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Hurtigruten vs Viking Expedition Cruises

Compare ships, pricing, destinations, onboard facilities and shore excursions between Hurtigruten and Viking Cruises.
Hurtigruten Expeditions Viking Expeditions
Where do they cruise? Worldwide Worldwide
What type of ships do they have? Small Cruise Ships & Expedition Ships Mid-Size & Expedition Ships
How many passengers are on board? 200 – 800 930 & 378
What type of cruise line are they? Affordable & Premium Premium
What are they known for?
  • Norway Coastal Cruises
  • Sustainable Expeditions
  • No Casinos
  • No Children
  • The Thinking Person’s Cruise
Are fares all inclusive? No. There are some additional costs on both Coastal and Expedition cruises. This includes alcoholic beverages (wine and beer included only at mealtimes on expedition cruises), a selection of optional excursions, and specialty fine dining. Viking position themselves as an all-inclusive line, however, house beers and wine are only included at mealtimes (premium beverages are at additional cost) and there are optional paid excursions as well as included experiences.
Are gratuities included? Gratuities are not included, not pre-bookable and not required. Should guests choose, Hurtigruten guidelines recommend 80 NOK (approx. 9 Euro) per guest per day as an average gratuity. A form will be provided in guests’ cabins to nominate an amount to be debited from their cruise account. Yes, for Australian and New Zealand Passengers
Are there any additional gratuities payable on board? No. Only at guest discretion No. Only at guest discretion
Can I get any reciprocal loyalty club benefits? No. Hurtigruten’s 1893 Ambassador benefits only No. The Viking Explorer Society offers credit and referral rewards to past passengers of Viking Cruises only
What is the onboard currency? EURO. MS Spitsbergen and MS Nordstjernen will use Norwegian Krone (NOK) when undertaking expedition sailings. USD
What language is spoken on board? English English
Who cruises with them?
  • Travellers focused on authentic, meaningful experiences - not excessive luxury
  • Adventurers who care about the environment
  • Active explorers who seek immersive interactions with nature and wildlife
  • Education-focused and culturally curious
  • Primarily couples & solos
  • Retired and semi-retired
  • World travellers
What is the average passenger age? Hurtigruten caters to a wide age demographic, with guests drawn more by interest than age. Demographic will vary depending on itinerary and destination. Primarily 50+
Are they good for families? Children are welcome on Hurtigruten cruises. Children must be 5+ years of age travel to Antarctica and South Georgia. For safety reasons, children under 12 years of age will be considered for participation on each landing. On all other routes, there is no minimum age restriction. No. No children under 18 years of age
Are there children’s programs? A Young Explorers Program is usually offered on MS Roald Amundsen, MS Fridtjof Nansen and MS Otto Sverdrup for those 6-12 years. However, this has been temporarily stopped as part of Hurtigruten’s new COVID-19 procedures. There are no dedicated children’s programs offered on other Hurtigruten ships. No
Is there childcare and/or babysitting? No No
What are the accommodation options? Inside, Outside, Balconies & Suites Nordic Balcony Staterooms & Suites
Are there accessible staterooms? Yes Yes
Are shore excursions included? The Expedition Team arrange a variety of included activities during expedition voyages. These will depend on location and season. There is also a selection of optional land excursions, kayaking, and camping on the ice available to book for an additional cost. In Antarctica, all expedition shore landings and small boat cruising are included. A minimum of one shore excursion per landing day is included; there may be two on some days. On some expeditions, there may also be optional excursions available for purchase.
What types of onboard activities are available for free? Activities on an expedition cruise with Hurtigruten are focussed on maximising the experiences of the places visited, such as educational talks and lectures at different locations on board and activities in the Science Centre. You will not find bingo, arcade games often found on conventional cruise ships. Activities such as lectures, film screenings, presentations and daily briefings from the expedition team as well as scientific programs hosted in The Laboratory.
Are there any onboard activities that I need to pay for? While most activities are included, some advanced photography courses from the experts on board may incur a fee. Yes. Experiences such as The Kitchen Table (excursion and onboard cooking class) will incur additional charges.
Is there free evening entertainment? There are no entertainment theatres often found on conventional cruise ships. Occasionally there may be some light entertainment on board in the evenings. There is no entertainment on board MS Nordstjernen. Yes
Is there any paid evening entertainment? No No
Are there complimentary dining options? Yes Yes
Are there specialty restaurants? There is a specialty restaurant on all ships except MS Spitsbergen, MS Nordstjernen, and MS Vesterålen. These incur an additional cost. Yes. Complimentary
Are there dining packages for purchase? No No
Are non-alcoholic beverages included? Soda and mineral water included with lunch and dinner in the onboard restaurants. Complimentary coffee and tea throughout the day. Yes. Purified water is provided in all staterooms. Soft drinks are included with lunches and dinners onboard. Specialty coffees and assorted hot teas are available 24 hours a day
Are alcoholic beverages included? House wine and beer included with lunch and dinner in the onboard restaurants Complimentary house wines and beers are served with lunches and dinners on board
Can I purchase a beverage package? Guests can upgrade from the standard beverage inclusion to an unlimited drinks package. This includes 95% of all drink options on board Yes. For premium cocktails or wines and spirits, Viking offers the Silver Spirits beverage package
Is there room service? Yes. A service fee per order applies. For suite guests, room service is included, and a specialty menu is offered. Room service hours will be announced onboard. Room service is not available on MS Nordstjernen. Yes. Complimentary 24/7
Is there Wi-Fi on board? Yes, included in all expedition cruise fares. Please note that on expedition cruises to remote destinations, coverage and speed will be very limited and only to browsing and not streaming. On MS Nordstjernen, there is no internet connection on board, except while in port at Longyearbyen and Barentsburg Yes. Complimentary
Can I purchase Wi-Fi packages? No No
Is there a Spa? Select expedition ships have a wellness centre where guests may purchase treatments such as massages Yes. Access is complimentary
Are spa and salon services available? Select Ships. Charges Apply Yes. Charges Apply
Is there a gym? Yes, except on MS Nordstjernen Yes
Are there group fitness classes? No. Although there may be some yoga and meditation classes held on select voyages Yes. Specialised classes such as yoga may attract a charge. Classes may include; yoga, Zumba, TRX, and Body Conditioning. There may be less services available on expedition ships
Is there personal training available? No Yes, on classic ocean cruises. Charges apply
Is there a self-service laundry? No Yes. Complimentary
Is a laundry service available? A laundry service is available on board expedition ships, except on MS Nordstjernen. The service is included for suite guests. Yes. Charges Apply
Is there a casino on board? No No

