The SH Vega was a lovely, new ship! My cabin couldn't have been more luxurious or more spacious with a King-size bed, an electric fireplace and a very functional bathroom. The food was fabulous and the presentation and variety were top-notch. The crew was friendly, well-trained and did everything they could do to make my trip pleasurable in every way. The zodiac expeditions were well-handled in groups and the atmosphere during the whole cruise was up-beat. When we finally got to see our one and only polar bear, everyone was elated and we celebrated with champagne brought to us via the ships own zodiac while we were returning to the ship. The itinerary was so very interesting and it was fun to compare the sailing with the Antarctica cruise I had taken the year before. So very different, but definitely worth every penny!!
The reason that I gave the Swan Hellenic Company a poor service rating was because of the incident which occurred during my effort (and those of many others) to reach the port of Tromso the night before the cruise (lodging was included in the price of the trip for that night). I thought that the Company should have had the forethought for the complications that had been occurring that whole summer with flight delays, strikes, employee reductions, etc. This situation had been going on for months when Swan Hellenic moved this particular cruise from early spring to the end of July. Because about a forth of the passengers and crew were stuck in Oslo the day of sailing with no way to get to the embarkation point (Tromso) before it sailed at 6pm on July 20th, they had to charter a plane to get us all there before sailing time. They had no other option for us as they had not planned ahead or made contingency plans for this event occurring although they were well aware of all the delays, cancellations, etc. that had been happening all summer. I was charged $1,500 for this one way, 2 1/2 hour flight as I had no other option. I had missed my scheduled 1 1/2 hour flight by jet (cost of $77) the day before due to flight delays getting to Oslo. The Company failed to be prepared for this and I think it was very unfortunate to have to begin my cruise with this happening. Swan Hellenic did offer me a "voucher" for a future cruise, but so far nothing that they offered me is to any area that I haven't already visited, so for me it is probably going to be useless. My agent, Frank Yang from Polar Dreams, was amazing. He worked so very hard for me while I was stuck in Oslo and afterwards when I was contesting the unbelievable cost of the chartered flight even though he had nothing to do with any of my flights which I had booked myself. He was in constant contact with "Lisa" from Swan Hellenic to try to find a solution to my predicament. It was either pay the horrific price of the charter flight or miss the cruise which I had already paid for and which was non-refundable at that time. No other option was given to me so I had no choice. It was too bad as the cruise itself was one of the best I have been on to date.
This was a new ship so it was very nice to be the first passenger in my cabin. I was very pleased with all the amenities and it was very comfortable. I loved the fireplace, make-up mirror, space under the bed for luggage, the nice furniture inside and out on the deck. Passengers also received a water-proof backpack, polar jacket with liner and a stainless steel water bottle. It would have been nice to have known that we were receiving these items (we only knew about the jacket) as it would have saved me the cost of the waterproof backpack and the luggage space for that and my "additional" water bottle. However, they were all very nice and thoughtful of the cruise line. I also have to mention the storage! I have never seen so much storage space in a cabin. It was wonderful!!