top of page

Aboard The MS Finnmarken

Updated: Dec 11, 2023

You can imagine our excitement at being asked to organise a cruise event on the deep waters of the beautiful Norwegian fjords. The venue for our client’s onboard conference was the MS Finnmarken a majestic expedition cruise ship recognisable by its red, white and black livery and operated by Hurtigruten. The company is famous for pioneering expedition cruising in polar waters and since our expedition this ship has been beautifully refurbished from keel-to-mast. Now a premium expedition cruise ship and renamed MS Otto Sverdrup.

Aboard The MS Finnmarken
MS Finnmarken

Hurtigruten means fast or express route and it was given this name because it started sailing the entire length of Norway’s extraordinary coastline in 7 days, which is the second longest in the world after Canada. The route sails through magnificent fjords, long, narrow inlets of deep water reaching far inland between steep mountainous rocks in the Norwegian Sea and providing opportunities to experience the incredible Northern Lights in the night sky. Established in 1893 the first ship was originally designed for carrying mail, freight and people. Hurtigruten then went on to develop expedition passenger ships a few years later, which to this day have also remained working ships transporting cargo, cars and people one or more stops up and down the coastline. The company is careful to point out that their expedition cruises are not like those on regular cruise ships. There are no formal dinners or entertainment onboard but in keeping with a genuine expedition each ship has a science centre and the company employ experts who provide lectures about the aurora borealis, coastal wildlife and environment for passengers to broaden their understanding and enjoyment.

This was more than a cruise, for our client it was an expedition to the deep, taking a group of like minded guest explorers, almost 90 in total gathering together on the MS Finnmarken to experience an epic, epochal moment.

We organised flights into Bergen with SAS Scandinavian Airlines to meet the MS Finnmarken, which is where this adventure began. The big yellow Bergen sign at the airport with it’s intriguing question mark at the end seemed to express the curiosity and excitement about what lay ahead, as our client’s guests were welcomed to Norway’s second largest city. Before we departed we presented each guest with personalised treats and goodies including branded merchandise hoodies, RFID lanyards to hold a phone and ID card, notebooks and conference itinerary.

The excitement and anticipation increased amongst the guests at the smell of the salty Norwegian Sea air and the magnificent sight of the imposing MS Finnmarken docked in the harbour. As the daylight faded the ship’s warm, glowing lights began beckoning passengers onboard. Friendly greetings from the crew, “Good evening Madam, good evening Sir, let me help you with your case,” made everything more real as this thrilling, once in a lifetime journey was about to get underway.

Guests helped each other to find their cabins, “yes, I saw that number a moment ago, just keep following this corridor,” as they familiarised themselves with the long, red carpeted hallways and the ship’s layout. On the upper decks guests gazed out at the incredible views of the Norwegian fjords from their balcony windows or portholes. And those travelling steerage marvelled at their compact, wood panelled cabins and neat bunk beds, bringing a new level of understanding to the word shipshape.

Having unpacked and made themselves comfortable guests began congregating before dinner in the art deco style lounge furnished with cosy leather club chairs and a swirling, patterned carpet in warm brown tones, sleek wall lighting and sea faring prints in sepia tints. Talking and laughter filled the air and was accompanied by the chink of wine glasses the sound of relaxation after a long day’s travelling.

Les Luxes: Aboard The MS Finnmarken

From the warmth and comfort of the hot tub Jacuzzi by the swimming pool on Deck 7, guests experienced the wonder and exhilaration of watching the twinkling lights of Bergen recede into the distance as the ship finally set sail. Looking up at the starry night sky and feeling the freezing air against their faces became a moment to be treasured forever.

Dining on MS Finnmarken was one of the highlights of this trip. Experiencing the culinary delights of an inspired coastal menu created each day by the ship’s chefs, became a regular talking point. Presented with inviting, new aromas and tastebud sensations passengers relished the flavours of Arctic char from Sigerfjord, dry salted bacon from Mydland in Tromsø and plums served with chocolate and dandelion syrup from Rolvsø to name a few. Hurtigruten pride themselves on sourcing fresh ingredients from local suppliers up and down the coastline. Not surprisingly freshly caught fish was an option at every meal. Choosing from the lavish buffets at breakfast and lunch became a favourite ritual with our guests, selecting from an array of both hot and cold options that included mouth watering smoked salmon, cold meats and cheeses. All the food served was Norwegian and included traditional dishes like reindeer stew and fillet steak.

Sitting together for a three-course meal at dinner was an altogether different experience from the self-service buffets. Looking out of the windows sometimes into the inky blackness and at other times seeing lights on the shoreline it became a special time to talk over the day’s events and to share experiences of this unique trip. A written menu explained the provenance of the ingredients each night providing fascinating details that included the different types of fish, when and where they were caught and details of the local family run suppliers and their long running relationships with Hurtegruten.

The conference space was perfect for our guests, a place to listen and engage with new teaching, whilst meditating on the glorious views outside. And at times watching our clients engaged in glorious shouts and something vibrating on the waters. From the comfort of a lounger on the viewing deck and bar or from the exhilarating, freezing cold decks outside the sense of grandeur of the mountains and the scenery sometimes left guests speechless, many said they had never seen anything like it. Day after day the ship would sail through this mountainous terrain and at times in very close proximity to the steep rocks giving guests the illusion that they could stretch out a hand to touch them.

And of course as MS Finnmarken progressed further north there was increasing excitement amongst the guests at the possibility of seeing the incredible aurora borealis also known as the Northern Lights. On a clear night patterns of coloured light dance across the sky providing a spectacular and dynamic show illuminating the darkness with vibrant pinks and greens. Closely following the ship’s Northern Lights forecast guests took turns staying up on the outside decks to watch the night sky, drinking mugs of piping hot chocolate or coffee to try and keep warm and promising to phone friends asleep in their cabins to come quickly to the deck, should the lights appear. Glimmers of light were reported but the anticipated full show sadly evaded them this occasion.

The ship docked at many ports along the coastline mostly for short periods to allow cars, freight and locals to get on and off. Guests disembarked at several ports for longer periods including Ålesund with its beautiful art deco architecture, the charming city of Trondheim Norway’s third largest and Tromso a city 350km north of the Arctic Circle. Here colourful apartment blocks in mustard, cream and traditional Scandinavian red stand tall along the water’s edge in the harbour. Guests found there was just time to walk to the city’s famous modern Arctic Cathedral and historic wooden houses.

This expedition was during the winter months so as the ship sailed further north the days became shorter and shorter and any daylight was more like dusk, which passengers commented felt both atmospheric and at times quite eerie. Guests disembarked again at Honningsvåg on the island of Magerøya a large island in the most northerly part of Norway with virtually no trees. A coach excursion took some guest explorers to the North Cape the northern most point of Europe just over 2000 km from the North Pole, whilst others bought gifts at an all year round Christmas shop and visited picturesque Skarsvåg thought to be the world’s most northern fishing village.

The following day MS Finnmarken reached Kirkenes its final destination close to the Russian border, where our guest explorers disembarked for the last time staying overnight at the Thon hotel before flying back to Bergen to catch connecting flights. Early the next morning many of the guests watched in wonder as the sky moved through a firey sunrise to a beautiful aqua blue with stunning pink hues on the clouds, a beautiful ending to a wonderful trip.

Are you planning something different, perhaps considering a cruise event or a unique venue?

We would love to hear from you and explore how we could take you places.

More Posts

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page