Hurtigruten

This is something different in the cruise world; not so much cruising as coastal voyaging and exploring on ships that double up as local ferries and cargo vessels. The fleet comes in four styles the Millennium-class trio, which all boast lovely public rooms; the six New Ships, slightly smaller but still comfortable; and the older duo, which are more basic. Fram adds a purpose-built expedition-style to the portfolio and is geared more for cruising, with higher-spec cabins and public rooms. Cabins are functional, but there are plenty of places to watch the scenery. Operating year-round to the North Cape, plus a handful of seasonal voyages to Spitsbergen, Greenland, western Europe, the Baltic and Antarctica, plus long ‘Pole to Pole’ voyages, this is soft adventure cruising with the bonus of the Northern Lights in winter and Midnight Sun in summer. There are numerous stops en route (some at odd hours of the night) as the ships deliver cargo and passengers throughout Norway. Excellent lunch buffets, but evening dining is more restricted. There is no tipping, and limited entertainment but shore excursions are increasingly imaginative. Drinks prices are steep.