Northern Lights Voyages
Frequently Asked Questions
The following section, which forms part of our booking conditions, includes practical information to help you plan your holiday.
Winter Norway climate and daylight
Temperatures in northern Norway can be consistently below freezing and with wind chill they can easily reach -20°C. However, all Norwegian hotels (excluding Kirkenes Snow Hotel!) and the ships are very well heated. Having a good outer jacket over normal clothes is useful in order to adjust to snug indoor temperatures. In the period from mid November to the end of January the sun does not rise above the horizon in the area above the Arctic Circle but the region is not entirely without light. Instead you are treated to the magical Arctic twilight during the daytime. This reflection of the light against the snow set against the magnificent coastal scenery is often a highlight for many travellers.
Witnessing the Northern Lights
As a natural phenomenon, a sighting of the Aurora Borealis cannot be guaranteed. It is principally dependant on the level of activity on the sun’s surface and the amount of cloud cover locally. All our trips operate in the region where sightings are most likely with a greater opportunity the further north you travel – Tromsø is a major research centre for the Aurora Borealis since the region experiences regular displays in winter.
On board our ships, our expert Norwegian and multilingual crew ensure your experience is as smooth and enjoyable as possible. On shore, itineraries are supported by specialist local guides or agents, who will help to make excursions and transfers smooth and hassle free. In most cases you will be joined by other travellers from the UK but groups are very informal. This enables us to share transport and participate in excursions together but also allows the freedom of an independent holiday, if that is what you prefer. Our Astronomy Voyages are escorted by a Tour Manager.
If you are keen to participate in any excursions, we recommend you pre-book, as only remaining places on ship excursions will be sold locally and space will be limited. All land excursions must be pre-booked. Excursions can only be pre-booked up to four weeks prior to departure. Snowmobile excursions are usually based on two people per vehicle, each driving for part of the journey however you can pay a small supplement to drive your own vehicle for the duration of the tour. Excursions are accompanied by experienced staff but please take care in ice and snow conditions to which you may not be accustomed, especially if taking part in dog sledging or snowmobiling; there is no upper age limit but some trips may prove strenuous. Some of our excursions are subject to a minimum number of people to enable them to take place. Should the minimum number not be reached, we will advise you at least 4 weeks prior to your departure and reserve the right to cancel the excursion and refund monies paid.
The meal plan for these trips is outlined in the itinerary of the tour pages but generally includes breakfast and dinner (on board dinner is a 3-course set meal).
Special diets can be catered for as long as we are advised in good time. Please advise your reservations consultant at the time of booking. Guests on strict diets, e.g. vegetarians or vegans, may find there is a limited choice although we will always do our best to meet any special dietary requests depending on local availability. We will always do our best to meet any special requests but cannot guarantee to do so and in no circumstances will any such request be accepted by us so as to form part of our contractual agreement. It is essential that you advise us of all special requirements at the time of booking.
We are happy to welcome passengers who are not fully mobile and all ships (except MS Lofoten and MS Nordstjernen) have at least one cabin equipped for travellers using a wheelchair. We will also try to book appropriate hotel rooms. Passengers who use a wheelchair must bring their own, standard size, foldable chair and travel with a companion who is able to assist them. Not all excursions have been adapted specifically for passengers with walking difficulties. Please check at the time of booking. It is essential that you advise us of special requirements at the time of booking to enable us to make the necessary arrangements to ensure a trouble-free holiday. We regret that due to the unusual structure of the Snow Hotel it is not suitable for passengers with walking difficulties or for wheelchair users.
Currency and Prices
The currency in Norway and on board is the Norwegian Kroner (NOK). Credit cards are widely accepted throughout the country and on board the ships. On board you can sign up to a cruise card which can then be used for all purchases on board and paid by credit card or cash at the end of your voyage.
The weather in most of our destinations can vary during the course of each voyage or even during the day. To cater for these variations we recommend the layered clothing approach, which enables you to adapt to changes in temperature, wind and precipitation. For all voyages we advise that you take breathable rain and windproof clothing. A warm hat, gloves, scarf and thermal clothing can be useful together with thermal underwear. On land it can be icy, so sturdy shoes are important for shore excursions and a walking stick/trekking pole may be useful. You should pack a pair of UV protective sunglasses, as the reflections from snow and ice can be harmful to the unprotected eye. Many ships offer a Jacuzzi on board, so remember to take your swimsuit just in case! Where necessary, excursions include use of appropriate clothing.
The brochure includes pictures and descriptions of wildlife which may be seen from the ships and during excursions. Please be aware that there is no guarantee of sightings.
Hotels and Cabins
The standard of the hotels we use is equivalent to 3 or 4 star. There is no official hotel rating system in Norway and our own grading is based on the overall standard of the hotel and the facilities available. All rooms have a shower or bath and w/c (except the Kirkenes Snow Hotel). Note that single rooms may be twin rooms for sole occupancy or purpose built single rooms. Cabin numbers are allocated when you check in. The Hurtigruten operates a line service to a set timetable Bergen/Kirkenes/Bergen, the shorter voyages being port to port sectors of the round trip. On rare occasions it may be necessary to change cabin after completing one sector (e.g. Tromsø/Kirkenes and Kirkenes – Tromsø).
