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Hurtigruten Midnatsol Photo Tour
The Midnatsol is part cruise ship, party vital transportation link, and part floating museum. In fact, her Norwegian-inspired onboard works of art are so numerous that the line even publishes a pamphlet onboard so that guests can create their own self-guided tour.
Like her sister-ship, she sails the coast of Norway year-round, operating seven-day trips between Bergen and Kirkenes, six day trips between Kirkenes and Bergen, or a stunning 12-day roundtrip voyage from Bergen. In a single week, she will call on 34 Norwegian ports that range in size from veritable cities like Trondheim to small fishing villages. It’s a journey that is called “The World’s Most Beautiful Voyage” for good reason: the scenery here, during summer and winter, is unparalleled.
Don’t let Midnatsol’s unassuming size put you off: underneath the surface is a beautiful and attractive ship that is distinctly Norwegian and wholly original. In fact, my week aboard the Midnatsol so impressed me that I yearn to go back again.
DECK 3 and Deck 4
The lowest-accessible passenger decks aboard Midnatsol, these are devoted solely to accommodations. A small car deck is situated on the after section of Deck 3 and can accommodate 45 cars.
One of Midnatsol’s main public decks, Deck 5 is dedicated mainly to the pursuit of food and beverages.
The Mane Amphitheatre
Located all the way forward on Deck 5, the Mane Amphitheatre hosts lectures and presentations throughout the cruise, but otherwise remains closed. There are, however, some fantastic seating areas that flank both port and starboard sides of the auditorium that offer amazing views of the Norwegian coastline.
A relative surprise for a ship the size of the Midnatsol is a soaring Atrium that spans Deck 4 to Deck 9. Topped with a skylight and flanked by glass elevators, the focal point of the atrium is a massive mural spanning 49 feet in height and representative of the ship’s Norwegian “midnight sun” namesake.
The Midtsommer Café is mainly targeted at Midnatsol’s day passengers who are utilising the ship as a ferry to transport them from one port of call to the next. Hot meals can be purchased here, in addition to drinks, snacks and other food-and-beverage related items. Most passengers embarking on the full cruise journey aboard Midnatsol will likely never use this area, though there is a fantastic little Café seating area off to the Port side of the ship that is often used as a secondary reading room.
For full-cruise guests, breakfast, lunch and dinner are served in the gorgeous Restaurant Midnatsol.
Breakfast and lunch are open-seating and offered buffet style, and opening hours can vary depending on the day and ports of call, so it is important to always read the daily program. Buffets offer a great assortment of Norwegian and Scandinavian specialties, along with coffee, tea and juice.
Dinners usually feature assigned seating and are served in two separate sittings: an early sitting at 6pm, and a late seating at 8:30pm – though these times can change. Menus are a set three-course affair that is on par (if not better) than most “standard” cruise ship food.
Midnatsol’s Deck 6 is largely devoted to staterooms, but it’s also the location of the ship’s fantastic wraparound promenade deck. Except for a small portion that runs inboard of the Midnatsol’s brightly-coloured Schat-Harding lifeboats, the views offered from the Promenade Deck are excellent. Take a stroll forward of the darkened Navigation Bridge at night for a chance to see the Northern Lights!
Deck 7 is devoted solely to passenger accommodations. Staterooms aboard Midnatsol are attractively decorated, and each deck’s accommodations features their own distinct colour scheme and whimsical carpet pattern.
There are a few things that make the vast majority of staterooms aboard Midnatsol unique. To start with, beds are typically arranged as singles, with one that folds out from the wall and a second that can convert to a loveseat during the daytime. They’re also surprisingly comfortable, and come with European-style duvets.
Storage space is excellent, and the bathroom shower is larger than average. Another plus: bathroom floors are heated, which is a wonderful perk when sailing during the wet winter months. Aside from warming your feet, I also successfully used my floor to dry socks that had gotten wet while ashore.
Staterooms lack televisions and mini-bar fridges, but chances are, you won’t miss them: most of your time will be spent ashore or lounging in Midnatsol’s attractive public rooms.
