MS Vesterålen - Photo Tour

One of the more unusual members of the Hurtigruten fleet is MS Vesterålen. She operates on the 11-day round trip from Bergen, calling at 34 ports along the coast of Norway. The route is popular with cruise tourists keen to experience 'the most beautiful voyage in the world', and also serves as a lifeline for many smaller communities in Norway's more isolated north.

Take a look inside her passenger decks with this full photo tour.

Hurtigruten MS Vesterålen in Bergen, Norway
Hurtigruten's MS Vesterålen alongside in Bergen, Norway
EXTERIOR

Built in Norway in 1983, Vesterålen has undergone a number of refurbishments during her career, including a substantial rebuilding and extension in Germany in 1989. These have left her with a slightly awkward profile, and a disjointed interior layout. With a gross tonnage of 6,261 she can accommodate up to 510 passengers, with berths for 294.

Hurtigruten MS Vesterålen in Bergen, Norway
Vesterålen refuels whilst alongside at the terminal
Vesterålen's sister ships have all since left Hurtigruten, making her a unique member of the fleet. At the time of writing, she is the second-oldest and second-smallest ship operated by Hurtigruten, beaten to those titles by the classic and well-loved MS Lofoten.

Hurtigruten MS Vesterålen in Bergen, Norway
Several modifications throughout her service life have given Vesterålen a distinctive appearance
Passengers boarding Vesterålen use the main glass walkway to access the ship from the terminal. This leads to an open deck area midships, from where the main public areas can be found.

Hurtigruten MS Vesterålen in Bergen, Norway
Almost there - A glass walkway leads to the ship
Hurtigruten MS Vesterålen in Bergen, Norway
Passengers board Vesterålen via an open deck area midships on Deck E
INTERIORS

Head down one deck from the boarding area brings you to Deck D, where the majority of Vesterålen's public rooms are located. Immediately off the central stairwell is the on board Cafe, which serves a selection of hot and cold food in an informal setting throughout the day.

Hurtigruten MS Vesterålen - Cafe
The on board Cafe is Vesterålen's casual dining venue
The Cafe spreads over much of Deck D, with ample seating located throughout. The many windows along the starboard side provide plenty of light. Coupled with the gentle colour scheme this makes the cafe one of the more attractive public rooms.

Hurtigruten MS Vesterålen - Cafe
A selection of hot and cold food and drink is available here
At the forward end of Deck D is the main formal restaurant. A comfortable room with warm colours and solid wooden chairs, this area is open for passengers to enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner at open seatings.

Hurtigruten MS Vesterålen - Main Dining Room/Restaurant
Vesterålen's main Dining Room
Hurtigruten MS Vesterålen - Main Dining Room/Restaurant
Tables in the restaurant are laid ready for dinner that evening
Completing the list of public rooms on Deck D is the Vesterålstuen Lounge, located all the way aft. To access the lounge passengers must walk via this inside/outside passageway, which provides a good example of the unusual layout which has arisen from the many modifications Vesterålen has undergone.

Hurtigruten MS Vesterålen - Passageway
This odd interior passageway was originally part of Vesterålen's open decks
The lounge itself has a slightly uncoordinated decorative scheme, but nonetheless offers a relaxing environment for evening activities, with a fully-stocked bar and a small dance floor in the centre of the room.

Hurtigruten MS Vesterålen - Vesterålstuen Lounge
The Vesterålstuen Lounge
An alternative is located at the forward end of Deck E; the Trollfjorden Lounge offers arguably the best views on the ship, with it's location directly beneath Vesterålen's navigation bridge.

Hurtigruten MS Vesterålen - Trollfjorden Lounge
The Trollfjorden Lounge
The final public room is the Fyret Panorama Lounge on Deck G. This room is considerably smaller than the now standard forward-facing observation lounges on Hurtigruten's newer ships. The decor is a little stark, and the furniture could perhaps use some attention. The saving grace of this room is the extensive glass running along either side, allowing fantastic views along the route. A bar located at the forward end of the lounge is a welcome addition.

Hurtigruten MS Vesterålen - Fyret Panorama Lounge
The Fyret Panorama Lounge and Bar
OPEN DECKS

As with her interiors, Vesterålen's open decks are a little disjointed and could take a while to get used to. The upside of this is that there is always a quiet, tucked-away spot to be found to sit and enjoy the journey. One nice feature is the view down into the ship's navigation bridge from the open deck area forward on Deck G.


Hurtigruten MS Vesterålen - Looking into the Navigation Bridge
An interesting view into Vesterålen's Bridge
Vesterålen's twin funnels sit alongside the Sun Deck on Deck F. Also in this area is an enclosed viewing area, which provides a great place for a bit of fresh air when the wind is picking up.

Hurtigruten MS Vesterålen - Open Decks
Hurtigruten MS Vesterålen - Open Decks
The selection of open decks includes a sheltered conservatory-like area
One interesting feature of Vesterålen is the large original loading hatch situated on Deck E, which can be used to load stores and cargo into the holds below. Her car decks and cargo areas are now predominantly accessed via the large hydraulically-operated loading door in the ship's side, which can be seen to the right in the above photo.

Hurtigruten MS Vesterålen - Open Decks
Welcome on board - This sign guides new passengers through the unusual layout
ACCOMMODATION

The accommodation on board Vesterålen consists predominantly of standard 1- and 2-berth cabins. These vary considerably in layout and design, depending largely on where in the ship they are situated (i.e. in the original sections or more recent extension). All standard cabins have fold down twin or bunk beds, a small writing table, cupboard areas and an en suite shower room.

Hurtigruten MS Vesterålen - Standard Cabins
A selection of standard cabins
Standard rooms are clean and practical, but are certainly showing their age by way of design.

Hurtigruten MS Vesterålen - Larger Standard Cabin
This slightly larger cabin has enough space for an armchair and small table
Although Vesterålen does not offer any suites, passengers looking for more spacious accommodation may consider the 'Family Room', which has it's own seating area with flatscreen TV, two bunk beds and the only double bed available to book.

Hurtigruten MS Vesterålen - Family Cabin Sitting Area
The private seating area in the Family Cabin
Hurtigruten MS Vesterålen - Family Cabin
The Family Cabin features a large double bed and two additional bunks

FINAL IMPRESSIONS

As an 'odd one out' in the Hurtigrtuen fleet, MS Vesterålen struggles somewhat to find her place, with MS Lofoten offering the charm of a classic ship voyage and the remaining vessels providing a higher standard of design and facilities.

That said, Vesterålen's own comfortable atmosphere soon shines through once on board. I would certainly not be quick to recommend her to anyone looking for a cruise ship experience (for that try Midnatsol, Trollfjord or Finnmarken), but any shipping enthusiasts will get a lot from the experience on board this one-of-a-kind ship.

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