I have just returned from a fantastic short break with Hurtigruten on board Kong Harald.
Carrying only 620 passengers when full, the Kong Harald has recently undergone a refurbishment programme, she was the first in the fleet to undergo the programme whilst it will be rolled out fleet wide.
Hurtigruten are all about coastal voyaging, it’s the perfect choice for travellers who want to see the sights, taste the local cuisine and get involved with Norwegian traditions.
On top deck, the sun deck has plenty of space to sit out and sightsee, there’s also a bar towards the rear of the ship. The large panorama and observation lounge is located at the front of the ship, a great place to hang out in the evening and enjoy some great tradition Norwegian folk dancing and entertainment. The café is located on deck 7 which has an array of food and drink on sale daily from 8am-10pm. Deck 5 contains a promenade that runs around the ship, again great for enjoying the fabulous scenery.
The majority of facilities can be found on deck 4. The main restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner with a buffet option. Fish tends to be the dish of the day, with most caught on the day and served on the plate right away. There’s another restaurant that offers a set menu, this included mussels for starters, cod for main and a waffle for desert. You can also find the shop, library and reception on this deck. There are vegetarian options available, speak to the waiter on board and they are happy to accommodate.
The accommodation is well appointed and has everything you could need. I had an Artic Superior cabin which had been refurbished, complete with underfloor heating in the bathroom!
Cruising through the Norwegian Fjords is one of the most popular trips that people want to do, and Hurtigruten know exactly how to do it. I got on the ship in Bergen and cruised through narrow fjords that were snow topped and through Norway’s longest Fjord to Skjolden. We spent several hours cruising through the tiny fjords and it was great to admire the scenery and the houses dotted all over the coast.
Once we arrived in Skjolden, we were given complimentary bottled water and snacks and taken to our excursion to the Urnes Stave Church, which was built in the 12th century and is a remarkable sight. The church is preserved today and holds a handful of services in the summer and there’s also the opportunity to get married there!
What made this trip so special was seeing the Northern Lights. On the first evening on board, the captain made an announcement that the Northern Lights would be visible, everyone congregated on deck and we witnessed this natural phenomenon, something that I will never forget. Hurtigruten offer a promise to see the Northern Lights and they certainly delivered.
If you have been on an ocean cruise before, this is very different. It’s all about engaging with the locals, enjoying their way of life and cuisine. It’s also about coastal voyaging, you are never out at sea for days on end, you often visit many ports of call in one day as the locals use it as a ferry service. A fantastic experience, I will certainly be back for more!