Norway Cruise Review: Arctic Expedition Itinerary with Hurtigruten

Are you planning to go on a Norway cruise? I have been on an Arctic expedition cruise with Hurtigruten, from Kirkenes to Trondheim, Norway. I was so thrilled to see the wilderness and rugged beauty of Norwegian fjords and the Arctic region.

I’ve never imagined in my life that one day I would get to visit Norway, let alone explore the country on an Arctic expedition cruise. My interest in exploring the Arctic and polar regions started after my visit to Iceland.

Hurtigruten Expedition Cruise Kong Harald
Hurtigruten’s Arctic Expedition Norway Cruise – MS Kong Harald

Hurtigruten Cruises in Norway:

Hurtigruten has been sailing the coast of Norway for more than 100 years. They are an institution of exploration and considered the “fastest route” to Trondheim from Hammerfest, and then they extended their services from Bergen to Kirkenes.

Hurtigruten played a significant role in the logistics and transportation of the Norwegians due to their unpredictable weather and perilous terrain, travelling by sea, especially during the winter months, is the most sensible and safest.

Up to this date, Hurtigruten is still offering its services as a means of transport for the locals which for travellers like me, it is an excellent opportunity to immerse myself in understanding and appreciating Norwegian culture.

Hurtigruten voyages are a cruise with character! Cruise like the Norwegians do! If you’d like to check out more details about Hurtigruten voyages, check out this link to their website.

Norway Cruise Review: Arctic Expedition with Hurtigruten

Day 1: Oslo

The journey started in Oslo where I had to catch a morning flight to Kirkenes. I had arrived the evening before my flight and Oslo was covered in snow, dark, windy and cold. I knew it would only get harder as I carried on my journey to Kirkenes, in the Northern part of Norway.

My Norway cruise itinerary started in Kirkenes to Trondheim, filled with loads of exciting cruise excursions to see and experience the beauty of Norwegian fjords and coastal towns.

Day 2: Kirkenes

On my arrival in Kirkenes together with the other travel journalists, we were welcomed by the owner and staff of Snowhotel Kirkenes where we spent our night. Yes, a hotel made of snow and ice. You can read more about my stay at the Kirkenes Snow Hotel Review that I wrote.

Snow Hotel Kirkenes Norway
Norway Cruise Review: Arctic Expedition Itinerary with Hurtigruten
Snow Hotel Kirkenes Norway

I told you it would only get colder! You can also visit the Snow Hotel as a day excursion with Hurtigruten voyages or alternatively, you can stay for 2 days prior to boarding the cruise ship.

After the welcome briefing in the Snowhotel Kirkenes’ reception, the staff of the hotel took care of our luggage while we were having lunch in the restaurant.

After our quick lunch, we started to get ready for our first cruise excursion of the day, Snowmobiling on the frozen fjords. It had been a few years since I drove a motorbike and found this experience a challenge. After the safety briefing, we rode the snowmobile in pairs.

Snowmobiling on the frozen fjords
Norway Cruise Review: Arctic Expedition Itinerary with Hurtigruten
Snowmobiling on the frozen fjords

The speed limit in driving a snowmobile is 60kph, imagine that in icy conditions, that is pretty fast! Another popular activity here in Snow Hotel Kirkenes is their Husky Sledge Adventure!

Husky Sledge Adventure
Norway Cruise Review: Arctic Expedition Itinerary with Hurtigruten
Husky Sledge Adventure

While we were riding around the fjords, Ronnie, our guide and co-owner of Snowhotel showed and told us about the King Crab Safari. This excursion is a big hit among the passengers on the Hurtigruten cruise.

King Crab Safari Excursion
Norway Cruise Review: Arctic Expedition Itinerary with Hurtigruten
King Crab Safari Excursion

Part of the cruise excursion is to harvest the King crabs from a hole on the frozen fjords and serve it in the nearby old cabin restaurant that is also part of the Snow Hotel Kirkenes.

King Crab Safari Hurtigruten Cruise in Norway
Norway Cruise Review: Arctic Expedition Itinerary with Hurtigruten
King Crab Safari Excursion of Hurtigruten Cruise in Norway

It was an incredible experience, especially when I held the King Crab that was almost half of my size! These gigantic crabs were originally from Russia and migrated to Norway a few decades ago. Norwegians consider the King Crabs as a pest in Norway as it destroys everything that gets in its way.

So, when you visit Norway, don’t forget to eat one to help out in controlling its population!

After our exciting activity in the fjords, we headed towards the Gabba restaurant in the main part of the hotel, where we had a little introduction talk while having reindeer sausage and an arctic beer before we headed towards the Ice bar and to see their unique snow suites.

The snow suites of the Snow Hotel are made up of ice with creative hand-made ice carvings and sculptures. The Snow Hotel also has cosy Gamme Cabins as an alternative lodging.

