The MS Fram is the smallest and newest of the Hurtigruten fleet, built in 2007 as a specialised Arctic and Antarctic cruise ship. It spends the northern summer months exploring the waters around Iceland, Greenland and Svalbaard, and then travels south, following the sun, exploring the Southern Ocean and Antarctica between November and February. For lovers of the Earth’s wild places who also enjoy their comfort, a cruise on the MS Fram will bring you close to nature and leave you with unforgettable memories.
As soon as you come aboard, the style and feel of the ship leaves you in no doubt that you are heading towards the poles: paintings, photographs, sculptures and artefacts illustrate this theme. The friendly crew, many of whom come from a background of scientific expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic, are always ready for a chat, and there are daily lectures on natural history and the history of polar exploration.
Cabins reflect the Fram’s Norwegian origins in their stylishly modern design and comfort without extraneous cruise ship glitz. All cabins come with TV, fridge, hairdryers, a safe and a mini-bar. As a bonus for passengers occupying the Suites, the bar comes fully stocked with drinks included in the price. The Suites also have larger bathrooms and double beds, and occupants can reserve tables for dinner with complimentary beverages. There are also half a dozen Grand Suites across the stern of the ship, which have their own balconies, lounge chairs and the best private views of the passing scenery.
Because of the size of the ship, besides a small self-service café offering hot drinks, biscuits, cakes and snacks, there is only one restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and evening meals. This is the Imaq, which is aptly named after the Inuit word for ‘sea’ as it has picture windows around three sides offering magnificent sea views.
Breakfast and lunch are both buffet meals, including the usual international fare plus a more Scandinavian style of menu that includes cold meats, smoked fish, yoghurts and cheeses. At breakfast, you can also order freshly cooked eggs or a variety of pancakes.
Evening meals can be either a self-service buffet or a set meal where there may be one or two sittings, depending on the number of passengers. The set dinner menu offers a choice of starters, which can be ordered earlier in the day. Alternatively, passengers can substitute the main course for a pasta dish.
A Fram cruise, rather than being advertised as a floating luxury hotel, is offered as more of an expedition experience where the destination and the boat and shore excursions are the main attractions. Whether you are looking at icebergs, whales or penguins from the ship’s deck, or taking a trip ashore, passengers are well briefed on what they are likely to see. When ashore, passengers are free to explore, although there are guided tours—for example, a demanding three-mile guided trek on the Antarctic Peninsular. There are even opportunities to spend a night camping away from the ship.
For evening relaxation, the Observation Lounge has a cocktail bar and tables where you can play board games or card games, while listening to live music. On each cruise, the crew hold a talent show, and there’s an auction of items from the cruise, such as a ship’s flag signed by the crew.