Bucket list cruise to see Northern Lights. We were very fortunate that we did indeed see this spectacle as it is by no means a certainty. The days we were there the probablity was good at 30% ! We saw them on one of our trips out (ships topur from Tromso) , saw them from the deck in Tromso but no one saw them in Narvik (we went on pre-booked independent trip booked online in the uk before we travelled) to compare the (expensive ) ships tour in Tromso with a less expernsive trip in Narvik. The independent trip was not great. We can absolutely understand not seeing the lights but this tour was poorly organised, very uncomfortable (school type minibus very cramped, hard suspension and blue interior lighting that disturbed our eyes.) The driver got lost and nearly ditched us doing a 3 point turn on a snowy road. When we arrived at the predetermined destination -about 2 hours drive and into Sweden there was a lot of light pollution even though the journey there was pitch dark. Not sure why we went this far. They did provide hot drink (Hot Ribena) and a pancacky thing. The ships tour in Tromso was much better overall.
Tip: Book v early as a lot of the tours were sold out well in advance and Cunard were unable to access more spaces.
Dining was in Britannioa reastauarant 2nd sitting on a shared table of 6 including the three of us. We purchased the commodore selection wine package v expensive at $715 but as we are not normally big drinkers we tend to splash out on holiday .. 12 bottles for 12 nights for 3 people was fine but at 715 $ a bit over priced. Good , decent wines though so no real complaint.
My wife and son have special diets- gluten AND lactose free (a bit of a challenge.) However this was handled fantastically , with no "mistakes" at all. The head waiter was exeptional. They would pre order next days dinner the night before and it was done with so litle fuss that you would be hard pushed to even realise. The kitchens then prepared the exact same meals as everone else minus gluten and dairy.- even making notoriously difficult things like yorkshire puddings or souffle. On the nights when we were not dining on board they sent menus to our cabin to( select next nights choices) and had them collected by room service on our return to ship at 2am
The standard of entertainmnent on board was fantastic Something for everyone. Music all over the ship including, jazz, string quartet, cocktail pianist, piano recitals, harp and ships own band / orchestra. The theatre shows were equally v high standard including west end style musicals, comedians, violinist and a "cirque de Soleil type show. I also joined the ships guest choir which was great fun.
Ther was so much going on in the way of lectures and demonstratiopns that we split up to do different things andf compare notes later,. That way we didnt feel as if we had missed any. Even then we ended up sometimes having to choose betwen diffeent happenings,
The ships tours off ship were all excellent- though some had been cancelled due to road closures and there was limited capacity on ohers so book early. We went on the Fiord trip from Alesund which was excellent, the ships northern lights tour from Tromso, the tromso highlights tour which again was ecellent and well paced. My son went on the High speed RIB trip in Tromso which he rated ecellent.
The cable car trip in Narvik was good but the stuff we saw on the trip before reaching the cable car was less interesting.
The ships photographers were better than we have had befopre but as expected on the pricey side. They also ran out of the photo albums as this particular company has now lost the contract for future cunard cruises so were "destocking" cunard branded products.
Overall then a fantastic experience and a real bonus seeing the spectacle .
We are not huge drinkers but even so felt that they are too expensive $12 + 15% for a cocktail just a tad overpriced.
We would highly recommend booking with Cunard (we have!) Japan in May and Iceland in June. (more bucket list stuff.
Overall perfectly adequate Right at front of ship so long hike to dining areas / theatre etc
slight niggle design wise in that the wardrobe door opens inwards and the ceiling light is then wrong side of the door making it difficult to see whats in wardrobe as it is in shadow and dark.