Nordlys Polar Outside Cabin #546

Nordlys Polar Outside Cabin 546 Review

MS Nordlys is one of the several Hurtigruten ships that ply the Norwegian coastline connecting some of the remotest parts of the nation.

Its "working ship" status (part cruise ship and part ferry) can be clearly seen in its cabins.


My compact Polar Outside Cabin (#546) was basic and reminiscent of a no-frills budget hotel. It looked like it had not seen any updates since the ship's launch in 1994, but frankly, there was little to modernise in it anyway.

One bed folds up against the wall, revealing vital floor space if you are travelling as a couple. I sailed solo, and the limited space proved a squeeze for me. Sharing the space with a partner or friend will be a challenge.

Opposite, a sofa becomes a bed by night. Both beds have access to a reading lamp, limited shelf space, and a telephone. The phone can be optionally set to listen into bridge alerts should the night staff spot signs of an Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) display. During my three-night cruise, there were as many night announcements. Standing out on deck in bracing winds at 4 am staring at faint traces of the Aurora Borealis is certainly an unforgettable experience.

A shelf above the fold-up bed was invaluable for storing the paperwork I accrued including excursion tickets, brochures and daily planners. A small writing desk with vanity mirror sat beyond.

A slimline wardrobe sat next to the cabin door, although this was too small to be useful. My suitcase could fit inside but left no room for anything else.

The bathroom was a squeeze to fit inside, with the shower cubicle particularly cramped. The shower curtain did its best to stop water escaping, but the list of the ship due to the gusty winds meant water always flowed away from the drain and across the bathroom floor.

MS Nordlys offers four grades of cabins: Inside; Outside; Superior; and Suite. The only difference between an Inside cabin and my Polar Outside Cabin was the picture window. The window overlooked the promenade deck directly outside. Many passengers regularly peered into the cabin, so there was little privacy. My November sailing, when the limited daylight is precious in the Arctic Circle, meant it was mostly dark outside, so the view from the cabin was never great.

There is a lack of creature comforts, such as a television or radio, in the basic cabins. Book a Superior cabin for in-cabin tea and coffee making facilities, or a Suite for these plus a tv. Archaic WiFi Internet access is only available in selected public areas.

This basic cabin is best suited solely for sleeping and taking a respite from the freezing Arctic winds. To relax, head instead to one of the public areas.


New Scandinavian Décor

Hurtigruten revealed its new Arctic Interior décor that will feature on its new ships. Ships across the fleet will receive this new modern look over time.

Would you miss your creature comforts if you sailed on a 12-night round-trip cruise along the Norwegian coastline with Hurtigruten, or would you enjoy a break from the non-stop craziness of modern life? Let me know in the comments below.

Disclosure: Hurtigruten supplied a full-board sailing on MS Nordlys, shore excursions, return flights, overseas transfers, and Tromsø hotel accommodation. I paid for my transport to and from Heathrow Airport, plus incidentals onboard including drinks and a meal upgrade one night. My opinions are my own.

Polar Outside Cabin #546
  • Décor and cleanliness
  • Size and layout
  • Location
  • Amenities
  • Privacy


This cabin as about as basic as they come. It can accommodate two although it was a squeeze with just me in there. While conveniently located for easy access to the outer deck, the downside was that people regularly peered into the cabin.

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