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Cruise Ship Information

MS Trollfjord is a Hurtigruten vessel built by Fosen mekaniske verksteder in Rissa, Norway in 2002. It is named after the Norwegian Trollfjord. She has a sister ship, MS Midnatsol which also sails for Hurtigruten.

Atmosphere on board

Some ships aim to keep passengers entertained 24/7 with everything from midnight pizza buffets and rock-climbing walls to casinos and all the predictable bells and whistles. Trollfjord, however, is not one of them. Yet, with Norway's spectacular coastline and colorful villages making nonstop scenery the star of a cruise aboard this ship, a cruiser of a certain sort will most likely not miss the usual cruise ship trappings.

Trollfjord joined Hurtigruten's fleet in 2002 and belongs to the line's Millennium class of ships -- the most modern ships in the fleet. Of Hurtigruten's 11 vessels, Trollfjord and her sister vessel MS Midnatsol are the two largest plying the coastal route. As such, they're also the most comfortable, offering passengers the most space to spread out onboard, as well as signature features like the two-tiered Panorama lounge and separate Concierge area on Deck 8, where the top suites -- replete with bay windows or large balconies -- are found.

Trollfjord plies the Norwegian coastal waters 365 days a year, transporting passengers and goods to remote coastal villages tucked between the fjords and delighting pleasure passengers with glimpses of coastal life and world-class landscapes. Cruises start in Bergen and end up 1,500 miles north in the town of Kirkenes, near the Russian border, before making their way back down the coast and doing it all over again. Highlights include traveling through the beautiful Lofoten Islands under the glow of the midnight sun or the northern lights and a visit to North Cape, the northernmost point in Continental Europe.

On its route north or south, Trollfjord makes a minimum of three stops per day and sometimes as many as seven. But some of the stops you'll hardly notice, as you're often in port for less than an hour. In the more interesting coastal towns -- places like Trondheim, Alesund and Tromso, for example -- you'll have ample time to hop off the ship to explore the town by foot or with a guided tour, or take part in a shore excursion. Along the way, announcements over the PA will alert you during the winter months if the northern lights are doing their thing. (When you're sleeping, you can opt to turn the PA system in your cabin on or off, as the announcements sometimes come in the middle of the night.)

And while the ship is constantly boarding and offloading new passengers (and cars) during your cruise, you'll hardly get the impression that you're on what's essentially a luxury ferry. Panoramic viewing areas surrounded by glass let in lots of light and offer magical views, and the use of light-colored Norwegian woods and natural stones creates a feel that's at once very austerely Scandinavian, yet bright and comforting, too. The ship's artwork is contemporary and on the minimal side, with the spotlight put on Scandinavian artists. Oil paintings onboard by Lofoten artist Kaare Espolin Johnsen depict iconic Norwegian scenery, and Viking-era scenery and graphics mixed with photographic prints by Oslo artist Morten Haug, found in cabins, are more contemporary. Sculptures in granite in metal decorate the atriums. 

Most of Trollfjord's staff are Norwegian, and service is efficient and friendly, without the over-the-top attentiveness of the big cruise lines.

There's plenty of down-time (some passengers might say too much) for sinking into a chair and curling up with a book while watching the grand views outside. Limited passengers and an efficient debarking system mean it's easy to hop on and off the ship several times a day to get your land legs if you're so inclined. The bottom line is that this is a cruise ship that will appeal to travelers who prefer expedition-style cruises over the floating party ship vibe.

Family with Kids/Teens

With no baby-sitting services or dedicated kids facilities onboard, Trollfjord is not a family-targeted ship. That said, plenty of families with young children cruise from port to port, and it's not even uncommon to see families with a young child or two onboard for the longer sailings. In port, there's usually an activity on offer that older kids will like, such as wildlife excursions to view sea eagles, snowmobiling and dog-sledding. Cabins with extra berths on Decks 6 and 7 are good for families, as they have two bunk beds and a sofa bed in a single room and can sleep up to five people. While the ship's menu does not specifically have children's food, the galley is open to requests for special foods for young passengers. The buffet usually has items that kids will enjoy, too, like cheesy pastas and breaded fish.

Past Passenger Programs

Trollfjord means "midnight sun," and the ship's decor beautifully embodies this theme. Even staircase landings are tiled in polished marble inlaid sunbursts. Oranges, reds, browns and yellows predominate throughout the ship. From the moment you enter the five-deck atrium, dominated by a stunning 49-ft. painting in "midnight sun colors," you are struck with the warmth and brightness of the interior design. I was also delighted at the large collection of original Norwegian artwork, extremely extensive for a ship this small; it took a couple of days to take it all in. The major public decks are Deck 5 and Deck 8. Deck 5 is dining central, with the main restaurant all the way aft and a 24-hour cafe midship. Deck 5 is also the location of the ship's small gift shop.