Accuracy and Changes
The information and descriptions contained in this brochure have been checked for accuracy by our staff and/or local agents to ensure that they are correct. However, changes may occur after publication and some hotel/ship facilities may be unavailable or suffer from mechanical breakdown. Public holidays and religious festivals may also affect the local ambience and availability of facilities. Tourist offices can provide details. Should we become aware of any significant change which is considered to have an effect upon the enjoyment of your holiday, we will do our utmost to advise you. Some areas we visit are very remote, affected by prolonged cold weather or difficult terrain. Provision of facilities will be subject to local conditions, and customs and lifestyles may differ from those to which you are accustomed in other parts of Europe. This is part of the experience of visiting unusual and isolated destinations and should not detract from your enjoyment.
Changes to the Itinerary and Excursions
All itineraries advertised in this brochure are provisional and subject to change. Weather, sea and ice conditions or technical requirements may force us to change the itinerary. The safety of guests, crew and the vessel is always our prime concern. Any adjustments to an itinerary will be decided locally – if necessary in consultation with the appropriate authorities – by the Tour Manager and/or Captain, whose decision is final. All operators reserve the right to alter the contents of the excursions without prior notice and they may also be subject to minimum/ maximum numbers as well as weather, ice and other local conditions.
Some of our holidays are subject to a minimum number of persons to enable them to take place. Should the minimum number not be reached, we will advise you at least 8 weeks prior to your departure, when we reserve the right to cancel the holiday and refund all monies paid to us. Alternatively, you may choose another holiday with us, but if the alternative arrangement is at an additional cost, the difference will be payable by you. At times with relatively few guests some on board facilities may be limited.
Documentation and Communication
Only one invoice and one set of documents are issued per booking. If you are travelling with friends but you would each like to receive a separate invoice and tickets, please advise our reservations consultant at the time of booking. If you make your booking through a travel agent, all communication between you and Hurtigruten Ltd must be through that travel agent. If you book your holiday direct with us we will send all correspondence direct to the person who is shown as the Lead Name. Please quote the reference number shown on your invoice in any communication. Your travel documents will normally be dispatched to you or your travel agent one-to-two weeks before departure.
Passports and Visas
British passport holders do not require a visa for any of the destinations featured in this brochure. All guests must have a passport that is valid for the duration of the tour. Anyone holding a non-British passport should check with the relevant embassy/consulate for any special requirements. It is important that the family and first names on the passport match exactly to those on your tickets. The above information is correct at time of going to press, it is however the responsibility of all guests to ensure that they comply with the passport and visa requirements applicable at the time of travel.
All tours organised by Hurtigruten Ltd are within the capabilities of any reasonably active person. However, some excursions mentioned could prove a strain for some travellers. Guests suffering from any known or suspected medical condition, or women more than 26 weeks pregnant, are required to notify us at least 14 days before departure and to produce a medical certificate confirming fitness to travel. We reserve the right to refuse or cancel the booking if the relevant certificate is not produced and we will not be liable for the refusal by any operator to carry any person who has failed to notify us as above. We reserve the right to refuse boarding to any passenger displaying symptoms of any contagious or infectious disease. If in doubt, please consult your doctor. Hurtigruten Ltd cannot be held responsible for any situation arising out of a failure to disclose a disability or pre-existing medical condition. It is a condition of booking that you advise of any circumstances which may affect your ability to participate in any tour or excursion. At the time of publication there are no mandatory vaccination requirements for British citizens visiting Scandinavia. For the latest information we suggest you consult your doctor or the Department of Health. The above information is correct at time of going to press, it is however the responsibility of all guests to ensure that they comply with the health requirements applicable at time of travel.
The flights referred to in this brochure are scheduled and operated by Scandinavian Airlines Systems (SAS), Widerøe, British Midland, KLM, Eastern Airways, Jet2.com or Norwegian Air Shuttle. The aircraft used on the different routes will be Boeing 737 & 757, MD 80, MD11, De Havilland, Dash 8 and Fokker 50 or similar. Airlines may occasionally sub-charter their flights and use a different airline. Your flight number will still be as per your documentation. We reserve the right to change the airline providing your flights and/or the type of aircraft at any time. Any such change will not be regarded as a significant change and you will not be entitled to withdraw from your contract without paying cancellation charges as set out under ‘If you cancel’ (see page 42 – 43).
Our flight costs are based on special air fares and once booked the reservations cannot be changed. Refunds are not permitted on any unused portion of the air ticket and should you decide to return on a flight other than that shown on your air ticket, the full one way fare will be charged by the airline. Most prices shown are based upon the lowest scheduled fare available. Airlines will limit the number of seats available at these fares by flight and date of travel. If the lowest fare is not available, your tour price will vary according to the level of fare we are able to book for you.
On all scheduled flights referred to in this brochure the luggage allowance is 20 kg per person. In addition each person is permitted to take one piece of hand luggage on board the aircraft. If you exceed the luggage allowance at the time of check-in, carriage of any excess luggage may be refused, or an excess charge may be made by the airline. Please contact your airline for details.
In Flight Meals
There is no complimentary meal service in economy class for airlines listed in this brochure; snacks and refreshments can usually be purchased on board.
Whilst the vast majority of flights depart on time unfortunately there are occasions when, for reasons beyond our control, a flight is delayed. Once you have checked in for your flight, the airline you are travelling with will do its best to keep you informed and looked after in the event of extended delays. If you are booking your own regional connections within the UK by bus, train or air, we recommend that you do not purchase non flexible tickets. These usually incur penalty charges in the event of a change or a delay to your international flight.