Gamme Cabins of Snow Hotel
Norway Cruise Review: Arctic Expedition Itinerary with Hurtigruten
Gamme Cabins of Snow Hotel

We had our welcome drink in the Ice Bar and a quick visit to all the suites, before collecting our sleeping bags and having our dinner back in the restaurant.

Inside the Ice bar
Norway Cruise Review: Arctic Expedition Itinerary with Hurtigruten
Sculptures Inside the Ice bar

After the dinner, the staff briefed us on how to survive the night in the famous snow suites. They showed us the detailed instructions on how-to’s and the do’s and don’ts to have the most comfortable sleep in my life ever! I surely did!

Just in case you are wondering how cold it was inside the snow suite, it’s only minus 6 degrees centigrade. It’s warmer inside the snow suite compared to the outdoor temperature of minus 15 to minus 20 degrees centigrade. You can read more of my 5 Great Tips on How To Stay Warm in an Ice Hotel.

Sleeping with the Polar Bears in the Ice cabin
Norway Cruise Review: Arctic Expedition Itinerary with Hurtigruten
Sleeping with the Polar Bears in the Ice cabin

It was one cold evening to remember and ticked off my travel bucket list. Just our luck, the beautiful Aurora borealis (Northern Lights) decided to show up that evening.

Northern Lights in Norway
Norway Cruise Review: Arctic Expedition Itinerary with Hurtigruten
Northern Lights in Norway

You can also check out this link for Hunting the Light on sailing with Hurtigruten.

Day 3: Tromsø

Due to some last-minute changes in our itinerary, we needed to catch our ship from Tromsø. From Kirkenes, we flew to Tromsø via Oslo. Tromsø is one of my dream cities to visit.  

I was so excited to see the Northern Lights City  (also known as the gateway to the Arctic region). We roamed around Tromsø and had a few pints and dinner in Mathallen. For an excellent finish to our evening, we watched the solemn and heart-warming concert in the Arctic Cathedral as part of our cruise excursions.

Tromsø Norway Northern light city
Norway Cruise Review: Arctic Expedition Itinerary with Hurtigruten
Tromsø Norway: The Northern light city
(The Arctic Cathedral is the triangular building in this photo)

After the midnight concert, we went on board the MS Trollfjord to sail down to Lofoten the following day.

MS Trollfjord is one of the Millennium ships of Hurtigruten that can accommodate 822 passengers. The interior of the vessel has a classy design and ambience.

MS Trollfjord of Hurtigruten
Norway Cruise Review: Arctic Expedition Itinerary with Hurtigruten
MS Trollfjord of Hurtigruten

Day 4: Norwegian Fjords – Svolvær, Lofoten islands

The majestic views of Norwegian mountains and coastal villages are truly a beautiful sight that left me awestruck. During our breakfast, they made an announcement on board that there was a whale nearby. I quickly ran to the nearest window to see it.

Trollfjord in Norway
Norway Cruise Review: Arctic Expedition Itinerary with Hurtigruten
Trollfjord, this is where our ship MS Trollfjord was named after.

As we cruised down to the narrow passages of the fjords, I truly appreciated the picturesque landscape of the mountain range with little red cabins along the coastal shores.

Red cabins along Norwegian fjords
Norway Cruise Review: Arctic Expedition Itinerary with Hurtigruten
Red cabins along Norwegian fjords

I don’t think I can truly describe its beauty; it is as if you are in a winter wonderland dream. This voyage is indeed the most beautiful voyage and the gem of Norway.

Norwegian fjords expedition
Norway Cruise Review: Arctic Expedition Itinerary with Hurtigruten
Norwegian fjords expedition

Anywhere I looked was just picture perfect! Watching the sunset from the outside viewing deck of the ship was so special and breathtaking (even if I was so cold!).

Cruising along the Norwegian Fjords
Norway Cruise Review: Arctic Expedition Itinerary with Hurtigruten
Cruising along the Norwegian Fjords

We disembarked in Svolvær, part of the Lofoten archipelago and spent a night in the Thon Hotel Lofoten. We were truly pampered and spoilt by our hosts during our stay in Thon Hotel. We had a superb dinner in the Paleo Arctic restaurant of the hotel on our first night.

Day 5: Svolvær, Lofoten islands

The following morning, we did the Fishing excursion and the Sea Eagle safari around Lofoten. It was my first time going fishing, so I was not expecting to catch anything. After a few instructions on how to sort out the fishing rod and the line, I had my first catch.

Fishing excursion in Lofoten
Norway Cruise Review: Arctic Expedition Itinerary with Hurtigruten
Fishing excursion in Lofoten

I was so delighted; that was my lunch sorted! After we caught enough fish for our lunch, we head to find the Sea Eagles around Lofoten.  It didn’t take us that long to spot one!

Sea Eagle Safari
Norway Cruise Review: Arctic Expedition Itinerary with Hurtigruten
Sea Eagle Safari Excursion

After our excursions of the day, the fish that we caught was cooked in the show kitchen and we discussed with the chef the Norwegian Coastal Kitchen theme where the restaurant, as well the fleet of Hurtigruten is using locally produced and fresh food. You can guarantee you will have the freshest food on your plate every time.

