The 516-passenger MS Vesterålen has had some work done since it launched in 1983 — it was enlarged in 1988 and refurbished in 1995. It is still considerably smaller than its new-generation Hurtigruten fleet mates, and interiors are simple with few pieces of art or decorative features. MS Vesterålen continues to be a big hit with the line's aficionados, though, for its more intimate size.
What We Love
Lounges: What sets this ship apart is the top-deck, glass-topped observation lounge with 360-degree views. On a clear night, it's like a planetarium for viewing the stars and constellations. The smaller lounges both fore and aft also boast some spectacular scenery viewing.
Best Known For
Casual Vibe: There's nothing stuffy or flashy about the Vesterålen. She's a pleasant, homey ship with a small, country hotel feel.
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Who It's Best For
Nature Fans of All Seasons: These cruises are for those who love snapshots of mountains and seas, small towns to poke around in, and the simple pleasures of being aboard a working ship shared with locals. They're also paced as you want them to be: You can book activities such as dog sledding, ice fishing, snowmobiling or birding, as well as kayaking and cycling depending on the time of year.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Fewer Amenities: In comparison to other ships in the coastal fleet, the MS Vesterålen has fewer bells and whistles. The ship does not have a Jacuzzi, a gym, or an à la carte restaurant. Plus, some cabins don't have a porthole or window or have upper and lower berths.
Theodore W. Scull is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has written several books on crossings.