Three main lounges can be found aboard Otto Sverdrup. The largest is the Brotoppen Panorama Lounge, forward on Deck 8. There, you'll find lots of sofas and chairs with tables for sitting and enjoying panoramic views (hence, the name) of the passing scenery. There's also bar service, so it's a great place to enjoy a quiet drink in a relaxing atmosphere. You'll also find a small dance floor (never used on our sailing) and a tiny selection of books, with very few in English.
Another nice place to relax with your libation of choice is the purple, orange and tan Stiftsstaden Bar on Deck 7, midship. Right next to Babettes Cafe, it offers plenty of seating and a quiet atmosphere in which to read or unwind. Don't get too excited about the views, though, as lifeboats block much of the prime window real estate.
Floybaren, a bar on Deck 4, near the front of the ship, throws off more of an upscale vibe with dark woods and burgundy couches and chairs. The space also boasts a bar, a dance floor (even though there was no dancing on our sailing) and large picture windows on both the port and starboard sides. This is the place to be for after-dinner cocktails, coffee and tea.
Because there are no sea days on Otto Sverdrup itineraries, passengers have plenty of time to leave the ship and explore various Norwegian ports. As such, onboard entertainment and activities are practically nonexistent. You won't find casinos, trivia, production shows, bingo, comedians, karaoke or any of the other typical cruise ship diversions. A handful of talks and films are offered about Norway, its culture and the surrounding scenery, wildlife and natural phenomena like the Northern Lights. These presentations take place in the ship's conference rooms, forward on Deck 4, and they're given in a few different languages.
On the fourth day of our northbound sailing, after crossing the Arctic Circle, an "Arctic Circle baptism" ceremony was held outside on Deck 8. Allow a crewmember in a creepy Neptune costume to dump a ladle full of ice water down the back of your shirt, and you'll get a free shot to warm you up.
On the last night, Otto Sverdrup docked near Berlevag for about 15 minutes to challenge fleetmate Nordkapp to a friendly competition. Armed with balloons, streamers, banners, Norwegian flags and all manner of decorations, each ship assembled its crew and passengers on deck to scream, shout, wave, and cheer to see which vessel could be the loudest. As far as we know, there was no official winner, but it was a lot of fun, complete with music, dancing, and crewmembers banging pots and pans while dressed as Vikings -- an interesting display, to say the least.
Otherwise, you're expected to make your own fun by reading, relaxing and taking in the passing scenery.
Deck 3 is where to find the reception desk (and usually the gangway when disembarking), a couple small banks of tables and chairs, and the luggage storage area for short-term non-cruise passengers. Follow the signs to the car lift, and on your way you'll find the laundry room. It's free to wash and dry your clothes in any of five washers and five dryers. Even soap is included. A couple of ironing boards and irons are available, too. Additional laundry or dry-cleaning services are not available.
On Deck 4, you'll find the Fiinstuen Library on the port side, just outside of the Floybaren bar. It's tiny, but it's an ideal escape for anyone looking for a tucked-away spot to read or play board games. The book selection is painfully small, and most of it isn't in English, so we recommend bringing some reading material with you. Likewise with board games, as we saw just one lone checkers set available for use.
Other public areas on Deck 4 include four conference rooms forward; restrooms on either side of midship (two each for men and women); and an info desk next to the library, where passengers can book shore excursions and grab a copy of each day's schedule. A hole-in-the-wall shop sells Norwegian sweaters and other apparel, jewelry, postcards, stuffed animals and other souvenirs, as well as extremely limited toiletries.
An Internet station on this deck is basically just empty tables with some jacks for attaching personal laptops via Ethernet cables (not provided). In the Brotoppen Panorama Lounge on Deck 8, there's what can loosely be called an "Internet cafe." It consists of just two desktop computers with Internet access. We found teens monopolizing them on our sailing, but the Internet connection was horribly slow anyway, so we weren't missing much. Free Wi-Fi is available shipwide, but the signal and speed are abysmal unless you're in port. There's also nobody to help with tech issues onboard, so if you have problems getting connected, you're out of luck.
Smoking is prohibited in all indoor areas of the ship. It's permitted on outer decks and cabin balconies.
Otto Sverdrup has no spa or salon facilities. However, there is a small two-room gym on Deck 8, aft. Open 6 a.m. to midnight, it features one step machine, one elliptical, two treadmills, two rowers, three exercise bikes, free weights up to 66 pounds, medicine balls up to 18 pounds and a variety of weight machines, yoga mats and step boxes. It also has men's and women's locker rooms with showers, saunas and lockers (locks provided). No organized fitness classes are offered.
Just below the fitness center, aft on Deck 7, you'll find the ship's only pool, flanked by a hot tub on each side. The area was used regularly on our sailing, but it was rarely crowded. Plenty of sun loungers and tables with chairs can be found near the pool and on the outer decks surrounding it. Chair hogs weren't an issue -- probably due to the chilly weather along Norway's coast, even during summer sailings -- so there was never a seating shortage.
Because Otto Sverdrup also acts as a means of transportation for locals, there's no minimum age for children to travel. However, the ship offers neither organized activities for kids nor babysitting services. A ridiculously small playroom can be found midship on Deck 4 in the corridor that leads to Restaurant Finnmarken, the ship's dining room. All you'll find in the playroom are a table and chairs, some random blocks and a tiny selection of other toys. If you're traveling with young children, you might want to bring board games or other toys from home, as there's not much else onboard to keep them occupied. Teens interested in history and nature, however, would probably enjoy a sailing aboard this ship.
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