The 11,200 ton MS Kong Harald, launched to commemorate Hurtigruten’s centenary in 1993, was the first of the line’s new larger and more technologically advanced cargo-passenger ships, designed for its year-round daily service up and down the Norwegian coast, and which also serves as a cruise ship. It calls at 35 ports between Bergen in the south of Norway and the Arctic port of Kirkenes in the far northwest near the Russian border, linking many of northern Norway’s more remote island settlements.
The ship features a series of luxuriously decorated public rooms, each named after a Norwegian explorer and featuring some fine examples of Norwegian art. The upper deck Panorama Lounge, with its wrap-around picture windows, allows passengers to enjoy the passing scenery of fjords, mountains and islands in perfect comfort. There is also a long gallery joining the restaurant in the rear of the ship and the public deck areas that acts as another enclosed observation deck.
There are four cabin decks on the Kong Harald, with some inside cabins, although most are twin-bedded outside cabins with large picture windows. Cabins have an extra sofa-bed, while the twin beds can be folded up to create more space. Some cabins have bunk beds. All have a shower, TV, mini-bar, safe, fridge and hairdryer. There are also several suites that include a seating area and private balcony. All cabins also come with blankets to keep you warm when sitting outside. Despite the economy of space, all cabins have ample closet space.
All meals are served in the large Martha-Salen Restaurant, which seats up to 240 passengers. The floor to ceiling windows allow you to enjoy the view while eating your meal. Food is prepared fresh each day and includes a range of regional dishes.
Breakfast and lunch are both served from the buffet. There is a particularly good and varied lunch menu including the popular ‘Cold Table’.
For evening meals, there is a set three-course menu with a strong Norwegian emphasis, with a good range of seafood and dairy products, as well as some delicious international dishes. Dinner is served in two sittings, and seats can be reserved. The atmosphere on the ship is casual with no need to dress for dinner. Coffee is served in the Fridtjof Nansen Bar on the same deck. For light meals, snacks and hot and cold drinks, the Roald Amundsen Café is open day and night.
A cruise on the MS Kong Harald is all about enjoying the beautiful scenery of the Norwegian coast and the many different options for trips ashore. The scenery can be enjoyed just as well in the warmth of the public lounges or the restaurant. On the upper deck, the Ottar Viking Panorama Lounge is a particularly good spot where you can read a book from the library or play games while enjoying the view. There are also conference rooms on board, a fully equipped gym, children’s room, video-game arcade and souvenir shop.
After the sun goes down, conversation turns to the day’s sightings—the ever-changing, epic Norwegian landscape passing by, or perhaps a glimpse of a whale. Live music is performed nightly in the Fridtjof Nansen Bar, the perfect spot for relaxing after dinner. Enjoy a glass of wine in the Observation Lounge while watching the sun set, or take a nightcap up onto the sun deck for a little stargazing.