I had the very fortunate experience of being invite to cruise on part of the inaugural Antarctic cruise from Santiago to Porto Natales, Chile. Hurtigruten is more than likely an unknown brand to most of you. However, they have been in business for a long time but primarily as a ferry/cruise service in Norway. They have also been doing several expedition voyages over the years but on more basic ships. Their newest vessel is their entry into the luxury/premium market with a fantastic new 500 passenger vessel.
Let me start by saying that in, my opinion, this is a 4++ star ship. She doesn’t pretend to be 5 stars as it is not an all-suite ship with butlers but she is very close to 5 stars. The ships décor is perfect for her purpose, exploring the World! Glass is everywhere and you always seem to have a view of the sea from the indoors. While on deck you have total access to the outside, including the bow and even an enclosed bow viewing area.
The cabins are very large and functional and is a great space for long cruises. The light colored woods and fabrics make for a very warm feeling. In fact, in some of the suites they even have a simulated fire place. The décor throughout the ship is sure to please most anyone with the warmth that has been designed into her.
The most outstanding feature is the atrium which contains the main glass elevator bank on one wall. The other wall is an amazing video wall from deck 4 to 10 that can display anything in real HD. Some of the scenes they were displaying were amazing. The service team is ran by an old friend from Regent with a goal of providing 5 star service. My experience says he is well on the way to doing that. Without a doubt, all crew members know how to greet and deal with passengers. My cabin steward was great. Who needs a Butler when he saw that I had everything I needed at least twice daily plus always catching me in a hallway just to make sure all is well. Bar and wait staff are being trained in the 5 star way of things and were great.
There are 3 dining options, one of which is for suite guests first and then for other passengers for a small fee. The main dining room is buffet style for breakfast and dinner and ala carte for the evening. The third dining area is a casual lunch and dinner eatery which features some nice comfort food. Overall the menus are creative and appealing in all dining venues. The food quality was actually exceptional.
This ship will carry a crew of 25 on the Expedition Team and they are more than just tour leaders, they are passionate about what they are doing and the science is all around you. Starting with the clean fuel the ship is burning. She is the first hybrid large vessel and reduces fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by 20%. They also have no water bottles on or off the ship, no paper, no straws, and how you explore these remote areas. They are part lecture, tour leader and cheer leader for the environment. You even have a full blown lab on the ship you can experience for yourself. They are easily approachable and knowledgeable and fun to be around.
This ship while specializing in Arctic and Antarctic cruises however there are some very unique cruises as the ship positions to and from these destinations. I highly suggest you contact me for more details.
A short word about my cruise along the coast of Chile. Mind Blowing! You have got to see Patagonia even if you don’t have 10 days to do Antarctica. It is more than spectacular. And you don’t have to be in top shape to watch the beauty of the World before you very eyes on Roald Amundsen.