Havila Foodstories – it´s all about foodlovers

You can find all photos of Havila Polaris under Views of Havila Polaris.

Who doesn’t love travelling by ship, heading for the most beautiful destinations on the planet and enjoying wonderful culinary delights every day? I definitely belong to the circle of these “ food-addicted seafarers“ and have set off on a culinary voyage of discovery to Norway.

Havila Voyages has been travelling the Norwegian coast since 2022 as part of the world-famous mail ship route from and to Bergen. The itinerary alone is a favourite destination for thousands of tourists every year and is (unfortunately) no longer an insider tip. I was able to go on a discovery tour with MS Havila Castor and MS Havila Polaris, among others, and discover new and established things at sea and on land.

„Velbekomme!“ Havila sets new culinary paths

Let’s start by saying that the gastronomic concept on board the Havila fleet differs significantly from that of other (cruise) ships and appears complex, at least at first glance. SHIPS@SEA therefore took a closer look at the special features of the concept during a 12-day voyage – let’s head to the table!

Good to know: the basics on board

Above all, the concept is applied in the same way on all Havila ships, as the ships are identical in design and have the same restaurants. In addition, Havila Kystruten is particularly committed to sustainability, which means that the aim is to limit food waste per guest per day to 75 grams. According to the company, this target has already been significantly undershot. In this context, an important part of the concept comes into effect: there is no(!) buffet – not even for breakfast. Sounds unusual? It is unusual! But it works impressively well and is delicious – more on this below.

The Havila ships have the Havblikk and Havbris bars, the Havly Café and the main restaurant Havrand, which is complemented by the intimate speciality venue Hildring Fine Dining.

When booking, you should already think about which meal options you would like to book: for „cruise guests“, only „full board“ will usually be an option; however, segment guests (even with a cabin) have the option of travelling without pre-booked meals. In the latter case, all meals – as on land – must be paid for separately.

Based on the „full board“ option that has probably been selected, the following is included:
Breakfast in the „Havrand“ with the standard menu and lunch (at lunchtime there is only the „standard menu“). You get a small portion of each selected dish and can order more as required. For dinner in the „Havrand“ you get three courses from the standard menu in the usual restaurant size. Still water is included with all meals, as are tea and coffee. In the morning, the standard orange juice of acceptable quality is also served free of charge.

When I say „standard“, you realise that there is another option:

The Gold Package. As part of the upgrade, you can order from an additional menu in the mornings and evenings, which includes many more specialities and, in my opinion, is highly recommended simply because of the wide selection.

But even those who have not booked the Gold package can indulge in the golden delights: Each dish is then charged separately and costs between around 100NOK (e.g. a delicious breakfast toast) and 150NOK (the best Crayfish soup I’ve ever had).

It is important to note that the overall quality of the food is above average. In my opinion, the soups and fish dishes in particular are of the very highest quality.

Another special feature of the culinary concept is the timing: As all dishes are served at the table, every guest must have a seat in the restaurant. As the Havrand cannot accommodate all guests at the same time, guests must choose a fixed time slot after check-in, which is granted – subject to availability.

It is important to note that there are six different „meal slots“, each with fixed times for all three meals. If you eat breakfast early, you also eat early for lunch and dinner and vice versa. You should think about this before the trip so as not to be annoyed afterwards. In principle, the head waiter is very keen to flexibly allow other times during the trip – however, he can only do this if the ship or the meal time is not fully booked. This is unlikely to be the case, especially in high season.

In between: Off to the Havly Café

If you’re still hungry and have room in your belly between main meals, we recommend the Havly Café. The extensive menu offers hot and cold dishes as well as soups, fruit and pastries. The highlight of the café is that full-board guests can choose freely and without limit from specially marked dishes during the entire opening hours from 08:00 to 22:00. The included offer ranges from sandwiches, pastries, cakes, fruit, soups, salads and an acceptable pizza to an excellent burger.

Gold to know: A pinch of gold makes the exclusive difference

First of all: gold has its price – not only as a precious metal, but also as a „bonus package“ at Havila. You have to pay just under €500 per person if you want to indulge in golden delights on the 12-day round trip. That doesn’t sound insignificant at first and I asked myself: do I need this and what do I actually get for it?

In addition to the culinary extras in the main restaurant, the package also includes

  • a non-alcoholic drinks package of 30 units(drinks): It doesn’t matter whether I take a Coke for the equivalent of about €5 or a non-alcoholic cocktail for €11 – one unit is one unit = one drink each
  • Access to the Havila Gold Snack in the Panorama Lounge between 4pm and 6pm: A small selection of snacks, pastries and fruit is offered here daily
  • Dine twice (round trip) in Hildring Fine Dining in five exquisite courses
  • Premium café products (incl. café latte, cocoa and much more) at all café stations
  • 20% discount on all Havila brand products in the on-board shop
  • Unlimited room service at no additional cost
  • Welcome pack on arrival in the cabin (water bottle, pin, snacks, drink)

Hildring – fine dining in intimate circles

The dishes at Hildring Fine Dining are cooked by the chef himself using the best ingredients in Norway, and they taste just as good. The culinary skills are already impressive from morning to night in the main restaurant Havrand – at Hildring, the chef adds his own special touch.

