We are experienced travelers (we've done treks in Nepal, independent travel throughout Europe, guided small-group hikes and tours in South America and Africa, and some large and small-ship cruises, including an Antarctica trip on the MS Fram). We chose the Silver Cloud cruise based primarily on the itinerary; we loved the wildlife and scenery in Antarctica, South Georgia, and the Falkland Islands and wanted to do a trip in the Arctic. The MS Fram was our first experience with a small-ship cruise, and the Silver Cloud Expedition sounded wonderful both because of its small size and amenities--many more than on the Fram.
We absolutely loved the Greenland and Canadian Arctic cruise! We found the scenery to be varied and amazing. Sam Ford Fjord in particular was like a cross between the most beautiful Norwegian Fjord and a more-spectacular Yosemite, and we were thrilled every day by the glaciers, icebergs, and remote, unspoiled places we visited. We found the towns to be colorful and interesting, and we enjoyed learning about the culture and history of the people and area both in landings and in the many high-quality lectures provided by the passionate expedition staff. We especially appreciated the opportunity to do some fairly strenuous hikes to beautiful viewpoints, most led by Truls, a very experienced Norwegian expedition staff member. One concern we had had with the cruise was that it would not be active enough, but we were quite pleased to see how many challenging hikes we were able to do. Like other reviewers, we were a little disappointed not to see much wildlife, and we did feel that the staff sometimes over-emphasized how much we had seen when this had not been the case, but we did see many birds, a polar bear, one group of walruses close-up, and a few whales. But for us, the scenery made up for the lack of wildlife.
We found the ship to be lovely in almost all respects. Our vista suite cabin was comfortable, though we found the large couch and two chairs to be somewhat crowded and awkward. The MDR food was generally quite good and the service was excellent, and we appreciated the fact that on this expedition cruise, we could relax in one of the bars and then at dinner after a long day hiking or being out on deck or in zodiacs without having to dress up .Fellow travelers we met were generally well-traveled and interesting and we loved the casual, non-pretentious feel we found on the ship in the bars and meal venues.
The cabin was pleasant and comfortable, and we did not miss having a balcony in the cold, polar region. We found the sitting area to be awkward and crowded due to the large couch and two large chairs filling too much of the space. The bathroom was large and functional.