One of the most active decks aboard Midnatsol, Deck 8 will likely be your “go-to” spot by both day and night, thanks to its proliferation of fantastic public rooms.
All the way forward on Deck 8 is the stunning Panorama Lounge. Spanning two decks in height, this beautiful lounge includes three walls of two-story glass that offer 180-degree views of the passing scenery. Needless to say, it’s a pretty popular place!
My favorite section, though, was up on Deck 9. This deck is inset slightly on the port and starboard sides, allowing you to look down on Deck 8 below. The views from here are incredible.
At night, lighting is subdued in order to keep the windows free from the blackout blinds that would otherwise be required due to the presence of the Navigation Bridge forward on Deck 7.
The Paradis Bar
Located on the starboard side of the ship just aft of the main Atrium, the Paradis Bar offers a cozy and intimate seating area that’s still within the hustle and bustle of the main corridor that runs through the ship’s public rooms on this deck. Drinks can be ordered just across the hall from the…
Done in beautiful shades of blue and green, the Mysterier Bar is a cozy watering hole by day and one of Midnatsol’s most attractive public rooms by night. While you’re here, it only makes sense to sample some of the bar’s wide selection of Aquavit liquors, one of Norway’s traditional alcoholic beverages. Floor-to-ceiling windows make this lounge a fantastic choice for a little post-dinner drink, and seating here (as throughout the entire ship) always seems to be available.
The Hamsun Room
My personal favorite space aboard Midnatsol, the Hamsun Room is a wood-panelled affair that features cozy couches and high-back chairs, all flanked by haunting paintings of Norway done by Oslo-based artist Kenneth Blom. Pull up a chair and settle in; this is one fantastic room you’ll want to spend ample time in. For some reason, the ship’s Wi-Fi internet signal (which is free of charge!) seems a touch faster in here.
Just across the hall is the Midnatsol’s well-stocked Library. Rather than having clubby décor, the Library is done in some rather striking tones of green and brushed silver. Books are available here, along with board games. Couple that with floor-to-ceiling windows, and you’ve got a recipe for a room that is packed during the day!
Internet Café & Information Center
In between the Hamsun Room and the Library are the Midnatsol’s Internet Café and Information Center, both of which are bisected by the corridor that runs to the ship’s aft stairwell. In addition to several computer terminals (all of which are free-of-charge), the Information Center includes copies of the daily program for each day, along with shore excursion information, deck plans, and a handy guide to the Midnatsol’s onboard artwork.
If you missed picking up yesterday’s daily program, don’t worry: copies of each daily program are kept out here for the entire voyage. It’s a feature I wish every single cruise ship had!
The Polar Bar
Tucked away on the port side of the ship just aft of the Atrium, the Polar Bar is typically open during on-deck events. There’s seating for about 12 guests here, and it’s a shame it’s not open more: with views of the ship’s Atrium and outer decks, it’s a fairly cozy hangout during the day and night.
Outdoor Deck Space
One of Midnatsol’s greatest strengths is her abundance of open deck space, and Deck 9 is the place to be for scenic cruising at all times of the day.
Plenty of deck chairs are clustered around Midnatsol’s attractive funnel uptake, and a more sheltered area with wooden tables and chairs can be found just aft of the forward Atrium. This deck space can be accessed from both the forward and aft staircases.
While Midnatsol lacks a pool, she does boast two oversized hot tubs that were very well utilised on my winter coastal voyage!
The Midnatsol is one of the most beautiful ships I’ve sailed aboard. Her interiors pay homage to Hurtigruten’s rich, 120-year Norwegian seafaring history, and the ever-changing passenger dynamic offers great opportunities to meet guests from around the world who have all come to take part in the world’s most beautiful voyage.
My best advice: don’t look at the Midnatsol for the things she lacks, like televisions in her staterooms. You won’t need them. Instead, embrace her for what she is: a spectacular, modern ship that reliably calls on 34 different ports every single week of the year.
How many cruise ships can claim that?
Read our Live Voyage Report from onboard Midnatsol as we went “Hunting the Light” in a snow-covered Norway during the middle of February! UK Residents can also find their own localised Hurtigruten website at http://www.hurtigruten.co.uk
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