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211 Arctic Cruise Reviews

We chose this cruise because of our previous fantastic experience on board MS Midnatsol in Antarctica. We specifically wanted an expedition cruise. We stayed in suite 841 which was lovely, good size, nice balcony and really comfortable ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of our previous fantastic experience on board MS Midnatsol in Antarctica. We specifically wanted an expedition cruise. We stayed in suite 841 which was lovely, good size, nice balcony and really comfortable beds. Sadly during heavy seas it sounded like someone had left a screwdriver behind the wall and the noise was very intrusive. Dining was poor. The lovely staff could not cope with he numbers of passengers and the general the layout of the dining areas was poor, for example there is 1 toaster at breakfast situated in the space before the buffet so that it got very congested. The menus were highly repetitive apart from the rare occasions when they took on fresh food. Entertainment and activities were very poor. The lecture theatre has a dreadful layout and can seat only about a third of the passengers. The science area is very underused. Communication of activities was poor and daily schedules for the next day published late in the evening. The rooms are well insulated for sound which is a good thing but it meant that you could not hear the ship-wide announcements because of problems with the ships electronics systems. All excursions that would have made this an expedition cruise were cancelled and this is my major annoyance. On one occasion at a briefing the expedition leader told the passengers to stop moaning to the expedition crew about the lack of expeditions because they were doing their best to find alternatives. This did not make for a happy on-ship atmosphere. The cabin and dining staff were lovely. Some of the expedition crew were also very helpful Ports and shore excursions organised by external agencies were generally OK, however there was a particular low point when the expedition team filled in for a cancelled wildlife expedition by abandoning us in a tiny fishing harbour with little guidance of what to do when we got there. There were many problems with the ship that others have mentioned. Items that have not been mentioned are the high temperatures in the gym and the pool being out of action most of the time because it flooded the deck 9 suites. Passengers that had stayed on from the previous northwest passage cruise reported long, long waits to get off the ship via the zodiacs. We did not experience this because all our similar wildlife trips were cancelled. In summary: the design of communal areas is poor and they are not large enough to cope and there were too many passengers. It is a lovely ship but if you want to go on an expedition cruise or a luxury cruise choose another ship because this does neither. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
This was our 7th adventure cruise with Lindblad and the 4th on the Orion. We chose this trip because it was to a very different part of the world and it was on the Orion which is our favourite Lindblad ship. There are only 100 guests so ... Read More
This was our 7th adventure cruise with Lindblad and the 4th on the Orion. We chose this trip because it was to a very different part of the world and it was on the Orion which is our favourite Lindblad ship. There are only 100 guests so it is easy to get to know many others We were not disappointed. We were able to visit some very unique Russian locations and meet some amazing local people who live in very different environment to us. However the wildlife sightings were out of this world. Our captain and the expedition leader were able to get us very close to amazing sightings of polar bears, walruses and muskox. We went by zodiac very close to cliffs covered in a wide variety of birds. We had whales close to our bow. Wrangel Island has one of the highest concentrations of polar bears in the world. As with our previous Lindblad trips, the expedition staff were of the highest quality. Their ability to get us the near perfect photos was amazing. On sea days we had fantastic presentations on a variety of subjects. We love the Orion because the staff are mostly long time employees and they welcome us back, knowing our names and very quickly our food and beverage preferences. The food on the Orion is amazing, so hard to imagine how they produce such innovative meals. We will be back again I know. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
This was our first Silversea cruise and unfortunately it will also be our last. We recently took their 17 day cruise to Greenland, which turned out to be very disappointing. The scenery ws nice at first, but very monotonous after a few ... Read More
This was our first Silversea cruise and unfortunately it will also be our last. We recently took their 17 day cruise to Greenland, which turned out to be very disappointing. The scenery ws nice at first, but very monotonous after a few days. If it weren't for the interesting shapes of the icebergs, there would have been little to photograph. The villages on both the Canadian and Greenland side were uninteresting. We had hoped to see wildlife but there were almost no signs of anything living. The one polar bear we saw was so far away that it couldn't be made out with the naked eye and whale spouts were so far away they couldn't be seen either. The most annoying thing was that the cruise director and expedition crew were constantly talking about what an incredible day we had. Maybe riding in zodiacs in below freezing weather and getting soaked while seeing little of interest is exciting for some people, but definitely not for us. Our cabin was nice, but we experienced a flood along with several other cabins in our row. No one attempted to help us with the damage we incurred and we were told that we were lucky since we had minimal damage and others had much worse. The extent of their help was to put a large noisy fan inside our room for a couple of days. Knowing that our cabin was probably going to be affected when it happened, they should have been proactive when they were working in the corridor all night with noisy equipment and warned us to remove items from the floor in the closet. By the time we discovered the problem it was too late to save the things in our backpack, some of which were not replaceable. We bought our own boots for wet landings and tagged and stored them in the mud room as instructed. We wore them once and we went to the mud room after a few days for another excursion we found that someone had helped themselves to one boot from each pair. If you invest in your own boots it would be wise to clean them and keep them in your cabin at night. Already soured on the trip after these experiences, the final straw was the guest relations manager's rudeness. Far from appeasing passengers who were upset, her attitude actually caused us to cancel our already booked Kamchatka cruise and to not book the Antarctica cruise we planned to book while on board. The food in the main dining room is mostly very good, although there were a few days with some big misses. La Terrazza is good, but menu choices for dinner don't offer much variety. The disappointment is La Dame, for which you pay $120. It isn't worth the money. Altogether we can't recommend Silversea based on this experience. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Because I traveled to Antarctica with this company and had a fabulous Voyage so trusted them to provide the same experience in Alaska I was so wrong There were constant changes of itinerary.Not due to weather .More days at sea than ... Read More
Because I traveled to Antarctica with this company and had a fabulous Voyage so trusted them to provide the same experience in Alaska I was so wrong There were constant changes of itinerary.Not due to weather .More days at sea than advertised.in 16 days I spent less than 30hrs ashore.One landing promised glorious beaches fabulous hikes herds of bison ...it took so long to disembark 500 passengers using one tender boat we had 2hrs only. Time to crocodile walk red jackets around a road.no chance at all to see the promised beaches and hikes .When shore did come into view we were so far from IT that any wildlife were mere blobs in the distance .We were promised small boat experience to get close to the Alaskan coast at its most remote.Small boats not used due to us reg which we were not told of.Thus we saw very little of the Alaskan coast , We were told ashore excursions were included they were not all excursions were pre bookable and we were not provided with an excursions list before sailing so any we would have desired were oversubscribed and heavily overpriced.. There were problems with the ship in many ways .from a dreadful auditorium,water logged decks flooded cabins ,lack of seating areas to mention just a few. All in all a most dreadful experience no way was it an Expedition Voyage..it was a cruise without the luxurious facilities and surrounding of a cruise ship and three times the cost of a cruise to Alaska . It was clearly a cobbled together itinerary to get passengers to pay for the repositioning of the ship from the end of the north west passage Voyage to Vancouver where it was to pick up journalists and travel writers. Extremely dissatisfied and disappointed with a trip I had so looked forward to and spent so much hard saved money on .n Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
The Northwest Passage on the MS Roald Amundsen First Impressions and General Observations The voyage began well. The Air Greenland flight was uneventful and Hurtigruten personnel were ready at Kangerlussuaq to see us to ... Read More
The Northwest Passage on the MS Roald Amundsen First Impressions and General Observations The voyage began well. The Air Greenland flight was uneventful and Hurtigruten personnel were ready at Kangerlussuaq to see us to transportation to the boat. We felt some concern at the dock because it was dark and some of us do need to be careful where we are stepping, but we swiftly and safely boarded the Zodiacs with the help of the expedition crew. That the Amundsen was brilliantly lit with apparently every light in use was a bit spectacular. In retrospect, this would seem to be in contradiction to the energy conservation aspects of the ship, but perhaps a bit of hubris would be expected on a maiden voyage. Once on board, we were greeted with the spectacular six story display facing the elevators. Obtaining our identification card/key was quick and finding our stateroom equally fast. Luggage appeared in due course as promised. Having been on the Fram on five prior occasions, I think we were well prepared to what should otherwise have occurred. [Those 5 voyages on the Fram have really set a level of expectation that we feel any Hurtigruten ship would meet and it would be impossible for us not to compare the Amundsen with the Fram.] Hurtigruten literature makes very clear the need for a health statement (“Boarding will be denied if ….”), but no one on the Amundsen was prepared to collect and review the health statements. Subsequent inquiry at the reception desk suggested that staff were essentially clueless about the matter. [This should not be constructed as a criticism of the medical staff of the ship as we witnessed their very fast and efficient handling of the medical emergency that affected a crew member.] The “Mandatory” AECO and Boat Safety Presentations were at best casual and no record of attendance was made as was the custom on the Fram. A crew member did don the safety suit but there was no commentary on the step-by-step procedure to properly secure the suit or even any particular effort made to draw attention to the demonstration; I would question what fraction of the ship’s passengers actually saw or paid attention to it. Those present were asked to move to the emergency assembly stations, but no additional introduction to the rescue boats or locations of safety equipment was made. We grant that use of the safety suit was often shown on one or more of the many video sets, but I don’t think we ever observed anyone paying attention to these. Obtaining expedition jackets and muck boots the next day was without delay and similarly there was no problem in identifying our landing groups. It was rather disconcerting a couple of days latter when the expected rotation of the landing groups was seemingly randomly disrupted by the introduction of jacket patches – one can understand use of a obvious visual identification to prevent passengers from ignoring their allotted place in the landings, but the use of identification patches should have been done from the start. The Captain’s Welcome and introduction to his officers and the expedition team was indeed a fitting introduction to the voyage, and the expedition crew provided a great goodbye at the Captain’s Farewell even though he and his officers were otherwise occupied at that time by the invasion of the US Coast Guard inspectors. The appearance of a Northwest Passenger Certificate was also a most welcome and unexpected surprise at the end of the voyage. Otherwise, our overall initial impression was that the Amundsen is technological marvel, shiny new, but rather sterile compared to the Fram. There seemed to be too much dark tile in floors and walls, the corridor carpets too dark, and the artwork in the corridors and our cabin too uniformly abstract in black and white (the designs didn’t seem to have much relevance to the nature of Hurtigruten itineraries). The only real exceptions to this are the wonderful penguin and polar bear décors of the 6th and 10th deck restrooms. The Strusted prints in the forward stair well are equally abstract, bland in color, and without much appeal. The light colored carpet with red lines in the Exploration Lounge is actually quite attractive and it is unfortunate that it was not more extensively used in the Lounge and in the corridors. We welcomed the presentation by the Chief Engineer on the new technology used in the ship’s construction. The visit to the bridge was most interesting to see how modern technology is incorporated into the navigation. The Expedition Crew The Expedition Crew were fantastic, wonderfully helpful in helping for safe boarding and leaving the Zodiacs, approachable and friendly on board, willing to answer questions, and presenters of a number of interesting and varied lectures. Their attention in making certain that landing sites were safe was very apparent and appreciated. We also were very pleased to see that alternatives were in hand when weather or ice conditions required changes in the schedule. The Cabin Our 4th deck cabin was far larger than we needed, but the double bed was comfortable and very welcome. The reclining chairs actually were quite comfortable. We appreciated the “green” option as our needs for making up the bed and fresh linens were quite minimal. There were some technical problems with receiving announcements in the room via the video system. Although several Norwegian networks as well as Skynews claimed to be found on the TV, no reception on any of these given channels was ever received during the voyage. We also have no idea if the listed movies and other television programs indicated in the TV menu were available as we had no desire and made no effort to access them. Some daily news would have been welcome and so we were happy when the daily news summary finally appeared on one of the channels (without announcement) mid-voyage. Also in mid-voyage, the daily schedule of events on channel 1 was moved (again without announcement) to a higher channel, but we discovered if the TV was left on the higher channel, we no longer received the oral announcements which were restricted to channel 1. At some point, even this seemed not to be working and announcements were subsequently made via the ceiling loud speaker. In sum, however, any problems in the TV system we would rate of minor consequence and presume these will be rectified in due course. We should at this point state our appreciation that the crew and staff did make the effort to minimize the repetition of announcements in multiple languages. A bit more annoying was that only once were we able to access the internet via the ship’s Wi-Fi. As we had no pressing need to maintain e-mail or other contact with the outside world, this rates as a minor annoyance without explanation (possibly the problem was due to the weakness of the signal on the ship). Once home, our laptop instantly accessed our home Wi-Fi so the problem was not with our computer. We would bring attention to one truly awkward design element in the room. That is the entry to the bathroom, with a 6 or 7-inch step upward from the room over 2-inch high sill. A moment of inattention in entering or exiting the bathroom (especially in mid-night when one might be half asleep) could all too easily result in a serious fall and injury. A far lower sill between cabin and bath floors at the same level should be more than adequate to prevent water from escaping the bathroom; actually given the offset of the shower away from the doorway, I am not certain than any sill is necessary. I would hope this concern would be considered in the construction design of any future Hurtigruten