My wife and I are headed to Norway this summer. We are debating two options: take the Hurtigruten cruise (south to north) for six days, or take a big cruise ship from Amsterdam? The latter only gives us a "taste" of Norway for a couple days, the Hurtigruten cruise lets you spend six days in Norway--but for a much larger price tag. Any input/suggestions?
I haven't taken a fjord cruise so can't give you great information. The place to start is probably at cruisecritic.com. There are reviews from lots of people on virtually every conceivable port and ship. You should be able to read about the different options and the relative advantages/disadvantages of the options. My only hesitation with cruise critic is people seem less budget conscious than I am. They tend toward ship sponsored excursions - which I consider an expensive and, usually, inferior choice for a port visit.
Rather than flying from Oslo to Alesund for a business meeting, I chose to fly to Bergen to take the Hurtigruten. It was an overnight trip that I enjoyed and wished I could stay on the ship to go on north. Some, perhaps all, Hurtigruten trips go into Geiranger Fjord which is spectacular. I can recommend Hurtigruten. If you take a cruise line ship, try to get one that goes to Geiranger.
We traveled the Norwegian coast last year south to north then back again as far as Trondheim with Hurtigruten, we loved it. The ships dock right in the ports so no tender transfers and we were able to visit many more towns than we could have on one of the bigger cruise liners. The ships sail very close to the coast so great views all of the time.
In Sept 2011, we took the Hurtigruten's MS Nordnorge from Bodo to Stamsund and then the MS Vesteralen south, from Stokmarknes to Bergen. There was a world of difference between these two ships. MS Verteralen has half the capacity of MS Nordnorge, and that translates into fewer amenities. (We had originally tried to book the ill-fated Nordlys voyage that ended in a fire aboard ship; we were happy to dodge that bullet.) Time in port is often a mere 15 minutes; just enough time for people and goods to board or disembark. Larger ports like Trondheim gave us a couple of hours to explore. Hurtigruten isn't a cruise line, it's a coastal ferry. It depends on what is important to you. For me, I wanted to be able to see the coastline... my family lived near the Arctic Circle before emigrating to the US. I was able to see all the islands and many of the villages where the "twigs" of my family lived. We were also transporting a car (courtesy of the Volvo Overseas Delivery program)... no cruise line that I know of could accommodate it. By the way, I don't recommend going to rural areas in September or later... many places are closed. We learned that the hard way! :) Enjoy!
It's a little late for Bob, but for anyone else's info, I took Hurtigruten two years ago, from Bergen to the top and back, 11 days, and it was wonderful. Quiet, peaceful, rejuvenating, as you cruise along the coast into the arctic and back. Small vessels, no razzmatazz, no entertainment, no commotion - just the one restaurant with buffet breakfast and lunch, and then a casual, sit down dinner at assigned tables. Good food. And I think there was just one bar - maybe two, but small and cozy. It was a bit over $3,000 (maybe $3,300 - hard to recall now) for just myself in an outside cabin. One of the best vacations I've ever had - although I can understand how it may be a bit sedate for some. It was during the early spring - so colors were mostly grays and whites from snows, which suited me fine, but maybe prices are higher during sunnier seasons when the blues and greens are more abundant. Fall is said to be lovely with all the colored foliage - and it's quieter than summertime when there are more families. On winter cruises it can be possible to see the Northern Lights. Most passengers were older and most were German - there were less than a handful of Americans, a few Brits and Swedes, and Norwegians got on and off at every stop - a nice mix of people all along the way. Those stops you might be asleep for going one direction will most likely be during the day when going the other direction. I didn't take any of the excursions, but heard good reports from some who did. I'd definitely do it again!