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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2018
We booked this cruise because we have always wanted to see icebergs and the Disko bay. My husband only speaks french and we wanted to enjoy beautiful scenery, interesting conferences, and an all inclusive drink and food cruise. ... Read More
We booked this cruise because we have always wanted to see icebergs and the Disko bay. My husband only speaks french and we wanted to enjoy beautiful scenery, interesting conferences, and an all inclusive drink and food cruise. • Travel To Port of Embarkation We live in France and made our own way to Reykjavik Iceland to join the ship.We arrived the day before and stayed at the Storm Hotel, which was walking distance to town center. It's a simple and very clean modern hotel, rooms are small, no closet, but a clothes rack with a few hangers. It's okay for a night or 2. • Boarding was very easy, there are many people waiting to carry our bags on board and the captain and staff are there to welcome us. Stateroom • Our prestige stateroom was on the 5th floor, with a balcony. The rooms are beautiful, clean, and there are a lot of storage room. Double wardrobe with drawers and enough hangers, and opposite the bed there are 3 big drawers with a coffee machine and electric kettle on top . There is also a safe and small fridge. Note that you cannot store suitcases under the bed, we laid them flat in the wardrobe. • Shower room is small but very nice. It's a walk-in shower and there's a clothes line in it to hang your washing. Don't forget to bring a few clothes pins! Dining There are 2 dining rooms, one on the 6th floor which is a buffet, and another one on the 2nd floor which is a more formal dining room. Food is fabulous french cuisine, drinks and wine are included.You can also enjoy more expensive wines , but we found them very expensive, around 100€ a bottle. • Entertainment Don't expect entertainment like on Costa or other huge cruises! On the 6th floor there is a observatory bar with a musician who plays classical music and on the 3rd floor in the evening there's a singer and musician who are more lively and you can dance to disco, rock & roll or other music. • Port & Shore Excursions There are excursions organized in Reykjavit before leaving port, a few small towns, in the capital Nuuk, Illulisat, and bay of Disko. Most of the excursions are not free and you have to sign up for them. They are not cheap either! Considering that Ponant sells luxury cruises, they could have included these excursions in their price. • Disembarkation Disembarkation was at Kangerlussuaq which is an old american military base and we left the ship at 5:30AM, with a bus. Return flight to Paris was a chartered flight with Iberia. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
Fabulous ship. The ship was appointed well, luxurious, clean, well serviced. The crew and management were perfect. The cuisine was remarkable. The Captain was out of the movies elegant and efficient. The expedition staff was uncaring, ... Read More
Fabulous ship. The ship was appointed well, luxurious, clean, well serviced. The crew and management were perfect. The cuisine was remarkable. The Captain was out of the movies elegant and efficient. The expedition staff was uncaring, sloppy, not friendly, poor in execution of excursions. As soon as the ship handed us off to the expedition staff, it became like we at a campground. The expedition staff is indifferent without service attitude. We had no idea which landings were wet and which were dry. As we got to the port, it was clear and the ship could have told us before we boarded. Guess they enjoy their free ride and leave the clients to their own. The last day of the cruise, we left the boat on Zodiacs and were put on a bus enclosed for one hour waiting without direction. No staff accompanied us. We had no direction. Senior citizens were left to figure out where to go on the plains of windy Greenlandon excursions. It’s a miracle no one was seriously injured although a few people fell a bit. As we left the ship, the expedition guide said, “Honestly, I have not heard back from the guide company, so I hope they come.” At lunch, a buffet was set up insufficient creating a large cafeteria line. The bathroom wait was 45 minutes. The excursions on Zodiacs to see the icebergs were brilliant and beautiful. Really unmatchable. The cruise was generally fantastic. It was hard to leave the ship. Only the expedition segment was painful and disappointing. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
Overview The arctic archipelago "Svalbard" has always fascinated us. For this reason we have booked the trip with Hurtigruten. The tour operator attaches great importance to sustainability and environmental protection. This is ... Read More
