The cruise originally had a stop in Greenland, but somewhere between inquiring and booking, this stop was removed from the itinerary which was somewhat disappointing.
There are television screens in a lot of the bars that play a 24 hour sports channel. This would have been worth an extra point, but in none of the bars did they allow the volume to be on. Given the programming of the sports channel throughout the ship, it would have been great to have had a sports bar where fans could gather to watch their favourite games. This cruise was on during the Women’s Soccer World Cup, and so this was a lost opportunity.
The number of included food options was awesome - and ne’er failed to deliver. The Giza Asian restaurant in particular was excellent. I only tried one specialty restaurant - the Teppayaki - and it was an abomination. Yelling and clacking utensils against grill plates was, I imagine, supposed to count as entertainment. Instead, it was annoying and somewhat embarrassing to the professionalism of the chefs who were good at, well, cooking.
I had an Oceanview room as I like to know when it is light or dark. (Balconies and Suites are wasted on me, as I only use the room to shower and sleep). In any case the Oceanview proved redundant on this cruise as we had more than our fair share of midnight sun. The cabin was excellent - zero complaints.
Akureyri was a stunner of a town with abundant art (I was even lucky enough to catch the opening of a local artist’s show), myriad bars and restaurants (Guinness on tap… yay!) and a thermal pool complex that was the perfect tonic for a cool mid-summer’s day. The architecture in Akureyri was different to Djúpivogur and Seyðisfjörður (and - we were to learn - to the rest of Iceland). Instead of corrugated iron, the houses were clad in pressed iron plates. Loved Akureyri. Oh, and the Botanical Gardens. Small, but stunning.
This is a sleepy little village of 500 or so sleepy inhabitants. It was supremely boring. I went in search of art, and thanks to little or no signposting missed most of what I tried to see.
If there was anything interesting about Grundarfjörður, then I missed it. Having said that the locals were lovely, engaging people. Again I visited the thermal springs (I love them) and this town’s were outdoors. There was simply no better way to spend a morning than soaking in hot water looking out over the extraordinary landscape of the fiord that the town was in.
We struck outstanding in Ísafjörður and this made for a pleasant stroll around. The old part of town was (once out of the port area) quite nice, but in the absence of any cultural attractions that appealed, I went to the local swimming pool. It was okay, but nothing special to recommend it. Where Ísafjörður shone was in the natural landscape of the fiord which was, in a word, breathtaking.
Reykjavík charmed the pants off me. Plenty of fellow travellers told me that one day was more than enough in Reykjavík, but I could have spent innumerable evenings sitting outside the Bravo pub enjoying the people-watching. Icelanders are delightful folk, and they know how to brew a beer (the Einstök Arctic Pale Ale is my new favourite drop in the world), and make licorice (tick), and they don’t mind a sheet or two of corrugated iron it has to be said. What’s not to like?
Whatever I wrote about Djúpivogur can be replicated here, except that it has 700 or so residents. Oh my stars. It’s only saving grace was having a craft brewery. But as I returned to the ship (after a freezing 35 minute wait for a tender), I thought to myself: Iceland and I are not going to be friends. I think I was using the words “boring”, “dull” and “comatose” a lot. This opinion, I’m pleased to report, did change…!
Torshavn was delightful. Public art abounded and the older part of town was beautiful to wander around and take photos. We had nice weather, and I managed to pay the most I have ever paid for coffee in my life at this port.
What a gorgeous town Tromso is. Lovely architecture, laid-back vibe and some excellent coffee houses. Would return in a heartbeat.