The ambience is as dignified as it is cosy and you can indulge in peace and quiet here – the right wine matching is of course offered. The menu is fixed, but changes every few days between the themes of „meat“ and „fish“ and is certainly something for connoisseurs – but hardly suitable for vegetarians.

You can also enjoy Hildring without the Gold Package: for an extra NOK 295 per person if you have booked the trip with full board. If you are travelling without meals, the menu costs NOK 855.
Tip: Suite guests can also have their breakfast served in the Hildring and start the day here in a cosy atmosphere.

„Skal!“ – the drink options

Basically, you don’t need a drink package, as still drinking water, coffee and tea are available free of charge: With meals as well as in the café, at the bar or at the café vending machines.

All drinks can also be purchased individually. These cost between €5 (soft drinks, juice, bottled water) and €12 (cocktails, beer, gin, whiskey, wine by the glass). A bottle of wine costs from €56.
Havila offers a wide selection of drinks packages, which is why you should consider what suits your needs before travelling.

The gold package already includes the small package with 30 units of non-alcoholic drinks. This package can also be purchased separately for €180. For the more thirsty, there is also the medium package with 40 units for €225 or the large package with 50 units for €270. For example, you can choose between freshly squeezed juices for breakfast, soft drinks in the café or a good selection of non-alcoholic drinks in the Havblikk bar.

If you want to enjoy alcohol in Norway, you have to dig relatively deep into your pockets – even for the alcohol drink packages. There is a very extensive selection of well-known spirits on offer – only special champagne or rum costs extra. It is important to know that the alcohol package does not include anti-alcoholic drinks – these must be purchased separately and are not compatible with the package. The extensive alcohol packages in particular are very well received by travellers, as I was able to find out in conversation on board. The prices are as follows:

  • small package with 50 units: €540
  • medium package with 70 units: €720
  • XXL package with 100 units: €990

Tip: In contrast to other cruise lines, Havila does not require all travellers in a cabin to purchase a package. Only one person can do this and the drink units can be divided up as desired, which offers travellers a high degree of flexibility. Once all the units have been „drunk“, you can either buy another or a different package at any time, or pay for each additional drink individually.


I was impressed by Havila’s culinary cuisine on board. Not only are the dishes of exquisite quality, they are always attractively presented and brought to the table very fresh. The menu at Havrand offers a long list of classics that are always available during the trip, while every few days – depending on the region travelled – additional local specialities are offered. In addition to the various types of fish, there are different reindeer dishes, such as salads or soups.

It’s clear that the menu is not overly international, but focuses on Norway with its local producers and specialities. It is rare to be offered so much variety in such a short space of time and in such outstanding quality. No wonder: I tried a lot of things that I might not otherwise have dared to try – this cuisine makes you curious!

Havila succeeds impressively in bringing the local cuisine of the coasts on board their ships – the locals travelling with me at my table were enthusiastic about the overall range and quality of the dishes. Could there be a better compliment to the cuisine? At least I can’t imagine it…

While the portions are always relatively small – with the exception of the 3-course dinner – you can always order more. On the one hand, this makes it easier to try many dishes and on the other hand, the plates (they really aren’t that big) are usually left beautifully empty. Food waste? Not a chance!

The drinks served on board match the rest of the quality level and are as renowned as they are tasty. The service crew is very cheerful and always available for a chat – you can tell that they enjoy their work and are hosts by conviction.

Whether, and if „yes“, which package is worthwhile for you, or which one is worth something, is a very individual question that cannot be answered in a generalised way. I did very well with the „Gold Package“ and almost had trouble drinking away my 30 units during the cruise. I made extensive use of the additional extras in the mornings and evenings, which further enriched my trip in culinary terms. I wouldn’t want to miss out on these (delicious) experiences and would always choose this package again.

What I didn’t like so much were the rather fixed meal times: Personally, I don’t have a big problem with going to dinner at 8.30pm in the evening, but the fact that I’m then asked to have breakfast late at 9.30am and lunch at 2pm didn’t quite meet my needs. Of course, there are other time slots, but these are – unsurprisingly – very popular and were quickly fully booked.

In any case, you should think about how you want to deal with the „timing issue“ before you start your journey, then you are sure to have a fantastic coastal cruise in one of the most beautiful holiday destinations in the world.

Click here for all the impressions of the restaurants and the ship.

Status of all information and prices as of March 2024.

Note: Havila will change the concept with regard to „Havila Gold“ from April 2024 and adjust the menus. The article will be updated as soon as more information is available. What remains: The excellent cuisine on board – that’s for sure 😉

Disclosure: The editor travelled on his own account with the kind support of the crew of Havila Polaris and the Husare agency.



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