Built in 1956 for Hurtigruten's original coastal fleet, MS Nordstjernen is a rare survivor of a vintage class of ships — it's even been granted a protected heritage status by the Norwegian government. Although the 290-passenger vessel isn't for those seeking ultramodern creature comforts, gourmet cuisine, or typical cruise ship activities, she carries historical cachet and an old-world charm with cozy lounges, brass accents, and beautifully polished teak decks.
What We Love
Original Artwork: The Norwegian-themed wood carvings and ceramics in the forward lounge, stair tower, dining room, and aft lounge were designed by Paul René Gauguin, grandson of Paul Gauguin. Even without the Gauguin name, the works are evocative midcentury masterpieces that are well worth a closer look.
Gorgeous Woods and Original Fittings: MS Nordstjernen showcases genuine wood-paneled interiors. The outer deck areas are also stunningly preserved, with polished teak, mahogany, and brass fixtures.
Open Bow: Guests can enjoy their "Titanic" king-of-the-world moments with MS Nordstjernenʼs open bow area, which is a prime spot for viewing Svalbard's glaciers and fjords.
Best Known For
Svalbard Itineraries: The ship has spent many of its summers cruising Norwayʼs northerly Svalbard archipelago, where sightings of whales, polar foxes, and reindeer are common. On these routes, you'll also get a chance to visit mining towns and blubber ovens.
Polarcirkel Boats: MS Nordstjernen is equipped with a fleet of Polarcirkel boats that have rigid hulls and grab bars for guests to hold onto as they're shuttled ashore for landings.
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Who It's Best For
Nostalgic Adventure Cruisers: This is the ultimate dream ship for those who love the look and ambiance of a vintage vessel. To add to the aura of romance: It cruises in picturesque, far-flung regions.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
There Are No Frills On Board: Expect tiny cabins, satisfactory but not overdoting service, and basic but hearty food.
It's a Chartered Ship: After decades of operating under Hurtigruten, MS Nordstjernen was sold to Vestland Classic, which is chartering the ship to its former owner for seasonal cruises out of Spitsbergen and the Norwegian coast.
Peter Knego is a California-based contributor to ShermansCruise who also writes for USA Today.