Travelling solo on Hurtigruten - MS Fram
A remarkable & memorable experience: travelling solo on Hurtigruten. Alice shares her experiences and some ideas about how to make as many friends as quickly as possible.
I was very fortunate to join a Arctic Expediton
I am not usually a person to travel solo, always with - or to visit family and/or friends. I was initially a bit hesitant, as I thought I might get lonely or bored – but this never happened on-board MS Fram. I had equipped myself with a stack of books, of which I only got to read one. There was never a dull moment.
I arrived to Reykjavik 2 days prior in order to get a feel for the city and adjust to the time zone. Hurtigruten did offer a pre-expedition program, which you can also join in on. Many do, as it is a good way to meet some of your fellow travellers.
I stayed at one of our new Director’s choice hotels – First Hotel Alda. A new, quirky and funky hotel centrally located on the “less noisy” end of the main street – Laugavegur. The rooms are spacious and décor is Nordic. I would definitely stay there again.
First Hotel Alda in Reykjavik
My excursion to the volcano and glaciers had been cancelled on embarkation day, thus I made my way to the ship at around 4pm, when check-in opened. There is not really a similar designated waiting area in Reykjavik as there is in Bergen. Only some guests could fit in the little shed-like shelter and the rest of us queued up outside. It was extremely windy by the harbour in Reykjavik that day, so when the doors opened we all just ran in to warm-up. I had not been pre-allocated a cabin, so I had to go up to deck 4 to check-in, while the majority checked in on deck 3. Luckily, the crew were handling our bags, I of course had to go back down and advise them of my cabin number in order for them to know where to send it. I was allocated an outside cabin on deck 6, which I was very happy with. I then went down to pick up my blue expedition jacket and I was ready to embark on the expedition of a lifetime.
I was determined to get to know as many people as possible by trying to sit at different tables every day for breakfast and lunch, as dinner was arranged seating for most nights. This started out very well, however after a few days you develop a habit of sitting with the same people, as we usually were in the restaurant at the same time, and it was always nice to hear about their experiences from the lectures and excursions from the day before or what they were about to embark on that specific day.
I met many interesting people on my expedition and a surprisingly large number of fellow solo travellers. I was amazed to hear that many of them have travelled with Ms Fram or Hurtigruten prior and some more than once, a lovely couple from the UK were on their 6th journey - an “addiction” they called it. Another Swedish gentleman could hardly wait to embark on the trip to Svalbard at the end of July to see Polar Bears, which he did promise to send me some photos of.
Transfers from MS Fram in polar circle boats
I also happened to meet another Danish couple, who where from the same city as me in Denmark and it turns out we had some mutual acquaintances. Two other solo German ladies had met during the first few days in the pre-expedition program and were inseparable ever since, I know this as I asked one of the ladies if the other lady was her sister. I thought I was the only Australian traveller on board, but I was alerted that there was a couple from NSW, who also happened to be travelling to Aarhus post-expedition to see “Sculptures by the Sea”, and I actually ran into them on the main shopping street in Aarhus the following day – which was quite funny, it almost felt as we were on an excursion and had to go back to the MS Fram.
I could go on and on and tell you about all the wonderful people I met on my trip, and had I not travelled alone, I would most likely not had been able to speak to or get acquainted to so many lovely individuals.
A Norwegian lady I shared the dinner table with on the first night, who had also been on the trip around Iceland just prior and stayed to continue to Greenland told me that once she travelled with her friend, but they decided not to travel together again, so they could tell each other about their trips. She even told me she knew of a married couple that travel separately and then came back and told the other of their experiences, as this gave them a better way of seeing the world. This, I found very intriguing.
Ilulissat - sailing to the Ice Fjord
By day 2 I had already been adopted by a lovely couple from Norway and we ended up sitting together every night for dinner, and it is safe to say that I think we were the loudest table in the restaurant at the 2nd seating with all our laughs, thus by day 6 or 7 another gentleman from the UK decided to join our table. Most of the nights, we ended up continuing up to the bar, where our other American and German friends would join us to continue our many stories and share our experiences of the day.
The ambience on-board was very enjoyable and many spend most of their time in the common areas doing puzzles, playing cards, reading or just mingling and thus there is ample opportunity to get acquainted with other guests and hear their stories.
The expedition team were always present, very approachable and always happy to have chat and answer any questions you may have. They also knew I was travelling solo and always kept me company if they noticed I was sitting alone.
We were quite lucky, as this sailing was being filmed to star in Discovery Channels “Mighty Ships”. This was the 1st episode, so I am expecting it will air in a year or so. Some guests, who were at the right place at the right time got a few added extras in terms of excursions for filming purposes, which they were ecstatic about.
I am proud to say that I am no longer a virgin solo traveller and I would do it again in a heartbeat – especially if I were to be lucky enough to be on-board MS Fram.
A big thank you to the Hurtigruten expedition team, who worked around the clock and went above and beyond to make our experience as pleasurable and smooth as possible and a big shout-out to the amazing service crew, who were always smiling and never short of a joke or two.
_Norwegian expedition leader and the voyage photographer helping us getting on to the zodiac boats back to the boat in Ilulissat _