Hurtigruten Ships Compared

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While Hurtigruten isn’t one of the most famous ocean cruise lines, its cruises are still very popular thanks to the incredible range of discovery voyages that take you deeper into Norwegian culture. Hurtigruten also offers exploration cruises to exciting destinations around the world.

Hurtigruten Ship MS Fridtjof Nansen
MS Fridtjof Nansen

Whether it’s the beauty of the Norwegian Fjords, or the incredible sights of Antarctica, a Hurtigruten cruise can get you closer than ever – but how good are the ships? Do they offer plenty to see and do during the times at sea, or are these cruises purely about the destination?

Let’s find out by taking a closer look at all of Hurtigruten’s cruise ships…

How Many Hurtigruten Ships Are There?

There are currently 16 ships in the Hurtigruten fleet. Half of these ships sail under the Hurtigruten Norwegian Coastal Express brand, while the other half sail under the Hurtigruten Expeditions brand.

The company actually has three distinct brands, although only two of these are related to cruising.

Hurtigruten Norwegian Coastal Express, as you might expect, offers sailings along the Norwegian coastline. A cruise on one of these ships could take you to beautiful port towns overlooked by majestic mountains, or right into the heart of Northern Lights territory.

MS Nordlys is a Norwegian Coastal Express Ship
MS Nordlys is a Norwegian Coastal Express Ship

Hurtigruten Expeditions cruises are also aptly named, as they offer itineraries to some of the more exotic locations on the planet, including the Panama Canal and the Antarctic as well as Norway and Northern Europe.

MS Spitsbergen sailing in Northern Lights, Norway
MS Spitsbergen is an expedition ship

The third brand, Svalbard, is Hurtigruten’s land holidays brand that offers exciting expedition breaks around the Svalbard region.

Hurtigruten Ships By Size

How Big Are Hurtigruten Ships?

Compared to many other ocean cruise lines, Hurtigruten ships are not big at all. The biggest ships sailing for the cruise line have a gross tonnage of less than 10% of that of the world’s largest cruise ships, while the ship with the highest guest capacity can hold just 822 passengers.

Hurtigruten MS Trollfjord
MS Trollfjord is a Norwegian Coastal Express ship accommodating 822 passengers

Hurtigruten is not a cruise line that is going to be breaking records for the biggest ships in the world. That is not their focus at all. Instead, they look to sail to destinations those larger ships can’t reach – hence the smaller size.

Here’s a look at every Hurtigruten ship sailing for the cruise line, listed from biggest to smallest by gross tonnage (a measure of internal volume).

Ship NameTypeGross TonnageLengthDecksGuest CapacityCrew Capacity
MS Fridtjof NansenExpeditions20,889 GT140 m9528150
MS Roald AmundsenExpeditions20,889 GT140 m9528150
MS MaudExpeditions16,161 GT136 m752875
MS TrollfjordCoastal Express16,140 GT136 m782275
MS Otto SverdrupExpeditions15,690 GT139 m7526150
MS FramExpeditions11,647 GT114 m725075
MS NordkappCoastal Express11,386 GT123 m659076
MS NordnorgeCoastal Express11,384 GT123 m659070
MS PolarlysCoastal Express11,341 GT123 m661964
MS Richard WithCoastal Express11,205 GT122 m659070
MS Kong HaraldCoastal Express11,204 GT122 m659070
MS NordlysCoastal Express11,204 GT122 m659070
MS SpitsbergenExpeditions7,334 GT100 m618065
MS VesteralenCoastal Express6,261 GT109 m749050
MS Santa Cruz IIExpeditions2,664 GT72 m59050
MS NordstjernenBoth2,191 GT81 m410840

The smallest ships in the Hurtigruten fleet are absolutely tiny when you compare them with many of the largest ships sailing for cruise lines like Royal Caribbean, MSC and Carnival. They offer a completely different experience. With as few as 90 guests during your voyage you could get to know everyone on board.

The three largest ships in the fleet are Expeditions ships, but then so are the two smallest. The larger ones can sail more guests in comfort, while the smallest ships offer the chance to get so much closer to unique destinations.

Hurtigruten Ships By Age

What is the newest Hurtigruten ship?

