The name MS Polarlys means "polar light" in Norwegian, another name for the aurora borealis — the atmospheric phenomenon that you're bound to catch when sailing from Bergen to the North Cape. The 471-passenger Hurtigruten ship underwent a complete makeover in early 2016, which gave the ship's interiors a modern Scandinavian look and added the Coastal Kitchen. The cuisine focuses even more on locally sourced ingredients (some even harvested the same day). A bar was also added to the panoramic lounge for cocktails with a view.
What We Love
Relaxing Pace: Put down your phone and forget about the stresses of daily life. This is where you can completely unplug (the Internet connection is spotty anyway). Some may complain that there's not much to do onboard; others have chosen this cruise because they prefer it that way.
Best Known For
Coastal Ferry Service: Instead of just offering a typical cruise to pretty places, MS Polarys carries passengers who live locally and are using the ship as a method of transportation to get to another town. (Be sure to converse with them; they'll have insight into what makes the region tick.) The ships appear daily at the same time at each port, and cargo handling is a major attraction. You may be traveling with building materials, tree saplings that are to be planted up the coast, or fresh fish and shellfish for towns without a fishing fleet.
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Who It's Best For
Nature Lovers: You'll find lots of ways to interact with the elements, dependent on the season. You can hike, kayak, bird-watch, or do something more unique to the region, such as dog sledding. If you're an armchair traveler, you'll find many plush seats on the ship that are positioned to maximize the ever-changing views.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Variable Weather: The maritime climate in the Northern Hemisphere brings some sparkling days and clear-skynights — but also damp, rainy, and windy weather as well.
Theodore W. Scull is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has written several books on crossings.