Nordstjernen means “north star,” and the name of this Hurtigruten ship is a tribute to what may be the sky’s most well-known star, also known as stellar Polaris, or the polar star—for many millennia, a guiding light for ships navigating the freezing northern waters. These days, more sophisticated instruments are used for navigation, and ships like the MS Nordstjernen are still going strong. The MS Nordstjernen is one of the oldest and smallest ships in the Hurtigruten fleet—originally launched in 1956, she clocks in at just 265 feet in length, with room for 400 passengers. Even so, her small size provides for a wonderfully intimate and cosy cruising experience, a perfect accompaniment to a voyage along the Norwegian coast.
The MS Nordstjernen’s welcoming atmosphere is in part due to her age, as even though she was modernized and fitted for Arctic voyages in 2000, many of the ship’s public areas retain the original wood finish, and the art on board the ship is just as it was when she made her maiden voyage. Cruising the Norwegian coast is an unforgettable experience, and a smaller ship like the Nordstjernen is the ideal environment in which to enjoy the stunning scenery—either out on deck, or from the comfort of the café, bar, or lounge, with its panoramic views.
Hurtigruten ships are unique for a number of reasons, and one of them is their focus on fresh food that uses high quality local ingredients. Hurtigruten ships are working ships in addition to carrying cruise passengers; those ships that travel along Norway’s coast make frequent stops at port cities, which means that chefs make heavy use of local food suppliers.
Passengers enjoy morning and midday meals with sumptuous buffet menus that include an extensive array of hot and cold dishes, and an evening meal of fresh and tasty food in the style of both traditional and modern authentic Norwegian cuisine. Gorgeous fresh fruits and vegetables, hearty soups and crisp salads, and fish so fresh it was caught in the morning, and eaten in the evening of the same day—all expertly prepared and beautifully presented.
Menus are seasonal and local, meaning you may have the chance to try local specialties like reindeer meat, cloudberries, and sweet, juicy king crab. If you’re vegetarian, or have other special dietary requirements, you can request alternatives to the set evening meals.
Some cruise ships are all about the onboard entertainment, but that’s definitely not the case with the MS Nordstjernen—while there is a bar and café on board, this is no floating casino. When you cruise on board a Hurtigruten ship, you’re there for the scenery and the cruise experience, not for the kind of entertainment you can find almost anywhere on dry land. So, while you won’t find any luxurious theatres or Broadway-style shows, what you will find is some of the most spectacular natural sights anywhere in the world, the chance to experience some amazing off-shore activities, and a lot of like-minded people to share the fun with.
The variety of excursions is extensive, ranging from city walking tours, sight-seeing, and tavern meals, to whale-watching, dog-sledding, and night-time activities such as the midnight concert at Tromso’s Arctic Cathedral. In some cases, the list of available excursions may depend on the time of year and your specific itinerary, but no matter when you cruise on board the MS Nordstjernen you’re guaranteed an unforgettable experience.