vessel. Dining facilities The serving staff were wonderful, quickly attentive and ready to offer some meal alternatives for those with food difficulties. We were rather surprised to see that dining tables in the Aune restaurant were primarily for two persons, certainly not conducive to interaction between passengers. In fact, when passengers did interact at mealtimes it usually meant someone or more would be standing in an aisle and impeding traffic flow. The presence of three passage ways between the tables does not seem ideal. Tables of 6 and 8 seats set perpendicular to a single, and wider, central passage would provide better traffic flow with possibly a few more available seats. The presence of coffee across the aisle from the soup and bread also was a source of congestion. The presence of the shelves along the main corridor is unfortunate. They block the exterior view from half the diners, important as we were always on the lookout to marine life. The lightning on the underside of these shelves does not appear to be significant. But what we can describe only as truly odd, if not bizarre, is the display on these shelves of plastic fruit in canning jars. We cannot imagine how a decorator could possibly believe this to be appropriate to a ship devoted to Arctic exploration! The display of Norwegian tins and the dog sled and marine motifs in the restaurant are far more appropriate even though we confess mild amusement that the former were glued to the shelves so as not to become souvenirs for the passengers. Breakfasts were more than adequate. We did find it curious that orange juice was usually not readily available, though it could be requested of the serving staff. Dry cereal was limited to four offerings, two of which were chocolate based, again curious given the median age of the passengers. High fiber bran cereal would have been more appropriate. But overall, breakfast offerings were more than adequate. Selections in the buffet lunches and dinners appeared to be fewer than what we were accustomed to on the Fram. In particular, the variety of breads on the Amundsen seemed rather limited. Deserts for the lunch and dinner buffets also showed limited imagination on the part of the chef – only three items on offer, one always a berry compote and another a mousse of some form, with the third usually some type of cake. Alternatives of ice cream or a sorbet were offered by the serving staff. I fear we did not find the French(?) style of cuisine for the set menu dinners to be particularly appealing. As Americans, our preference is for a plainer style of cooking in which the artistic presentation of the food is not placed above the actual nature and quality of the item. As this is a culinary prejudice, it perhaps would be inappropriate to make much further comment on the food, though I will make an exception with regard to the several fish offerings of the set menu and the buffet dinners – we very much like baked fish, only seasoned lightly with lemon and pepper. The fish offered on the ship was always prepared within a sauce and seemed generally flavorless. A selection of arctic char was seared on the surface, but otherwise raw. We conclude the chef does not know how to prepare and serve fish. Menus for lunch and dinner should have been prominently posted outside the dining room. Too often, it was too crowded at the serving stations to allow reading the written labels above the serving table and there was no time to question when something had an unfamiliar name. We also note two errors in the information posted outside the Aune restaurant. This tabulation notes meals vary from five-course dinners to buffets – but the set meals were only four-course. An “Afternoon Treat 16:00-17:00” is also listed for the Expedition Lounge. We remember fondly those pastries and fresh pancakes with jam and copious whipped cream served on the Fram every afternoon, but no “Treat” ever appeared on the Amundsen. I suppose we could also mention that hot chocolate was often available on the Fram in addition to coffee and tea. Alas, no hot chocolate on the Amundsen. We did use the alternative restaurant on two occasion for hamburgers. The Expedition Lounge The Expedition Lounge on deck 10 unfortunately is divided into three parts by panels of open metal work whose decorative curves reflect the design in the carpet. We feel their presence is a mistake. It would be far better for the Lounge to be completely open, especially as it was used not only for the Captain’s Welcome and Farewell, for various presentations and open discussions, and the cultural experiences with Inuit visitors to the ship. These panels simply obscure a fair number of the passengers from having a direct view of the presenters. The multiple video screens do portray what the presenters are showing, but the speaker is still not readily visible to most of those present. An open Lounge is simply a more friendly environment and would be a more effective venue for the presentations. The forward design of the Lounge is not optimal. The windows are slanted at far too shallow an angle and are set too far back from the front of the ship to give the best view toward the bow. The forward view should have been designed to give a view as close as possible to what the officers see from the bridge (which our visit showed has an impressive view to the front). We fear that in the Lounge we could also hear the random “Thump, thump, thump” from heavy-footed runners using the trackway on deck 11. Deck 11 should be covered with the rubber-grid mats that are used on the Fram, thick enough to deaden the sound of foot impacts. 6th Deck Auditorium The design of the auditorium is most unfortunate. First, the allocated space seemed too small for the number of passengers though the repetition of programs does work to limit the number of attendees. Perhaps a little more effort could be made to make passengers aware that programs would be repeated and perhaps even attendance by landing groups could be suggested. Second, there was a tendency of passengers to move chairs back to give themselves more leg room at the expense of the row behind them. Third, while the large format of the screen was good, the bottom was so close to the floor that viewers beyond the second or third row found it difficult to see the lower portion of the screen. The use of smaller auxiliary screens at the back of auditorium wasn’t very useful in this regard. The Amundsen would seem to have enough space that the auditorium could (should) have been designed in tiers, with each row a few inches above the one before it. Viewers thus would be more ably to see over the heads of those in front of them, and chairs could not be pushed back. This design is fairly standard, for example, in college classrooms. The auditorium thus would span the height of two decks, but we think this could easily have been achieved. Furthermore, the single entry doors at the front of the auditorium, adjacent to the speaker’s area, are bad as late comers tend to walk in front of the speaker. College lecture rooms have entry at the rear of the rooms, and doors should be double wide for easier entry and egress. For safety reasons, the forward doorways should be retained for emergency use. We did not feel that the design of the auditorium would meet proper safety standards for emergency exit. As a more important point, we must draw attention to the design and placement of the double screen at front. At right angles to each other and set into the front wall, at least a third of those present could not see either of these screens; the auxiliary screens are not a satisfactory alternative to viewing the main screen as they are small and missing is the presenter who often is directing the viewers’ attention to some detail in the picture. The general failure of the electronic pointer further affected the presentations – the presenter might point to some feature on one screen, but most of the audience was left to guess at what this might be. And lastly, the often failure of the microphones was annoying. If the speaker spoke away from the microphone, the sound reproduction would be lost. We find use of the microphones on headbands to be odd. Television news broadcasters typically appear to use a clip-on microphone, suggesting there exist sound systems that are much more reliable than the headbands. Miscellaneous Other Observations I think it would have been better if the main stairway had retained the double side-by-side design used in the Fram. There is two-way travel on stairs and no one agrees on use of the right or left side. Thus when one meets someone from the other direction, there is a 50% need for one or the other to switch sides. With a side-by-side design, we often found it most easy to simply move to the alternative stairway. Perhaps a minor point, but it does seem to make use of the stairs friendlier. Of course, we did use the excellent elevators at times—one can only take the 97 steps between decks 4 and 10 so many times in a day. And the elevators give such a magnificent view of the 6 story display, pleasantly reminding us of past visits to Norway. Perhaps in due course some views of Antarctica and even the 1,000,000 King penguin colony of South Georgia could be added to the display. The maintenance and cabin crew were observed to be doing an excellent job in maintaining the cleanliness of the ship. This is important as not all passengers use the readily available hand sanitation. We have mixed feelings about the sliding doors. On a number of occasions a door would not be working. The push buttons for the exit doors to the aft of deck 10 also were obstinate at times. There is also the annoyance that simply walking past a door would activate the opening. The posting of the morning news summary next to sliding doors near the Science Center meant reading the pages while the doors opened and closed as one moved or remained stationary. Actually given the availability of this news summary via four different language TV channels, posting the paper copies seemed unnecessary (except that this was never announced and discovery of the paper copy and availability on the room TV was fortuitous). The word excellent applies to the Science Center and its Library. The shop was a unexpected disappointing surprise. No postcards, some stuffed toys, and only a few Hurtigruten clothing items. But also jewelry and watches as if this were a Fifth Avenue boutique – these absolutely out of place! Their presence was another unsettling suggestion that personnel involved in the ship design were out of touch with the Hurtigruten precepts of earlier vessels and that expressed in the video presentation of the company’s 125 year history. It would have been far more appropriate to have had a few books related to Arctic exploration and culture, and even other gift items related to the exploration aspect of the voyage – many carvings and other items could be found in the cultural centers of the Inuit towns in Greenland, Nunavut and Alaska and there is no reason why examples could not be secured to sell on the ship. Many similar cultural items can be obtained in Chile and Argentina to accompany southern voyages. That Hurtigruten literature and catalogues for other voyages were lacking on the ship was also surprising. The medallions from port visits by the ship were seen in the corridor in the bridge area. Why hide them here? We have always liked to observe where a ship has visited and to note the variety of emblems that have been acquired. The visibility of the stainless steel exhaust stacks detract from the overall appearance of the vessel. I would suggest that a black cowl of some form be integrated into the upper structure of the ship to hide them. We always ignored the presence of the hot tubs on the Fram and now on the Amundsen, but we suppose some persons might appreciate some warm relief from the cold (we can’t say we have actually observed many passengers taking advantage of them). The addition of a pool on deck 10 seems so unnecessary, didn’t appear to attract much usage, and acted more as an obstacle in passing from one side of the ship to the other if one were on deck observing and photographing wildlife. The addition of a “Wellness Center” just seemed wrong for a Hurtigruten expedition cruise. Summary We have made comparison often to the Fram. Frankly, we are quite fond of the Fram. Yes, its cabins might be a bit spartan, the baths a bit cramped, and so forth, and once we even were rolled out of bed when the ship encountered high waves in the Drake Passage, but the real point is that we have been on the Fram because it was going to really great places, not because we expected to be pampered with soft accomodations, spas, high cuisine, and whatever. We engaged passage on the Amundsen not because it offered more luxury, but because it was going somewhere where our past Hurtigruten experience predicted a memorable once-in-the-lifetime experience with significance of historical, cultural and ecological importance. We only hope that as Hurtigruten brings a new generation of advanced ships into use that this tradition is maintained. Some of what we have noted above we are certain will be rectified as the ship routines become more practiced – but, quite frankly, it would appear that the ship was rushed into use before adequate planning of routines had been done and before crew and staff were trained in those routines. We hope a few of the other suggestions will be accepted where no difficulty would occur in making modifications to the present ship. We hope those few of more serious changes will be considered as Hurtigruten plans new vessels. In addition, we hope that Hurtigruten management seriously reconsider its apparent movement toward a more “yuppified” atmosphere on its ships. The Northwest Passage was a marvelous voyage for us. We expect we will be back on another Hurtigruten voyage in the near future, but not the Roald Amundsen. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Booked this cruise from Reykjavik to Greenland while onboard Silver Cloud’s first Antarctic cruise (reviewed December 2018). It was great to see familiar faces among the crew. In spite of its refurbishment, the ship already feels a ... Read More
Booked this cruise from Reykjavik to Greenland while onboard Silver Cloud’s first Antarctic cruise (reviewed December 2018). It was great to see familiar faces among the crew. In spite of its refurbishment, the ship already feels a bit dated, with constant creaking and temperatures too high in the suite (spotless), but often too low in public areas (some noticeably dusty). Silver Cloud now has competition in the English-speaking market from Scenic Eclipse, coincidentally in Reykjavik at the same time for her much-delayed maiden voyage. Food was excellent as always, though portions seemed larger. Service was normally very good, but with the odd slip-up, perhaps because waiting staff have new tablets to take orders. We enjoyed every included wine; typically Silversea buys up entire vintages of less well-known varietals from small European vineyards – not the bland New World wines you get on most lines. Silver Cloud now has a Social Director (Moss) who handles zodiac embarkation and hosts fun afternoon and evening quizzes. Some other changes: thinner hand towels (fluffier towels changed less often would be preferable) and unlimited wi-fi (still slow). Thankfully, butlers no longer have to proffer a tray of toiletries when you embark. Exploring was what this cruise was about. Six “zodiac groups” disembarked with rotating departure times, but usually you could go ashore later on a shuttle service. Excursions could be pre-booked through MySilversea, but this was pointless as there was no set schedule. We enjoyed the ship’s passages through the fjords, and zodiac cruises close up to glaciers, but were uncomfortable wandering among people’s houses in small villages. For us, the highlight was two hours in Disko Bay (Ilulissat) on a small boat operated by a local company; under a cloudless sky we saw whales and vast icebergs that looked like islands. A note about clothing: Greenland in August was warmer than Antarctica in December. While we were exceptionally fortunate with the weather, make sure to take some lighter hiking gear, as you may get too hot ashore if you wear thermals under a parka. We skipped the only two “wet” landings so didn’t use the waterproof boots we’d hired at $90 – ordinary gumboots would have sufficed anyway. We would have given this cruise five stars, but for the horrible last day (not covered by Silversea’s onboard questionnaire). For our previous Antarctic cruise we booked our own flights to/from Ushuaia and wish we could have made our own arrangements this time. After vacating the suite by 8.30 am, it was “hurry up and wait, wait, wait” for the charter flight from Kangerlussuaq back to Reykjavik. After disembarking by zodiac group, an interesting bus tour on the tundra was followed by an acceptable BBQ-style lunch at a rowing club on a pretty lake. There we heard that the incoming flight was late due to weather in Iceland and ATC issues, as happens of course, but from then on everything went downhill. Waits for the restrooms at the rowing club were 30-40 minutes. It took 80 minutes for everyone to get through security at the airport, not least because both the ship and the charter company (Omni Air) allowed people three or even four large carry-on cases (in spite of Silversea previously specifying one piece up to 8 kg/ 18 lb plus a purse or laptop). Then we waited as long again in the gate holding area, most of us having to stand, until boarding after 4 pm. Yet another delay was due to the cabin crew being unable to reconcile the boarding cards and having to count passengers FOUR times. The plane itself was a very old 767, with a soggy defrosted snack well below Silversea standard. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Overall a good cruise with a new ship where you need to accept that some proccesses dont work. The new ship is great. Our suite on deck 9 was really perfect. The main restaurant has a structure we dont like. Its like a quick ... Read More
