Since I am often asked about Hurtigruten I decided to make an exception and share a few personal remarks here on my webpage. A Hurtigruten trip is indeed a special experience. While I strongly recommend it to anyone who enjoys travelling by ship I encourage you to do some research before booking to avoid ending up aboard a Hurtigruten ship for the wrong reasons. Please remember that my remarks are simplified statements - I wanted to keep it short.
Of course Hurtigruten is not what most consider to be a typical cruise experience found aboard large, contemporary, mainstream cruise ships. However, if avoiding a cruise experience is your motivation to book Hurtigruten, be aware that the itinerary is inherently superficial - more so than many cruise lines' itinerary, as Hurtigruten ships only spend a very short time in ports. Beside that Hurtigruten do mimic a cruise experience in that they offer activities and shore excursions similar to those offered by cruise lines - in a way this is working against the essence of a Hurtigruten trip. Fortunately it is possible to avoid these activities, however, that of course applies to cruise ships too.
Hurtigruten is a coastal voyage - it is beyond my understanding why it is frequently described as a 'trip to the fjords'. Yes, the itinerary of course includes some fjords and Geiranger Fjord was added to the summer schedule some years ago to accommodate this expectation. However, if you want to see 'the' fjords you will have to do another trip. Mind you, this is not a disadvantage - but a 'trip the fjords' is just not what it is.
As said above, Hurtigruten ships only spend a short time in ports - that and the fact that the ships call at many ports is one of the reasons why a Hurtigruten trip is so special. However, some shore excursions offered by Hurtigruten require one to disembark in one port and embark in another - a more rushed approach than that offered by most conventional cruise ships! If such excursions are what you wish to do, do not work against the forte of Hurtigruten: Do not plan it like a cruise vacation, but try to take advantage of the fact that you can book segments rather than doing the whole round trip at once - e.g. spend a couple of days in one port, then catch another ship or plan several short trips during different seasons instead of just one longer trip.
Hurtigruten operates a diverse fleet, so investigate properly which ships suits your needs and your taste.
e.g. MS Lofoten offers a rare opportunity to experience an old ship. While I LOVE to travel aboard old ships, this of course comes with some disadvantages: No 'proper' observation lounge, less or no forward facing deck space, very basic cabins etc. - on the other hand, more modern vessels might not provide you with the 'authentic' experience you were looking for.