This was our first experience of a cruise proper (we had previously sailed to New York on the Queen Mary II). We went principally as a way, we hoped, of seeing the Northern Lights. We were most unfortunate in that the weather was not ... Read More
This was our first experience of a cruise proper (we had previously sailed to New York on the Queen Mary II). We went principally as a way, we hoped, of seeing the Northern Lights. We were most unfortunate in that the weather was not very good - rain and low cloud plus strong winds. However, we did see the Northern Lights on three occasions although they were a little weaker than expected.
Overall, the ship seemed to us to be comfortable, well appointed and the food excellent. Our cabin (an Arctic Superior) was small but had everything one might need (although more hooks for outer wear would have been useful), a fridge and a TV (although the only English language programs were two news channels).
The staff were friendly and helpful. A member of the 'Expedition Team' - Magnus - gave excellent talks each day on relevant subjects such as attempts to reach the North Pole, the Sami, Norwegian life etc. There was a film-show most evenings of slightly variable interest.
By our standards, everything in Norway is expensive and things on the ship more so. The shore excursions were of variable quality and value for money.
The Trondheim City Walk - was quite long but interesting.
Kayaking on the River Nid - was fun in its way but little was said about the city itself and one missed out a bit as a result. Personally, I should have preferred kayaking in a remoter area.
Polar History Walk - good, but quite short and most of the places visited could have been visited independently at much less cost.
Cross-country Skiing - very good (and quite tiring).
The North Cape - good although personally should have liked longer at the cape.
The Northernmost Town in the World - (it isn't, Longyearbyen is) not really worth the money. The museum was within walking distance of the ship (and there wasn't enough time to see it properly) and the other sights were not that impressive.
Into the Ice - Stories of a Polar Hero - again, not really worth the money. A gentle walk up a snowy hill with views as above from the top. A snack in a tent at the bottom and a talk that covered the same ground as a previous lecture on board.
Lofoten by Horse - cancelled because bad weather meant that we could not be picked up from the next port. Would have taken place in the dark anyway, so not sure that we missed very much.
Visit to an Authentic Fishing Village - excellent. Very interesting excursion led by a local retired schoolmaster who knew his stuff and put it over in an entertaining way.
The MS Finnmarken is a combination of a cargo/post ship and a cruise ship. This means that she sails to a timetable, calls at a great many ports (33 on the way North and the same number on the way South) and stops at some for a very short time (15 mins at some) so it is not always possible to go ashore.
Finally, not all the ports are particularly attractive (although their surrounding are). Norway was knocked about rather a lot during the war and most buildings are quite new.
Don't be put off, though. It's a trip worth doing. Read Less