we spent 6 days out of a 2 week trip on the soutbound voyage of the midnatsol from kirkenes to bergen (note- we got on in kirkenes). this was the first cruise for my family, which includes 2 daughters ages 13 and 17. i was very anxious about them having enough to do, about seasickness and about the food- but i needn't have worried about any of it- it was a fantastic experience for all of us. the scenery was spectacular, the ship was well appointed, i loved the frequent stops, the food was interesting and there was always something for everyone, and we had 2 wonderful excursions. a few other points:
-the folks on board are mostly older- not sure why exactly. it is a great cruise if your mobility is handicapped because you can just sit and watch and be amazed- but i think it's great for families too. my daughters didn't make any friends which was a slight disappointment
-the folks on board seemed to keep to themselves more than i'm used to with fellow travelers. also, many tables for meals seat 2 or 4 so you may not have to sit with anyone at meals. for us this was ok. -it's a casual ship- not dressing for dinner (loved that)
-the food is european, with buffets for breakfast and lunch and a served set meal for dinner. the quality and presentation far exceeded my expectations. i also liked it that this cruise is not focused hugely on food, with midnight buffets etc. my daughters loved trying antelope and reindeer and other local cuisines.
-it's more casual with service as well- between meals folks clean up their dishes etc. which again i liked
-we did 2 excursions: the vega archipelago and the lofoten islands. the lofoton islands tour was by bus, and a bit long but interesting. vega was by boat and bus and is not to be missed. one down side of excursions i s they are held during the few extended and prime time port visits. we rarely visited towns where shops were open, which was a bit frustrating sometimes, but we loved seeing so many ports even for 15 minutes.
-the weather, visibility and sea conditions for us were wonderful. i'm not sure if this is the norm or not for this time of the year, but no one experienced seasickness and there was good visibility for the majority of the time
-norway is expensive, so additional snacks, beverages and alcohol can add up, but none of these things are necessary to purchase- there's plenty of food and water is served with every meal (i read some reviews that said you had to pay for water which is not true). there are also typically convenience stores close to ports so you can always pick up beverages and snacks
-the size of this ship seemed perfect to me- you grew to know the staff and know your way around the ship. some of the public spaces were lovely. there was always room everywhere we wanted to sit.
-be prepared for cool weather and lots of intermittent rain. the weather reports didn't sufficiently prepare us for the chilly weather, which was in the 60-70 range.
-we had 2 adjacent double outside cabins which were small but perfectly sufficient. i might have chosen on interior quad with hindsight; we weren't in our room that much
i can't say enough really about how spectacular the scenery was throughout the journey. it was often right up close, and even the most remote and desolate seeming landscapes always had a few red houses tucked in... i would highly recommend this trip to anyone that enjoys experiencing other cultures, loves watching magnificent views and is happy sitting and reading or occupying themselves (vs. being entertained). we spent time before the trip in copenhagen, and after in bergen, oslo and gothenberg, so we had some more cultural and urban experiences as well. this was our best family vacation yet- i hope other enjoy it!
kirkenes- recommend staying at the thon hotel, but nothing much to do there as far as i can tell!