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Tromsø to Bergen aboard M/S Polarlys 14-18 Nov 2002
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M/S Polarlys in Stokmarknes
M/S Polarlys in Stokmarknes

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Norwegian Coastal Voyage [UK Site]

Views from Webcams Aboard M/S Nordkapp

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Deck 2

Fitness Room, Separate Ladies & Gents Saunas. [Hospital, Prison]

Deck 3

Reception, Foyer, Laundry Room. [Car Lift]

Deck 4

Midnatsol Club/Bar, 4 Conference Rooms, Lokalen Café, Shop, Fjorden Arcade, Games Room, Childrens' Play Room, Polarset Restaurant.

Deck 5

Wrap around Prom

 

Deck 6

Viewing Deck Aft

Deck 7

Panorama Lounge, Hurtigruten Observation Lounge & Bar, Library, Sun deck.

 View My Photos of M/S Polarlys
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Lifebelt  on the sun deck
On the Sun Deck

M/S Polarlys [Polar Light] was completed in 1996. Built at Ulstein verft, Hatlø, Norway, for Troms Fylkes Dampskibsselskap, Tromsø and the Hurtigruten [Coastal Express]. At 11,341 grt, a speed of 18.5 knots, 123m long, 19.5m wide, 50m high and with a draft of 4.9m she carries 691 passengers in 482 berths with 50 car spaces.

She is a Cruise-Ferry carrying passengers [tourists as well as local people on their everday business], mail & supplies up and down the Norwegian Coast, from Bergen to Kirkenes on a 12 day round voyage, calling at 34 ports along the way. Ports called at during the night one way, are visited during the day on the return journey

Builder's Plaque
Builder's Plaque

Stairway Carpeting
Stairway Carpeting

She is spotless throughout and warmly decorated with many sculptures, paintings and other forms of art all around her public areas. Polarlys is not a cruise ship, so don't expect Casinos, Glitz, Bingo, Art Auctions, Chocs on your pillow etc. Refreshing to be away from all that. M/S Polarlys is the third ship to bear this name. The first was launched in 1912 and had 141 beds with a top speed of 13.45 knots. The second was delivered in 1952 and remained in service until 1993.

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There are no lifeboat drills for passengers since we are sailing in sheltered waters & never have 36 hours or longer continuous sailing. We had a tour of the Bridge on the 2nd day. Amazing! So similar to an aircraft cockpit. The Capt. & 1st Officer [or Chief & Safety Officers] sit in 2 chairs with the control panel between them & all the various monitors around & above them. They only have to feed in the next port of call on departure and the ship takes itself.

Thermal Lifejackets
Thermal Lifejackets

The Bridge
The Bridge

4 engines, 2 main propellers, 2 forward thrusters & a 5th propeller inside the hull which is only lowered when needed & can rotate 360º. Polarlys can maintain a speed of 7knts using this propeller alone. She can be turned around on herself & we left various ports pulling away directly sideways. There are 2 stabilisers, 3m long and 70cm wide; although as we mainly sail between the coastal islands & the mainland, encountering very little open sea these were not employed during our trip. Glass windows to see below in the docking arms & controls on the arms for use when docking. 63.1 litres of fuel per nautical mile we were consuming & had 280,000 litres of drinking water available on board.

M/S Polarlys - Loading Ramp open
M/S Polarlys - Loading Ramp open

As a working ship, at each port of call, passengers boarded & others disembarked. Cars were loaded on/off and it was quite mesmerising watching the forklift truck drivers loading and unloding the supplies in super quick time. Sometimes we were in port for no longer than 15 minutes.

The gangway and loading ramp are both automatic folding into the side of the ship. No waiting around for gangways to be put in place. There are retractable steps at the top of the gangway to overcome the differing water levels, and incorporates a wheelchair lift. Why don't other ships use these?

The Gangway rising as we pull away
The Gangway rising as we pull away

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Breakfast is buffet style in the Polarlyset Restaurant between 8 & 10am. A nice airey room, with a second seating area [which wasn't always open] with windows looking out aft. Cereals - mainly of the muesli type & cornflakes. Drinking yoghurt to go on top and/or milk. Plenty of cheeses, cold meats and fishy things, herrings and others which I have no idea what they were. Lots of breads/rolls and for toast too. Variety of crackers, biscuits, crispreads & semi sweet biscuits-jams etc. Ready made omelettes of 4 different types & porridge. Juices & coffee/tea. Both hard & soft boiled eggs were available every morning. Bacon, eggs and other hot items were available on some days.

Polarlyset Restaurant
Polarlyset Restaurant

Dinner was served at 7pm in the restaurant [during high season there may be more than one sitting]. It is a set meal, usually with no choice, of meat or fish with potatoes and veg. [Vegetarians & other special diets are catered for with prior notice]. The evening menu is placed outside the dining room doors early afternoon.

Meals are not included for port-to-port passengers. Breakfast is 105 NOK & Dinner 270 NOK. Dress code is informal, though most people changed for dinner into 'smart casual' clothing.

Lokalen Café
Lokalen Café

Lunch on our trip wasn't included [it is on longer voyages] so we ate in the Lokalen Café. A traditional Norwegian 'Cold Table' / Carvery was available if required at 205 NOK. Other passengers said it was very good.

Lokalen Café carpet
Lokalen Café carpet

The Lokalen Cafeteria is open 24hrs: serving all sorts of open topped & 'normal' sandwiches, along with quite a variety of hot dishes including soups, fries, pizza, sausages for int'l tastes & 'Specials' during the main meal times. Cakes/desserts, yoghurts, chocs, soft drinks, juices. Coffee, tea, wine & beer is available too. Hot food is cooked to order and brought to you.

