After a smooth and quick embarkation and lifeboat drill we were informed by the captain that we would unfortunately have to sail 24hrs late due to bad weather so we would miss the Faroe Isles. Since we had an extra day in Newcastle shuttle buses were provided to take people into the centre of Newcastle should they want to do so. It was definitely the best decision to delay sailing as we still had a day and half of rough stormy seas to contend with en route to Iceland; an interesting experience no one onboard will ever forget!
Akureyri is a lovely port in northern Iceland, the weather was cool and overcast but thankfully dry. The ship docks only a 10 minute walk from the centre which is really handy. Despite being the second largest city in Iceland it is still fairly small and quiet, but it is a nice port to wander round. Alot of people do the whale watching tour here but we found it rather expensive.
SkagafjÃ¶rÃ°ur is a small village in the north-west of Iceland, but it is situated in some of the most amazing scenery I've ever seen. The town is about a 15min walk from where the ship docks. There's not many shops and alot of people chose to do a tour in this port. We did the Hesteyri Island excursion which we thought was worth the money. The boat trip to Hesteyri was lovely and the island itself was beautiful, beware of the flies though, there were hundreds of them on the island! After a tour round Hesteyri village you stop off at the doctor's residence for some afternoon tea of Icelandic pancakes.
For Reykjavik we were docked 5km from the city centre so shuttle buses were provided at a cost of approx Â£6 return each. A visit to the HallgrÃmskirkja is a must, it's architecture is beautiful and you can take a trip to the top of the tower to get stunning views of the city from all directions. There a plenty of shops, as with Akureyri most don't open until 10am. Reykjavik was a lovely city to wander round and explore, we were lucky the weather was on our side which made exploring the city enjoyable.
Flm is a small village surrounded by stunning mountain scenery. There are plenty of walks in the countryside that you can do, the tourist information has free maps which show you a variety of different walks you can do. We chose the White Caves excursion and you certainly do a lot in the half day trip. In addition to the White Caves you also stop off for a short while at the village of Gudvangen, stop for photos at the Tvinde Waterfall, and take a trip down the Stalheim hairpin road, the steepest road in Norway!
For Bergen we were docked approx 20mins walk from the centre. The shopping in Bergen was very good -- there are plenty of good shops on the pedestrian high street. Interestingly, I found the pricing in the clothes shops to be similar to UK prices. Food and drink are very expensive though, especially around the Bryggen area, but the fish market is still worth a look. If the weather is good a trip on the funicular is a great way to get great panoramic views of Bergen and there are plenty of walks to do once you're up there.
The Spirit itself is an old ship, but what it lacks in fancy amenities it makes up for in atmosphere. Not only are all the staff so helpful and friendly, but the passengers are some of the nicest people i've ever met. The atmosphere onboard was brilliant the whole cruise and everyone seemed to be having a great time. The entertainment team were very professional and a put on a great show every night. The food in both the Compass Rose restaurant and the Lido were excellent and I never once struggled to find something I wanted to eat. Overall the itinerary and the cruise we everything I hoped they would be and I will happily go back on the Spirit again.