Cruise to see the Northern Lights.
We boarded at Tilbury with high expectations and were let down at almost every step of the way. It is a shame as the possibility to create a good cruise experience is there, but the management were so poor that it let the whole trip down.
Major problems include: Very poor management of the Marco's Restaurant. Scramble for food is laughable at each mealtime. Food very frequently warm at best due to ridiculous opening doors to deck area for smokers in freezing cold temperatures. These doors should be off limits at mealtimes. The tea/coffee area is a shambles at all times with cups and mugs in short supply most of the time, along with cutlery shortages. Either get more cups and mugs or wash up more frequently and for goodness sake monitor continuous these areas in order to forsee shortages.
The majority of the staff and crew are foreign but on the whole very ameniable and pleasant. Some waiters have had a charisma bypass and most of the reception staff were not helpful.
The tours on this trip were so expensive as to be laughable. This was not helped by the fact that absolutely no help or useful information is given to you if you do not wish to book a tour. Most irritating this as it meant much time lost exploring buses and trains that could have been detailed for you. Very bad indeed this aspect and needs much more work to be helpful.
Throughout the trip the Captain was notable by his abscence. We had many days of very bad weather and the Captain did nothing to reassure the passengers. Indeed many would question his judgement in losing a day or so sailing and thereby missing 3 ports of call. sadly the nicer towns in Norway.
Having had to spend so much time on board due to weather and missed ports of call, the infill entertainment was pathethic. It was of an old peoples home standard. e.g. throwing bean bags into wastepaper bins!!!!
The highlight of the whole trip and the saving grace in preventing a total disaster was the on board evening entertainers. They were magnificent for the whole trip and worked extremely hard and were the best we have seen in a long time. Full marks to them.
It wouldn't take any real cost to build on the fine entertainment and make this a better ship to sail in. The management need a thorough overhaul and need to understand what makes for a pleasant cruise. Mostly small things would improve passenegr satisfaction enormously.
Provide better entertainment during day, show films for example.
Stop smokers using restaurant deck to keep doors locked and food warmer.
Sort out the tea/coffee serving area.
Make independent travellers welcome by providing good port of call information.
Keep trip costs lower.
I would not use this ship again until it smartens up its act. It is 2011 and customers expect and demand more than this ship provides.