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Top Antarctica Cruise Ships

13th November 2019

The other-worldly wilderness of the South Pole is home to some of the most adventurous excursions that you won’t find in any other destination, as well as some truly breathtaking feats of nature. Read on to find out the best ships to experience Antarctica! [More]

Cruising to Norway with Hurtigruten

22nd November 2016

Updated July 2019

We sent cruise expert Rob off to Norway with Hurtigruten to tell us all about life onboard MS Kong Harald. Read about his experience below.

 

 

Day One

After a rather early start, a pub breakfast at Gatwick, a long wait, then a two hour flight, we arrived into Norway at 2pm local time. After disembarking the plane, we soon set off on a coach to composer Edvard Greig’s house for a short tour, before heading off to the Scandic Nepture hotel in Bergen. The four star hotel was clean and the atrium was lovely. 

In the evening, we were taken to a small out-of-the-way bar, which would never have been found by anyone who did not know the area. We were greeted with a couple of welcome drinks, some light snacks, and the chance to get to know our fellow travel agents from the UK. After a couple of hours we made our way to the Funicular Railway, to go up Mount Floyen and enjoy a Norwegian-style three course meal. After filling up on the delicious cuisine and getting to know some more people from all over the world, we set out to return to the hotel - however this was delayed for another couple of hours due to the spontaneous decision to have a couple of drinks in another bar. Finally, we made it back to the hotel to settle in to a first night’s sleep in Norway.

Day Two

After a wonderful buffet-style breakfast, we were greeted by some local guides who took us on a two hour walking tour of Bergen. Bergen is a lovely city with one small flaw; it rains a lot. Today was no exception but the tour went ahead and the guides showed us everything the place has to offer; from the old docks to the city’s narrowest alleys. I would definitely recommend this excursion to anyone travelling to Bergen, as it is a great way to get loads of information, and you also have the chance for some free time before returning to the ship.

 



Hurtigruten own their own terminal in Bergen, and do not share it with anyone else, so it is never over crowded. At the desk we had the option to setup an onboard account, send our luggage on its way to the cabin, and receive our complimentary Wi-Fi access codes. After heading up the escalator, there was a brief emergency processes video and we were then able to embark the 300-passenger ship – MS Kong Harald.

Once on board, I had time to drop my carry-on bag off at my cabin, to find my suitcase had beaten me there. The simple cabin offered twin beds which fold into the walls, a television and a small bathroom. The restricted view still allowed a lot of natural light into the cabin, which made a huge difference when compared to inside cabins (of which there are none on this ship).

Before departure, we were invited to a welcome drinks reception on the top deck (deck seven) where the captain wished us a pleasant time on board, and we got to sample some delicious “Polar Bear” beer, brewed in Norway. Finally, at 5:30pm, MS Kong Harald set sail for Skjolden.

Onboard the ship there are two places to have dinner; a buffet and a main dining room. Tonight we were invited to dine in the main dining room which offered some amazing cuisine. The starter consisted of orange roe with mussel, covered in a sauce. It's clear the Norwegian’s like their fish, as the main course was also a fish dish, and consisted of a piece of cod with some vegetables. The cod was, in my opinion, one of the most delicious meals I have ever had on a cruise ship. After the main, we enjoyed a dessert wine and a chocolate waffle dish.

 

 

After dinner, a couple of us decided to explore the ship, however this was cut short as an announcement was made that the Northern Lights could be seen. Never have I seen so many people running upstairs on a cruise ship, with the staff encouraging them! I made it to the front of the ship and looked up at the sky. The faint wispy green glow was enough for me to be happy to have seen this incredible natural phenomenon. I stayed outside for approximately 45 minutes enjoying the view, before deciding I was too cold so headed inside to enjoy a few drinks at the bar. Drinks onboard were quite pricey but costs did coincide with Norwegian prices. For example, a Jack Daniel’s and coke cost 119 Norwegian Krone, which works out to almost £15. After a few drinks and getting to know some German and French agents, it was time to head to bed ready for an early start the following day.

Day Three

After another delicious buffet-style breakfast, we made our way to the lecture room where we had a few talks about everything Hurtigruten. The lectures finished just after midday, and after a hearty lunch, we prepared ourselves for disembarkation in Skjolden. We arrived at 2pm, and were greeted by a local band. As we got off the ship, we were provided with a free bottle of water and an energy bar, to keep us going for the afternoon of shore excursions. There were three excursions on offer: a RIB ride, a Walking Tour and a trip to a UNESCO church. I was lucky to try out the RIB ride. After a short walk from the ship to the boat, we were provided with a set of very warm overalls which went over my thick coat. At first I was rather warm, and decided to avoid taking a hat, although they recommended it. As soon as I was on the water, travelling at over 70mph, I regretted this decision! The 60 minute RIB ride took us to various attractions along the Fjord, including waterfalls and caves. After returning to the start point of the ride, and returning our overalls, we returned to the ship to enjoy some more free time, prior to our 6pm departure.

The ship left promptly at 6pm, and we returned along the Sognefjord to enjoy the views before dinner at 8pm. Tonight, we dined in the buffet restaurant, and I soon found myself enjoying a delicious Atlantic Char with some vegetables. This was followed by a very succulent chocolate cake and the whole meal included wine that never seemed to be empty!

After chatting, drinking and eating with my colleagues, we went off to the bar and spent the evening enjoying the panoramic views of the fjord, while enjoying wine and the traditional Polar Bear beer. Eventually, it was time to return to the cabin for my final night’s sleep onboard.

 

 

Day Four

Sadly, today was the last day of what has been a brilliant visit. A brief breakfast was followed by two very interesting lectures. The first was telling us all about Svalbard and the wonderful nature and scenery available – last year every cruise to Svalbard had a Polar bear sighting. We were also told how there is constant darkness in Svalbard between November and February, and constant daylight between May and August. I can just imagine being there in January, eating lunch at 2 in the afternoon, as I look up at the Northern lights – how incredible!

The second talk was about the Race to the South Pole by a Norwegian Explorer. He told us how explorers in 1912 raced to the South Pole, and the risks and dangers they faced - a very interesting and engaging lecture. After lunch, we had the chance to sample some food from the Norwegian Coastal Kitchen that Hurtigruten have introduced – the smoked lamb and salmon were divine.

We then had some free time onboard before arriving back in Bergen. To end our time in Norway we had a couple of hours free time in Bergen to wander around before returning to Hurtigruten’s terminal for our 15 minute transfer to the airport to return home.

Final Thoughts

  • Hurtigruten ships are practical and comfortable with incredible food.
  • The crew are very friendly and are from Norway, Sweden and other local countries
  • I would definitely do this cruise again
  •  

    See our latest Hurtigruten cruise deals and read more about cruising in the Norwegian fjords.

     


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