Overall a good cruise with a new ship where you need to accept that some proccesses dont work. The new ship is great. Our suite on deck 9 was really perfect. The main restaurant has a structure we dont like. Its like a quick restaurant. The extra restaurant for suite guests is really good in service. The expectation is that the menu will change within a 2 weeks cruise. Visiting areas without a harbour means uising small boats to enable guests to go on land. To handle this for 500 guests with 12 guests on a boat means that you need a lot of time until you can go on land. The qualification of the expedition team (not a holiday - an expedition) was good. But they have to learn that the guests have paid for a holiday alo and not only for an expedition. The absolut negatives experience ever was the flight back from greenland to denmark in the middle of the night. Out conclussion: never flight back from greenland in the night. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Greenland was rightly the desired destination, with the ship sailing from Reykjavik, Iceland. Passengers were inconvenienced at the outset by the fact that Hurtigruten had taken delivery of the ship before necessary US documentation was in ... Read More
Greenland was rightly the desired destination, with the ship sailing from Reykjavik, Iceland. Passengers were inconvenienced at the outset by the fact that Hurtigruten had taken delivery of the ship before necessary US documentation was in place, consequently the itinerary lost a day's sailing around Iceland. Six weeks on, the promised refund is yet to arrive. Embarkation was shifted from the cruise ship quay to a concert hall in Reykjavik, which involved a long wait of several hours before boarding. The ship was new and there were a number of 'running-in' glitches. The service staff was friendly and worked hard to please, but they seemed to be stretched i.e. struggling to deliver, so restaurant service was sometimes delayed and/or rushed. The menu in the fine-dining restaurant remained unaltered over two weeks. The main restaurant was crowded and its layout ill planned. On-board communication with passengers during the cruise was poor due to numerous issues, not least 'expedition' staff saying what the policy was - and then ignoring it themselves! The result was often chaos e.g. the statutory emergency drill was not conducted appropriately; chaos reigned even for the simple task of returning expedition boots. The poverty of the experience was compounded it seems by (1) the number of passengers (ca. 500) being too large for 'expedition' activities (e.g. long waiting times for a boat group's turn ashore - time which could not be used productively due, on occasion, to poor communications and/or lack of on-board activities plus poor lecture facilities) and (2) the 'expedition' team failing to demonstrate adequate discipline and/or training (and/or inclination?) in handling this number of paying customers. Some, not all, of the 'expedition' team were ignorant about the places visited, did not actively seek to help or interact with passengers, particularly when ashore i.e. some of the 'expedition' team gave the impression they were onboard for their own expedition, not that of the paying customers. Lectures by the 'experts' invariably opened with an apology for not speaking on their specialist topic! The excursion to the icecap on the last day was curtailed halfway because the Hurtigruten flight home was leaving early, something that the airline staff did not communicate to customers on-board, when checking them onto the flight, six hours earlier. Again disappointment, confusion and chaos due to poor communications on board. Hurtigruten has not given any explanation for this last shortfall. This new hybrid powered ship is also trying to be a hybrid of cruise ship and expedition vessel; the conclusion from this experience is that the MS Roald Amundsen carries too many passengers to deliver a true expedition experience. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
The Roald Amundsen is a brand new ship of a very high standard, but there are issues with how it is run. We chose this cruise because we wanted to go to Greenland and this seemed to be a good itinerary. We were excited by the thought ... Read More
The Roald Amundsen is a brand new ship of a very high standard, but there are issues with how it is run. We chose this cruise because we wanted to go to Greenland and this seemed to be a good itinerary. We were excited by the thought of a new ship, and thought there were a couple of cruises before ours, so that any teething issues would be sorted out. This proved not to be the case. The expedition crew seemed not to have worked out that dealing with 500 passengers was totally different from 200. The sound system didn't work properly so that briefings were difficult. There is no area on the boat to brief everyone, even when split into two groups. The food was very good, but tables were not allocated, so that people queued up for up ot 30 minutes before their seating time, obstructing the stairwell. When dinner was "set menu" it was great, but the buffet didn't work very well because the access into the restaurant was through the main food service area. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Having never heard of Ponant, we chose this cruise because it did a circumnavigation of Iceland which is what we wanted. The ship was extremely clean, comfortable, and well laid-out. Embarkation from a small port outside of Reykjavik was ... Read More
Having never heard of Ponant, we chose this cruise because it did a circumnavigation of Iceland which is what we wanted. The ship was extremely clean, comfortable, and well laid-out. Embarkation from a small port outside of Reykjavik was a breeze (as was disembarkation). Captain Etienne Garcia was terrific - his enthusiasm for the immense beauty of Iceland came through in every message from him and he made sure no one on board missed a whale sighting or any other special event. Food service was in one of two rooms - on Deck 6 was a buffet-at-all-meals room that opened on to the deck which had additional seating. Weather during our cruise was wonderful so we could often eat on the deck which was delightful. Food was good and daily choices varied enough to keep us interested. The drinks-included selections were excellent and the pouring wine was very good. Other food option was a white-tablecloth dining room on Deck 2 with no outdoor access. We learned that it served the same food but with dinner served (not buffet). We did not choose that option. Excursions were very good and organization of everything on the ship was perfect. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We have just returned from what was advertised as a 12 day sailing on Hurtigruten‘s new ship Roald Amundsen and what turned out to be a 10 day trip, to Svalbard, Greenland and Iceland. We are a married couple in our late 50s and early ... Read More
We have just returned from what was advertised as a 12 day sailing on Hurtigruten‘s new ship Roald Amundsen and what turned out to be a 10 day trip, to Svalbard, Greenland and Iceland. We are a married couple in our late 50s and early 70s from the UK and have travelled on over 30 cruises including 2 Hurtigruten Norwegian coastal voyages which we loved for their simplicity and variety and very reasonable pricing. We had originally booked on Fridjof Nansen the sister ship but this was cancelled as the ship is not yet ready. When my husband made the new booking for Roald Amundsen he was told there were no connecting flights available yet but would become available if we looked on the website. We were so pleased to see an announcement that flights and transfers were now available for U.K. passengers for £99 per person. When I rang to book these we were told that this price was for new passengers only and that our price would be £454 per person. We eventually felt we had no choice but to pay this. We had a very long flight to join the the ship in Longyearbyen - we left our home in Leicestershire at 10 am on the Friday morning and finally boarded the ship just after 5 am on the Saturday morning. I had previously asked Hurtigruten if we would be able to sleep on board that night and they said of course we would. This was not true. As a great and very welcome surprise to me my husband had upgraded us to a suite. We were supposed to have a priority champagne check in. This didn’t happen and we carried our own luggage on and queued in various places until we were able to check in, it was chaotic and not a good start after such a long journey. We finally got the card keys for our suite on deck 8 (841). This was one of the highs. A light spacious room with comfortable seating and a large set of French doors to a clear glass balcony, other suite and cabins towards the middle of deck have a metal fronted balcony because of the red stripe on the ship branding it ‘Hurtigruten’; this is not mentioned in the publicity literature or reflected in price differences. There was ample storage throughout and an excellent bathroom with heated floor and with a spacious glass doored shower. The huge advantage to having a suite is free laundry so when we arrived home we had little washing to do. We had been assigned breakfast and 5 out of 10 dinners in the speciality restaurant Lindstrøm. Lunch could be taken in the self-service Aune main restaurant or the free to us, but not other passengers, Fredheim restaurant. Breakfasts in Lindstrøm were always excellent - great service and choice. Dinner in Lindstrøm is from an a la carte menu with an amuse bouche, starter, main course and dessert - the main problem is that it did not change throughout the cruise - I don’t like fish and that left my choices even more limited - I ended up having the same beef main course three times and eventually left most of it. Service, however, is excellent and suite guests get free wine with lunch and dinner which is good quality and free flowing. We often had lunch in Fredheim which serves ‘street food’ - burgers, dumplings, sausages, tortillas, crepes etc - tasty, good quality and excellent service. However, the menu never changed and we got tired of eating the same food for lunch and for 4 dinners out of the 5 we had no table in Lindstrøm. We were assigned a table in Aune for the 6pm sitting for those 5 nights and went the first night. It was a chaotic buffet with no menus, huge queues with people pushing in. The order of food did not resemble standard eating. It started with ‘main’ courses served tapas style in tiny bowls, followed by soup, then two salad selections and then a very limited dessert selection. The main courses were cold but the food was good quality. On my first trip I gave up because of the queues and the strange selection. I went again later and got bread and a small salad. We didn’t go again for dinner but did go 3 times for lunch as Fredheim had got boring. The experience was similar. The ship itself is one of the highs - public areas are tastefully decorated in Scandi style, think upmarket IKEA not luxury cruise ship. The Explorer Lounge is the only inside bar and observation lounge. It is spacious with a wide range of seating and we were almost always able to sit where we wanted to. Bar staff are excellent and soon got to know names and preferences and always had a warm friendly welcome. Drinks prices are comparable with bar prices at home - a large gin and tonic being 7€. Downstairs on Deck 6 is the Science Centre where there were a wide range of lectures and talks on the next day’s itinerary. The lectures were generally well-presented and informative. The next day talks were fun and interesting but gave little concrete information about the next day and we had to wait for a late night or early morning delivery of a paper copy of the ship’s daily programme to find out concrete details which made planning difficult. The talks in English were generally held at 9.30 pm which seemed late and interrupted the evening. We had expected an action packed itinerary (we had to get a medical declaration of good health for the trip - this was problematic as our GP refused to complete and we had to go for private consultation which cost £200 for 10 minutes, nothing was cheap about this trip!). In the ten days we got off the ship 5 times on the RIBs. There were 3 x 90 minute walks on land - two hikes in beautiful countryside and guided by red flags not the explorer staff and one landing in the beautiful, isolated settlement of Ittoqqortoormiit. These were highlights but short and the rest of the day was spent sitting around. They were done in rotations of groups of about 100 - some got off early at 8.30 am, some had to wait all day till as late 4.30 - 5 pm. There was a spectacular trip in the RIB around the icebergs in the Bjørne Islands but this was only an hour and the member of the explorer staff accompanying us had to be asked questions rather than offering information; he wasn’t a specialist though he was friendly. The last day was a choice of excursions at our stop in Iceland. We chose the Highlights of Snaefellsnes. The tour was excellently organised, not by Hurtigruten, and very informative with a very knowledgeable guide. It was, however, very expensive at £144 for 5 1/2 hours. In all we felt we could have been offered more on such an expensive trip which led to long days. We fortunately had free WiFi to occupy our time and lots of reading matter. The WiFi is free for suite guests but 17€ a day otherwise. It was good in Longyearbyen and Iceland but intermittent elsewhere. We wouldn’t have paid extra for it. We booked the trip not only for the Arctic scenery but also for wildlife. We saw polar bears three times which was a great joy. We got good photographs and were pleased to see the bears looking healthy and well-nourished unlike the footage of lone bears on icebergs one sees in nature documentaries. We saw brief glimpses of various whales, a few seals and some birdlife though not nearly as much as we’d been expecting. When it came to our transfer to Reykjavík airport at the end of the cruise we were disappointed by the arrangements. We’d booked everything through Hurtigruten as we thought this would be efficient. Our flight was at 12.30 pm. We were told our transfer would be at 7 am for a 45 minute ride to the airport. We queried why it was so early. This was not well-received and we got the glib reply, “Well we have to clean the ship”. We knew the next group of passengers was boarding at 8 pm; it’s a new, spotless cruise ship. Larger ships we have been on manage to do the turnaround much quicker, often in less than two hours. We were told that we’d be called by deck at 7 am. In fact there was a general announcement for everyone on the 7 am transfer to leave the ship at 6.50 am. In conclusion was it a good trip? Yes, it was - the trip of a lifetime to see remote places and polar bears close up. Was it what were we’re promised in the itinerary? Not really. We were supposed to spend days 5 - 8 in the North East Greenland National Park. After our first day there at 10 pm a very serious captain told us that the Danish authorities wouldn’t allow it as we didn’t have a pilot, they are required for ships with over 250 passengers - Hurtigruten should have known this. Our alternative was days spent in the beautiful Scoresbysund. We didn’t feel we’d missed out but many passengers did. Would we do it again? Very unsure about this - a good cruise but it could have been so much more. Hurtigruten must do better with this beautiful ship and her attentive staff. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
When you book a cruise entitled ‘Svalbard, Greenland, Iceland - The Ultimate Fjord and National Park Expedition’, that is what you expect to get and that is where you expect to be taken. Sadly, our first and last Hurtigruten cruise ... Read More
