This was given to me as a 70th birthday present because it involved the Norwegian coast, which I had always indicated I wanted to see. My wife also chose this cruise because it wasn't a typical one: it offered an Astronomy Voyage, with an expert lecturer on the Northern Lights and other night sky phenomena (Dr John Mason), and with other interesting talks, information points and excursions handled by the two-woman Expedition Team. The ship was obviously comfortable and well-appointed, but wasn't a great block of flats on a hull, like many modern cruise vessels, and it combined very good facilities for passengers with an element of working ship, delivering cargo at a lot of ports (34) along the way. Our cabin was small, but very comfortable and well-designed: it became a home from home! The organisation of the cruise from start to finish was absolutely faultless: e.g. embarking and disembarkation - including management of our luggage - were handled with the utmost efficiency and with no needless hanging around for passengers. Throughout the voyage, we were kept informed of what was happening through clear - and audible! - announcements. Two minor problems with cabin equipment were immediately remedied. Excursions were handled with the utmost efficiency by the Expedition Team and those ashore, making everything worry-free and enjoyable. The food was plentiful and tasty, without the ridiculous waste and excess which one gathers are the norm on some cruises. Breakfasts involved a good range of items, though the quality of a couple of them (eg scrambled eggs and porridge) could be a bit variable. The lunch buffets had an element of Norwegian comfort food about them, which we found agreeable. Evening meals involved a set 3-course menu, which some might find restrictive, but most of the dishes served were excellent with a lot of locally-sourced ingredients. Prices for drinks were high, especially for those with weakening sterling bank accounts! The scenery was simply breathtaking, with constantly changing vistas of snowy peaks coming down to the sea and of islands, many with small and picturesque settlements on them: it will live in our memories for ever. The experience of the late winter Norwegian coast, including settlements in the Arctic Circle, was simply magical. And we saw the lovely Northern Lights - with one amazing moment when the night sky filled with a burst of extraordinary light.
Our cabin was small, but cosy and well-designed, with a porthole giving outside views. It was also very well-located, being a short staircase walk to two open-air decks and the restaurant. Everything was extremely clean and worked well. The beds were comfortable.
I enjoyed this ride out of town, and then brief visit to Nidaros cathedral. My wife wasn't quite so keen. (Tram was cramped!)
Very well-organised. Amazing experience to travel behind these willing and friendly dogs through the snowy countryside. Very charming French guide (Julie).