Hurtigruten vs Gondwana Tours & Safaris - Tour Companies Compared
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Overall — 4
Value — 3.8
Guide — 3.3
Activities — 3.8
Lodging — 3.5
Transportation — 3.8
Meals — 3.8
Overall — 0
Value — 0.0
Guide — 0.0
Activities — 0.0
Lodging — 0.0
Transportation — 0.0
Meals — 0.0
Great Time with Grandfather5.0 July 2018
I technically took the abbreviated version of this exact cruise a few years back, essentially a one-way trip through the Fjords starting in Bergen and going up to Kirkenes on the Russian border. It was a graduation present from my grandfather, and we took the trip together. He is not the most mobile of travelers, and a cruise was a great compromise for us. I loved being able to talk and read with him on the many rocking chairs looking out the ship's walls, and it was helpful to get the occasional reminder from the Captain about the feature we were passing. We got a solid feel for Norway's coastline and culture from watching attentively from the boat, and also getting off at the majority of the daytime stops. We took part in a bunch of the optional activities (which we booked right beforehand, there was no trouble with that) and there were plenty of options we both liked. One my favorites was seeing a Sami settlement, learning about their culture and how they farm reindeer. The bus ride that took us from the boat to the Sami was also incredible -- the landscape had totally changed, we saw the rows and rows of fish racks, and we even saw wild reindeer run past! The optional activities also meant that when I wanted to take a hike one day, I could go and my grandfather could do whatever he wanted, and we'd see each other in a couple of hours.Read more
A couple of other things that made this trip for us: the food and the ship itself. The ship's room was definitely close quarters, but my grandfather is a big man and we still had no trouble with anything. The entire ship is handicap accessible, and there is a gym and a hot tub I utilized multiple times! Most importantly: the food. My grandpa is a HUGE foodie and an adventurous eater, and that was definitely his primary concern, and we were both satisfied with the quality of the food. We both felt there was a good balance between having good food, and having enough classical Norwegian food. Plus, if you feel like getting fancy, there is a separate restaurant on the ship that is an extra fee.
The only reason I give "guide" a lower rating is because we weren't really guided for much of the ship, only during the optional excursions and the occasional information from the captain.
One of the world's most beautiful voyages5.0 January 2015
The Hurtigruten, which travels the coast of Norway north from Bergen beyond the Arctic Circle almost to Russia, is nothing short of gorgeous. You get to stop in big cities/towns like Tromso and Trondheim, but also in little villages,including one known as the farthest north in Europe. You also get to cruise down some beautiful fjords. One of the best features is that the ships double as cargo carriers along with passengers, so at every stop you can watch the crew load and unload the supplies that keep these far-north villages going all year round. (The summer trips are almost all 24-hour daylight, while the winter trips are mostly in darkness.) There's nothing fancy about these ships, and the food isn't as memorable as on some other ships, but the experience is hard to top. Hurtigruten has expanded beyond Norway, too, but I haven't taken any of their other trips.Read more
Tour Hurtigruten Company Reviews
very cool Antarctic cruise4.0 June 2016
We had wanted to take an expedition style cruise to Antarctica for a while now. Having traveled previously on Hurtigruten along the Norwegian coast a number of years ago, when they started cruising to Antarctica last year at reasonable prices we were definitely interested. Antarctica promised to be a remote and unusual adventure with unique scenery and wildlife.Read more
The Fram is a new ship (went into service in 2007) and is very comfortable with attractive Scandinavian modern style, and excellent public spaces, especially the observation deck on the 7th deck with comfortable chairs and floor to ceiling windows, and the 4th deck dining room, also with extensive windows and views.
We signed up for QJ mini suite with limited view. (Cabins below suite category are very SMALL--be aware of this before you book one). Initially we got less than we had expected or paid for: suite 503 instead of being a limited view suite was a NO view suite, with superstructure almost completely blocking the window and any views except at an extreme angle. After complaining to the Hotel Director, who confirmed that this should have been booked only as a no-view suite (as should the comparable one on the port side of the ship) and then, vehemently, to the Chief Purser, we were switched to suite 516, which was perfectly fine. Moderately roomy, with a comfortable queen bed, adequate floor space, good bathroom with shower, this suite had a decent outside view with only minor obstruction. Note: all the deck 5 QJ cabins have an accessible deck directly outside, so there is limited privacy unless the drapes are drawn.