When you book a cruise entitled ‘Svalbard, Greenland, Iceland - The Ultimate Fjord and National Park Expedition’, that is what you expect to get and that is where you expect to be taken. Sadly, our first and last Hurtigruten cruise didn’t quite work out that way, thanks in a large part to negligence on the part of Hurtigruten. We know there are some ardent Hurtigruten fans out there who will not hear one word said against the company, so if you’re one of those, don’t bother reading any further. One only has to read some of the abuse that some more objective passengers are subjected to via the Hurtigruten Insiders posts on Facebook, to realise that some people do not wish to read opposing views, such is the world we now seem to live in. Choice-supportive bias or post-purchase rationalisation is the kind of human nature prevalent among some Hurtigruten fans. We never set out on this journey to be disappointed, after all, who does? We spent a huge amount of money and expected top class service in return. Sadly, Hurtigruten failed on so many fronts. Below is our account of what we experienced. We hope that this will serve as a cautionary tale and helps fellow travellers as they try to make expensive decisions about cruise companies and ships for precious holidays. The major failings as far as we were concerned came from the head office, rather than from the staff on the ship itself. Hurtigruten directors Daniel Skjeldam and Karin Strand have a lot to answer for in terms of their business planning and there are serious regulatory compliance issues to be concerned about. Hurtigruten obviously invest a great deal in PR and have tried to grab the headlines with the launch of this ship however, there are some fundamental details that they have overlooked. The manner in which the company have dealt with their subsequent disappointed customers should serve as a lesson in how not to manage a crisis. Afterall, it is well known in business that 96% of dissatisfied customers won’t complain but will tell between 9-15 people about their experience and around 13% of dissatisfied customers tell more than 20 people. 91% of those dissatisfied customers will simply leave and never come back. TDR Capital should take note. This is an account of our experience. Expulsion from Greenlandic waters The number one complaint on our voyage was that Hurtigruten failed to register the new ship’s number with the Greenlandic / Danish authorities so we entered Greenlandic waters illegally on day 3 of our cruise, after leaving Svalbard. Therefore, after only 24 hours in the Greenland National Park, we were ordered to leave Greenland’s territorial waters and sail into international waters, until the issue had been resolved. This message was delivered to passengers via a written statement read out during an emergency meeting called by the Captain. He explained that because we did not have an ice pilot on board, we were being sent into international waters and needed to arrange to collect an ice pilot at the nearest town, Ittoqqortoormiit, south of the national park boarder. Before the Captain’s emergency announcement, we had been told that we were going to land at Ella Ø and we would see the famous Keiser Franz Josef Fjord on our way. We were also due to visit Alpefjord after leaving Ella Ø and make our way down to Ittoqqortoormiit on day 9. Instead, we watched all the places we should have seen pass us by from a distance of 24 miles away. We missed three of the four days in the national park. And yet, in Hurtigruten’s response to us, and in the ship’s log, they celebrate that we spent a day sailing through ice flows in international waters, instead of within the Northeast Greenland National Park. Big difference and not what people booked and paid for. Hurtigruten wanted to cover up this huge mistake from the beginning and tried to mislead passengers starting the evening following the Captain’s emergency announcement. The Expedition Leader, Tomasz Zadrozny briefed passengers about the revised itinerary by trying to imply that the changes to the itinerary were outside of the control of Hurtigruten. During his presentation on the evening of 31st July, Tomasz said that they were pleased that the ice pilot would be joining the ship as it turned out that the ice had been too bad to have been able to land on the island of Ella Ø the day before. Tomasz displayed a picture of the ice conditions, several passengers immediately noticed that the Sentinel satellite image that they were showing us was 2 days out of date, taken on 29th July. Passengers questioned why they were using out of date imagery to explain the situation we were in. They were told that the computers were struggling to download the up-to-date images. Following the presentation, some passengers were able to contact relatives via WhatsApp and, within 5 minutes, received the latest satellite images from the Sentinel satellite for 31st July. The images showed that the ice was completely gone and the fjords were clear. Afterall, we happened to be visiting Greenland during the fasting melting period that the country has ever experienced. The Captain never showed his face again and left the Expedition Leader to face the angry passengers. Tomasz continued to protest that they had no idea why they were required to pick up an ice pilot when they had never needed one before. Passengers presented him with findings from the Danish Maritime Authority; that vessels carrying over 250 passengers have required an ice pilot since 2016. Tomasz protested that the Captain had ice pilot qualifications however simple research showed that Captains require 180 days of Greenland waters experience in 5 years to comply with regulations. As Hurtigruten do not spend enough time with any one of their fleet in Greenlandic waters, let alone one Captain continually sailing there, there would be little to no chance that any of their Captains would have enough experience to satisfy the Danish Maritime Authority’s requirements. Another aspect of Tomasz’ presentation on 31st July was an explanation about the boundary of the national park. The fact of the matter was and still remains, we were taken out of the national park yet Tomasz tried to insist that it made no difference as the scenery was still the same! Many passengers found this particularly insulting and the atmosphere on board ship turned decidedly negative. Many passengers were understandably angry and expressed their anger during passenger briefings. Hurtigruten’s strategy seemed to be to deliberately try to mislead passengers as to the reasons for the changed itinerary and then tried to convince us that the changed itinerary made no difference to our experience. Some passengers fell for it, there were many ardent Hurtigruten fans who did not wish for anything to spoil their holiday so many became angry towards those passengers who were more objective and had minds to find out the truth for themselves. During one passenger briefing, racist comments were being hurled at one gentleman who questioned what he was being told and the whole atmosphere turned ugly. It was only during the last night of our voyage that a senior officer told us the truth, we did not have an ice pilot on board because Hurtigruten head office had failed to register the ship in advance to enter Greenlandic waters. Since we returned home, there are a number of legal cases being pursued. Hurtigruten are attempting to cover up their mistake and have, in a letter to those passengers who have complained, tried to blame the Danish Maritime Authority for reneging on an agreement that Hurtigruten were granted an exemption, yet they refuse to provide proof that an exemption ever existed in the first instance. This explanation does not align with either the Captain's announcement or with the Expedition leader's version in the days that followed. Their handling of this situation has spread nothing but anger and distrust. One member of staff described the problem as being a Norwegian one, where Norwegian’s do not like to admit mistakes. I would like to think that such people would not wish to ruin the international reputation of a long standing company for the sake of Norwegian pride. Safeguarding There were several children on board this ship, many of whom were there for the educational value that was promised. The Hurtigruten Young Explorers Program was advertised with the voyage. Parents had even received confirmation of their enrolment from the Hurtigruten Paris office and an email describing what would be available for the children. When children joined the ship, they learned that the Young Explorer’s program did not exist. It was explained by Laura, one of the Expedition staff, that the company had not yet created the program for the Arctic region, it was only available for the Antarctic and Coastal Voyages. As the Expedition staff were only just learning what passenger’s expectations were, they tried to pull together a couple of activities throughout the voyage. The first so called ‘activity’ was a 20 minute birthday party for one of the children onboard the ship where the child was given a birthday cake that he was allergic to and therefore couldn’t eat. The second activity on 2nd August was a rope tying session where the children went along to learn how to tie sailor’s knots. Also invited to the session to teach the children knot tying techniques was a fellow passenger, a 25 year old male travelling alone. He was not on board as a member of staff and his attitude towards children had already caused some passengers a great deal of concern. He had been spending a lot of time hanging around the areas where the children congregated, and some parents were extremely worried about the amount of interest he was showing in young girls, even giving them massages! This man, his capacity as a passenger, did not have to supply Hurtigruten with a Criminal Records Certificate (Politiattest) and yet the Hurtigruten staff saw him fit to be allowed to work with children. This negligent attitude raises questions over the extent of background checks undertaken by Hurtigruten for any of the staff working with children on their voyages? Why was this man allowed to work with children? Ship security The boarding procedure at Longyearbyen was nothing short of chaotic and in breach of the regulations that Hurtigruten claim they follow - there was no security present whatsoever. We boarded the ship at the ludicrous time of 1am when most of the previous passengers were trying to disembark. There was luggage all over the pier and a group of mostly Chinese passengers were trying to get off the ship. We were amazed to realise that disembarking passengers were all mixed in with embarking passengers. We had no help with our luggage and had to drag it up the gangway ourselves. At the top of the gangway, the airport style x-ray security scanner was not working and there was a long queue at the desk on deck 4. We had read that we could check in on any level to avoid queues, so we immediately took the elevator to deck 7. We’d gained access to the ship without providing any paperwork or being required to show any ID and were free to roam wherever we wished. We got out of the lift with all our luggage and found an abandoned desk, so back into the elevator we went with all our luggage to try to check in on deck 9. There was nobody around on deck 9 so we dragged all or luggage back into the lift and went back down to deck 7 to try again. We met a lady at the desk on deck 7 who said she would help us check in. We gave her our passports and she tried to get onto the computer. After 10 minutes of trying to get the computer to work and giggling like a child at us when she tried to take our photos with the web cam, she finally announced that the computers were all down so she returned our passports to us and asked us to go down to deck 6 and check in at the main reception desk. We dragged all our luggage back into the lift and out again at deck 6. The main reception desk was also abandoned, there was not a member of staff in sight. It was as though it had been a surprise that we had arrived, Hurtigruten were clearly not expecting us, even though we had landed in Svalbard on a flight that Hurtigruten had arranged. Eventually, the night-time cleaner passed us and told us that everyone was sleeping, and she would try to help us. She went to find another member of staff who eventually came and tried to check us in. The computers were still down so she could not print off our cruise cards. She took our passports and the night-time cleaner took us to one of our rooms, with no one to assist us with the bags that we had been dragging around all over the ship. By this time, it was gone 2am and we were desperate for some refreshments. She opened our first suite, where we had to wait for someone to arrive with our cruise cards before we could go and discover our second suite and seek some refreshments, after travelling for more than 24 hours to get there. When we walked into our first suite, we discovered that the twin beds we had pre-ordered were not made up. The bed was king sized with a king-sized topper over it, so more chaos ensued with trying to separate the beds ourselves with the help of the night cleaner, who had to go in search of single sized bed toppers. We eventually accessed our second suite at nearly 3am, which was also not prepared as a twin room. Because we were told that there were no more single toppers on the ship, we were forced to leave the bed as a king size and were forced to share a bed for the duration of our holiday. At 3am, we tried to find a welcome drink or something to eat. We went up to the explorer lounge which was packed full of mostly Chinese passengers asleep on the loungers, still waiting to disembark. It was total chaos. There were no staff around, no welcome drinks, no food and one of the most unwelcome beginnings to our holiday. Through all the chaos of getting onto the ship, it was blatantly obvious that Hurtigruten had no handle on the security of the ship. Bearing in mind the standard practice of owning and carrying firearms on Svalbard, there were ample opportunities for anyone to enter the ship and cause chaos. There was also no security around the luggage of disembarking passengers, with all of the suitcases sat on the pier, the opportunities for theft were evident. We note with interest that Hurtigruten are expected to comply with ISPS regulations, where all luggage is subject to x-ray/metal detector inspection upon arrival and this is advertised on their website. This did not happen and therefore this is an issue of further non-compliance with regulations. GDPR When we eventually received our cruise cards, we were shocked to see how much personal data was printed on them and the security risk that represented, especially for child passengers. Full names, dates of birth, passport numbers and nationality, as well as cabin numbers meant that anyone who found a lost card would have everything they require to steal someone’s identity. At the time of our first expedition landing, we were also shocked to see full names and cabin numbers for all passengers displayed on the walls and being photographed by other passengers for boat groups. This was totally unnecessary and did not require full name disclosure against cabin numbers. The Personal Data Act, including the GDPR, entered into force in Norway on 20 July 2018, it seems Hurtigruten are not fully compliant with this legislation. Due to the unwanted attention of certain passengers, parents with children did not wish for any other passengers to know which cabins children were in especially. Displaying full names and cabin numbers was a breach of passenger’s privacy. I do not recall Hurtigruten ever seeking our permission for the use and distribution of electronic images. As this was one of MS Roald Amundsen’s first cruises, there were many marketing and PR agents on board as well as numerous journalists invited to join the cruise. There were photographs being taken on deck and we occasionally were asked if we could have our photographs taken but no information was given as to how the pictures would be used and how they will be distributed. Children were also photographed without parental permission being sought. A child is not old enough to grant permission and understand the implications of data privacy and therefore permission must always be sought from a parent or guardian. Medical forms Only four weeks prior to this trip, we had been contacted by our travel agent and told that we needed to complete a mandatory medical form as we were travelling to North East Greenland National Park. Several passengers had a nightmare in the weeks leading up to our departure. Many passengers spent hours trying to get the issue of the medical forms resolved as GPs in the UK are being advised by the British Medical Association to not sign these forms. The whole experience of obtaining the medical forms was immensely stressful for us as a family and spoilt the last few weeks of build up to our holiday in that we were unable to really look forward to it. Obtaining the forms also incurred a great deal of expense for several passengers. Some of us had to pay £110 each to have our Doctors sign them whilst others paid a £45 fee. When we boarded the ship in such chaotic circumstances, no one asked us for our medical forms and at no point during the voyage were we ever asked to produce them. It was a total waste of time and energy and money to obtain them as we clearly did not require them. Double booking and misleading brochures One of the many lessons learned on our first and last cruise with Hurtigruten was how misleading their brochures can be in terms of the lengths of their trips and we think this is immoral. This voyage was billed as a 12 day cruise and yet, we did not board the ship until 1am on day 2. The ‘cruise’ itinerary started in Oslo, this turned out to be a charade. All the passengers were transiting through Oslo airport so many of us assumed that there would be some meet and greet by Hurtigruten at Oslo airport. We