O.K. so if you opt for a cruise to Northern Norway at the end of November you've got to expect that the weather might be problematic and it was! This was not a great cruise experience and unfortunately this was not entirely due to the various storms and gales that we sailed through.
To warn future searchers for the Northern Lights you should research the itinerary carefully. Technically we were in Narvik and Tromso for 2 days each but we left in the very early hours of the 2nd day in each place so less than 20hrs in each case would be the truth.Also luck was not with us. On safety grounds the captain took us to Narvik first ( we were scheduled to visit Tromso). Narvik was cold,windy and very snowy and there were problems with Shuttle buses into town. It was walkable, in the right gear, but a 15 minute wait to get back on board in pretty poor conditions with no shelter I could have done without. The weather in Tromso, when we did arrive, meant that there was very little chance of seeing the Northern Lights. We had a chat with some local guides and they told us that all trips that evening had been cancelled as there was no chance of a sighting but to add insult to injury they said that on the day that we had originally been scheduled to be there, there had been a fine display. Boo! Also they were busy refunding the ship's passengers who had booked private tours. P&O clearly had better local knowledge, or worse ethics, than the locals as their Northern lights tours at nearly £100 a go, went ahead. I understand that they were unsuccessful.
Due to the bad weather going back (as opposed to the bad weather going!) we missed Stavanger entirely, which resulted in 4 sea days before Southampton. We were o.k. as regards sea sickness and coped well with the movement of the ship. Also it didn't seem to affect our appetites but the decks and indoor swimming pool were all closed for most of the time and I must confess to a touch of 'cabin fever'. The ship creaked and groaned, various buckets appeared to catch the drips and there was a spectacular eruption in the floor of the Belvedere restaurant. The ship did show considerable signs of wear and tear. Our first cabin's balcony partition had to be wedged closed with a wooden peg and the emergency exit in the Meridian flew open spontaneously several times at Dinner. Coffee machines malfunctioned and various toilets were out of order. The ship was noisy as you would expect in stormy weather and some nights sleep was very difficult.So all this is pretty negative, but there are some positives.
We were very impressed by most of the crew. Our cabin steward was superb, most of the waiters at dinner were friendly, efficient and helpful and the staff at reception were cheerful and effective. It was deemed necessary for us to move cabins and the move was well organised by various members of the crew. A problem in the dining room was dealt with in a most sensitive and professional manner. The captain kept us well informed as regards the weather and the itinerary changes but there were times when I felt that I was listening to Eeyore as regards his less than optimistic utterances. "We are all in this together' springs to mind.The food varied from the good to the excellent,the entertainment in the evenings was interesting, in a good way, although one Headliners show fell victim to the weather at the last minute. The lectures by John Maclean were most interesting.So there were some pluses.
However, back in Southampton the failure of the Airbridge caused disembarkation chaos.Sometimes you can't catch a break!
Bath was a plus, although there were hot water problems. Cabin steward superb. Cabin itself well maintained but balcony tired and rusty. Looks out over lifeboats and a fair bit of noise in rough weather.
Pretty and snowy.
Interesting place to visit.