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The Hurtigruten, or Norwegian Coastal Voyage is not a cruise. No entertainment is provided and there is no 'Captain's table.' As the captain says in his introduction, "Here nature is the entertainer". This necesarily puts you at the mercy of the weather. It could be an expensive way of looking at clouds for 12 days but, if you are lucky, wow, wow and more wow!
The boat sets out from Bergen every day except Christmas and goes via Ålesund, Geiranger, Trondheim, Bodø, Svolvaer, Stokmarknes, Harstad, Tromsø, Hammerfest and Honningsvåg (among many other smaller ports) to Kirkenes and turns to do the reverse voyage, mostly passing by day what was not seen in the night on the way up. As well as a full trip it is possible to take a one-way trip Bergen-Kirkenes as well as "distance-trips" between all harbours where hurtigruten calls. Most of the ships can take cars (check price), so it is possible to combine a journey with driving.
The scenery is not only spectacular but extremely varied - the best always being where you are at the time and in memory all other days. The Lyngen Alps, seen from both directions at sunset, deserve a special mention. The Geirganger Fjord and Lofoten Islands are quite spectactular as well.
The boat is still a major way of getting supplies to the ports on the way. Hence the timetable may be a bit erratic, depending on the time taken on loading stops but they always try to leave a port on time. This may result in a very short stay at some ports, though the major ones always include some sort of excursion you can take. Check the possible Excursions online.
Timetables of the Hurtigruten can be seen here and you can tell where there will be a major stop. However note the comments above for shorter stops. If the weather in Bergen is foul, and it may well be, you will be allowed on the boat to the cafeteria, but not to your cabin yet.
The company offers some daily deals, which currently starts at around €900 for the 6-day southbound trip. Of course, port-to-port options are shorter, but you won't visit the entire coastline of Norways. The 7-day northbound trip is slightly more expensive and the return trip usually starts at around €2,000 for the 12 days.
There are airports at Bergen and, for those doing a single direction voyage at Kirkenes. If you choose not to do the whole trip between Bergen and Kirkenes, the airports in Trondheim and Tromsø have direct flights from several European countries.
Check the Norwegian Railway website for train information. There are no stations at ports north of Bodø.
Most (but not all of the ships) can carry cars. You can drive your car to any port of call and bring it with you. Prices will depend on distance.
Those doing the full return trip or complete one-way voyage have refectory meals included in the refectory - others can choose between this and the cafeteria. The buffet lunches in the refectory are particularly good.
There are bars on board - if you can afford a drink!
Since there are so many islands on the non-shore side of the boat, it doesn't matter much which side you get, even for a one-way voyage.
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