naïvely assumed that Hurtigruten might in some way offer us some refreshments at the airport or perhaps access to a lounge or assistance of some kind, during our 5 hour wait. Afterall, we were only 15 minutes’ drive from the Hurtigruten head office!! Sadly, no, our first encounter with any member of Hurtigruten staff was with the night cleaner on Day 2 of our so-called 12 Day holiday. We also discovered upon reading the brochure again on our return that the cruise preceding ours, had their itinerary end on 27th July and yet ours began on 26th July. It is immoral to have described ours as a 12 day holiday and theirs as a six day itinerary and overlap the two groups of passengers. Hurtigruten effectively had 1000 passengers booked on this ship for a 24-hour period. The group before us had not even got off the ship when we were trying to get on. Ship set sail not fully equipped Like many passengers, we booked this trip not knowing that we would be sailing on one of the first trips this ship would undertake, so delayed were Hurtigruten in launching the ship. There have been some patronising comments made on the Hurtigruten Insiders Facebook group that we should have expected teething problems. This is total rubbish, there were no ‘teething discounts’ offered, and no compensation subsequently offered for the lack of services promised and therefore forming part of a contract. One of the passengers we met had booked themselves into a suite especially as room service is supposed to be inclusive for suite passengers. They had medical conditions that made getting to early breakfasts difficult. On the first day, passengers were told that room service was not available on the ship as Hurtigruten had allowed the ship to set sail without providing trays and food coverings. This was also true for the ‘show cooking’ equipment. The food and beverage manager had to deal with many angry passengers who all felt like they’d been misled. Impossible promises Another scam that Hurtigruten are not being truthful about in their documentation is with regard to à la carte dining. It is simply not true that suite guests can dine in the Lindstrøm à la carte restaurant “any day they wish”, as described in the literature. The Food & Beverage Manager told passengers that they do not have enough tables for all of the suite guests and therefore they could only dine in the Lindstrom every other day. He also said that the menu only changes every 28 days and therefore, he would expect that later on in the cruise, guests would get bored of the same menu and perhaps more tables would become available. Families who were booked into two suites were assigned different dining days. There were days that we requested to dine in the Lindstrom as we did not want to participate in the chaos of the Aune restaurant and yet we were turned away just as the Captain and the management team were being shown to their seats. The many journalists also did not seem to have a problem getting a table whenever they wished. As for the Aune restaurant, it really was chaos, I have seen better organised school canteens! Poorly trained and prepared expedition staff One of the key selling points of the cruise was to provide access to knowledgeable expedition staff who would provide lectures on a variety of topics. There were huge variations in the professionalism and standard of qualifications of the staff involved. Wayne and Karen were fantastic and obviously extremely knowledgeable and qualified to be onboard as experience Marine Biologists. Many of the others such as the ‘bird expert’ were hopeless. The bird expert’s main job seemed to be a translator for the Chinese tourists however his bird knowledge seemed extremely limited. We attended his first lecture on bird life and it was embarrassing how little he seemed to know. There were no slides prepared to help us identify the different species we were seeing and he was not readily available on deck to help identify birds. Some of the presentations were extremely poor and out of date. Some of them were non-existent and some had to be postponed as expedition crew hurriedly cobbled something together. During one presentation, given by Dom, he presented us with a weather forecast from July 2018 where he hadn’t updated it from the previous year, another one of Dom’s presentations had to be delayed by a few hours as he didn’t seem to know that one was expected of him. Some presentations were very difficult to follow in English as accents was so strong. Many of the presentations providing details of what we were due to do the next day were rescheduled from the 5.30pm slots and held late in the evening, between 9.30-10pm. This was far too late for many passengers, especially as we were expected to be up and on a tender by 8.30am the next morning. One evening, there was a notice on the huge screen that the clocks were going back an hour that night, only for it to have been a mistake, it had been put up a day early, so we all lost an extra hour’s sleep that night. It just seemed chaotic most of the time, with staff making up schedules on the hoof, presentations not being ready and passengers having to fit in and try to find out what was going on. Most of the daily schedules were posted after 11pm, when most passengers had already gone to bed and the daily schedule on the TV channel did not update for days. Badly designed ship One of the most off-putting aspects of attending a presentation in the science centre was the noise of toilets flushing overhead. The design of the science centre ceiling contains no sound proofing whatsoever and shows all exposed pipe works and plumbing for the cabins overhead. During one presentation by Dom, it was so bad he could not be heard and was forced to make a joke to cover up the embarrassment, joking that the passengers must have been flushing cocaine down the toilet. Not an appropriate joke for the younger members of the audience especially. When we boarded the ship, we expected announcements to be made in additional languages and it was obvious that there was a large German and Chinese contingent amongst the passengers. During many of the lectures, we had to sit through extremely off-putting and tedious translations being done sentence-by-sentence as none of the materials were available in advance. There was a whole rack of in-ear translation headsets for passengers however none of them were ever used as the Expedition staff had not coordinated themselves to deliver the material simultaneously and avoid sentence-by-sentence translation. Surely the Expedition staff knew the subjects they would be expected to present on, within their own areas of expertise and should therefore have come prepared on-board with scripts to be translated by the linguists. Everything seemed to be being done on the fly and last minute in an uncoordinated manner. Equipment not ready or available One of the exciting features of the Science Centre that we were all looking forward to was having the chance to use the underwater drones and see them working. The walk around tour of the ship by Wayne, published on the Hurtigruten website and across social media showed the drones. As it transpired, none of the Expedition staff had ever used the drones before and they needed to test out how to get them going. Despite our continual asking, the drones were only taken out on Friday 2nd August. The film crew, the travel blogger and his girlfriend took out a boat and spent one hour trying to figure out how to launch them and get the footage working. None of the passengers ever had the chance to see the drones, see the footage or enjoy this feature of the science centre. We were obviously on the ‘experimental cruise’ as they sorted out all their teething problems and tried to figure out how the equipment worked. This should have all been accomplished before a paying passenger ever set foot onboard. Staff ratios – some of the worst in the industry The best staff on the boat were the cleaning and waitering staff who were exemplary in their approach to work and care of passengers. What was noticeable however was how much they are being exploited and how short staffed they were across the ship. We understand that Hurtigruten is running this ship on a passenger crew ratio of 1:0.24. Whereas Silversea, Celebrity, Seven Seas, Seabourn, Viking, Norwegian, Holland America, Princess, Costa, Royal Caribbean and even Disney are operating on much better ratios. This was extremely evident throughout the ship. Waitering staff were having to work as cleaners. Some decks had only one cleaner to service the cabins each day whereas other decks had two. Cleaners were also having to work on helping with landings at the expedition launch. On the day we handed back our boots, waiters were even having to scrub boots. Because the ship is so short staffed, there are areas that are not being cleaned. Some passenger’s decks at the back of the ship were never cleaned for the duration of the voyage, yet they were covered in soot particles, presumably from the engines. We had to stop using the outdoor gym as our hands and clothes were completely black after using it, again presumably from the engine soot. It certainly didn’t look like we were travelling on the ‘world’s greenest ship’. Teething problems Aside from the host of problems listed above, the ship had many other teething problems which were not resolved whilst we were on board. There was a noticeable problem with the sewage system, resulting in a foul smell within our bathroom and throughout the corridors of deck 7. There was even a huge crack in the glass ceiling above the atrium. The three lifts in the main lobby were continually breaking down, especially when boat groups were called. At one point all three lifts were out of service at the same time. If there were 5 or more passengers in the lift at the same time, the lift would not usually work, even though the maximum capacity of the lifts was 18 persons. The air conditioning in our cabin was not working properly and when facing the sun especially, the cabin became unbearably hot. We tried to adjust the temperature on the wall however it made no difference. We had no choice but sleep with the balcony door open. On one of our many days at sea, some passengers decided to use the ship’s running track on the roof to get some exercise. It was during this time that some of the passengers in the explorer lounge began to look concerned as the sound of running on the roof reverberated through the ceiling. Some of the passengers were most upset about the sound of running on the running track. There clearly is not sufficient sound insulation within the ship if runners cannot use the running track without disturbing other passengers below. Another problem within the cabins was the tannoy system, crucial for passenger announcements and boat boarding groups etc. We were told to leave our TV on channel one and we would get any announcements within our cabin. Unfortunately, the system does not function properly as the TV is not designed to be left on and continually goes into standby mode. Once it is in standby mode, no announcements are broadcast into your cabin. We reported it and the advice we were given was to continually check to see if the little standby light was on and if so, to turn the TV back on! It was utterly ridiculous. Another passenger we met had paid a huge amount extra for a jacuzzi suite to help ease her arthritis pain. When she checked into her cabin she discovered that the jacuzzi was empty and had not worked since the ship was launched. Yet, a journalist had been assigned a cabin with a fully functioning jacuzzi. This passenger had to spend 5 days with the inconvenience of engineers coming in and out of her room constantly trying to fix the jacuzzi, they had to liaise with the ship yard in Norway and consult the manual to try to figure out how to fix the broken clip. Upon arriving home, Hurtigruten have failed to offer any refund for the days it was not working. Adventure is just bad planning The last day of the cruise involved a landing at Stykkishólmur, a small town in northern Iceland. We had attended a presentation the evening before when the Expedition team told us about the various museums and shops that we could visit, including the Eider Museum, which the town is very famous for. As we came ashore it became obvious that the town was very quiet. We went into the tourist information office next to the harbour and discovered that it was Commerce Day; a public holiday in Iceland, always celebrated on the first Monday in August. This holiday is also called Tradesmen's Day or the Holiday of the Merchants so, as such, all the stores and museums are closed. This was just the final straw in a catalogue of failings from Hurtigruten in their planning department. To arrive in Iceland on a public holiday when everything is shut was the proverbial nail in the coffin. If you choose to book an expedition voyage on this ship be warned, you will not be on an expedition, you will be on an adventure. As the ship’s namesake Roald Amundsen said himself “Adventure is just bad planning” and we could not have expressed it more perfectly ourselves. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We were on the Circumnavigation of Iceland, July 23-August 3, 2019 and it was a great way to see Iceland, as promised by the Captain. The ship was very comfortable and functional. Our cabin, 305, only had one small porthole, that might ... Read More
We were on the Circumnavigation of Iceland, July 23-August 3, 2019 and it was a great way to see Iceland, as promised by the Captain. The ship was very comfortable and functional. Our cabin, 305, only had one small porthole, that might have been claustrophobic, but we spent little time there and the porthole made it easy to darken the cabin when it was still light at midnight. The cabin is also located near the anchor, so we knew when the ship was docking but it was never disturbing. The cabin was generously sized, especially the bathroom and shower - more so than other larger ships we have sailed. The exploration programs were accompanied with a naturalist, whether a hike on land, a ride in a zodiac right up to cliffs of nesting puffins or into a pod of whales or a bike ride on an abandoned road. There were always choices from strenuous to relaxed that allowed you to really see the geology and wildlife. The ship stopped at a different location every day. If we were traveling to a location over a morning or afternoon there were special presentations on Iceland and its politics and facets of the nature we would see. This voyage also included a National Geographic photographer who spoke several times - they even did a session on iPhone photography that appealed to me!! The trip was heavy on people with big cameras and big lenses but friendly and welcoming to all. It is a tradition on Lindblad cruises to meet every evening before dinner to recap the days adventures with a cocktail, photos, videos and short presentations from the naturalists and other experts on board. On this voyage, there were also music programs introducing traditional and current Icelandic music on board and on shore, including an on-board 'festival' one evening that offered the chance to listen to 3 different local performers. The presentations by the botanist on board were a big hit - who knew tiny plants could be so amusing. With the exception of an optional day trip to horseback ride, every excursion was included in the price. The hotel staff was friendly and efficient. The dining was excellent - lots of local dishes but a spectrum of choices for everyone. It was a buffet for breakfast and lunch and open seating for dinner. Smoked and pickled fish caught off the ship that morning, local lamb from the ubiquitous Iceland sheep; one day was Thai and Vietnamese, another day mostly Italian. My husband raved about the beef. I tried several of the vegetarian entrees offered each evening because they were so interesting. I know that Iceland struggles with vegetables but on this ship we had a bounty. A big plus was having the bar tab included - this is not a crowd that cruises to drink heavily, but how nice to have a pre-dinner cocktail, wine with dinner and sometimes an after dinner drink without fussing with invoices and deciding who was going to pay that evening. This voyage marked my first brush with sea-sickness - I can have trouble with cars and buses but usually not ships. Several days, the ship encountered rough water due to a storm system. The ship is proportionally smaller than the big ships (156 passengers) and it makes a difference. One afternoon it felt like being at the top of a roller coaster over and over - (that’s when I suffered:) I ended up taking Dramamine for several days. That managed the situation but for the future on a ship of this size I will be more pro-active. The ship’s captain did his best to steer the ship to avoid the worst of the weather and I know one day our location was chosen to get us into a fjord and out of the rougher seas. On the other hand, the weather on land was great and made many things much more enjoyable - very little rain, clouds and sun and moderately cool temps (45-62 degrees, but often windy). We didn't use our warmest clothes, but we were happy we had windproof/waterproof layers. If you are interested in really seeing and learning the culture, music, geography and nature and avoiding crowds at the most popular spots, this is a great choice. We went tiny places and privately owned places that are difficult to reach along with small cities that could not handle crowds. Getting to the ship was easy - we were met by Lindblad at the airport and transferred to a local hotel where a day room and lunch were available after our overnight flight. There was a city tour, museum visit and then we were transferred to board the ship late afternoon ( a very smooth process). We met a number of passengers who had arrived a day or two early and joined up with the group for lunch. Disembarkation was also easy - if you didn't have an early flight departure, there were final excursions that morning and lunch included. We stayed an extra night in Reykjavik and wish we had asked and known earlier which hotel was Lindblad's drop-off for those staying over (the info showed up in final documents we got a couple weeks before departure) - we would have stayed at that hotel rather than having to manage luggage transfer to a taxi and a trip to another hotel. Next time, we will know to ask about the departure hotel early. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
