We wished to experience the high Arctic, and we love Norway from previous cruises. Northern Lights have long been on the desired list. Almost as an afterthought we signed on to the Churchill’s England pre-cruise tour, and it proved to ... Read More
We wished to experience the high Arctic, and we love Norway from previous cruises. Northern Lights have long been on the desired list. Almost as an afterthought we signed on to the Churchill’s England pre-cruise tour, and it proved to be one of the best aspects. We saw the elusive northern lights twice, pretty but not spectacular, and the trip would have been almost as good without them.
London in January isn’t for tourists seeking green lawns, sunny skies and shirtsleeve temperatures, but it wasn’t awful; mostly 40s F, rain off and on, and the most pleasant aspect was lack of summer vacation hordes. The hotel, Royal Horse Guards is perfectly fine, and in a superb Central London location. The guide, Don Brown, was with us the entire time, and of many fine Viking guides over several years and 5 cruises, he was absolutely the best! The tour sites; Churchill War Room, Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Blenheim Palace, and Bletchley Park, could not have been more fascinating.
Transfer to Tilbury to begin the cruise was effortless. The first couple of days in the North Sea were quite expectedly adventurous, and not for faint hearted or weak mid-sectioned amateur sailors. Lots of Vikings stayed in staterooms, and many who appeared were quite pale and subdued. Luckily, we haven’t ever become seasick. Between Stavanger and Bodo we entered the Norwegian Inside Passage and the rest of the cruise was like a quiet lake.
The onboard experience was mostly up to Viking’s very high standard. Food was superb. Entertainment was better than average, particularly guest pianist/singer Tom Seals. Staff built snowmen on the rear deck; a fun photo-op! Some shore tours could have been better planned on this inaugural cruise. There was quite a lot of uncomfortable bus riding in the dark. Luckily we brought clothing suitable to the Arctic; had we not, some tours would have been miserable. Our best shore tours were a family visit near Tromsø although the tour description did not mention outdoor fun and thus we were notprepared clothing-wise. Sami reindeer camp near Alta -22F, the Ice Hotel near Alta, cathedral concerts in Bodo and Tromsø, and husky dogsled riding were also great. A 19th Century Island village near Bodo was also interesting and fun. The Alta museum offered spectacular views and interesting displays.
We did get the feeling that with Viking’s recent rapid expansion, possibly some shortcuts are being taken, and that attention to service and plannning detail might have slipped a bit. Read Less