We sampled:- 1st night:-Onion soup. Poached cod with boiled potatoes and carrots/swede with Hollandaise sauce. Chocolate 'cake' with ice cream - a small piece of very rich/heavy 'cake' with a large slab of vanilla ice cream with apricot sauce, a blob of cream & a slice of what looked like apple but wasn't. No one at the table knew what it was.

2nd night:- Sea Salad, which was all sorts of shellfish, mussells/cockles/oyster/prawns & others on a salad base. Roast lamb with potato au gratin & veg. Cheescake, proper baked one, with a blueberry & an apricot? sauce & another slice of the unknown fruit.

3rd night:- Mushroom Soup [cream of], Poached Salmon with boiled potatoes & veg. Apple compote & pancakes with cream.

You are offered seconds or basically as much of the main course as you want. The food was all very tasty and well presented. Potatoes served in separate dishes to help yourself. Alcohol is expensive; 175 NOK [£16] for 2 glasses house wine & a beer! All drinks are put on a 'slate' and you pay the Head Waiter before 10pm on your last night.

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Panorama Lounge
Panorama Lounge

Midnatsol Club/Bar
Midnatsol Club/Bar

Library
Library

There are 3 public lounges:- The Panorama Lounge affords superb views of the passing scenery with large panoramic windows forward and to the sides. Monitors show the ship's position. The room is kept dark for maximum viewing, except for a small area at the rear. The Midnatsol Club/Bar is more lively with lots of chrome, a dance floor and the lights to go with it. A band played here one evening. This is also the room where coffee is served after dinner.

The main stairwell is glassed with balconies [decks 5,6 & 7] on each side giving good views; an 'atrium' in reverse. There is only one lift here and a second towards the stern. The Fjorden Arcade with swivel chairs runs along deck 4 starboard from the Atrium to the Polarlyset Restaurant. Here there is a small Games Arcade and Childrens' Play Area.

Atrium
Atrium

Hurtigruten Observation Lounge port
Hurtigruten Observation Lounge to Port

The Hurtigruten Observation Lounge & Bar has lots of small sculptures and art objects around the comfy viewing chairs. At the rear of this is the small Library, in which people mainly watched the skiing championships on the TV, but there are 2 small glass cabinets containing some English books, and an electric fire in the hearth.

Hurtigruten Observation Lounge to Starboard
Hurtigruten Observation Lounge to Starboard

Wooden Ship Sculpture

Works by several artists are displayed on board, including Kåre Tveter, Hanne May Scheen & Nicolaus Widerberg. The interiors are bright but not overly so. There are also some ship models including one of previous Hurtigruten, Lyngen and one of Polarlys herself. A large framed poster shows images of all the past and present Hurtigruten ships.

Wooden Ship Sculpture

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Our Cabin, 503, 'large' outside, forward to port. Small, 2 beds, one which was a sofa during the day & the berth which can be folded up against the wall if need be; ours was just left down; both were very comfortable. Duvet & 1 pillow each, but extra pillow & blankets were in the cupboard if required. One double wardrobe, 2 cupboards with shelves.

Cabin 503
Cabin 503

Telephone: Radio: Announcements can be on or off in cabin. No TV: no Ice buckets: no glasses - but 2 plastic glasses in bathroom.

Cabin 503
Cabin 503

Bathroom larger than on a lot of cruise ships. Shower has a curtain, which doesn't stick, as the shower is large enough for 2. Soap dispenser - shower gel /shampoo dispenser. Hairdryer [the usual Aliseo 550w wall mounted] & a heated floor [lovely]! Double-mirrored cabinet, 3 shelves each side. No bath mat. One large and one hand towel provided each.

Bathroom
Bathroom

The mini-suites have a double bed, TV and fridge.

A dressing table with mirror & small-mirrored cupboards with shelves each side. Cupboard with shelves underneath. Chair & table, 2 electrical outlets. 220v European 2 pin plugs required. The room card must be placed in a cardholder to activate the power in the cabin. Any card will do, if you need to leave your batteries charging, but it must save a fair bit of electricity.

Standard Cabin
Standard Cabin

The standard outside cabins had parallel beds, no table and less wardrobe space.

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Alcohol is expensive in Norway and ship's prices are the same as those on land. It is suggested one takes a bottle of duty free for drinking in your cabin. This is acceptable provided you do not take your own drinks into the lounges. There is no waiter service per se, you get your own drinks if desired from the bar. Cabins are cleaned & towels changed each morning, but beds not turned down at night. The cabin stewardesses seemed to be the waitresses in the evenings. There is no room service. Announcements are made in 4 languages, but no calls to bingo:) All are interesting and informative about the sights we are about to pass by. No tipping, unless you feel someone has done an 'extra' for you. No drinks station for free tea/coffee. This can be purchased from the Café, where you can get hot water if you take your own, and the water in the cabins is perfectly drinkable.

There is a Tour desk situated on deck 4, with various tours available in some ports. These are reduced in number during the winter months. There is a fitness centre and separate Ladies & Gents Saunas on deck 2. A key is required for entry from reception. There is also a prison down here:) I hope it only gets used for transporting Baddies, and not for unruly passengers! A laundry room is on deck 3 with 3 washers & driers, tokens available from reception. Also an iron and board. Although there is a 'hospital' on the ship, there are no medical staff as you are never far from land. Appointments can be made for you ahead of arrival with a doctor or dentist. The crew are trained in first aid if required.

All in all a wonderful experience. If you have any questions please mail me.

View My Photos of M/S Polarlys
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The SAS flights back were not uneventful, with one cancelled, delays and then -5 mins to catch the next in Copenhagen. Caused by a baggage handlers strike in Copenhagen earlier in the day. But arrived at Heathrow only 1½ hrs late. Straight home, arriving just after midnight to relieve the Grandparents who needed a week's rest!

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