Hurtigruten Cruises-Review of the M/S Finnmarken


M/S Finnmarken

Recreation

This This working passenger ship from Hurtigruten (Norwegian Coastal Voyage) joined the 13-ship fleet in 2002 as the first of the brand-new millennium class that will eventually number five. At 15,000 gross tons, the ship is larger than the five so-called contemporary ships completed in the 1990s and offers some bells and whistles such as a health club, indoor-outdoor cafe and even a small swimming pool. Her berth capacity is 643, and she also takes on port-to-port deck passengers. As with the entire fleet, the officers and crew are Norwegian. Finnmarken refers to a northeasterly county in Norway.

The first sailing that by the end of the 19th century became the Hurtigruten (fast route) set out for northern Norway in 1893. The now-daily service operates from Bergen, Norway, in the south to beyond the North Cape carrying freight, passengers and vehicles.

Norwegians, other European nationalities and North Americans of all ages populate the ships. Other than locals, Germans form the biggest single nationality. North Americans come aboard as individuals and as part of a group.

Some passengers use the ships as transportation from A to B, maybe staying aboard for a few ports while others make a one-way or round voyage cruise out of it, with the full trip taking 12 days. Hurtigruten offers several all-inclusive packages that combine the voyage, flights, hotel stays, sightseeing and the highly scenic Oslo-Bergen rail trip. Meetings over several days are also popular, using the extensive conference facilities.

The atmosphere is relaxed and convivial and there is no dress code. Tipping is not expected.

The itinerary begins in Bergen, Norway’s second largest city, and the ship makes 35 port calls en route to Kirkenes, Norway, beyond the North Cape. Turning around, she sails south to the same ports but stops at different times of the day and night. Shore excursions may be purchased onboard such as a drive to the North Cape and along Exteriorinland fjords, bird-watching, visits to the Sami people, and guided city walks. Some 40, depending on the season, are available to peruse online.

Different seasons produce different attractions such as the summertime midnight sun and the northern lights in winter. Scenery ranges from gently sloping farmlands to rugged mountain ranges. From mid-April to mid-September, on northbound passages, the ships venture off the set route into the drop-dead beautiful Geirangerfjord. Otherwise, the ships remain on the coast often protected from the stormy North Sea by barrier islands. Occasional short open-seas stretches can cause the ships to roll and pitch for a few hours.

Norwegian artists have contributed paintings, drawings and sculpture to this art-nouveau-style ship. Public rooms include a panoramic observation lounge, a midships bar one deck below, a second bar with entertainment, a wine bar, a long lounge arcade, children’s play room and four conference rooms. Meetings aboard have become an important trade.

Innovative features are an indoor-outdoor cafe, health club, sauna, swimming pool, Internet center and self-service laundry. The main restaurant, located aft, offers two seatings when the ship is well-booked. Breakfast includes both American and Norwegian choices, and lunch is by far the best meal of the day, a copious buffet of seafood, meat and chicken dishes, salads, cheeses, soup and desserts. Dinner, a fixed menu, is wait-served and is often the least interesting meal. Cabins are arranged over five decks, most are outside with two beds. All have phones and TVs. Some suites and junior suites have private balconies and hot tubs.

The Finnmarken’s design has taken her one step closer to being as much a cruise ship as a means of coastal transportation. However, although the Hurtigruten concentrates solely on the Norwegian Coast, most cruise liners just touch at a few ports and also visit neighboring countries. The Alaska Maine Highway ferry route along the Inside Passage would be the closest equivalent to this operation.

For more information on Hurtigruten Cruises, check out our website at:  http://bit.ly/i1aqjO

Posted by Star Service online

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