THE HISTORY OF HURTIGRUTEN CRUISES
For more than 115 years Hurtigruten has been part of the coastal areas of Norway. With experience in polar areas, the company has become an international travel company with a unique product.
So when a seasoned Norwegian sea captain called Richard With proposed a regular steam ship service to link northern and southern Norway, many saw it as an unrealistic folly. Originally intended as a weekly daylight service from Trondheim to Hammerfest, delivering mail, cargo and passengers, this audacious mariner then proposed to extend the service to travel both day and night, winter and summer. His intention was to sail through waters that at this juncture had still not been mapped, through a landscape that for centuries had only been accessible from the sea.
Translating as 'fast route', it was the quickest and most reliable passage into the remote lands of northern Norway, regardless of weather conditions. Indeed it was not until 1893 that the mail delivery was finally entrusted to road and air routes
Following Norway's independence in 1905, the Great War of 1914 saw the next development in the Hurtigruten story. Kirkenes was included in the route, whilst the reduced production and increased cost of coal deliveries from England resulted in the service being drastically reduced. The Depression years then saw the route regularly disrupted, before the Coastal Express began a boom period, with 1936 seeing the beginning of a daily sailing from Bergen. There were now 14 ships linking the coastal communities, visiting more ports than ever and transporting some 230,000 passengers annually.
The Second World War heralded a dark time for Hurtigruten, suffering the loss of 9 ships and some 700 people, with ironically the Allies destroying twice as many vessels as Germany.
Following the war it was vital to rebuild the fleet as quickly as possible. The first 4 commissioned ships set new standards in comfort and service, quickly followed by 11 more over the following decade.
The latter years of the 20th century saw Hurtigruten's role change, as cars became more popular and the ship's original remit changed. New ships were built with passenger comfort in mind, with more cabins and panoramic lounges being included to accommodate a new kind of traveller.
A new generation of ships was built between 1993 and 2007, ensuring that today they have a fleet of custom designed vessels capable of safely negotiating not only the rugged coastal waters of Norway and the Arctic, but also the remote lands of Spitsbergen and Greenland and the southern oceans off Antarctica.
HURTIGRUTEN CRUISE LINE - LIFE ON BOARD SHIPS
Entertainment Onboard Hurtigruten Cruise Ships
The emphasis onboard is relaxation and getting away from the commercial entertainment which is so often apart of conventional cruises. The aim is to get closer to unique environments and share the experiences with fellow passengers. Occasionally some musical entertainment on some stretches of the voyage will be offered but there is no organized program. On the Explorer Voyages they offer lectures.
Fitness Centre Onboard Hurtigruten Cruise Ships
All the ships except MS Lofoten, MS Nordstjernen and MS Vesterålen have a small fitness centre onboard.
Shopping Onboard Hurtigruten Cruise Ships
There is a shop on all the traditional ships. They sell souvenirs, knitwear, books, postcards, postage stamps and a limited supply of toiletries. On MS Lofoten and MS Nordstjernen this service is handled by the coffee shop.
Swimming Pools Onboard Hurtigruten Cruise Ships
Ms Finnmarken boasts a small swimming pool. Ms Fram, Ms Trollfjord, Ms Midnatsol, Ms Nordnorge, Ms Nordkapp and Ms Richard are equipped with a Jacuzzi on board.
On board the ships, large, comfortable lounges give unequalled views as they glide silently and slowly through some of the world's most beautiful and untouched scenery. As you would expect, the highest standards of design, complemented by works of art inspired by the land and seascapes through which they sail.
Bikes Onboard Hurtigruten Cruise Ships
Hurtigruten offer 4 bikes for rent on all ships. Price is from NOK 100 per Bike/Port (included lock and helmet).
HURTIGRUTEN CRUISE LINE DINING OPTIONS
Passengers are requested to go to the restaurant on embarkation to make their table reservation. The usual meal times are: breakfast from 8.00am to 10.00am (open sitting); lunch from 1.00pm (open sitting); dinner from 6.00pm (set seating).
During high season, there may be several sittings, the times of which will be shown on board. Full board begins with a buffet dinner on departure from Bergen and ends with brunch on the arrival day back in Bergen.
The food is Norwegian and breakfast is buffet style with a selection of cold meats, cheese, eggs, cereals and fruit. Lunch is the famous Cold Table with a choice of fish dishes, cold meats, salads, a selection of hot dishes, desserts and fruit. Dinner is a three-course set meal; there is not usually a choice of menu. Occasionally the Cold Table may be served in the evening and the set meal at lunch time. All vessels are fully licensed.
HURTIGRUTEN CRUISE LINE LOYALTY CLUB
Hurtigruten know that many travellers enjoy their trip so much, they cannot wait to return. Customer surveys tell that many of Hurtigruten's travellers are interested in taking another cruise with them. Maybe your next trip could be to experience another season in Norway? Or perhaps you would like to stay on another ship?
They are always thrilled to see passengers return and are happy to offer up to 10% off list prices, plus any offers Planet Cruise are offering. Please note that this offer only applies to the classic voyages only.
HURTIGRUTEN CRUISE LINE TIPS & GRATUITIES
Most vessels have a non-tipping policy. However, if you feel that crew members should be rewarded for providing exceptional service this is entirely at your discretion. For voyages on board MS Fram and MV Polar Star you will receive tipping guidelines with your travel documents or on board.
ECOLOGICALLY AWARE ON A HURTIGRUTEN CRUISE LINE
Hurtigruten voyages enjoy the wonders of some of the most pristine environments on Earth and their key objective is to ensure that their trips are as environmentally responsible as possible.
The traditional Hurtigruten route along the Norwegian coast sails on scheduled vessels that have supplied these communities for generations, thereby ensuring not only minimal impact on the environment, but also a vital and historic lifeline for the coastal settlements.
The Explorer voyages are accompanied by specialists and local experts with a deep founded enthusiasm for the wildlife and environments that are encounterd. Life on board sees them utilising equipment to its maximum effectiveness, whilst smaller landing craft minimise their impact on the coastline.
In Antarctica, Hurtigruten is a fully accredited member of the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (www.iaato.org), which promotes safe and environmentally responsible travel to Antarctica.
In addition Hurtigruten is a member of the Association of Arctic Expedition Cruise Operators (AECO) which is an international organisation ensuring cruises in the Arctic are carried out with the utmost consideration for fragile, natural environments and local cultures
HURTIGRUTEN CRUISE LINE SPECIAL NEEDS
Wheelchairs & Mobility Onboard Hurtigruten Cruise Ships
Hurtigruten are happy to welcome passengers who are not fully mobile and all ships except MS Lofoten, MS Nordstjernen and MV Polar Star have at least one cabin equipped for travellers using a wheelchair. Passengers who use a wheelchair must bring their own, standard size, foldable chair and travel with a companion who is able to assist them. In mainland Norwegian ports there is a ramp for embarkation/disembarkation.
They regret that Hurtigruten Explorer holidays are not considered suitable for less able passengers as landings and sometimes embarkation are by Zodiacs or tenders. A certain level of agility will be required to board but crew will be in attendance to ensure passenger safety.
Not all excursions have been adapted specifically for passengers with walking difficulties. Please check at the time of booking.
Dietary Requests Onboard Hurtigruten Cruise Ships
If passengers have any special requests (e.g. dietary or medical), then please inform Planet Cruise when you make your booking. Hurtigruten will do their best to meet these requests but cannot guarantee to do so.