Like many cruise travelers happy to fly across an ocean only to board a ship and take to the seas, my bucket list is a long and diverse one. But when I had the chance to check two big ticket items off it this winter–seeing the Northern Lights and going dogsledding across a polarscape–on a cruise aboard Hurtigruten in Norway’s fjords, I jumped at the chance.
Aside from a summertime cruise in Alaska a few years back, this would be my first time on a cruise where bikinis and sarongs weren’t standard deck attire.
And I have to admit that I wondered if cruising into Norway’s Arctic Circle in the dead of winter would bring more pain than pleasure, from a pure meteorological standpoint. But I quickly learned that the Norwegian mantra “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes,” was true, and, clad in my thickest down jacket and warmest wool hat, realized there was a ton to love about being on deck in all that fresh Arctic air while soaking up views of some of the least-inhabited parts of the planet.
As for Hurtigruten, I didn’t know much about the cruise line before booking my berth. For Norwegians, the line’s name is a household word, since Hurtigruten has long been responsible for delivering consumer goods, port-to-port passengers and even mail (in earlier years) up and down the Norwegian coast. From a quick online search, I could tell that the experience was going to be more about what I’d be seeing along the way and in port calls than anything happening onboard my ship, the MS Trollfjord (a sauna, fitness room, restaurant, bar and small cinema are about the extent of the ship’s entertainment outlets). But instead of being turned off by the lack of usual cruise ship diversions, I found myself looking forward to some good old fashioned fun between port calls and excursions along the lines of playing cards, chatting with friends over coffee in a floating cafe and reading books.
And really, what earthly entertainment could compare, anyway, to the rush of blues and greens painted across a dark Arctic sky that the Northern Lights might possibly bring my way during the week?
Read along as I experience what cruising aboard a non-typical cruise ship in one of the world’s most unique destinations is like….