Please Note: There may be additional inclusions and privileges for select stateroom and suite guests or select loyalty member tiers. Activities and entertainment vary by ship, itinerary and departure and are a guide only.

Who has the right itinerary for me?

Hurtigruten's expedition cruises, cater for adventurous travellers along the Norwegian Coast as well as further afield. If you’re after something outside the classic Norwegian route with Hurtigruten, expedition cruising is the only way to go.

Destinations include Spitsbergen, Iceland and Greenland, the British Isles, Canada and Alaska, and South America. Hurtigruten are however best known for their expedition cruises to the polar regions, with a strong reputation for their trips to the Arctic and Antarctica. These expedition cruises spend more time in port and have more in-depth onboard activities than you’ll find on Hurtigruten’s Classic Coastal Voyages.

Guests will have access to a dedicated Expedition Team, a Science Centre, and enjoy lectures delivered by experts in their field. Guests can also expect expedition style excursions and remote shore landings.

Viking's brand new expeditions, on board the Viking Polaris and Viking Octantis are set to hit the seas in 2022. The inaugural season will see Viking expeditions focus on Antarctica, the Arctic, the Great Lakes and Canada. There will also be a handful of Grand Journeys that visit the Caribbean, explore the Brazilian coastline, set off on a transatlantic crossing, and cruise from Norway to the British Isles. While they are yet to undertake their maiden voyages, the experience on these cruises is set to ‘wow’ science enthusiasts with both dedicated expedition ships designed as working research vessels and itineraries keeping true to Viking’s commitment to enrichment.

Which ships will suit me best?

Hurtigruten Expedition Ships

Hurtigruten prides themselves in having the ‘greenest fleet’ at sea, and their expedition ships are designed to deliver sustainable adventures. Each ship is different, with some like MS Fridtjof Nansen and MS Roald Amundsen being custom built with sustainable hybrid technology and others such as MS Maud and MS Otto Sverdrup a reimagination of former Hurtigruten vessels. The interior design captures elements from the ships’ beautiful surrounds and there are stylish Scandinavian touches throughout.

Facilities vary by vessel, but on each guests can enjoy a Science Centre for interactive learning and a jacuzzi for relaxation. MS Fridtjof Nansen, MS Roald Amundsen and MS Otto Sverdrup also offer a pool for guests to use. There are three restaurants on most expedition ships – with the Aune main dining room, Fredheim for casual bites, and a la carte dining in Lindstrom (fees apply). MS Fram has Aune and Lindstrom (but not Fredheim), and MS Spitsbergen has dining options found on the coastal fleet (Torget main restaurant and a bistro for casual bites) even when undertaking expedition sailings.

Staterooms and suites also vary in size and configuration, starting from inside cabins with no windows through to suites. Unlike the coastal fleet, Hurtigruten’s expedition ships offer balcony options. These are generally found in suite categories which offer more spacious accommodation than their coastal counterparts, spanning up to 48 m² (517 ft²) depending on your chosen ship.

