PORTS: If you are doing a one way trip then i would suggest you start at Kirkenes or Tromso. That way you get the best of the Lofoten Islands as you see more of them in daylight.
In hindsight, if i was planning this trip again i would go Bergen-Tromso-Trondheim. It would mean getting off the boat in Tromso but i would use the time to get a rental car to see the most beautiful part of Norway, Lofoten Islands. Then pick up a boat from Tromso to head back south. The scenery north of Tromso is not as captivating as a few days around the Lofoten Islands.
BOAT: Finnmarken. One of the more modern boats though i Believe it is about to be commissioned to another part of the world for a couple of years.
ENTERTAINMENT: Minimal, so bring some good books to read or cards and games to play.
EXCURSIONS: Do not prebook these. You can book them on the boat the day before. They were never full. Also, if the weather isnt great you can decide closer to time. I only did one excursion which was a four hour bus ride thru Vesteralen. I enjoyed it but because we had to meet the boat, it wasnt possible to have many photo stops.
FOOD: I like fish so had no complaints about what was on the menu. Loved the salads. I didnt do the evening meal. You had to be there at an exact time and you had no choice off a menu. I use to make myself a sandwich at lunchtime to have for my dinner later in evening when i was ready. Also, you missed out on the scenery if you were stuck in the restaurant too much.
Consider doing half board. If you get peckish during the day there are a couple of cafes that can provide you with salads and sandwiches.
DRINKS: coffee, tea and water available at meal times. At other times can be bought at cafes. Bring along your own thermos coffee or tea mug. You can top up as you leave the restaurant.
STAFF: courteous, friendly and helpful.
PASSENGERS: mostly 60+. Mainly Germans and Norwegians.
TIME OF YEAR: The boat wasnt busy as summer holidays were over. The more daylight you have the more you see of the fantastic scenery. My preference would have been to travel in late spring when there was still some snow around but that was not an option for me.
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: Passengers were allowed to smoke outside on all of the decks. So even though only about 5% of the passengers smoked, they had access to 100% of the deck space. It doesnt sound like many, but we are talking about hard core smokers who were always out there coughing and spluttering. I found this a real intrusion as when you went outside to breath in the fresh sea breeze, or take a photo, someone would light up beside you. Where i come from this would not be allowed. I will be suggesting to Hurtigruten that they should restrict the smoking to one part of one deck, preferably the highest deck so that the smoke does not effect anyone else. It is the reason i have not given this trip a five star rating.
SUMMARY: Given the cost of travelling on the Hurtigruten, select your boat carefully and time of year. My trip was very successful and the on board team all seemed happy and cheerful. Everything went like clockwork.
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