Trollfjord has two bars, but one of them is only open during the warmest summer months. The main -- and for most of the year, the one and only -- bar, and its comfy little lounge, are located midship, just forward of the library and Internet cafe and aft of the two-deck observation lounge.

Fitness And Spa

Trollfjord has no pool. In its place a large sun deck functions, weather permitting, as a platform for passengers to recline in lounges to watch the drama of the fjords and islands parading by. There is a sauna and small gym, and many passengers can be found early in the morning circling the ship on Deck 6 at speeds ranging from hare to tortoise to snail.

A number of shore excursions are offered, catering to four languages: Norwegian, English, German and French.

Food & Dining

Looked at from the perspective of American tastes, the most charitable thing that can be said of the cuisine is that it's a work in progress. On the positive side, the breakfast and lunch buffets featured a slew of tasty Norwegian delicacies that would be hard to find in that variety or quality anywhere else in the world. We're talking four or five different varieties and preparations of salmon in a single buffet, moose and reindeer meat, fresh shellfish and smoked seafood and sausages. However, the finishing details were lacking. At breakfast we found not fresh linen but paper napkins the size of those doled out by soda fountain table-top dispensers. And aboard this ship self-service buffet really does mean self-service; don't expect stewards to hover around with carafes of coffee or to help with your tray. Paper napkins were the norm at lunch and dinner as well, though larger than those offered at breakfast.

Dinner was a disappointment. Served at assigned tables in two set seatings, the three nightly courses included a soup or salad to start, a main course and a dessert, but no selection; only one choice for each. Portions are adequate, but not humongous, and the number of courses is fewer than most Americans expect. This is definitely a ship for those who eat to live, rather than live to eat. The fresh seafood and delicious desserts were high points, especially the pastries and fresh berries.

For those who wish a more extensive number and variety of choices, it is possible to order an optional a la carte dinner menu a day in advance. This option, however, carries the stiff extra charge of 350 Kroner (about $55). This menu, which remains fixed throughout the voyage, include choices of a warm salad with king prawns, ragout of scallops "Noilly Prat," and tatar of reindeer fillet for starters; lightly roasted breast of duck, fillet of monkfish or fillet of reindeer as main courses; and cloudberry parfait, chocolate symphony or a cheese plate as dessert courses.

There is also a 24-hour cafe on Deck 5 which serves pre-prepared cafeteria items as well as cooked-to-order pizza, burgers, hot dogs and fries. But prospective passengers should be aware that this cafe is not a free amenity; there is a charge for each item that finds its way to your tray. A burger and fries runs 90 Kroner (about $14) and pizza ranges from 63 to 98 Kroner (about $10 - $15.50) depending on size and toppings.

Entertainment

Hurtigruten aptly states that aboard their ships Mother Nature provides the entertainment. On our sailing there was a lone pianist in the Deck 8 lounge, but the presence of a musician or combo onboard is not 100 percent certain. During shoulder seasons (January - March, October - December), naturalists and historians come aboard to make presentations on subjects ranging from the Northern Lights to Norwegian Christmas traditions.

Fellow Passengers

Trollfjord's destinations of Greenland, polar Norway and Antarctica draw a largely non-North American passenger manifest. On our Greenland sailing, at least half of the passengers onboard were German, with a fair number of Norwegians and other Europeans. Antarctic cruises tend to draw more Americans and Asians. Because many excursions require a good deal of walking and even some uphill trekking, passengers generally are fit adventure-seekers in the 50-and-older age range.

The ship usually operates in at least two languages: English and, depending on the nationality of the bulk of remaining passengers, German, French or Norwegian. All P.A. announcements are given in English and at least one other language, and most lectures are also presented, in separate rooms, in two languages. The majority of the European passengers speak at least a little English in addition to their first language.

Tipping

There is a non-tipping policy on all ships. However, if you feel that individual crew or staff members should be rewarded for providing exceptional service, tipping is at your discretion.

Our recommendation

Very enjoyable cruise, great food, limited entertainment and only one main restaurant.

Note: if you use a credit card, they do ‘hold’ a deposit on the card, in addition to ‘charging’ your room bill at the end. So make sure you have sufficient funds, as it takes 10 working days to clear the holding deposit.

Cabins were small, but comfortable. No tea / coffee making facilities in the room. The coffee onboard I found horrible, so take your own if you are a fussy coffee drinker. The water onboard is drinkable.

If you are not a big fish eater, do make the restaurant manager aware, as most dinners were ‘set’ menu’s, and they will serve you alternative options to fish.

Take sea-sick tablets or wrist bands.

The ship is a ‘working’ ship ie. ferry. So it carries locals/cargo between ports.

It only got ‘light’ after 10am in the morning, and it was dark again by 3pm. The days are very short.

We were lucky enough to see the Northern Lights, three nights in a row! We found the best place to view them was on deck 6.