This was our first Silversea cruise, although we have done many cruises on other lines, including an expedition cruise to Antarctica on Ponant. We had originally booked another Ponant cruise, however it was cancelled in December due to ... Read More
This was our first Silversea cruise, although we have done many cruises on other lines, including an expedition cruise to Antarctica on Ponant. We had originally booked another Ponant cruise, however it was cancelled in December due to chartering of the ship, so we booked this after getting a great deal that included business class airfares from Australia. As we had previously done an expedition cruise we compared to that rather than on the larger mainstream lines. Our flight from Oslo to Tromso was delayed, so we arrived at the ship at about 3:30, on a Silversea transfer with about 20 other people. On arrival, we couldn’t get in to the gate,as security was on the gate and they had to wait for a staff member to let us in, we waited for about 10 minutes in light rain, with no cover, not exactly an ideal reception. On entering the ship check in was efficient and we were escorted to our room, a vista suite, first impressions, the room looked old and in need of a refresh, the bathroom was small with very little storage, the shower was large. Our butler introduced himself within 5 minutes, he showed us the room, but didn’t really explain how we could best use his services. We I’d ask for alcohol (although this information wasn’t forthcoming), we didn’t really warm to him, and that seemed to be the consensus of many in our area (mainly Aussies in this part of th ship), our maid was lovely and kept the room clean. We found the food to be generally very good, however I couldn’t get a poached egg cooked correctly the whole time (they always came out too raw), despite me requesting that the white was to be cooked, finally on the second last day, the maître de, organised for them to be cooked perfectly, other than that there was a few dishes we didn’t care for, but that was just personal taste. I longed for a fresh sandwich at lunch and would hav loved the option to make a sandwich if possible, the little dinner rolls just made it to difficult. I dont eat seafood or red meat, but I found something to eat most days, it would hav been nice to have chicken on the menu more regularly. We found the wines average, I finally found a white that i liked ( i prefer an oak Chardonnay) and they just didn’t have anything similar, i found most of the whites quite tart but eventually ordered the Macon Bousseir (?sp) nearly every meal. The expedition staff were great and it was very organised, getting on and off the zodiacs was easy (although not as easy as Ponant), some of the older passengers struggled though. We were disappointed that we weren’t advised about wildlife as promised, there was a pod of orca whales one night that we weren’t aware of. Would i return? It will be based on itinerary and price, I don’t think we would ever be loyal to Silversea, I just dont think they stood out as the 5 star they suggest they are. Service was good not amazing, staff were friendly, the rooms and ship looked old and a little rundown Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
The Roald Amundsen is a beautiful ship, and I greatly enjoyed my cruise from Tromso to Longbyearen. That said, there were a few glitches that Hurtigruten needs to focus on. When I checked in, they had no record of me in the cabin I ... Read More
The Roald Amundsen is a beautiful ship, and I greatly enjoyed my cruise from Tromso to Longbyearen. That said, there were a few glitches that Hurtigruten needs to focus on. When I checked in, they had no record of me in the cabin I purchased ten months earlier. I booked a specific cabin (a suite) because I liked the location on the ship. In the last three months before the cruise, I had at least three conversations with Hurtigruten staff, who all acknowledged I was in the cabin I had chosen. The staff gave me a bigger room with a larger balcony, but that misses the point. What if that larger suite had not been available? Where would they have put me? When a guy books a specific cabin ten months in advance there should be no changes to that cabin without agreement in advance from the passenger. The Lindstrom dining room served great meals, but there was a problem here as well. Suite guests were supposed to be able to eat at Lindstrom every night. After I got checked in, I was told that they just figured out that they could not accommodate all the suite guests in a single, staggered sitting. This is a simple math problem – if you can’t figure out they you cannot accommodate all the suite passengers, then Hurtigruten should not be advertising meals in the Lindstrom dining room every night. So, we were only allowed to have dinner there every other night (half the nights of the cruise). That is a big drawback given the quality of the other dining choices. I felt a bit ripped off by not being able to eat there every night. We did eat breakfast there every morning and those meals and the alternate-day dinners in Lindstrom were all excellent. My compliments to Rona the head waitress, master-of-all. Hurtigruten also advertised that room service was available on the Amundsen from 0700 – 2300. On my first night I called down to get something to eat about 9:30 pm, as my body adjusted to all the time changes. The receptionist indicated that “room service was not available at this moment.” Okay, I said, what “moment” will it be available. I was then told it dining room service was only available during the hours that the restaurants are open. Again, this is at odds with what Hurtigruten was advertising aboard the Amundsen and that should never be the case. A second restaurant on board, also complimentary to suite guests, was the Fredheim. We ate here most nights that we could not eat in Lindstrom. They had a small selection (burgers, fish burgers, dumplings, quesadillas) but all was very good. The third restaurant, where we had a few lunches, was Aune. They had some great halibut one day, and I got a very decent daily salad there, but otherwise the fare left much to be desired. And this is really the only option for non-suite guests to eat, who all paid quite a bit for this cruise. If Hurtigruten wants to be in the luxury cruise business they need to do much better on the food they provide. They did have quite a bit of Asian fare, and all the Chinese aboard seemed satisfied. I have not been on all that many cruises but never in the past have I chosen to eat dinners from a lackluster buffet. Hurtigruten views their cruises as expeditionary cruises, and that is undoubtedly part of the reason they don’t worry about giving everyone a sit-down dinner every night. On my Arctic cruise, they had zodiacs they went out and some guests opted to go out in kayaks. This was all nice but a few bugs in the scheduling. I have been to Antarctica and Greenland on cruises so I am used to having internet outages. But on this cruise, even when we pulled in to Longbyearen on last day, we had to leave our cabins six hours before the buses would take us to our charter flight back and they did not have their internet working all this time that we were sitting around. Strangely, they did not have a working ship-intranet, so even though they told us to look at daily schedules on our TVs, they did not have the technology to provide the daily planners when they were outside of internet range (most of the whole trip). I would also have liked for the Captain to take us closer to glaciers and sea ice. This is a brand new ship built for expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctica. We should have been able to pull closer. I have been on much larger ships in Antarctica and Greenland and those ships were able to navigate closer to glaciers. The cabin staff we had was excellent. The dining staff in Lindstrom and Fredheim was topnotch. And Ciselle, head of reception, came through when we needed her most. The Amundsen is a fantastic ship throughout. There is a great sauna with floor to ceiling window looking out at ocean. However, the gym was pretty sparse and should get a couple ellipticals to supplement the few treadmills. We took this cruise to see the rugged beauty of the Arctic and were not disappointed. Our upgraded room could not have been better. Dinners in Lindstrom were excellent, though they had the same menu each night. Hurtigruten needs to work out a few bugs, some major and some minor. I give the overall cruise a B+/A- ; had I not been in a great suite with at least limited access to the Lindstrom dining room this rating would be lower. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
In the end we got more than we paid for. They slashed the rates because they sold the Prinsendam and replaced her with the bigger Rotterdam at unbelievable rates for this great itinerary covering the north coast of Svlbard (and btw. about ... Read More
In the end we got more than we paid for. They slashed the rates because they sold the Prinsendam and replaced her with the bigger Rotterdam at unbelievable rates for this great itinerary covering the north coast of Svlbard (and btw. about 10K km). So this was great. What was not great was that the Rotterdam continued her bad reputation für port changes / cancellations. Even before we sailed, they cancelled Edinburgh for Invergordon. "Port reasons" - no compensation not even the port charges. Then they cancelled Haemey - a discussable decision - but you do not want to discuss this with the captain after having read the reviews here and the threat of applying maritime law. Captain was on the tough side - he left 3 ladies in Reykjavik because they were 30mins late - not to announce two days later on short notice (in the morning) in Invergordon that we would leave 30 mins earlier…. But quod liced Jovi, non licet bovi.... Food average. Excellent cheese and cold cuts, very good salads with fresh broiled tuna in the Lido. Pool grill run out of the good HAL fries after a week. Hot dogs good, hamburgers not. Pizza ok. MDR not so good, excellent front desk, but arrogant sommeliers, other service good, food average - surf and turf for Gala night - badly overcooked. No fresh juices on board. Mocktails removed from menu, but still available. Great experience in the Explorations Cafe - thank you so much for coffee & brownies! Entertainment partly disgusting (Michelle Montouri and her bad, bad vulgar "jokes"), the piano player Patrick singing about mouth and hand jobs with a kid sitting around his piano (she was 12 years or younger, because she had to wear her security bracelet) - unbelievable.) The EXC guide was a bad joke - just reciting Wikipedia word by word and other websites word by word. Putting draaaaamaaaa iiiin everyyyything heee saaaaid iiin aaa deeeeep voice. Aaaaanddd nature alwayyyyss winns. Much better the nice Australian singer and the saxophone player from Holland and the PMJ. And all the nice Dutch onboard - we loved dutch trivia!! Very (!!!) nice crowd in general. Would definitively cruise with all of you again :-) Excursions overpriced, EXC-Team acting like local police in Ny-Alesund - but you did not want to mess with them - you know the captain…. Ship in general not well maintained. Cracked windows in the MDR. So no five star experience as promised - but we never expected that from a mainstream cruise line - for a very nice rate. So: the value for money - still excellent. And: dresscodes have been lifted finally. Formal night: slacks and collared shirt (no jacket, no tie required for men) matched the actual code (so we dressed accordingly) - but even T-shirts and jeans and - that was our favourite - : a tracksuit with polo shirt and sneakers (he) and a t-shirt and very tight and very short shorts (she, showing her lower back tattoo) was admitted - and sat next to a table in black tie… We loved this - as we are on holidays - Live and let live. Baseline: for this price we would come back. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We managed to book our cruise/expedition at a very good price due to a late booking, our previous cruise with Scenic Eclipse was cancelled at very short notice. Which was disappointing at the time, but Silverseas have now gained a loyal ... Read More
We managed to book our cruise/expedition at a very good price due to a late booking, our previous cruise with Scenic Eclipse was cancelled at very short notice. Which was disappointing at the time, but Silverseas have now gained a loyal follower! I can't imagine travel on any other line after the great experience that we had. We were met at Oslo and Tromso by Silverseas agents and professionally looked after till we boarded the ship. We had managed to upgrade to a Silver suite on the Silver Cloud, which is, in effect 2 cabins together, so a separate bedroom/dressing room with two shower rooms/toilets. Our butler was efficient, polite and a real gentleman, "Arun" helped to make this trip memorable. With only about 230 passengers, the voyage is made all the more enjoyable as it is possible to meet more people, who are from all over the world, and we met some very lovely people. The food was of an exceptional standard, real fine dining, and the staff on all levels were polite, friendly and knowledgeable. How they manage to remember all our names is a mystery, but they do, The Zodiac trips were well organised with a priority on safety, which is encouraging given the choppy seas at times, and also the land excursions to see the wildlife were also expertly organised, with forward parties going on shore to check out safety i.e.meaning making sure there were no Polar bears loolking for an early meal! It is the first trip we have had in many years, that we were not wanting it to end. Full credit to Silverseas and the ace team that they have working on the Silver Cloud, they made the expedition into one our our most memorable trips.. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Excellent ship with an expert Expedition Team. We cruised East and West Svalbard. With Zodiac landings or boat trips every day we experienced many fascinating places. Superb landscapes, mountains, glaciers, old hunting camps. Large numbers ... Read More
Excellent ship with an expert Expedition Team. We cruised East and West Svalbard. With Zodiac landings or boat trips every day we experienced many fascinating places. Superb landscapes, mountains, glaciers, old hunting camps. Large numbers of seabirds at some landings. Polar Bear, Arctic Fox, Reindeer, Walrus, Seals and a few whales. We were unable to reach the North Coast of Spitsbergen due to pack ice, but the Captain and Expedition Leader more than made up for this by exploring the Eastern side of Spitsbergen and the Fremannsundet passage between Barentsoys and Edgeoya. Here we watched a Polar Bear stalk then hunt Reindeer. An unforgettable experience. There were lectures given by the Expedition team members throughout the cruise. A geologist, marine biologist, arctic explorer were among the interesting lecturers presenting daily. Food on board Sea Spirit was excellent. The chef and his team provided an excellent range of foods and catered well for Chinese guests, Vegans & Vegetarians. Breakfast and lunch were buffet service and dinner waiter service. Additionally there was tea and coffee available anytime in one of the lounges. The cabin was kept exceptionally clean by excellent cabin staff. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We chose the cruise to the Arctic because the ship was supposed to be small. I made a mistake and thought it was 128 passengers. It was 128 cabins. In the arctic and antarctic only 100 passengers can be on shore at any time so ships should ... Read More