Read more: Cruise Food: Hurtigruten’s Norwegian Food Coastal Kitchen for a Foodie

The lunch was superb! We had a few hours spare to roam around Svolvær, so most of our group decided to visit the fish racks of the traditional delicacy in Norway, the stockfish.

Stockfish in Lofoten
Norway Cruise Review: Arctic Expedition Itinerary with Hurtigruten
Stockfish in Lofoten

As it says in the name, the stockfish were to be dried for a few months on the fish racks near the coast. You will need to soak the fish in water for a few days before serving, a perfect accompaniment with the Arctic beer.

Stockfish Fish Racks in Lofoten, Norway
Norway Cruise Review: Arctic Expedition Itinerary with Hurtigruten
Stockfish Fish Racks in Lofoten, Norway

On our way to see the fish racks, we also saw some beautiful fishermen’s cabins. I love the contrast between the cabins from the snowy white cliffs in the picture below.

Fishermen Red Cabins in Lofoten Norway
Norway Cruise Review: Arctic Expedition Itinerary with Hurtigruten
Fishermen Red Cabins in Lofoten Norway

After watching the stunning sunset in Svolvær, we embarked on the MS Kong Harald to sail further south to Trondheim. The beautiful classic interior is all Scandinavian-inspired design. The concept is all about open space, an uplifting and calming surrounding with a beautiful accent of wood. Here are some snaps of the interior of the ship:

Top Deck Café of MS Kong Harald
Norway Cruise Review: Arctic Expedition Itinerary with Hurtigruten
Top Deck Café of MS Kong Harald
MS Kong Harald Bistro
Norway Cruise Review: Arctic Expedition Itinerary with Hurtigruten
MS Kong Harald Bistro
The Compass MS Kong Harald Reception area
Norway Cruise Review: Arctic Expedition Itinerary with Hurtigruten
The Compass MS Kong Harald Reception area

As we carried on sailing down south, we had time to catch our breath and just relax on the viewing deck with the comfy recliners while watching the beautiful Norway landscape scenery. There is complimentary onboard wi-fi on the ship, with a very impressive signal. As well as, loads of wall sockets scattered around in the public area.

Day 6: Leaving the Arctic region – Trondheim

It was our last day on the ship before we disembarked in Trondheim, this day was a special one because it was the day that we will leave the Arctic region.

Norway Arctic Region Marker
Norway Cruise Review: Arctic Expedition Itinerary with Hurtigruten
Norway Arctic Region Marker

There is a little celebration on the top deck to mark this special event. As a traditional Norwegian rite, we had a spoon of cod liver oil and a glass of bubbly! I’m not a big fan of cod liver oil but when in Norway, do what the Norwegians do.

Cod Liver Oil toast with Hurtigruten
Norway Cruise Review: Arctic Expedition Itinerary with Hurtigruten
Cod Liver Oil toast with Hurtigruten

We finished our voyage in Trondheim, and I caught my flight back to the UK. I’m forever grateful for his wonderful experience exploring the Arctic region and the beautiful coasts and fjords of Norway with Hurtigruten. This Arctic awakening cruise should be on your travel goals or bucket list!

Recommendation

As a whole, my Norway cruise arctic expedition with Hurtigruten truly awakened my spirit for adventure. I seem can’t find enough adjectives to describe the majestic natural beauty of the Norwegian Fjords. Hurtigruten delivers its promise to its guests to experience nature and immerse in the destination’s culture.

Arctic Expedition Cruise in Norway with Hurtigruten
Norway Cruise Review: Arctic Expedition Itinerary with Hurtigruten – Arctic Toast on the Last day of our cruise

I love the idea of cruising in smaller ships, it feels more personal and has character with the emphasis on actual experience of nature, destination, food and culture. You can feel the community vibes on board.

Norway Cruise Review Arctic Expedition Itinerary with Hurtigruten
Norway Cruise Review: Arctic Expedition Itinerary with Hurtigruten

Special thanks to Hurtigruten UK for the opportunity to experience and explore the world’s most beautiful voyage.
All opinions in this article are my own.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ryazan Tristram EverythingZany Author Bio

Ryazan Tristram

Travel Writer & Photographer

Ryazan has a Bachelor’s Degree in Tourism and Hotel Management. She also has more than 10 years of work experience gained from working in the hotel and travel sectors in Asia and Europe. Her work has been featured and published on Huffington Post, Reader’s Digest, Discovery Channel, World Travel Guide, MSN, CNBC, GMA, Daily Mail UK, Lonely Planet and many more. She is currently living in the UK as a dual citizen (British – Filipina). Join her in travelling around the UK and beyond with a mission to promote sustainable tourism and share travel guides, travel tips, foodies, history and culture.

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