Chose this cruise - Fire and Ice because of the intinery and sailing ex Newcastle.
Took 2 hours from arriving at terminal to boarding ship. This was pretty good as some waited over 4 hours! Embarkation gets 4 out of 10.
At first the A/C was able to be set to 'Baltic' which is great for sleeping. Being too cold through the day when we got further north I adjusted the A/C - big mistake never could get it back to cold enough for sleeping despite being told an engineer had corrected it. I think somehow it had been adjusted to save energy as when we were almost back to Newcastle it was blowing like billyo for the next boarders. The bed wasn't good quality. You get 2 pillows; one is an inch thin and the other is like a football - take your own! The so called comforter is too heavy - THERE WAS NO COMFORT IN BED and the room was stuffy. Because of this sleep quality gets 1 out of 10. Surrounding noise could be heard through the day which was annoying.
Dining was not up to cruise standard. Very samey e.g. chilli con carne and chicken korma on just about every day. Plenty red meat and fatty stuff, but not much for fish/shell fish lovers- and yes we visited Iceland and Fjords! Be prepared for at least 2 hours in the waiter service venue despite staff working like navvies! It really wasn't worth the wait but trying to get a table in Islands which is the self service restaurant, was like trying to find a hen with teeth! Dining experience gets 3 out of 10.
I don't know what they did to gin and tonics which is my usual tipple the world over, but I left several and gave up on them eventually. As did my hubby who isn't as fussy as me. The wine was disgusting and I am no wine snob. I drink Baron Saint Jean at £3.15 per bottle from Aldi - red, white and rose all very palatable. The stuff skin flints Tui are dishing out on their A/I must be 50p at the most per bottle when quality compared. Some of the cocktails were decent. Drinks gets 4 out of 10.
The itinery was good until it took 34 hrs to sail from Invergordon to Newcastle (I kid you not). This meant we paid for an extra night on board which was not necessary. I consider this being ripped off! Itinery gets 5 out of 10.
The salvation of the ship is definitely the crew and they deserve 10 out of 10! This has a definite knock on effect with the passengers and makes for a very friendly warm atmosphere. There is obviously a shoe string budget for staff, (typical TUI - skinflints IMO), but those who are there are excellent!
The main venues have been done up to look attractive but in reality aren't very comfortable. The Atrium is cold and drafty with huge round chairs which appeal to no one, whereas in the rather warm Broadway show lounge you have to peel yourself off the faux leather couches at the end of the shows. It's all a bit top show but in reality - cheap and nasty. The Venue room where there are also live performances is directly above the show lounge and the 2 are in competition sometimes - hardly what you would call good design is it? Some of the entertainers, in particular the band called B12 were very good.
To sum up briefly I think quality of food, service and other overheads like good A/C have been sacrificed for all inclusive drinks package. I think TUI are trying to create party ships rather than having emphasis on relaxation and attentiveness. However judging by what would appear to be an average age of 92yrs their plan isn't working! (last comment maybe a bit of an exaggeration but wanted to get point across!)
A week would have been better than 2 !