Hurtigruten is a household name in Norway, having run coastal ferry services since 1893. Today, its focus is on nature-heavy expedition cruises, with a comfortable and unpretentious fleet that includes small and midsize ships. If viewing the northern lights, polar bears, or penguin colonies is your thing, these highlights are Hurtigruten's specialties.
What We Love
Real Relaxation: Nothing about these ships is overwhelming or in your face, and they operate at a pace that’s leisurely but still keeps passengers stimulated.
Local Food: Hurtigruten doesn’t use celebrity chefs to tout its cuisine. The emphasis is on locally sourced food, and has been since before it was a buzzword. Sample salted leg of lamb from Geiranger, smoked salmon and fish balls from Bergen, and crab from Hitra.
Best Known For
Coastal Cruises: Hurtigruten has a long history in Norway, with experience navigating frigid waters as well as the majestic fjords.
Nature-Focused Itineraries: These cruises are all about the outdoors, whether it’s the panoramic lounges that frame the passing views or the excursions that do deeper dives in ports.
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Who It's Best For
Adventurers: Hurtigruten is ramping up its more adventurous itineraries with a greater push into Antarctica (also Greenland, Spitsbergen, and Iceland). Cruises will feature excursions in Polarcirkel boats (a more comfortable version of the Zodiac), as well as more onboard experts and lecturers.
Mature Travelers: Camaraderie is strong on these ships, which attract an older, intellectually curious crowd. (Stay tuned for more children’s and teen programs slated for 2016.)
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Entertainment Is Weak: Nights are quiet on these ships, though musicians perform and dance floors beckon. Most passengers generate their own form of entertainment or chat among themselves.
You Won't Find a Lot of Bells and Whistles: Though the ships are far from bare-bones, don’t expect splashy water parks, grand-scale theaters, or any of the razzle-dazzle of megaships.
Lisa Cheng is a New York-based writer for ShermansCruise who also writes for Travel + Leisure.