MarcoMarco Polo Northern Lights 17 2 2012 to 2 3 2012
We got a lift to the ship which is relatively small. We boarded at the specified time though I did feel as if we were hanging about. They would have taken our bags early, so that we could do the tourist thing locally while we waited for our boarding time, but at this time of the year there was scant to do locally.
Initially we were seated for dinner with another couple, but they wanted a later dining time, so we changed to a larger group. Fellow passengers were enjoyable. - Mainly helpful staff except for the getting my dietary needs catered for. There were no children on board which was nice as ours are finally old enough to stay home alone.
I was really looking forward to the meals as they advertise that they cater for special diets. I have to eat low salt and low cholesterol. It became clear that the staff had scant understanding of special diets. They did not have ingredients on board and failed to purchase in port - The head waiter was a nightmare He would argue that there was no salt or butter in items when clearly there was. - It took until day 10 of the cruise before there was any attempt to reduce the salt content and even this failed frequently. After numerous complaints eventually I was given the menu in advance, but if you take all the fat and salt out it made it very bland and I had to skip so much that I would end up feeling hungry. They did not have the ingredients on board to spice it up and many of the ingredients were pre salted, or was full of saturated fats. - All the passengers were complaining that the food was luke warm. I didn't put on weigh which was a plus, but frequently felt hungry. I had to supplement my meals with some nuts that I had brought with me to make shore visit easier. When I formally complained they pointed out that they were a 3 star cruise and told me that I had received specially prepared omelettes, which was not the case. Every one commented on the coffee being vile .
We were also disappointed that we missed two ports. It seems that the itinerary was somewhat ambitious for the time of year. -
We paid extra for an outside cabin and we were unable to see out of the portholes for much of the cruise as they had to be obscured to prevent leaking in case the glass broke! -
We also had requested a double bed, but they then said there were no doubles available and it was impossible to move the beds
The showers would fluctuate to such an extent that we were scalded, or too cold and the water was shut off for maintenance on one occasion., but at least they warned us. Our toilet smelt of drains; initially they just sprayed the cubical rather than giving it a it was frustrating having to keep complaining.
Sea sickness was bad on this cruise , but the weather was very bad. Luckily I had a sick bag in my handbag for the woman who was seated behind me in the theatre!
The layout in the theatre was bad as we could not see the shows unless we were seated in the first two rows. The tip here is to skip the sugary fatty desert and get to the theatre early. The shows and talks were good
We requested a visit to the bridge and this did not happen. We only saw the captain once. He wasn't there for his fizzy wine party. We noticed that the nicer seats in the restaurant were reserved for staff.
The tours were very expensive and it was easy to explore Amsterdam on foot made it to the flower market where we bought a plant to hang near our porthole which then got obscured . We had checked and customs allow certain plants and bulbs back into the UK.
On Sunday in Alta it is better to book the tour early as Norway shuts on a Sunday. We were in Alta for the Sunday morning and knowing the town was closed we got the courtesy bus half way into town and then walking up in deep snow to a vantage point where we could see aircraft coming into land just in front of the ship. -
My husband is self employed and needed the Internet. It was very expensive and they warned us not to use it as it cut out frequently. He ended up in cafes ashore that had free Wi-Fi. I like to browse the shops (expensive) so that worked well for us. Security got very anxious as he turned up at the last minute on time, because he was in a cafe near by. They were worried that he had somehow sneaked back on board.
The TV news often failed as we were frequently out of satellite area.
We particularly Enjoyed the Ice Hotel tour at Alta thought it would have been better to do that on the Sundays and to book the last tour. but we were too slow to book. Meeting the architect who designed it was interesting. If you want good photos then wait until every one is getting back on the bus, so that it looks as if you have the place to yourselves, though people were good at moving out of the way for the photos.
We also did lots on museums setting off on foot .
I prefer tips to be included rather than added afterwards especially when you don't want to tip certain individuals.
The Northern lights: we discovered from the guest lecturer that the Lights are all digitally enhanced on most TV, magazines and advertising but we still were pleased to see them even thought the colours were not as dramatic as we were expecting. The tannoy wakes you if you want to see the lights and it's a bit of a performance getting all the ski clothes on and sometimes the lights faded before we got up there, but at least we were lucky to see them. I fell over more times on this trip than when I go skiing it is very icy and I did have the right shoes!
Communication between the booking and what actually happens was poor. Disembarking was much slower than advised: not fair for the person picking us up. There was also confusion as some guests had been told there were four formal nights when there were only two.