Cruised on the Silverseas Explorer leaving Longyearbyen Norway 25 June 2012 and finishing in Tromso Norway on 5 July 2012. I greatly enjoyed the "expedition" aspect of this cruise and the itinerary covering hard to reach territory in the Arctic.
We flew from the US to Oslo Norway and spent 2 nights at the Radisson Park Inn in downtown Oslo to deal with jet lag. Park Inn excellent location and good value. Silverseas provided charter flight from Oslo to Longyearbyen. Finding the check-in for the charter was confusing and chaotic--would like to see more guidance from Silverseas at the start. Charter flight itself was excellent. Upon arrival at Longyearbyen there was more confusion as to luggage and transportation. Once again, I would expect more service.
But everything changed once we boarded our ship. The service onboard was excellent. The crew and staff were superb from top to bottom. The ship was well maintained. I liked the small size. Our cabin was roomy, especially the bathroom. The veranda rooms were sold out, but we were very satisfied with our picture window--it was large, not too high, and close to the water. TV service was sporadic. Internet was seldom available--understandable due to the itinerary north of the Arctic circle. If you must be in contact with the office or family, bring a satellite phone.
Dining was first class. Tea served in the bar each afternoon, and coffee drinks available in the bar throughout the day. 24 hour a day room service included, and the butler did a great job keeping our room stocked with our beverage choices.
Highlight of trip was expedition experience. Guides gave great presentations onboard. Zodiac trips to see bears, walrus, birds, glaciers, etc, were fantastic.