The newest ship sailing for Hurtigruten is the MS Fridtjof Nansen, an Expedition ship that was built for the cruise line in 2020. She is the sister ship to the MS Roald Amundsen, a ship that launched a year earlier in 2019.

MS Fridtjof Nansen

The age of the Hurtigruten fleet varies, but the cruise line has worked to make sure that all ships are refurbished to modern standards. While some of the ships may be old, they do offer a range of modern comforts.

Here’s a look at all the Hurtigruten cruise ships from newest to oldest:

Ship NameTypeYear BuiltYear Joined HurtigrutenLast Refurbished
MS Fridtjof NansenExpeditions20202020N/A
MS Roald AmundsenExpeditions20192019N/A
MS SpitsbergenExpeditions200920092016
MS FramExpeditions200720072022
MS MaudExpeditions200320032021
MS Otto SverdrupExpeditions200220022020
MS Santa Cruz IIExpeditions2002N/A*2019
MS TrollfjordCoastal Express200220062023
MS NordnorgeCoastal Express199720062016
MS NordkappCoastal Express199620062016
MS PolarlysCoastal Express199620062016
MS NordlysCoastal Express199420062019
MS Kong HaraldCoastal Express199319932016
MS Richard WithCoastal Express199319932018
MS VesteralenCoastal Express198319832019
MS NordstjernenExpeditions19562006**2013

*MS Santa Cruz II technically has never joined the Hurtigruten fleet. She is a ship owned by the Metropolitan Touring Company, offering sailings around the Galapagos Islands. Hurtigruten charter the ship so regularly that they list her as one of their own on their website.

**MS Nordstjernen is not currently owned by Hurtigruten. She did join the fleet in 2006 for six years, before departing and being sold to Vestland Rederi, when she also gained protected status as a national heritage ship. Since 2015, Hurtigruten has chartered her every summer.

Hurtigruten Cruise Itineraries

Where Do Hurtigruten Ships Sail From?

Hurtigruten ships depart from a number of different ports, depending on their destination. Most Coastal Express cruise ships depart from Bergen or Kirkenes, but there are other Norwegian itineraries that also begin in Oslo.

Expeditions cruises vary more, as they sail to different parts of the world. There are cruises that depart from the picturesque town of Longyearbyen to Iceland, while Panama Canal cruises often depart from Colon.

Cruises to Antarctica sail from Chile or Argentina, while itineraries around the north-east coast of North America often depart from Halifax. There are plenty of choices when it comes to Expedition cruises.

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Do Hurtigruten Ships Sail From the UK?

Some Hurtigruten cruise itineraries depart from ports in the UK, including Liverpool, Glasgow, Portsmouth and Dover. Cruises from Liverpool, Glasgow and Portsmouth tend to be UK exploration cruises, while those from Dover sail to Norway.

If you don’t like flying but want to try a taste of the Hurtigruten cruise experience, then a cruise around the UK might be ideal – you’ll have the chance to visit cities that you may never have experienced and learn a huge amount about their history and cultural relevance.

Life On Board Hurtigruten Cruise Ships

Now we know how big and how old the Hurtigruten ships are, what’s life like when you’re sailing on board? Here’s a guide to some of the most important info you’ll need.

Do Any Hurtigruten Ships Have Balconies?

Many of the Hurtigruten ships don’t have balconies, especially the older ones – they often have only inside and outside cabins. A few ships have Suites with balconies, while the MS Fridtjof Nansen and MS Roald Amundsen have Balcony Cabins as well as Suites with balconies.

MS Roald Amundsen Suite
Expedition Suite – MS Roald Amundsen

The ships that have Expedition Suites with balconies are MS Fram, MS Maud, MS Otto Sverdrup and MS Spitsbergen. The MS Trollfjord has Suites, Grand Suites and Owner’s Suites although not all have balconies.

Can You Hop On and Hop Off Hurtigruten Ships?

You can hop on and off Hurtigruten Coastal Express ships if you want to spend more time exploring ports with some hotel stays. The itineraries are constant, and you can choose to pay for part of an itinerary if you only want to see some of the ports.

The Expedition cruises work more like a traditional cruise – you book for the full itinerary. So you can’t hop on and off these itineraries.