Overview The arctic archipelago "Svalbard" has always fascinated us. For this reason we have booked the trip with Hurtigruten. The tour operator attaches great importance to sustainability and environmental protection. This is also reflected a little in the price - an Arctic trip is not cheap. The landscapes (geology, glaciology) are very impressive. The fact that in this harsh climate some life develops during the short summer months is fascinating. Lush green meadows, barren moonscapes, beautiful waterfalls and of course lots of snow and ice - that is Svalbard/Spitsbergen. We can recommend this trip because it is very relaxing (no internet for 9 days), but especially because it offers a good mixture of activities, lectures and observing the landscapes and wildlife. Wildlife If you go to this cruise to see polar bears or other wildlife, you'll probably will be lucky... Hurtigruten attaches great importance to sustainability and does not want to disturb the delicate habitat of the animals. Accordingly, everything can only be observed from a very great distance. Of course there are some lucky exceptions, but we have only been able to observe polar bears from a distance of at least 750 meters, for example. Unfortunately, the advertising gives the wrong impression here. With the right equipment you can counteract this a little. Embarkation/Disembarkation The whole process was ok. What was a problem in our opinion the time of disembarkation. We've arrived short after 0.05 o clock. We've waited 1 hour 20 minute to get from board to take the flight at 3.25 o clock. it was very pain and stressful to travel at this late hour. I would have payed 500 euro more to have an afternoon or early evening flight instead of the whole travel thing in the middle of the night... :-( Ship MS Spitsbergen was in 2016 completely renewed. The Ship provides following rooms: Explorer Lounge with Bar, Reception and Bord Shop, Restaurant (2 sittings - 18.00/20.00), Fitness, Jacuzzi, Sauna and on the top floor a large terrace area to observe the beautiful landscapes and animal life. Cabin The cabin was for its size generous and had everything you would expect on a ship. Dining The dining on the MS Spitsbergen was excellent. The Swiss Chef with his crew cooked on a very high level. You wouldn't expect that on a ship. Entertainment and Activities The Expedition-Team organized on each day an interesting program. Nevertheless they could have done different programs for all the different ages. The passengers ages vary from 25 to 90. So not all program points fitted for the young and vice versa. Service The Philippines on board were excellent. They are very friendly and good hosts. The Norwegian crew (Captain and his crew) were very professional, but in comparison to the Philippines rather inaccessible. Ports and Shore excursion On this trip (Spitsbergen/Svalbard) was only Port (Ny Alesund) accessible. All other stations were shore excursion by tender-boat. Some places were not so special, but what do you expect, when you're in the arctic :-) Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
The embarkation was very swift and smooth. The room staff was brilliant in personality and service throughout the cruise. The trip in general was good however we found issue in relation to a number of the excursions provided by the ... Read More
The embarkation was very swift and smooth. The room staff was brilliant in personality and service throughout the cruise. The trip in general was good however we found issue in relation to a number of the excursions provided by the cruise line. They did not cater for the mobility impaired patrons as well and other cruise lines do. On the tour they are left to their own devices. One shore excursion involved 3 carriages of passengers and only 1 (ONE) guide was supplied. Incorrect information was provided. There appeared to be a large emphasis in the promotion of further cruises and appeared to go overboard at times. We found that ship notices/announcements were available to the cabin however the TV had to be on a certain channel and by the time the TV was turned on or able to be changed to that channel the message was completed and missed. Disembarkation from the ship at Dover was very swift and clean Read Less
Sail Date: May 2018
This was a totally amazing experience. Sea Endurance is a comfortable ship taking 52 passengers and 22 staff plus 5 guides and a medical doctor. Both staff och guests came from many countries. The cabins are small but nice, the dining ... Read More
This was a totally amazing experience. Sea Endurance is a comfortable ship taking 52 passengers and 22 staff plus 5 guides and a medical doctor. Both staff och guests came from many countries. The cabins are small but nice, the dining room serves buffet breakfast and lunch and á la carte for dinner. Food was good and generous and the service friendly and outstanding. We spent the evenings in the panorama lounge admiring the beauty of the land scape. The sun never sets at this time of the year. The route was not set as it depends on the weather and ice situation. The expedition leader decided on a daily basis. We sailed the equivalence of 1820 kilometer in one week and covered all of the west coast, the northern part searching for the ice edge getting close to Vitöya before we met the ice. That is where the balloon expedition led by André ended their journey and lives. There was an announcement board where the program for next day was announced and the expedition leader woke us up every morning over the loudspeaker system with the latest information. We went on one or two zodiac cruises every day and we also went ashore for short walks and always with guides with armed weapons first and