In April, our Marketing Manager Debbie enjoyed a wonderful trip from Bergen with Hurtigruten and this is how she got on…
After a short flight with Norwegian Air from Gatwick to Bergen, we were warmly greeted by the Hurtigruten team and swiftly transferred by coach on a tour of Troldhaugen, the former home of classical composer Edvard Greig. Our highly informative guide gave us a detailed insight into musical life. We saw the concert hall, where his music is still performed regularly throughout the year, and his house, which plays host to a variety of small classical concerts during the summer months. The location was stunning, overlooking a lovely waterfront with views of snow topped mountains.
After a short coach transfer to Bergen, we checked into the Scandic Neptun Hotel for a quick freshen up before walking to the funicular and travelling to the top of Mount Floyen. The weather earlier in the day had been wonderful, but unfortunately by the time we reached the top it had taken a turn for the worst and the views were not quite as we had expected. Definitely a trip to do again on a clear day.
Dinner was hosted by the Bergen tourist board in the restaurant at the top of Mount Floyen and it was superb – locally sourced ingredients and a mouthwatering menu of regionally influenced dishes.
Breakfast at the Hotel Scandic Neptun was definitely worth getting out of bed for, buffet style with lots of choice, including cereals, fresh fruit, bacon, eggs, sausages, cheeses, meats, fresh breads and waffles that were to die for!
After our hearty breakfast, we split into small groups and were taken on a 2-hour walking tour of Bergen during which we learnt about the history and local culture. It is a beautiful, colourful city and I highly recommend staying there for a night or two, especially if you are thinking about booking one of Hurtigruten’s shorter voyages.
The afternoon brought our transfer to Hurtigruten’s wonderful MS Kong Harald, which would be our home for the next two nights. Hurtigruten have been sailing Norway’s breathtaking coast for 123 years. They are a lifeline to the 34 ports and small communities they visit each day and the voyages are made all the more special because of the people that work and travel with Hurtigruten.
Dinner was served at ‘Brygga Bistro’, which is named after the Norwegian for ‘wharf’, and is the perfect place for traditional Norwegian offerings. The service was excellent and we sampled some gorgeous mussels and fresh cod, all professionally served from the friendly waiters.
After dinner, we made our way to the newly refurbished ‘Explorer Lounge’ where there was live entertainment – something people don’t always expect on a Hutrigruten cruise. The Lounge has extremely comfortable armchairs and sofas, and floor to ceiling windows which offer magnificent views of the gorgeous fjords and coastal mountains. As the evening went on, there was chatter that we may spot the Northern Lights and much to our delight, they made an appearance. Everyone headed out onto the open deck and enjoyed the colourful spectacle of greens and yellows that seemed to go on forever. It was a magical experience!
My cabin was a Polar Outside which had a double bed and huge pillows, gorgeous linen and a TV and kettle, which I thought was a nice touch. Many of the cabins onboard have recently been renovated to improve on their stylish, simple design.
I woke early the next day and lifted the blind to the most stunning scene: Snow topped mountains, blue sky and crystal clear waters. It was going to be a good day!
Breakfast was served in Restaurant Torget. This is the main restaurant which serves all onboard daily meals. You can sample a selection of local specialities and ingredients are all sourced directly from local suppliers. The evening brings a slightly more formal dining experience along with a variety of three course menus and seasonal seafood buffets. The meals I sampled surpassed my expectations and I would happily state the food was a particular highlight of my voyage with Hurtigruten. Even the little quaint coffee shop, ‘Multe Bakery & Ice Cream’ served good coffee and amazing ice cream.
After taking in the spectacular scenery on the open deck, we arrived at Skjolden and were welcomed by a local school brass band playing on the dock side.
Hurtigruten offer many excursions on their voyages and each are designed to help you get closer to the supreme scenery, the wildlife, and the local culture. My activity for the afternoon was to sample a ride on the Fjord on a RIB speed boat. It proved to be an exhilarating experience whereby we took in the beautiful fjords scenery and stunning waterfalls along the way.
Alternative excursions available were also available and they included coach trips to Jotunheimen National Park & Sognefjell Mountain Pass, a trip to the UNESCO World Heritage listed Urnes Stave Church, and a local guided hike. All of which sounded delightful and everyone had interesting tales and photos to show on return to the ship.
With the recently refurbished ships, Hurtigruten have added even more deck space to take in views of the fjords and wave at the locals at each of the 34 ports they visit. Plus, soon to come is the outdoor Jacuzzi on deck and a brand new gym.
My experience of Hurtigruten surpassed all my expectations and I would love to carry on further up the Norwegian coast and sample more of the excursions and different ports along the way.
With the new ship MS Spitsbergen launching this May and the very recent announcement of four brand new ships entering service, Hurtigruten will definitely be on my top 10 list of experiences to encounter, I just can’t decide which itinerary to do first: Coastal Norway, Spitsbergen or Antarctica!
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