What Currency Is Used on Hurtigruten Ships?

The official currency of a Hurtigruten cruise is the Norwegian Kroner, although most major currencies including British Pound Sterling and US Dollars can be exchanged on board. Visa, MasterCard and American Express cards are accepted, too.

If you’re sailing on an Expedition cruise, remember that you might need to carry local currency for your destination ports too – especially as some of the smaller, more unique destinations may not accept credit cards.

How Much Are Drinks on Hurtigruten Ships?

Drinks on a Hurtigruten ship are very expensive compared to other cruise lines – mainly because prices for drinks in Norway are also high compared to other countries. Expect to pay around £48 ($56) for a bottle of wine, or £10.50 ($12.50) for a bottled beer.

Hurtigruten does offer a drinks package, but it is only for drinks with dinner – you’ll need to book a Platinum fare, although you do get a number of extra benefits, including all speciality dining also being included.

Restaurant Lindstrøm - MS Maud
Restaurant Lindstrøm – MS Maud

Are Gratuities Included on Hurtigruten Cruises?

Gratuities are not included on a Hurtigruten cruise. On Coastal Express sailings, there is a no-tipping policy – you don’t need to tip. On Expeditions voyages, a tip of 80 NOK per passenger per day is suggested.

That works out at around £6 per person per day, or $7.20, at the time of writing. That’s quite low compared to the recommended gratuities on other cruise lines – tipping is not seen as a huge part of the culture in Norway. It’s worth noting that the NOK fell drastically in value between 2022 and 2023, so could recover in the future and increase the GBP/USD rates.

Is There Free WiFi on Hurtigruten Ships?

WiFi is available on Hurtigruten ships, but it is only free if you book on a Select or Platinum fare. If you book a Basic fare, you’ll have to pay to use the WiFi onboard. Some cruises travelling to remote locations may not offer WiFi throughout the cruise.

Because the ships often sail to destinations away from major cities and ports, a regular WiFi signal can’t be guaranteed. It’s a good idea to approach a Hurtigruten cruise as a chance to switch off for a while, since you may find that you don’t have a good internet signal for much of the voyage.

Do Hurtigruten Ships Have Gyms?

hurtigruten ship wellness gym
A modern Hurtigruten gym

Despite being smaller vessels designed for destination cruises, the majority of Hurtigruten ships have a gym of some kind. Some of the gyms are quite small, and guests may need to wait their turn to use their preferred machines.

The best gyms are those features on the MS Fridtjof Nansen and MS Roald Amundsen, the newest ships in the fleet. These are panoramic rooms with amazing views, the perfect place to keep fit and healthy with breathtaking scenery to entertain you.

The Hurtigruten ships in the fleet that do not have a gym are the MS Kong Harald and the MS Nordstjernen.

Which Hurtigruten Ship Is the Best?

Currently, the best Hurtigruten ships are the two newest – the MS Fridtjof Nansen and MS Roald Amundsen. They’re the newest in the fleet and offer some beautifully-appointed facilities, including great accommodation choices and plenty to see and do during your voyage.

Hurtigruten MS Roald Amundsen
MS Roald Amundsen

However, the refurbishment of the MS Trollfjord may give them a run for their money – this is one of the largest refurbishments in Hurtigruten’s history, with a complete makeover for some of the accommodations and public areas to bring them right up to modern standards.

To Conclude

Cruising with Hurtigruten feels quite unique when compared to many of the other ocean cruise lines. She has the same size ships as some of the ultra-luxury lines, but don’t expect to be spoiled with six-star service here.

Instead, you’ll enjoy a holiday of mental enrichment – the chance to visit unique destinations and be educated on them by Hurtigruten’s exceptionally knowledgeable crew. Service may not be six star, but you will be well looked after.

Just don’t expect ships to be packed with things to entertain you – there are some facilities, but you have to approach a Hurtigruten cruise as one where you can escape the excitement of modern life and embrace the sense of adventure.

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Cruise Mummy

Jenni Fielding is the founder of Cruise Mummy. She has worked in the cruise industry since 2015 and has taken over 30 cruises. Now, she helps over 1 million people per month to plan their perfect cruise holidays.

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