last. Security was very important. We came across walrus, polar bears, seals and thousand of birds. The highlight was the polar bear mother with 2 newborn kids that we watched for nearly 2 hours playing on the ice edge. The guides have deep knowledge of biology, arctics, nature, zoologi, birds, ecology and they held lectures in their fields. Elke, the expedition leader is an impressive leader and together with Hadleigh, Manda, Eirik and Zet they made sure that the trip became an unforgettable experience for all of us. For the really brave ones the trip ended with a polar plunge in the minus 2 degrees icy water:) Humble and in deep gratitude we all went home with new friends and a lot of memories. I give Polar Quest the highest ratings for the quality, the extremely knowledgable guides, the service on board, the documentation and communication beforehand. Go if you can...the beauty and scenery is unforgettable and you will learn a lot about the Arctic and the beauty of Mother Earth. Mariann Klint Sweden May 2018 Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
We wanted a winter cruise to celebrate my 70th birthday. Having called into the co op travel agents in Lincoln ,this one was recommended to us by one of the cruise specialists.we couldn't have enjoyed it more! The staff on board were ... Read More
We wanted a winter cruise to celebrate my 70th birthday. Having called into the co op travel agents in Lincoln ,this one was recommended to us by one of the cruise specialists.we couldn't have enjoyed it more! The staff on board were all amazing and friendly- nothing too much trouble. I was ill a couple of days into the trip and needed to use the ships medical department. The treatment I got was first class and with a couple of days intensive treatment I was fit to enjoy the rest of the cruise. Food on board was delicious and plentiful and was presented in the first class restaurants as if in a top class hotel. There was a less formal restaurant but the food was excellent in there too. Entertainment was first class with terrific shows each night as well as many and varied day time activities. There was also a wide range on shore excursions ( not cheap as Norway is expensive) and we took advantage of a few of them which we thoroughly enjoyed. We made some good friends who we hope to cruise with again in the future with this line. Now, try as I might, I can't think of any negatives. There was an incident of burst pipes which I believe caused flooding to some areas but the staff worked so hard to sort the problem and did so quickly. I did overhear some guests complaining about various things but they all sounded quite trivial to me. I do feel that some folks complain for complaining X sake!! However, everyone is of course entitled to their opinion. We certainly enjoyed ourselves and would highly recommend cruise and maritime and the Magellan to anyone. Many thanks for a memorable trip. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
This is the worst cruise in my cruising life. Paid for a suite and get as the prisoner meal, eat it or go to deck 7 paid for your favorite meal.that was not people who paid for expensive room and get the hopeless meal. Don't ... Read More
This is the worst cruise in my cruising life. Paid for a suite and get as the prisoner meal, eat it or go to deck 7 paid for your favorite meal.that was not people who paid for expensive room and get the hopeless meal. Don't expect live entertainment in other luxury cruise. You will get bore after 3 days. Tour desk officer are very rude, junior promise multi excursion get discount, she can overwrite it and said no discount. Ports and shore excursions, it is a delivery ship or just like ferry cruising.you will pay for expensive and not worth while excursion.norwegian monopoly these sector for northern light and yet, you won't get the best northern light photo.reason: cruise is moving and tilting, even you have tripod, your northern light pictures is not as sharp as land tour for northern lights. We have joined land tour in jan 2017 in tromso as what we have compare the image.if you want good northern light, fly to tromso and join the northern light chase from the side lane of radisson blu hotel. Stay away don't get regret like us. WE JOINED WE LOOSE You listen to my advice you win. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
We decided to take Lindblad/National Geographic to the arctic because we had gone on a Lindblad cruise to Baja two years ago and loved it - But this was even better. We had one of the least desirable cabins (we booked late) but it was ... Read More