Nordstjernen bucks the trend, with fewer facilities than the rest of the expedition fleet. Originally built for Hurtigruten’s coastal sailings, she has since been modernised for Arctic voyages. She is the smallest ship in the fleet and has an emphasis on discovery. She is equipped with a dining room and bar, a café, and a panorama lounge. There are inside and outside cabins to choose from, measuring 5 m² (54 ft²) to 13 m² (140 ft²). Most cabins are equipped with separate beds where one can be converted into a sofa, others offer upper and lower berths. There are also some cabins that do not have private bathrooms and instead share facilities.

Viking Expedition Ships

Viking Polaris and Viking Octantis share an identical design and incorporate signature Viking elements, with Scandinavian décor and an abundance of windows for lots of natural light. As working research vessels, they are equipped with spaces tailored to their expedition journeys. The Hangar is a highlight, with an enclosed marina where guests can board small excursion craft protected from the elements. The Hangar is also home to The Laboratory where scientists will undertake their research throughout the voyage. Both ships will also be equipped with two six-seater submarines to explore the underwater world’s they visit. There is also an auditorium spanning two decks to host lectures and presentations. This space boasts a retractable screen spanning almost the full width of the room, and when not in use, it gives way to floor to ceiling glass windows.

Guests can also expect some familiar venues from the Viking ocean fleet such as the Nordic inspired spa, the Living Room, and the Explorer’s Lounge. There are also three different temperature pools, a fitness centre, and a library. There are six complimentary dining options on board each ship for guests to enjoy, from Italian to Norwegian specialties and regional cuisine from around the world. Guests can also opt to dine in with 24 hour room service.

Offering a very comfortable home base for their adventures, the accommodation on board Viking’s expedition ships is spacious. Options range from 21 m² (222 ft²) Nordic Balcony Staterooms to the Owner’s Suite coming in at 114 m² (1,227 ft²) with a 74 m² (792 ft²) private garden lounge area complete with a hot tub. The entry level staterooms through to the Junior Suites have a Nordic Balcony with floor to ceiling glass with a retractable upper panel. This allows guests to enjoy the views from indoors or convert the space into an al fresco observation area. If guests are looking for a traditional outdoor balcony, they can opt for the Explorer Suite with both a private veranda and a Nordic Balcony, or the Owner’s Suite.

Which shore excursion program is better for me?

Guests will enjoy daily landings and expedition activities included in the cruise fare for both Hurtigruten and Viking. As a standout offering, Viking’s submarine experiences will be complimentary. In some destinations, there are also some optional excursions guests may choose to purchase to further their exploration.

With a focus on education, science, and the environment, both cruise lines also offer travellers the opportunity to be part of scientific programs and research. Hurtigruten expeditions welcome experts in marine biology, arctic survival, oceanography, photography, and more on board to help make your journey an unforgettable experience. Hurtigruten’s Citizen Science Projects involve guests in collaborative programs for third-party organisations. These include tracking individual whales throughout the world’s oceans, surveying seabirds, and observing and recording cloud cover to help scientists understand how surface and air temperatures are affected.

Similarly, Viking has established strong partnerships to elevate their expedition ships to floating learning laboratories. They have joined forces with the University of Cambridge’s Scott Polar Research Institute whose scientists will undertake fieldwork on board and on shore, and ornithologists from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology will regularly join expedition sailings to conduct field testing and data collection. Every expedition will have over 25 scientists and experts from a range of disciplines to make each journey a rewarding knowledge building experience. Excursions will offer guests the opportunity to participate in fascinating and rewarding scientific fieldwork.

Who offers better value – Hurtigruten or Viking?

As the two lines have quite a different offering, comparing them is like comparing apples and oranges. We’ve put together a quick summary below to highlight some considerations when choosing the best value option for you.

Regardless of the fare/cabin you book with Hurtigruten, all guests enjoy tea and coffee throughout the day, house beers, wines and soft drink at lunch and dinner, Wi-Fi, and expedition shore excursions included in the cruise price. You’ll also enjoy a different style of cruising, with more time in port, an Expedition Team on hand, more dining options, and facilities such as the Science Centre and wellness areas. The ships are also generally newer/more recently refurbished than their dedicated coastal fleet.

Viking offers similar inclusions on their expedition cruises, albeit with different experience. All Viking guests enjoy complimentary tea and coffee, house beers, wines and soft drink at mealtimes, Wi-Fi, and all dining options complimentary. There is also complimentary room service which you won’t get on Hurtigruten, access to the expansive spa area, and no additional fee to use the self-service laundry (which, where available, will incur a cost with Hurtigruten). Virtually all excursions are included in the cruise price – including the unique submarine experience on offer.