We chose the cruise to the Arctic because the ship was supposed to be small. I made a mistake and thought it was 128 passengers. It was 128 cabins. In the arctic and antarctic only 100 passengers can be on shore at any time so ships should be no more than 100 passengers to get the experience. All shore experiences except one were worthless wastes of time. More on that later. We called Ponant a week and a half before the trip began to get the flight itinerary because they neglected to send it to us in advance. They neglected to include the last page which had the flights from Paris to Spitsbergen. We discovered that the day before the flight and went nuts trying to find the flight because Ponant was closed as it was Saturday. We finally found the flight because there was only one flight from DeGaulle that day. The ship needed a refit. Paint was missing and it just was a bit worn out. The first day we had a safety briefing. They brought everyone into the theater and said if we had to abandon ship we would be told what to do. BAD The food was tasteless although it really looked nice on the plate. The service was not very good. Many of the wait staff were trained to not look at you so if you wanted something it did not happen for a while. We think they put sleepy dust in the food because there was virtually nothing to do on the ship except watch the scenery go by. After every meal we were so tired we went to our cabin and slept even after breakfast. The few other english speaking passengers agreed. There were 30 english speakers and 200 non english speakers. The crew spoke marginal Franglish and the Captain was not even good at Franglish. The few english speaking crew agreed. There we about four lectures two which were by english speakers. They were OK. The excursions off the ship were very short as there were so many passengers that we had to go in groups and there was not much to see. We expected animals and birds but there was not much of either. The piece de resistance was the film that they were peddling about the things we saw. What the crew did was send video crews on zodiacs when animals were sighted and they took videos up close to the animals to sell to the passengers as a memento of the trip. We did not get closer than a mile from the animals but the video showed them up close. A huge waste of a week. There are no guarantees of seeing animals in the arctic but to sell that video was a big huge fraud. We did see walrus but the crew kept us far away on the shore excursion. Nothing like going to the Antarctic. The cabin was OK. We have had much better elsewhere. After the second day we were so upset about the cruise that my wife went to the cruise director and was not given much satisfaction. We wanted to leave but that was not possible. Even the english speaking crew said she was a witch. Many of the excursions off the boat were to small towns with not much to see. Others were just a walk on the sea ice and champagne and then back on the ship. If you want to go on an expedition go on a small ship, one hundred passengers or less. We have been to the Antarctic on a 75 passenger ship and it was spectacular. Shore excursions were as long as we wanted to stay. We have been on other small ship expeditions in Chile and Galapagos and plan one in Western Australia. This ship was a bust and a waste of $20,000. You can be sure we will never travel with Ponant again. Be careful. They have a new icebreaker ship which is even more expensive but it has over 300 passengers. It will be a boat ride and nothing more. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We always choose our cruises by itinerary, not cruise line and this one did not disappoint. Combination of fjords and the Arctic with the 24 hour daylight was perfect for us, Marella only do this route once a year and not many other cruise ... Read More
We always choose our cruises by itinerary, not cruise line and this one did not disappoint. Combination of fjords and the Arctic with the 24 hour daylight was perfect for us, Marella only do this route once a year and not many other cruise lines do trips into the Arctic Circle. First the good points - some people are a bit sniffy about Marella (Butlins at sea etc) but loads of positives for us. First the size of ship, we prefer the smaller ones and the Explorer we found to be light and airy, especially the Mediterranean lounge which houses the fab tapas restaurant and the pizza/pasta in the evenings at no extra cost with spectacular views. All in all, the food we ate was certainly on a par with any other ship we have been on. The extra cost Surf and Turf and Kora Lai were top notch, as were all the staff (and we include the fabulous quiet bar 'Aperitif staff' just outside these venues as well - our bar of choice - mainly because you could get Fever tree tonics and Bottega processo on the premium upgraded all inclusive which for us at just over £7 a day we considered good value). The regular staff (bar staff, cleaners, cabin staff ) all great. Now the Marella entertainment and customer facing staff could take a few lessons from the regular staff. Even spoke to Calvin James (head of staff?) ref some points but even he didn't give us much eye contact and generally didn't give the impression that he was being very attentive to our conversation. The entertainment from our point was very ' samey' - silent disco brilliant but mix it up abit and theme it eg have a soul theme v the 80'st,lost is novelty after a few times but with a few changes it could be so much better, you have the staff. Again some of the staff seemed to turn their smiles on and off. And only so many times you can watch Bohemian Rhapsody........And a bit more variety on the at sea days would be good, as we were in the Arctic Circle it is hardly sunbathing weather. But we did have a concern with the comedian that was flown in and thanks to head of entertainment that met us to talk about our issues. Thank you for that. If you do this cruise next year just be aware that as it a one off cruise , go with an open mind. Weather etc can affect it - we were blessed with the most fab weather. But some of the ports required us to tender when originally we were due to be harbourside, so if you have mobility issues, be warned. Also when we did use the destinations staff, on a few of the trips it was very poorly arranged. Alot of waiting around in the cold, and we were one of the youngest on board (we are 58!) . No wonder we choose to do our own thing in port if we can, not good value at all. Cabin was great, proper shower door and huge balcony, had a hammock, sunbed and 2 chairs and a table (extra large balcony cabin!). Maybe a few funky toiletries would be nice and the towels could have been a lot fluffier! But all in all, no issues. So would be cruise Marella again? If the itinerary was right, yes we would. As an ex - Tui member of staff, I know you can do much better, it won't take alot to sharpen up staff attitudes and better organised excursions, lets give the big boys a run for the money! And please keep the middle sized ships, they can get into all the smaller ports that those monsters can't! Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
Chose this cruise because of the itinerary . The fact that it sailed from Liverpool was an added bonus as we have always wanted to visit the city. We were not disappointed with our three night stay before boarding. Embarkation at the ... Read More
Chose this cruise because of the itinerary . The fact that it sailed from Liverpool was an added bonus as we have always wanted to visit the city. We were not disappointed with our three night stay before boarding. Embarkation at the cruise terminal was efficient and speedy. The car parking arrangements worked well. We had a balcony suite cabin and were very pleased with its size and the facilities. This cruise sailed within sight of land most of the time and the fact that we were in the land of the midnight sun meant we could enjoy many hours of sightseeing from the comfort of our balcony. The ship itself is small by today’s standards but we don’t need shopping malls or climbing walls. There were lots of shore days so there were plenty of opportunities to get off the ship and walk in the lovely Norwegian countryside. We were very impressed by the standard of food offered at all meals. The menus were varied and the food tasty and hot. The service was impeccable. The wines on offer were very well chosen and priced competitively. The entertainment was standard fare for cruise ships. The young entertainment team provided some jolly themed Beatles and Brit pop shows. My husband particularly enjoyed the ukulele lessons with Ivy on sea days. We have sailed with several of the leading cruise companies and we felt that our experience on Black Watch surpassed them in the quality of the food and fairness of price for wine and gratuities. We shared a table for 6 and our dining companions were great fun. All the staff we came in contact with spoke excellent English and indeed could share a joke with the passengers. We did not go on any of the ships tours preferring to use local buses and do our own thing for the most part. Very easy to do as Norwegians speak excellent English and were very helpful. We did use a local tour group called Blue Puffin to visit the North Cape and they were excellent. We enjoyed all the ports of call. Trondheim has an interesting folk museum just a short bus ride out of town. We enjoyed the cable car ride in Tromsø with spectacular views from the top. Leknes was pleasant but very small however the Viking museum at Borg was a taxi ride from the port and well worth a visit - with a lovely walk down to see the Viking long ship. The North Cape visitor centre was well done. The Alta museum with its World Heritage rock art centre has spectacular view from well laid out paths. Go early and catch the local bus which runs regularly and miss the crowds. Kristiansund was a bit disappointing . Very picturesque but not much of interest locally. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We made a booking in November 2016 to travel through the North West Passage with Hurtigruten because of our interest in the history associated with this remote area. We had travelled with Hurtigruten before; doing the classic Norwegian ... Read More
We made a booking in November 2016 to travel through the North West Passage with Hurtigruten because of our interest in the history associated with this remote area. We had travelled with Hurtigruten before; doing the classic Norwegian coastal voyage, and had enjoyed that (apart from eye watering bar prices). The journey booked was titled “The Northwest Passage: In the Wake of Great Explorers – Eastbound” and was planned to travel from Cambridge Bay at the western end of the passage through to Pond Inlet at the eastern end followed by two stops in Greenland that were clearly there as part of repositioning the vessel. The information provided about Fram indicated it was a very capable ship and well suited to travel in difficult polar waters. Hurtigruten’s information also made much of the wildlife to be seen – another key point for us. While in Canada before the cruise we received your e-mail forwarding a communication from Hurtigruten on 5th September advising that our ship, MS Fram would not be able to reach Cambridge Bay. As requested by Hurtigruten, we attended the briefing on the evening of 9th September at the Hotel in Montreal which was hosted by Mario, the Expedition Leader, who was just re-joining the ship after leave and did not appear to be well briefed. He advised that ice conditions were unlike previous years but reassured us that he had a plan B and, if necessary, a plan C. When someone asked if we could cancel our trip and get a refund we were told to join the ship & it would all be sorted out on board. The following day the passengers were taken (in three separate groups) from the hotel and our group was flown to Resolute Bay, where we changed to smaller aircraft and flown to Pond Inlet (the last stop in Canada at the end of the North West Passage according to the original itinerary) where we boarded the ship. Once on the ship there was a fuller briefing by Karin Strand, Field Operations & Expedition Team Manager, who normally appears to work in head office. She seemed to have joined the ship for the two “North West Passage” voyages & we wondered if she had been put on board to provide a “Hurtigruten Head Office message”, as she left the ship with us on 22nd September. At the meeting she advised that the North West Passage was blocked by ice and that we would not be seeing anything of the original itinerary in Canada other than Pond Inlet. We were told that there were other good options including visiting Ellesmere Island. The next day the passengers were taken out to spend some time on an ice berg floating at sea, which was an interesting experience but not what we booked. It also involved lots of waiting around for our turn to use the small rubber boats. There were a good design in that they had steps at the bow and boards at the side but their capacity was small and there were nothing like enough for all passengers to use them at once even though the ship was far from full. The following day we were taken to North Arm on Baffin Island to see some very old rocks which was mildly interesting but not what we booked. That evening Karin finally admitted that Hurtigruten had run out of options given the difficult ice conditions as even Ellesmere Island (where the westbound cruise spent time) was now ice bound. At this point it also emerged that Fram has a limited ice capability (ice class 1B) and the Canadian Ice pilot had refused permission to go further into the ice because of that limitation. I found later that other companies’ ships with a 1A ice class had been allowed to go much further. Karin suggested that the ship headed for Greenland and those present agreed as it was better than going around in small circles getting nowhere. It was quite clear that Hurtigruten needed to go back to Pond Inlet to drop off the local person who had joined the ship 2 days earlier and also the Canadian Ice Pilot. We were given the option of simply dropping off these two people and immediately setting sail for Greenland or stopping and taking a look at Pond Inlet before departing. It was accepted by all that seeing the settlement of Pond Inlet was the better choice. At this point passengers also complained about the lack of the promised lectures activities on board and these started thereafter. This did reveal another weakness of our ship as the lecture theatre had an open back allowing lots of ambient noise in and no staged seating (and a low ceiling) meaning it was impossible to see the screen properly unless sitting right at the front. After slowly crossing Baffin Bay & the Davis Strait for 2 days we visited alternative four sites in Greenland which were scenic & somewhat interesting but not what we booked. I became bored with clambering over rocky barren places. The mood of the passengers became more and more fed up and Monty Python’s “Always look on the bright side of life” was adopted as an informal anthem – enough said! The last 2 planned visits to Ilulissat and Sissimiut went ahead as planned and were enjoyable. I have the following comments: - • No cruise ship has managed to transit the North West Passage this summer ( we believe that 4 ships had planned to go in the short season). • The Cambridge Bay Website stated that the Fram would not be visiting their settlement as far back as 24th August. The website content was subsequently changed and I was left with a clear impression that Hurtigruten had applied pressure to tell the story their way. • Subsequent research showed that the Canadian authorities were issuing ice warnings as early as 20th August and I find it highly improbably that Hurtigruten were not aware of this. • The briefing at the hotel did not make clear the full nature of the change to the itinerary. Ice maps were shown but the captions were not legible at a distance and the implications were not made clear. When someone asked if a refund was possible they were publicly told it was not. It appeared that Hurtigruten simply wanted to get us onto the ship so that further protest would not be possible. Mario could not confirm when asked what wildlife was spotted in Greenland during the westbound voyage which had just completed, which speaks of poor preparation but probably also they knew that little or no wildlife had been seen. • Hurtigruten knew before we travelled to the vessel that we would not be completing the full itinerary and should have offered a refund in line with their terms and conditions. I have included a cut and paste from their terms and conditions here:- “Occasionally we may have to make a significant change to your confirmed arrangements. Significant changes include the following: • Change of UK departure airport. A change from one London airport to another is not considered a major change. London airports are Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton and London City. • Change of your time of departure or return by more than 12 hours. • Change of your flight from a day flight to a night flight if this also includes a change to your departure time of 3 hours or more.