Voyage to the Northern Lights with Hurtigruten, Norway

Guest Post by Alison Bailey

It’s small wonder Iain still has his hand intact, as I nearly bit it off  when asked if I could go to the very north of Norway in his place! A huge thanks to Hurtigruten UK for arranging the trip, and the crew of the MS Richard With, for taking rather good care of our group.


Founded in 1893 when Captain Richard With brought his steamer, the DS Vesteralen into service. He mapped the coastline of Norway for the Norwegian government, and charted a route from Trondheim to Hammerfest, then later from Bergen to Kirkenes, the very same route the ships use today. He called it the “hurtig ruten” or “fast route” and so a journey began. And it was on the leg from Tromso to Kirkenes, and back that I was to join the voyage.

The MS Richard With docking in Tromso, on a voyage to Hurtigruten, northern Norway on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography DSC_0856 tromso

The MS Richard With docking in Tromso

Rather than refer to the trip as a cruise, I’m using the word voyage and it is an important, and relevant change of noun. The Hurtigruten ships are not as large as the average cruise liner, but that gives them the huge advantage; being able to operate close to shore, and through fjords that the larger ships simply cannot access. A map of the routes is found here. The ships also carry cargo from port to port, as well as picking up fresh local produce along the way. The food on board is 85% locally sourced, though fruit and veggies is a challenge due to the extreme cold, and permanently frozen ground.

The fjords of northern Norway on a Hurtigruten on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography DSC_0916 fjords_norway

The narrow fjords of northern Norway

The scenery is simply stunning. By day and by night! There is an optional button on the phone in the cabins, which allow passengers to receive alerts if the crew spot any Aurora at night. Yes, it is very much Aurora territory up here, and I was very lucky to see some displays on three out of my four nights. But even without the Aurora the sky is so unpolluted, there are still some spectacular views for those willing to brave the cold wind out on deck. Wrap up warm, and I promise it’s worth it!

Departing Tromso on the MS Richard With to Hurtigruten in northern Norway on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography DSC_0866 tromso

Leaving Tromso

The ports we called into are all small fishing ports where the communities are totally reliant on the ships for transportation of goods along the coastline. It is also interesting that the ports vary on the outward, and return legs, visiting different places, and there are opportunities to stop, enjoying a wander and browse.

The port of Vardo, in Hurtigruten, northern Norway on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography

The port of Vardo. King Crab territory

As well as the spectacular landscape, the weather is also worthy of note this far north. It can change so quickly it’s necessary to venture out prepared, even if only going onshore for an hour. It maybe glorious sunshine on departure, but expect a blizzard upon return!

Arriving at Vardo when cruising on the MS Richard With to Hurtigruten in northern Norway on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography DSC_1320 norwegian_fjords_1320 norwegian_fjords

Weather closing in at Vardo

Life on board is very relaxed, the crew are extremely friendly, and helpful. Being a smaller ship, it’s easy to get to know them, and the other passengers, it’s only necessary to engage with them, go on….. they won’t bite!

I enjoyed spending time on the panorama deck watching the world go by from the cosy environment, it’s a great way to while away a few hours. Though I also regularly wrapped up well, and ventured onto the various decks, to get more of that genuine arctic experience. The day we came back from Hammerfest to Tromso was so beautiful I didn’t want to come in from my spot on deck 5.

Just before sunset near Oksfjord in northern Norway on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography 20140316-DSC_1672 oksfjord

Just before sunset near Oksfjord

It’s not all plain sailing, on a relatively small ship sea sickness is sometimes an issue. The oceans collide up here, and it can get rough, but when the ship is in the Fjords, it is often as calm as a millpond.

The Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis on a cruise in Hurtigruten, Norway Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography DSC_1384 northern_lights

A Northern Lights teaser

If I had to choose one picture that just sums up a Hurtigruten voyage, this would be it. This is what it is all about, as our Captain, Tommy Eliassen told us, get out on deck!

Cruising on the MS Richard With to Hurtigruten in northern Norway on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography DSC_1494 hurtigruten

Sharing the experience on deck

Alison Bailey finishing the coast to coast bike ride on Mallory on Travel adventure, adventure travel, photography

Finishing the Coast to Coast

Alison Bailey

I started as a photographer at the tender age of three when my Dad gave me my first camera, a Kodak Brownie. I crawled around ‘taking pictures’ of everything, even though there wasn’t any film, and I’ve been taking pictures ever since.

I’ve worked as a Lab Technician specialising in Pathology to the promised land of Olympus cameras, and even a spell in law enforcement. I’ve returned to my first love now however, specialising in wedding photography. I predominantly use digital today, but the traditionalist in me still loves film, and the skills required to develop it.

* All photography by Alison Bailey, © Copyright of BaileyPhotography 2014


Comments 11

  1. Zoë Dawes

    You’ve really captured the essence of the Hurtigruten voyage Alison 🙂 It was such an enjoyable trip and your wonderful photos really capture the essence of travelling to the arctic on this great ferry route.

  2. AJ @TheBlondeTravels

    Oh, you got to see lovely ones, even with the clouds! I was just in Iceland, and spent the whole week trying to spot them- finally saw a flash the second to last night, but nowhere near strong enough to capture a decent picture unfortunately! Might need to head to Norway for a try now 🙂

  3. Kathryn Burrington

    It was wonderful to share this great experience with you Alison and I hope we get the chance to do this again one day on another adventure. Your photos are stunning and we all found your tips on photographing the Northern Lights invaluable.

  4. Jeff Titelius

    Such a beautiful way to experience Norway, both visually and culturally! And the photography is stunning too!! I think you’ve summed your experience brilliantly with that last image. Nicely done!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.