Cabins on Otto Sverdrup are well appointed with artwork on the walls and elegant decor in shades of blue, orange and green with tan accents. All offer hair dryers, in-closet safes, 220-volt European plugs (bring your own adapters and converters) and televisions. Although the TVs show mostly Norwegian programming, there are also ship info channels and a couple of English-language stations, including CNN and MAX (not the same MAX -- or Cinemax -- we have in the States). Cabins offer plenty of storage space in closets and drawers and below the beds (which is the ideal spot for storing empty luggage), as well as a ton of in-mirror shelf space in the bathroom for toiletries.
Standard cabins include 38 insides (21 that accommodate two people, three for three people and 14 for four people). Of the 211 outsides, 183 sleep two people, four sleep three people, 18 sleep four people, three offer no carpeting for passengers with allergies, and three are accessible cabins that accommodate passengers with wheelchairs. Inside cabins and oceanviews are similar in size at 54 to 140 square feet, and each offers at least two beds -- one standard twin and one in the form of a sofa bed. Cabins may be small, but they are remarkably well laid out to take advantage of every available inch of space. A plush chair sits in front of the desk area, and additional shelf and storage space is afforded by a dresser on the opposite side of the room. In staterooms that accommodate more than two people, extra berths come in the form of either sofa beds or Pullmans that come down from the ceiling.
Bathrooms are on the small side, but they're functional -- and they have heated floors, which is a nice touch. They've all got clingy shower curtains and dispensers of multipurpose soap near the sink and in the shower. (If you're picky about hair care, you'll want to bring your own shampoo and conditioner.) We noticed that although water pressure was steady, the temperature changed erratically.
Two things missing from the bathrooms onboard were tissues and washcloths. If you need either one, ask your room steward, but it might be a good idea to bring a loofah that you can throw away when your cruise is over. A word of warning: If you take long showers, close the bathroom door, or you might set off the smoke alarm in your cabin. (Unfortunately, we know this from firsthand experience.)
The 18 minisuites are slightly larger (161 to 215 square feet) and offer amenities like hot pots (for use with provided coffee and tea packets), Illi toiletries (shampoo, shower gel and lotion), bathrobes, and sparkling wine with fresh fruit at embarkation. They also feature storage space in the form of bedside tables instead of dressers, and a small glass-topped table accompanies the in-cabin couch. Minifridges offer a selection of soda, bottled water and alcohol, as well as candy bars; snacks available are chips and nuts -- all for a fee.
The 14 suites provide the same amenities as minisuites, but they offer far more interior square footage (301 to 323 square feet), as well as sizeable balconies. Two of the suites, located at the front of the ship, are Grand Suites (377 to 398 square feet), which each have two rooms and a Jacuzzi.
If views are important to you, be sure to check the specific cabin you're booking, as some have windows that are obstructed by lifeboats. If you want to enjoy the view while traveling north, you'll want to be on the starboard side (heading south, on the port side). If you want to enjoy the dockside cargo activity, choose a stateroom on the opposite side.
A word of warning -- we found the cabins had a near-total lack of soundproofing. We were able to hear our neighbors talking, watching TV and -- ahem -- doing other things with astounding clarity. Additionally, excessive announcements are made onboard, and even if you have your cabin's speakers turned off, you'll still hear almost every word. We also were disturbed when two maintenance men barged into our cabin unannounced to change the showerhead in our cabin's bathroom. Because it's a working ship with little turnaround time in each port, a lot of work that's usually done behind the scenes with other cruise lines is done on an everyday basis on Otto Sverdrup; that also explains why our cabin smelled strongly of paint for a large portion of our sailing. (Crewmembers were painting the railings on the deck immediately below while we were sailing, and the fumes wafted inside almost constantly.)