Hi my lovely readers!
When cruising, the destination is important. However, equally important is the cruise ship your going to be sailing on as this will be your home for the duration of your cruise.
Today, I want to talk about the pros and cons of MS Spitsbergen from Hurtigruten. I called her my home during my Expedition cruise to the Arctic back in 2019, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
I’ve been raving about my cruise to the Arctic many times before, but I can honestly say that this was one of the best cruises I ever took.
MS Spitsbergen is utilised for expedition cruises as well as the 12 day Classic Round Voyage cruises along the Norwegian coast, which is what Hurtigruten is famous for.
Therefore, if you’re considering taking a cruise with Hurtigruten on her, the upcoming pros and cons might be useful to know about.
The pros and cons of MS Spitsbergen – Hurtigruten
Size of the Ship
MS Spitsbergen is a small and intimate ship. It takes you only a few minutes to get from one side of the ship to the other and everything is easily accessible and close by, which is super important during an expedition cruise.
Unexpected sightings of wildlife can happen at any time and it’s important to get to the outside deck as quickly as possible not to miss any sightings.
In my case I had an unexpected Norther Lights sighting during my cruise in the middle of the night. Northern Lights come and go and sometimes they only appear for a very short period of time.
As the ship is small, I was able to get to the upper deck in a few minutes and manged to still catch a glimpse of them.
On MS Spitsbergen you can access the front of the ship, the bow. This is very rare on ships, which makes travelling on her a special experience in my opinion.
From the bow you get excellent views and what’s even more important unobstructed views, which is great when taking pictures or even just admiring the scenery.
Either way, the bow is one of the best locations on this ship for wildlife and scenery watching.
Although there’s no entertainment on board in terms of shows, casinos etc. the crew tried their best to keep guests entertained at night after a long day of exploration.
One night the chef showed guests how they carve fruits and veggies to make them look like pieces of art, the next night the expedition team organised a story telling night linked to great explorers and on the last night of the cruise staff from different departments organised a little evening show showcasing there talents.
I thought this was very unique and had a more personal touch, which I really liked.
Throughout the ship, the windows are really big in the public areas to allow for excellent views. This is really important as the main selling point of cruises to the Arctic and mainland Norway are of course the landscape, wildlife and scenery.
Sauna and Hot Tubs
There’re two hot tubs at the aft of the ship. They’re secluded more or less and not too many people pass them so you get a bit of privacy. Also, as it’s at the aft, you get fantastic views. Imagine sitting in the hot tub and watching the glaciers of Svalbard. I did it and it was bliss.
There’s also a sauna on board next to the hot tubs, which is great considering the size of the ship. Remember, it’s not a big ship and space is limited.
The staff was excellent. Everyone was so friendly, helpful and welcoming. Due to the intimacy of the ship, there was a better connection to the staff and interactions were more personal.
Also, the expedition team were very knowledgeable and always open to discussions and debates around there topics of expertise. Moreover, they did an excellent job making sure everyone was safe.
The Arctic is polar bear land and there are certain rules and guidelines that need to be followed to assure the safety of the bears and people alike. They were always scouting and making sure everything was running smoothly. I never felt unsafe.
Every cruise ship has a shop, but most of the times the shops on the bigger cruise ships aren’t that great to be honest. They sell a lot of duty free nonsense and a few souvenir items. Those are great of course.
The shop on MS Spitsbergen though was super useful and adapted to the region she sails in. You could buy clothing made for Arctic weather from known brands in case you didn’t think of packing certain items or forgot them, you could buy Norwegian snacks and goodies and of course souvenirs around Norway and Svalbard.
There’s no dedicated Science Centre on board MS Spitsbergen such as the once you can find on MS Roald Amundsen and some of the other Hurtigruten Expedtion ships.
During Expedition cruises, the Bistro is used as the Science Center. Therefore, it’s not as exciting and engaging as it could be. It’s more like a make do solution.
As a result, the props and telescopes were a bit underutilised and there weren’t as many available as it’s small space.
Still, when I used the Science Centre it was very interesting to learn about different types of rocks and analyse some water samples under the telescope that we collected.
Only One Restaurant
On MS Spitsbergen there is only one restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Basically for everything. This isn’t necessarily bad, it just means you have less variety in terms of where you can eat.
During the Norwegian Classic Round Voyage you of course have the Bistro as an extra eating venue, but this only has snacks and smaller meals for in between.
I would like to point out here that the food was really delicious. Lot’s of regional ingredients were used to prepare dishes, which were often based on the Norwegian cuisine, too.
Storage in Cabins
The cabin I stayed in, Arctic Superior 622 was very comfortable. However, it lacked a bit of storage space in terms of bedside cabinets or storage units with drawers where you can place all your little bits and bobs inside.
I was able to view a few different cabins and most of them had the same storage units as my cabin. Hence, this lack of storage units with drawers might not just apply to cabin 622.
Only One Sauna
As the ship has limited space and is rather small and intimate, there’s only one shared sauna on board. It’s great that there’s a sauna and I used it many times during my trip, but it’s a bit restrictive if you don’t like a mixed sex session.
There was a sauna schedule showing when the sauna was open to men or women and when it was open for everyone, when it was mixed.
Privacy of Specific Cruise Cabins
MS Spitsbergen isn’t build like a standard cruise ship. There’re lots of pathways around the ship and these often pass in front of cabin windows.
Keep in mind that the ship is designed to maximise views. If you see a whale you can quickly get outside onto one of those pathways. You don’t have to walk five decks up to get to the next deck that has access to the outside.
Nonetheless, this means that people who have cabins with windows on these decks don’t always have full privacy as people can pass, stand in front of or look into their cabin when they don’t have the blinds down.
If you’re booking a cabin on this ship, it’s worth keeping this in mind to avoid any weird surprises.
FINAL THOUGHTS …
If you ask me, the pros obviously outweigh the cons. But I guess I’m biased 🙂
MS Spitsbergen is a ship build for exploration and adventure. She’s build to maximise views. Therefore, you won’t find the amenities on board that you will find on big cruise ships such as a pool, spa, casino, theatre etc.
What do you think about the pros and cons? Are some of these really important to you, do you mind them?
Let me know in the comments!
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