† • Change of resort. • Change of holiday accommodation to accommodation of a lower official rating. † For the purposes of the contract night flights are those which depart from the UK between 2200 and 0600 hours or arrive in the UK between 2400 and 0600 hours. If we have to make a significant change or cancel we will notify you as soon as possible and if there is time to do so before departure we will offer you the choice of: (a) (for significant changes) accepting the change and the contract between us will then be varied to incorporate the change; or (b) accepting alternative arrangements altogether (subject to availability) of comparable or higher standard from us (at no extra cost); or (c) if available, accepting an offer of alternative arrangements of a lower standard, with a refund of the price difference between the original arrangements and the alternative arrangements; or (d) withdrawing from the booking completely in which case we will as soon as possible, refund all money paid to us. Passengers must give notice of their decision as soon as reasonably possible and not later than 7 days of being informed of the alteration. If we do not hear from you within 7 days, we will contact you again to request notification of your choice. If you fail to respond again, we will assume that you have chosen to accept the change or alternative booking arrangements.” Had a refund been available we would have taken it and made our own way home . • Hurtigruten’s strategy appeared to be divide and conquer – passengers repeatedly asked for an offer on board but this was refused. We were told each of us would be contacted separately when we returned home & that we would all be fairly dealt with, regardless of our nationality. • During the voyage passengers asked for a conference call to Hurtigruten senior management - this was refused. • Lectures did not start until passengers complained • Preparation for lectures was poor with audio visual not sorted until people were waiting • We paid a great deal of money and did not receive what was promised. We understand that the ship could not go through the ice & that safety is paramount (so much for Hurtigruten’s claims in the brochure which left many people believing that Fram has Ice Breaking capability). However, this is was not a minor change, as the fundamental element, the trip through the North West Passage in the footsteps of the explorers, was completely deleted. We came away with a clear impression that Hurtigruten simply wanted us to get on board ship, so they could try to manage their way through the problem and pay out as little as possible. Hurtigruten’s approach appears to be sly, sneaky, evasive and not in the slightest consumer focussed. • The safety briefing and lifeboat drill didn’t happen for 24 hours • Much was made of the wildlife to be seen when this cruise was advertised but we saw nothing in Canada (I think one person saw a seal) and the birdlife was limited and unremarkable. Initially it was suggested that Greenland was a good substitute but staff were evasive about what we might see in Greenland, despite questions on several occasions. Hurtigruten’s own MS Fram Voyage handbook page 7 highlights the wildlife we could see in Greenland. However, it was eventually admitted that we were too late in the season to see most things, as confirmed by the naturalist experts on the ship. We paused and looked at two “Bird Cliffs” that were completely devoid of birds. We saw no Polar Beas, Narwhal, Walruses, Seals, Musk Oxen, Reindeer, Artic Foxes or Arctic Hares. There were a few, very distant whale sightings. This was also very disappointing, as for many passengers, wildlife was a 2nd major consideration for booking (after seeing the NWP). Not all was bad:- • The staff were generally very good • The food was good (although not as good as it had been on the Norwegian coastal journey a few years ago) • Embarkation at the start of the cruise and disembarkation at the end were handled well • The specialist experts on board were generally good • Bar prices were reasonable We are in discussion with Hurtigruten about refund of monies paid but this proving to be hard work and so we are seeking legal support via our travel insurance. We have lost all confidence in Hurtigruten and have no wish to ever travel with them again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
Wanted to follow In the “Footsteps of famous explorers through the North West Passage” as the itinerary advertised. I live in the area where Sir John Franklin was born and have followed his story for many years so this would be a trip ... Read More
Wanted to follow In the “Footsteps of famous explorers through the North West Passage” as the itinerary advertised. I live in the area where Sir John Franklin was born and have followed his story for many years so this would be a trip of a lifetime to follow in his wake and also that of other famous mariners. Saw the full,page advert in weekend papers from ROL Cruises who declare themselves to be the leading agents for Hurtigruten. Had sailed with Hurtigruten before (twice) so relied upon them and felt confident they would be honest and truthful. The trip was the most expensive thing I’ve ever purchased (apart from my house). But that was not the case. ROL contacted us on 5/9/18 with a short email saying the departure point for the Fram had changed. No alarm bells rang because with expedition style cruising, slight amendments are sometimes necessary. However upon arrival in Montreal, began to be very suspicious that something major was wrong. At a briefing in the Montreal hotel we were assured “all was going to plan and not to worry”. We were shown a video clip showing a ship crew member having “a wonderful time” but she didn’t disclose that the Fram wasn’t going anywhere near the North West Passage. Another passenger had seen comments on Facebook by travellers who were actually on board who said the ship was just sailing up and down at 8 knots and not proceeding to the planned itinerary but again we were assured by Hurtigruten representatives that all was well. Just get on board they were saying. Once on board of course we were trapped. Then a major change to the itinerary occurred and although we have been raising complaints ever since, ROL and Hurtigruten are stonewalling all the passengers who have joined together in a protest lobby group. I am absolutely sickened by the behaviour from these providers who I trusted with my hard earned cash who I thought were professional and knew what they were doing. It turns out Fram isn’t the type of “ice proof” ship I’d been lead to believe. Reading the brochure is a million miles away from what is provided. I see the same trip is being offered in the next brochure without any warnings of the ice conditions. Negligent and untruthful. Shame. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
We joined MS Fram on the !0th of September for a cruise advertised as the Northwest Passage In the Wake of the Great Explorers. As a result of ice conditions only 4 days of the 14 day voyage bore any relationship to the advertised ... Read More
We joined MS Fram on the !0th of September for a cruise advertised as the Northwest Passage In the Wake of the Great Explorers. As a result of ice conditions only 4 days of the 14 day voyage bore any relationship to the advertised itinerary and 3 of those days were in Greenland that was not the main objective in any case. Although Hurtigruten was not responsible for the ice conditions they were responsible for the appalling way in which the disruption was handled. We first heard of a major change at the briefing in Montreal after all passengers had assembled ready to fly north early the following morning. No senior Hurtigruten staff were present and we were given no opportunity to cancel. We were told of plan B but once we were captive on the ship, at the new departure point Pond Inlet, that was not enacted with no explanation. Instead after 3 days sailing in a tight circle we headed off to Greenland. Subsequent investigation made it clear that Hurtigruten must or should have known at least 2 weeks before we left, from the ice condition reports and failure of other boats to get through, that traverse of the Northwest passage was highly unlikely this season. In fact a Cambridge Bay [original departure point] website stated on the 24th of August that the MS Fram would not be visiting in 2018. Needless to say this webpage quickly disappeared after it became widely known. Hurtigruten eventually reluctantly agreed to compensation but this was only to be communicated through individuals’ travel agents after returning home. At no time did the captain address the passengers about the drastic changes and in fact remained aloof throughout the voyage. Subsequently there have been a series of differing compensation offers despite assurances on the boat that we would all be offered the same. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
To participate in Hurtigruten's "Ultimate Voyage - Through the Northwest Passage - in the Wake of the Great Explorers" aboard the MS Fram. AGAINST TRAVELLING WITH HURTIGRUTEN For over 100 years, Hurtigruten have ... Read More
To participate in Hurtigruten's "Ultimate Voyage - Through the Northwest Passage - in the Wake of the Great Explorers" aboard the MS Fram. AGAINST TRAVELLING WITH HURTIGRUTEN For over 100 years, Hurtigruten have provided an excellent coastal ferry service along the coast of Norway and from our own experience, we would agree. But over recent years, they have expanded to operating adventure cruises, particularly to both Arctic and Antarctic waters, under the slogan "World Leader in Exploration Travel". With this we would NOT agree, after our recent experience aboard Hurtigruten's MS Fram, when we should have sailed eastwards from Cambridge Bay in Arctic Canada through the Northwest (NW) Passage, in the "Wake of the Great Explorers" - but we didn't!! And the way that Hurtigruten has handled this extreme disappointment has destroyed our faith in Hurtigruten, and any belief we had that it was an honourable company who put the well-being of its clients above its 'bottom line'. In the summer of 2018, Hurtigruten ran two cruises in the NW Passage. The first, starting from West Greenland in late August, should have sailed westwards through the passage to Cambridge Bay in Canada, arriving there on September 10th. The second should have left Cambridge Bay on September 10th, sailing eastwards through the passage and on to West Greenland, arriving there on September 24th. The first cruise made only a slight incursion into the passage; the later cruise didn’t even enter the passage, and the most westerly it got was Pond Inlet, just north of Baffin Island. We had booked on the second (later) cruise when it was first advertised through Reader Offers Limited (ROL), a ‘supplier’ to Hurtigruten, in February 2017. It was not an inexpensive cruise (£20,000 for two passengers), but with a long standing interest in Canadian Arctic explorations (particularly the 1846 failed expedition of Sir John Franklin and subsequent expeditions to investigate its fate - especially as the wrecks of the expedition ships Erebus and Terror had been located recently in 2014 and 2016 respectively), we felt this cost was warranted. And the Hurtigrten/ROL prospectus hardly hinted at any likelihood of failure! On the evening before we left home on this adventure, we received an e-mail (dated September 5th) from Hurtigruten via ROL to inform us that the port of our embarkation on the MS Fram would be changed (to where not specified) because of ‘ice conditions in the Victoria and James Ross Straits are such that no ordinary ship can sail through the area’ - but no indication that the whole of our itinerary through the NW Passage would be abandoned. Even when we reached Montreal, at a meeting with the Expedition Team at the hotel on the evening of September 8th (when our port of embarkation was revealed to be Pond Inlet near the eastern entrance to the Northwest Passage) - but again with no indication that our NW Passage itinerary was to be completely aborted! Once on board the MS Fram on September 10th, we got some more quantitative information on the ice conditions in the Northwest Passage - but it took until September 13th before the Expedition Team finally confirmed there was no hope of us sailing into the NW Passage. So this essential and major element of our itinerary was finally abandoned, and we sailed to West Greenland for some extra days there. The above timescale aspects are important. If we were charitable, we might have considered Hurtigruten’s slowness in accepting their NW Passage itinerary would have to be abandoned was due to a naïve hope that a timely change in ice conditions would arise, showing a lack of knowledge and experience in cruising in the Canadian arctic waters - after all, their proposed cruises of the Fram in the Canadian Arctic were hailed as ‘maiden voyages’! But as we gained more knowledge of the circumstances, we began to realise that a more likely explanation was a carefully choreographed and cynical attempt to get us aboard the Fram in a duplicitous move to avoid cancellation before the start of the holiday - which under both Hurtigruten and ROL terms and conditions would have entitled us to a full refund of our holiday costs!! Further evidence of this interpretation is given by the situation of the preceding (westwards) cruise of the Fram, where passengers were informed on 3rd September that ice conditions in the NW Passage would not allow their transit to Cambridge Bay - an admission that would have allowed our trip to be cancelled well in advance of our leaving home! Moreover, the ice information came from the official Ice Charts of the Canadian Coastguard, which indicated from the end of July that the NW Passage could not be navigated due to sea ice, and from which it is abundantly clear that there was no remote possibility of fulfilling the Fram’s itinerary through the passage for either the westbound or eastbound cruises. Indeed, this impossibility was demonstrated to other (and earlier) transits by passenger ships: the Vavilov, Akademik Ioffe, Bremer, Boreal, Soleal, and Oceanic Adventurer, all of whom cancelled their arrival at Cambridge Bay before the cancellation by the Fram on 4th September. Indeed, no tourist ships traversed the NW Passage at all in the summer season of 2018. And that includes ships who would have been assisted by following a Canadian ice-breaker, an artifice not afforded to the class 1B only ice-strengthened MS Fram. On 29th October, we received our next communication of substance from Hurtigruten (the second of only two), again via ROL. This document was again profuse in apologies for the changes to our cruise itinerary, and offered us a cash reimbursement of approximately 50% of what we’d paid ROL, plus the offer of a further 50% off a holiday in 2019, to be selected from a small range of future Hurtigruten cruises. This latter aspect is of little interest to us, as it involves a further 50% payment from us, and at present we are also disinclined ever to travel with Hurtigruten again!! So for us what Hurtigruten’s offer boils down to was to reduce our holiday from “the Ultimate Voyage - Through the NW Passage - in the Wake of the Great Explorers” to essentially an eight day cruise along the West Coast of Greenland for just under £10,000 for the two of us if we‘d accepted Hurtigruten’s ‘reimbursement’ of 29th October. Whereas if Hurtigruten had had the honesty to cancel this ‘Ultimate Voyage’ before it started, and given us a full refund (as then due under their terms and conditions), we could have used our £20,000 to book a future 18 day holiday from Reykjavik to Western Greenland, and still have about £10,000 to spare!! And we might have admired Hurtigruten’s moral stance to look after their clients, and retained some respect for the self-styled “World Leader in Expedition Travel”. We don’t dispute Hurtigruten’s decision not to traverse the Northwest Passage. But we are angered by their tardy response to sea ice conditions, and we are now certainly convinced that the failure of Hurtigruten/ROL to face the facts in the public domain in August (that the Northwest Passage was a ‘no go’ area for passenger ships in 2018) and to persist with our Fram cruise when they could have cancelled before our start, was a shabby treatment to keep a large proportion of our money!! So after Hurtigruten’s moral failure, we are now pursuing redress under Hurtigruten’s legal responsibilities, in particular under the Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992. We now note in the summer of 2019, Hurtigruten/ROL are again offering two cruises through the Northwest Passage from/to Cambridge Bay to/from West Greenland, on the MS Fram. In addition, they are also offering a full transit of the Passage, starting from Halifax (Nova Scotia) to Nome (Alaska), on their new ship, the Roald Amundsen. Again, their prospectuses for these voyages are couched in glowing and enthusiastic terms, with little hint that they could be aborted. They even advise “you will be sailing amazing straits … and hopefully enough ice to make it for excellent wildlife spotting” - they should be careful for what they wish!! We shall observe the progress of these journeys with interest, to see if Hurtigruten have learned anything from their aborted cruises on the Fram in 2018. Please be aware that we found the on board staff to be delightful, and we had no complaints regarding the ship's catering and house management (although the lecture room situation was unsuitable) - our sole complaint is with Hurtigruten Management and the way they aborted the cruise through the NW Passage with derisory compensation. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018

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