Hurtigruten taste of the artic - March 2018. A perfect time to visit northern Norway - you get the winter experience but with lots of daylight. The ship is a working one so you are in and out of small ports all the time. I found the shore excursions extremely well organised and the guides very enthusiastic. The Ice Hotel in Kirkenes was a highlight :-) The added luxury on this trip was that they organised a charter flight from my local airport of Bournemouth which made it an easy 4 hour flight to Tromso in the artic circle to join the ship. Food was good and there was almost non-stop scenery. I have cruised in Alaska and I would have to say that this part of the Norwegian coast is certainly on a par with that. The North Cape was stunning in winter and having to drive in convoy behind a huge snow plough was an exciting experience. A mini mountain climb in Hammerfest called 'into the ice' was great fun and the guides really got into the spirit of the early expeditions we were trying to emulate. Don't expect glitzy shows and entertainment on this working boat but you will get a once in a lifetime experience that is very stimulating and unique. Kirkenes is where the ship turns around to come back southbound and this is on the border between Russia and Norway so it is fascinating to see how the two countries interact in a very positive and friendly way. The ship handling by the Captain and crew was a joy to see - they docked this ship in the small wharves in narrow fjords as if it was as easy as parking a mini car - it was very smooth and professionally done, well with so many towns service on this route they get lots of practice!
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