Stunning scenic voyages without bells or whistles.
Hurtigruten is a sustainability-focused cruise line that specializes in world-class voyages along the Norwegian coast and through Antarctica and the Arctic. Its ships lack flashy entertainment, glitzy decor and waterslides.
Amy Stoltenberg is a staff writer covering all things travel, shopping and lifestyle. After earning a BA at Savannah College of Art and Design, she worked as technical designer in corporate fashion before opting for a career with unlimited travel time. When her laptop's closed, you can find her wandering around Los Angeles looking for hole-in-the-wall eateries and plotting her way to all 50 states (she's currently at 28).
Hurtigruten cruise ships are working ships that deliver mail and other cargo during port stops along the way. So as a passenger, your entertainment is not necessarily the sole priority. In fact, these cruises are best for folks who are content to occupy themselves with a good book, friendly conversation and breathtaking scenery as it passes by.
Hurtigruten is a great option for reluctant cruisers because they’re less likely to feel caught in over-the-top tourist trappings. Most of its ships have a capacity of 400 to 600 — rather than thousands — so you’ll have more space to breathe.
That said, the experience comes without frills. Don’t expect evening entertainment like musicals and comedy shows. Some of the ships have small gyms, hot tubs and even saunas — but that’s about it.
Still, there’s an expedition team on each ship that gives informational sessions about the towns and villages along the way. Avid learners can pick up a few fun facts to bring back home.
Hurtigruten cruise reviews and complaints
Case study: Michelle's experience
Hurtigruten isn’t the cliché you would think about when it comes to cruises. No casinos, pools or around the clock entertainment and food. Instead, be prepared to go on a journey with soul and experience nature at its finest. There are multiple port stops on the Classic Voyage, giving you the perfect excuse to go on different excursions, from sledding with dogs to admiring the Northern Lights. The fjords are simply breathtaking but whatever you do, don’t forget to go on a crab safari!
Advice: The water can get choppy, so if you’re prone to seasickness, pack in every type of product and medicine you can find!
About Michelle’s cruise
Ship sailed: Polarlys Date of cruise: May 2018 Departure Port: Kirkenes Destinations: All along the coast of Norway, ending in Bergen
Where do Hurtigruten cruises depart from?
Hurtigruten cruises are more about where you’re going than where you’re departing from, so our advice is to choose a destination first — then look for budget airfare to that port.
Here’s where its voyages begin:Akureyri, Bergen, Guayaquil, Hamburg, La Paz (Mexico), Liverpool, London, New York City, Puerto Limon, Reykjavik, Ushuaia, Vancouver
Hurtigruten cruise destinations
Hurtigruten is most well known for its voyages along the Norwegian coastline, with breathtaking fjords and craggy cliffs complimented by emerald banks and sapphire-blue sky. In fact, Lonely Planet named this itinerary “The World’s Most Beautiful Voyage.” It also has best-in-class cruises to Antarctica, Alaska, Iceland and the Northwest Passage that offer true immersion into polar wilderness.
But you could join it on a trip through Europe, the Caribbean and beyond, too.
Here’s where Hurtigruten’s cruises go:Alaska, Antarctica, Arctic, Asia, Baja Mexico, British Isles, Canary Islands, Caribbean, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, England, Europe, Greenland, Iceland and Norway, Indian Ocean, Ireland, Mediterranean, Mexican Riviera, Mexico, North America, Northern Europe, Northwest Passage, Peru, South America, United States
What’s included on a Hurtigruten cruise?
Your Hurtigruten fare covers the cost of your cabin and all your meals. You’ll have to pay extra for Wi-Fi, alcoholic drinks and shore excursions, if you decide to opt-in.
Unlike on many major cruise lines, gratuities aren’t required — though you can choose to tip staff if you’d like.
Here’s what you should know about Hurtigruten’s sustainability focus
Hurtigruten was the first major cruise company to completely remove single-use plastic from its ships. Hurtigruten also has two hybrid cruise ships — the MS Roald Amundson and the MS Fridtjof Nansen — that sail via electric propulsion to reduce overall CO2 emissions and fuel consumption by 20%. Plus, the cruise line’s no-trace philosophy ensures a zero imprint after passengers have completed their polar excursions.
Education is the name of the game onboard. The expedition team includes regional experts who give destination-specific seminars about the wildlife, ecosystems and cultures you’ll encounter along the way.