We decided to take Lindblad/National Geographic to the arctic because we had gone on a Lindblad cruise to Baja two years ago and loved it - But this was even better. We had one of the least desirable cabins (we booked late) but it was still more than adequate. The ship's public spaces are surprisingly commodious; lots of empty places to sit if you wanted to be alone. Very attractively designed. The food was ridiculous it was so good. Actually, a bit "much" sometimes. Everything was brilliantly organized and worked like clockwork. And the entire staff was so good humored and helpful. The most amazing part of the trip was the quality of the programs. We wanted to learn about the animals, the geology, the effect of climate change, the plants, the towns...everything. My standards are pretty high (I am a university professor) but everything was professionally planned and presented, with both enough information for the serious as well as enough entertainment for the casual. The program staff was unbelievable both in terms of expertise and also approach-ability. We so much enjoyed getting to know the naturalists, geologists, photographers, etc. You will probably find this hard to believe (I did at first!) but they really make you feel like a welcome guest. I should add that I was quite worried before i went about the fact that i am mobility impaired. The accommodations that were made to help me out were really outstanding,even though I was not able to do much of the hiking and kayaking. Everyone made it possible for me to do as much as I could, and did so without stressing me out in any way. It was helpful that there was a good quality elevator that made most parts of the ship easily accessible. THANK YOU, LINDBLAD/NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC!! Excellent service, Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
This was my third hurtigruten voyage, others being finnmarken and midnatsol. I had a very noisy cabin which i complained about. I could see other empty cabins on the same deck on more than one occasion. Why wasn't i moved? I was free ... Read More
This was my third hurtigruten voyage, others being finnmarken and midnatsol. I had a very noisy cabin which i complained about. I could see other empty cabins on the same deck on more than one occasion. Why wasn't i moved? I was free wine by the restaurant manager on account of my lousy cabin which i declined. I made a request whilst on board. I repeated the request asking another member of the crew but still got no response. I then spoke to the hotel manager who agreed that what i was requesting was perfectly reasonable and not too difficult. I was not granted the request and no reason was given during the voyage. This was very poor customer service. I had asked for my mealtime to be changed and had to ask twice, i did not feel like asking a third time. This was eventually granted! I asked the tour leader covering reception if she could please do my online check in for my flight as there was no online access on board for passengers. Although it would have been outside of her remit she looked totally disinterested and i ended up later, asking another member of the reception team who was happy to oblige. The scenery as always is excellent, the shop on board was very good. After that it was all downhill! The food in the restaurant varied from okay to very average. Food on the ferries dfds and fjordline was fantastic compared to what was on offer here. Food on my previous voyages was excellent. Overall very poor customer service and a bad experience and have not been compensated for this. Read Less
24 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
Review of Cruise W1610 Black Watch: Arctic Adventure and Exploration July 17th- August 12th “Not again, even with discounts….” PART 1 THE REVIEW: This is at best a mixed reaction and review of a specialist cruise, which ... Read More
Review of Cruise W1610 Black Watch: Arctic Adventure and Exploration July 17th- August 12th “Not again, even with discounts….” PART 1 THE REVIEW: This is at best a mixed reaction and review of a specialist cruise, which was anticipated with great promise, but was compromised by a series of running flaws. Not many ships visit Greenland, certainly not with an itinerary that lasts just short of a full month, crosses the Arctic Circle and visits Norway, The North Cape, Spitsbergen, Iceland and Greenland. This means that the cost factors were comparatively high, and the ship was –at least initially- full to capacity. Things got off to a bad start after a drive to Tillbury found me and three suitcases (plus numerous other confused passengers besides) on a dockside with no ship in sight: in the event it was stuck at Dover so emergency coaches had to be quickly ordered as many hundreds of people began asking why they had not been informed of this so that they could have made their own arrangement to go directly to Dover. Fred Olsen’s explanation that it was simply not possible to contact everyone at short notice looked like a more than lame excuse when they had been sending passengers sms texts for some days reminding us all of arrival times, etc. No refreshments were provided for the journey and the coach driver- who could barely speak English- was completely flummoxed by the air-conditioning, which only worked intermittently. (“Oh my God, Oh my God” was all he was heard to utter.) Apparently a passenger’s plastic walking stick somewhere towards the coach’s rear began to melt! Fred Olsen’s Black Watch is by now clearly an ageing vessel and one desperately in need of a complete refit, severe updating, or putting out to pasture. The carpets were manifestly ancient and everywhere- corridors and public areas- covered with stains as if previous passengers and simple expired there (well maybe they had). The staff tried to cope with this on a more-or-less daily basis by soaking them thoroughly then aiming massive blower heaters on them (result: much noise plus humidity). My cabin (outside with view) was the size of a cramped prison cell with what seemed to be beds for four- all narrow and no more than 20” wide with two metal ones slung from the walls, presumably to accommodate a family, and reminiscent of primitive holiday conditions more suited to Butlins in the 50’s. The outside view was provided by two (I assume) original portholes bolted shut with rust all around on the outside. I asked for a change of room, for which I was fully prepared to pay additionally if necessary, but none was available and I was not informed of any subsequent vacancy although passengers did leave throughout the voyage. The walls were not well soundproofed and a noisy party next door allowed me to participate in most conversations, should I have chosen to, from a very short distance. (PS There is ALWAYS another cabin available; believe me I know this from friends who work in the business.) Here I must introduce another cautionary note: this cruise is adult only and attracts a comparatively aged group of guests. Indeed I think the average age was well over pension age, and to be amongst such a group was certainly a double shock; firstly in the realization that oneself is now probably perceived as an “older person” , but secondly as to how infirm many of the passengers are. Wheelchairs, walking frames and many with stick struggling in the public areas, particularly in rougher seas. I was unable amongst the 750 or so guests on board, to spot anyone under the age of 50: the downside of a combination of destination, price, length of voyage and ‘adults only’ appellation. (Just as I am completing this report I have spotted two who might just qualify not to compete in a senior tournament.) Food was reasonably good but on sea days always taken in very crowded conditions. Entertainment was of varying quality with an enthusiastic troop of young dancers who barely mixed with passengers, except when obliged to (on “Captains Cocktail Night”, etc.) a good trio, an excellent guest violinist and a very good pianist for the lounge areas. One thing I have noticed with Fred Olsen is that extras such as photography packages are increasingly “pushed” at guests, as are future cruises with added discounts and inducements. I suppose people fall for these ploys or else there would be much less activity of this sort, but it is a very unwelcome part of the Olsen cruise experience, in my opinion. Also, beware of hidden extras even with an all-inclusive package. I bought the drinks package @ £10 per day which in theory allows unlimited house spirits, wine and soft drinks. However, even though I presented my inclusive card to bar staff I was still charged for a Bloody Mary although the ingredients of tomato juice and vodka are part of the package. When I challenged this at the Guest Services counter a couple of days later this produced a dramatic encounter enjoyed by many staff and guests. The Bar Manager was called who explained that a Bloody Mary was a cocktail requiring expert preparation, hence the charge. When I explained that I had been making them for years by simply putting these ingredients together, I was repeatedly told, again and again, that it was classed by Olsen’s as “a cocktail”. When I said this should have been made clear by the bar staff and that I considered £8 excessive for 6 drops of Worcester sauce a guest listening nearby turned her prune-moon face at me and said “do be nice!” “That’s all very well madam,” I countered “but it is not your bill that’s been docked twenty four quid!” I was promised a complete refund and left the scene through a wave of clapping and supportive passengers. The departure from Greenland and the subsequent 3-4 days at sea was a terrific strain both on the inner resources of the ship and the passengers, many of who did not cope well with rocky sea conditions. Also, we steamed rapidly past the Faroe Isles, which seemed to me to be madness given that everyone was begging for a break from the lengthy sea days, and many would have given their eyeteeth for the chance to stretch their legs on dry land. From the reactions I canvassed from many guests, most thought well of the cruise and enjoyed much of the itinerary; although quite a few criticized the cost of many of the shore excursions which were all extras to the original cost (for example £90 for a guided 2 mile walk on one of the islands, easily accessible on your own from the ship, and therefore unguided and potentially cost free). I went for three reasons: Icelandic waterfalls, Greenland icebergs and to complete the draft of a novel. Frankly I was not too interested in local craftsmen weaving winter apparel from seal dung or whatever regional materials they use. So this made my reasons for travelling quite specific and probably unusual. But for those in general I noticed a measure of “British stiff-upper lip-ness” which I have to say I admired, but did not feel obliged to participate in. Cabin TVs looked like something out of “Crossroads” circa 1960s and performed about as well. Internet access was totally unreliable and very expensive, and I insisted of refunds of £41 and £13 respectively for connection to the server but thereafter NOT to the internet. If few other passengers complained then someone