I have just returned from a 3 night Norwegian coastal voyage with Hurtigruten on board the Finnmarken, and there is only one word to sum up this trip, amazing!
Before travelling I was a little sceptical about the trip and wasn’t quite sure what to expect after hearing so many views and the fact that the ships are coastal cruisers and working ships, not the normally cruise liners that I’m used to but every element of the trip totally exceeded my expectations, I had the most fantastic time taking part in so many once in a life time activities.
We all flew from Gatwick to Tromso via Oslo with Norwegian airlines who I must say are a great airline even offering free Wi-Fi in the air! The views landing into Tromso were fantastic, snow covered mountains alongside the coastline. We arrived late afternoon and were transferred to the Rica Ishavshotel in Tromso centre, a beautiful hotel right next to the port a great option for any pre or post stays in Tromso. This gave us chance to freshen up and have a cup of coffee!
We were then picked up for what was going to be for everyone the highlight of our trip, husky dog sledging! We were taken to Villmarkssenter husky adventure centre, firstly we had the opportunity to cuddle the husky puppy’s before we were then taken to our sledge where we took our husky ride which was a fantastic experience, around 12 husky dogs pulled the sledge at dusk which offered beautiful evening views over Tromso, an experience I will never forget! To warm us all up we then had a traditional Norwegian meal in the Lavvo, which consisted of Biddo for starter, then reindeer stew followed by chocolate cake and a well-deserved glass of wine! We then transferred back to the hotel to await the arrival of the Finnmarken and luckily the northern lights made an appearance for us, the sky lit green with swirls, amazing!
We then boarded the Finnmarken, one of the newer ships built in 2002 and part of the millennium class. She holds 1000 passengers and has room for 47 cars on the car deck. My cabin was an outside cabin with a picture window located on promenade deck, perfect in size with twin beds, TV and vanity area.
We stayed on a full board basis, breakfast was buffet style as with lunch and evening meal was a set venue, all meals were fantastic and couldn’t be faulted!
There were a variety of lounge areas on board, one featuring a pianist in the evening. Drinks are pretty expensive on board beware but this is Norway in general!
Dress code on board is casual, no need to take any formal clothes at all with you for the evening, just plenty of layers and warm clothing.
The following day we docked in Hastad, and took and excursion called ‘A taste of Vesteralen’ in which we travelled around the coast line and visited a church, museum and experienced dramatic scenery. As part of the excursion we also took a ferry in which we tried brown cheese, a Norwegian delicacy.
We then visited the Hurtigruten museum in Stokmarknes, followed by a trip to the Magic Ice bar in Svolvaer, a great experience again with ice sculptures of all shapes and sizes inside and we had an ice glass of cranberry wine!
We were also lucky enough to visit the bridge and meet the captain on board the Finnmarken!
An arctic circle ceremony happened on deck as we sailed over the Arctic Circle in which you are meant to drink a spoon of cod liver oil, I attended the ceremony but didn’t quite fancy cod liver oil for my breakfast along with quite a few other people and passed this option but a great experience crossing the Arctic Circle with thick snow falling down on us!
Sadly it was then time to come home, but what a fantastic once in a life time adventure this was!
For beautiful scenery no matter what time of year you travel, gorgeous food and generally for something just a little bit different to your normal cruise holidays then I would 100% recommend a Hurtigruten coastal cruise!
And many thanks to our hosts, Danny, Simon, Lucy and Maria for an amazing trip!