Hurtigruten Norway cruise review
Voyages up the coast of Norway are at the heart of Hurtigruten’s business. Its Cruise of Discovery: Bergen-Kirkenes-Trondheim departs daily all year round and takes 11 days. Prices start at $3,332 per person, or about $303 per day — a little pricey even considering the average price of food and accommodations in Norway.
However, it often holds sales. For instance, you could book one of these cruises at 40% off through March 31, 2020.
Even if you have to pay a little more, these unforgettable journeys cross the Arctic Circle and feature the midnight sun during summer with spectacular views of the Arctic lights in winter — if the timing’s right. You’ll begin in Bergen and cruise to 31 ports along the way — though you’ll only have a chance to explore the following ports on foot:
Day 1: Bergen
Day 2: Florø – Molde
Day 3: Kristiansund – Rørvik
Day 4: Brønnøysund – Svolvær
Day 5: Stokmarknes – Skjervøy
Day 6: Øksfjord – Berlevåg
Day 7: Båtsfjord – Kirkenes – Berlevåg
Day 8: Mehamn – Tromsø
Day 9: Tromsø – Stamsund
Day 10: Bodø – Rørvik
Day 11: Trondheim
Its optional shore excursions zero in on each region’s cuisine and wildlife, from a horseback ride through the Viking land of Lofoten to a dogsledding adventure through the tundra.
Most reviewers report that Hurtigruten’s Norway cruises are an excellent way to see the country’s jaw-dropping fjords, remote villages and raw polar wilderness. But if you’re hoping for more of a resort-style vacation, choose a Norway cruise from Viking Ocean Cruises or Celebrity Cruises. Budget travelers should consider Royal Caribbean, whose trips tend to be much cheaper — though you’ll dock at more mainstream ports and might miss some off-the-beaten-path wonders.
A final standout feature: On most of Hurtigruten’s Norway cruises, you can bring your car on board the ship, as cargo. You’ll have to pay a fee, but the exact amount varies based on availability and the itinerary. Reach out to Hurtigruten’s customer service team to get a quote.
Why you should (or shouldn’t) cruise with Hurtigruten
Some things to consider before booking your Hurtigruten cruise:
Focus on sustainability
No required gratuities
Gorgeous, off-the-beaten-path scenery
Locally-sourced food wherever possible
Expert-led activities, lectures and excursions
Wine, beer and liquor cost extra.
Fewer choices for onboard dining, with one to three restaurants per ship
Cabins are bare-bones and can feel cramped
Few US departure ports — New York and Alaska are your only options
Traveling during COVID-19
The CDC continues to advise caution when traveling within or outside the US, though it no longer requires self-quarantine or a COVID-19 test for fully vaccinated travelers as of April 2021. It recommends that you delay travel if you are not fully vaccinated to protect yourself and your family from getting or spreading the virus.
When traveling, follow safety measures that include wearing a mask in public, social distancing and washing your hands. If you are diagnosed with, have symptoms of or are waiting for COVID-19 test results — or are otherwise at risk of illness — do not attend gatherings or travel for 14 days.
Frequently asked questions
It depends on where you’re sailing. Review the “packing list” for your itinerary to make sure you’ll be prepared.
On its Northwest Passage cruises, you’ll get a complimentary Helly Hansen expedition jacket and a free reusable water bottle. You’ll be able to borrow boots, trekking poles and other equipment you may need for shore excursions or outdoor adventuring.
Yes! Hurtigruten has a Young Explorers’ club with daily activities and events for kiddos, centered around “the importance of nature in our daily lives, and the impact humans have on our delicate and beautiful planet,” according to its website. The program is complimentary and offered year-round, but only on the following ships:
MS Roald Amundsen
MS Fridtjof Nansen
MS Otto Sverdrup
It depends on the itinerary you choose. It has 19-, 20- or 29-day Northwest passage voyages to choose from. But here’s the gist: Starting in either Reykjavik, Iceland or Halifax, Canada, you’ll travel up along the west coast of Greenland before crossing Baffin Bay and sailing through Nunavut — Canada’s enormous Arctic Archipelago. This includes port stops at Dundas Harbour, Beechey Island, Pond Inlet, Fort Ross and Cambridge Bay among others.
Hurtigruten is owned by TDR Capital, a British private equity firm, but was originally founded as a local transportation company in 1893. Today, its headquarters are in Norway.
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