of the fixed menu, but alternatives were arranged for him. As others have mentioned, the alcohol was expensive, but this is just the norm for Norway and not over-priced on the ship - you can take your own alcohol onboard and drink it in the cabin however. The tea/coffee deal at 349 krone for 12 days was really good value (and decaff was available). Again, as others have said, you have to pay for water with your meal - I agree with them that this is something that Hurtigruten should re-consider. We had very nice cakes and gluhwine on Christmas Eve and also sparkling wine on New Years Eve and at the farewell dinner. We did 4 excursions and all we considered to be of very high quality with excellent and knowledgeable guides. I would thoroughly recommend the husky sledding which was the highlight of our trip! If you are not a reasonable sailor, I wouldn't recommend the trip in the winter as the water did get quite choppy on occasion and some people were quite seasick. We also had to miss 3 stops as a storm came in and we had to run to get ahead of it although this didn't detract from the trip in any way. There really isn't much to do onboard, so you really do need to make your own amusement or be happy to read, chat and watch the world go by which by the way is absolutely stunning even if it was dark most of the time! There was a singer in the bar in the evening and our tour guide did try to put activities on such as making gingerbread houses and Xmas decorations which was good fun. The organisation upon arrival could have been better. It was raining hard in Bergen and due to the redevelopment of the airport it was not easy to find the Hurtigruten pick up point. When we did find it, there was only one coach which was not enough for all those arriving on the flight (booked by Hurtigruten). We had to wait at least half an hour for another coach to come by which time we were all completely soaked through. Once this was sorted out however, everything worked smoothly. All in all a trip of a lifetime - I can't wait to go back and do it in the summer!