Port times cut short

This item appears on page 32 of the July 2011 issue.

I read with interest the subscriber’s letter “Assigned Cabin Too Small” (March ’11, pg. 26), about his experience with Hurtigruten (Sunrise, FL; 866/552-0371). We took the line’s 14-day trip along Norway’s coast (Bergen-Kirkenes-Bergen) Aug. 15-26, 2009, also aboard the Richard With, and I must disagree with one of his observations. He said that “time is available for walking in each port.” That did not correspond with our experience.

While, in general, we enjoyed the trip, there was a major problem in that the ship was on a very rigid ferry schedule and the captain insisted on leaving each of the 33 ports we stopped in on time. Unfortunately, at many of the ports the ship arrived significantly late, thus reducing the time passengers had on shore.

This would not have been a major problem except that for some of the towns the scheduled stay was as little as 45 minutes, so, by the time the gate was opened, we had only 10 to 15 minutes to make a quick jog around the pier area before getting back on.

The ship arrived late, to some degree, in almost every port and, by the way, the delays were not weather related; the sailing conditions were consistently good on our trip. The schedule was just tight.

When we returned to the US, I wrote to Hurtigruten suggesting that they schedule more time between ports, but I never received a reply.

New York, NY

ITN e-mailed a copy of the above letter to the London office of Hurtigruten, Ltd., and received the following in reply.

I was pleased to read that Mr. Epro very much enjoyed his experience with Hurtigruten. I noted his comments that in some ports he would have welcomed a longer time and that once behind schedule, this resulted in less time in the ports.

Hurtigruten ships are very much working vessels carrying not only tourists but local inhabitants and freight, calling at 34 ports along the coast of Norway. It is very difficult to adhere to a very strict schedule, as factors such as weather, groups and cargo can have an impact on the timings.

Many of our ports of call along the way are little more than tranquil hamlets on tiny islands, and whilst we may schedule a 45-minute stop, sometimes this may be reduced slightly.

In the larger towns, we schedule much longer stays of up to half a day to give guests plenty of opportunity to explore or take part in one of our many excursions.

KATHRYN BEADLE, Managing Director, Hurtigruten, Ltd., 3 Shortlands, London W6 8NE, U.K.