Very disappointing cruise. This was my 5th cruise and I thought that I had done all of the research needed prior to booking the cruise. If you believe the brochure and the advertising you would think you are booking a high-end cruise with exciting destinations. The brochure fails to tell you that when you visit the 34 ports that you do not have the opportunity to get off the ship to visit them as it may only be a 5 minutes stop to pick up or drop off mail or supplies for the ship. I booked the Astronomy Voyage as I wanted to learn how to photograph and see the Northern Lights. The brochure states that you would have an expert astronomy lecturer and you would go on expeditions to see the Northern Lights. There were no expeditions to see the lights with the lecturer and he did not really assist with the photography side of things either.
• SHIP: The ship was the MS FINNMARKEN. The ship is a working ferry not a cruise ship as made out to be in the brochures. It is a postal boat and a car ferry. We were told the ship is 15 years old. The decor is dated and the ship is not that large. In general the ship seems to be understaffed in the gift shop and dining rooms. The ship may make up to 8 stops at different ports per day, but you may not be able to get off as the stops can be as short as 10-15 minutes. Generally the longest time in port can be for 2 hours at one location per day. On the return trip there is very limited opportunities to leave the ship to visit the any ports.
If you want to go on the Astronomy Voyage cruise you are required to do the Bergen - Kirkenes - Bergen round trip. The return trip is boring and there is little do on the ship during the day.
The cabins are small, the tiles in the shower moved under foot and one tile was cracked. When our cabin was cleaned the toilet seat was broken in half when we returned to the room, which we had to get replaced. Staff refuse to give you a bathmat for the bathroom. The bedding is quite odd. There is no top sheet for the bed and each day your cabin steward would not make the bed they would fold up a quilt and put in the middle of the bed and you would have to make the bed yourself to go to sleep. The cabins are quite small. We were lucky to have a TV and tea and coffee making in our rooms others we met who were below deck five didn't have either of these "LUXURIES". Not what you get on normal cruises.