Perks of having a suite on this cruise: 2 free shore excursions (Tierra del Fuego National Park and a tango show in Buenos Aires for us); a bottle of French Champagne in the suite, and free beverages with lunch and dinner (soft drinks, beer, mediocre wine).
Service: The dining room and cabin crew seemed to be almost exclusively Filipino. The staff were uniformly pleasant, courteous, and helpful, a real plus. We thought overall service levels were equivalent to the highly rated and expensive cruise lines like Regent and Silversea.
Shore excursions: Two a day while in Antarctica, and we didn't miss any because of bad weather which sometimes happening. These were the highlight of the cruise. Only 100 passengers are allowed ashore at one time, due to Antarctic regulations. So excursions were limited to 1 hour shore time. The Polar Cerkel boats which took us ashore are nicer than Zodiacs, with better protection from wind and spray. During the excursions, we could walk around on the snow and ice, climb small hills, walk past penguin rookeries (Gentoo, Adellie and Chinstrap Penguins) and past elephant seals and Antarctic birds. Vistas were spectacular, vast fields of white snow, white and blue snow and ice, icebergs, distant and mostly hidden mountains. It was foggy the entire trip, so we could never see the mountain peaks, which remained partially hidden and mysterious.
Food: This was usually good, never great. Most meals were buffet style, and we always were able to find something palatable. My vegetarian brother-in-law did fine. Best were the salads, fresh fruits, meat dishes. Not as much herring as I would have expected in a Norwegian line. (On the Norwegian coastal cruise there was abundant delicious herring preparations, salmon...) On the few set meals there was an alternate main dish offered (which had to be requested in advance, though).
Lectures: disappointing. We stopped going after the first few, as the lecturers weren't that interesting, mostly around Antarctic history. Not nearly enough about wildlife, our primary interest. Too anecdotal.
Entertainment: none that we went to, so I can't comment. Not much expected by us or offered.
Fitness: There is an adequately equipped fitness room which my wife used regularly. On decks 7 and 8 there are limited walking areas with excellent views. Two outdoor jacuzzis which we never had the opportunity to use.
Passengers: younger than we had expected,many people in their 40's and 50's and a few even younger. At least half seemed to be from the US, then about a third or more German, with some Asian, French and UK passengers as well. Announcements and lectures were offered in English and German.
Overall, we were all very pleased. The ship offered an extremely comfortable way to see this remote part of the world. Views from the ship were often spectacular, especially going (twice, once each way) through the Lemaire Channel. The shore excursions met all our expectations.
Tour Hurtigruten Company Reviews
|Tours||16 Trips||0 Trip|
|Average Trip Price Per Day||$ 384||$ 0|
|Operator Type||Small Ship & Expedition Cruise Line||Group Tour Operator|
|Size||Regional Expert||Local Specialist|
|Headquarters||Tromsø, Norway||Maun, Botswana|
Once known as "Norwegian Coastal Voyage" in the U.S., Hurtigruten adopted its traditional Norwegian name a few years ago, and remains, in many minds, "The World's Most Beautiful Voyage."
What Makes Them Stand Out?
They operate cruises to lesser known locations and focus on providing unique nature experiences and excursions. They’ve been a leader in constantly improving how they treat the landscape and try to maintain as little harmful impact as possible.
Who Travels With Them?
Hurtigruten’s cruises are perfect for adventurous travelers looking to “connect with your inner explorer.” Excursions tend to be very active, and do take place in harsher environments - it will most likely be cold! And while you certainly won’t be roughing it, the Hurtigruten ships aren't the newest vessels on the seas, nor are they equipped with large numbers of amenities. But the scenery and experiences are hard to beat.
Where Do They Operate?
The 11 Hurtigruten ships ply the Norwegian coast from Bergen to Kirkenes, near the Russian border, making the round trip in just under two weeks (but many passengers choose to go just one way). They also run voyages to Spitsbergen (a far northern Norwegian island also known as Svalbard) and other Arctic locations, as well as Antarctica.
Why Travel With Them?
For spectacular views, and incredibly unique experiences ashore. You'll stop in some fascinating cities and fishing villages; sail down gorgeous fjords and view snow-capped mountains; cross the Arctic Circle; pay a visit to the Top of Europe (the northernmost point on the Continent); and watch as the ships unload supplies for the locals at each stop -- the Hurtigruten is both cruise passenger and cargo ship.