We sailed from Dover in very warm sunshine and calm seas. The "Balmoral" is an older ship but had been well maintained over the years. There were approximately 1300 passengers on board, most of whom were British. The officers are mostly European with a superb Master, Captain Olav Sovdsnes. The staff is multi-national with the domestic members mainly from the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and India. The entertainment staff were mostly European and of those most were British. As with all Fred. Olsen ships the standard of service was excellent. Excellent service with a smile. The food was very good with a wide choice and many Norwegian items on the menu. Wine was very attractively priced and there were some good wines on their list. Bar prices were very reasonable indeed. The daytime entertainment followed the normal pattern with deck games, bingo etc. There were some first-class lecturers on board who gave presentations on a wide range of subjects. There also classical recitals which were excellent but too few in numbers.
I was in a K grade single cabin on deck 4. It is 165 square feet and with a (large) single bed was very spacious. The large picture window added to the value of the cabin. There was a safe, a more than adequate shower room (sadly no bath tub)and effective and easily controlled air conditioning. The interactive TV was useful if only to keep a check on your on-board spending!
The first port of call was Narvik and we expected to sail to there direct. However, the Captain took us on the scenic route of the "inside passage" which afforded us some glorious scenery all the way North. The increasing length of days added to the enjoyment and when we crossed the Arctic Circle we had 24 hour daylight. The Midnight Sun was awe-inspiring and high point of the cruise. Narvik with its long history was an interesting port of call as was Honningsvag, the gateway to the North Cape.
We proceeded even further North to Svalbard the archipelago which is the most Northern part of Norway. In the largest island, Spitzbergen we called at Longyearbyen and the outpost of Ny Alesund - both great experiences. On the way home we visited Tromso and Bergen, both towns if great interest and no little beauty. Norway is a beautiful country with friendly and hospitable people. This was a really good cruise. It is a great way to see the great beauty of the Norwegian coast. We were also blessed with lovely weather and calm seas.