was making a lot of money out of this failed service. Much better to wait for a port day and connect to Wi-Fi in a local café for cost of a coffee (and very often entirely free.) In conclusion if you require dance lessons, craft and art classes (the art teacher’s own exhibition was a severe embarrassment to any half-competent watercolourist) basic lectures on ports of call, or geology, being sold overpriced jewelry and branded goods, expensive snaps of your trip et al, then this might be the one for you. But, I’m sorry to say, as I have travelled in the past with Olsen and have a soft spot for Fred Senior’s determination to continue with his pet loss-leader, this is not one for me, not again (even with 5% plus 4% plus 5% special offers off.) PART TWO: THE REPORT This part of the review has not yet been substantiated or commented on by The Fred Olsen Company. Currently I am waiting for confirmation that the following information is basically correct. I sent this directly to the M.D of Olsen who declined to respond or comment personally, and his Customer Service Dept. demanded 28 days to reply. I’m afraid, again, this is not good enough Messrs Olsen! The delay at the start of the cruise at Tilbury/Dover was due to a severe engine fire on a previous voyage, which had to be curtailed as a result. The marine authorities were not apparently satisfied with the quality of the repairs undertaken and requested that additional works be carried out. This meant The Black Watch was unable to sail to Tilbury due to a statutory entitlement for the crew to rest before setting out. It was fairly clear during our Arctic Adventure trip that problems with the engine(s) persisted. On our return from Greenland (three days non-stop at sea) in the mid-Atlantic and well over 24 hours from any safe haven, mechanical trouble seemingly struck again resulting in a severe loss of power. Speed reduced to approximately 8 knots, from 14 knots, and the ship began a series of circular manoeuveres transmitting a much greater degree of motion on board, sending many passengers to their cabins. This mechanical problem apparently manifest itself –at least as it was recounted to me- with a degree of panic on the bridge, and also seemed to affect the ships stabilizers which only appeared to operate spasmodically. A total engine failure in our position in the mid-Atlantic could have been a major calamity, and whilst it would clearly be unwise to transmit any kind of panic from crew to passengers, a blanket of silence is not a good solution either. In an era when transparency is a worthy goal to aim for, it seems that Fred Olsen have only managed to score one entirely of their own. 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13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
Chose this cruise because the Newcastle port is near home. Awkward embarkation because you go through check-in in the terminal and, after security check, are then back outside catching a bus to the quayside. Getting off the bus, ... Read More
Chose this cruise because the Newcastle port is near home. Awkward embarkation because you go through check-in in the terminal and, after security check, are then back outside catching a bus to the quayside. Getting off the bus, there's a further walk to the ship. If it's raining, you'd get soaked just getting to the ship. The cruise itself was fine - nice ship - fairly small by today's standards, but that worked in its favour. Got to know lots of other passengers: mainly couples/singles over the age of 50. Reasonable entertainment (a couple of very good performers, especially singer/pianist Lisa Harman). The restaurants were excellent with very good choices on offer. The staff were very pleasant and helpful. Very pleasantly surprised by the premium outside cabin - bigger than expected with large-sized shower. The ports of call and excursions were good and not too expensive, except the whale watching trip costing £70 for seeing one small whale, which apparently is normal. The previous cruise on this ship had a norovirous outbreak but have to say everything was spotless and great emphasis was placed on personal hygiene with hand gel everywhere on this cruise. Would have cruised again on this ship and given it a 4-star rating had it not been for the following incident. The good feeling was spoilt by a ship's officer sneakily taking a photo, with a small digital camera, of me and another passenger having a treatment in the spa. We were never asked if we minded having our photo taken or anything like that - just stuck himself in the doorway of the spa and snapped the picture. On raising a complaint on board, the officer who took the photo dealt with the query! On returning home, I wrote to Fred Olsen and was surprised to receive the following response: "...it is company procedure for senior members of crew to photograph everyday activities taking place on board. This is then sent ashore to Head Office for senior management to review. It is a daily pictorial, controlled document that is only viewed by the most senior staff at Head Office. It is used to ascertain life on board, something which those of us shore side cannot experience day-to-day........Please be assured that the photographs are not made public in anyway [sic], they are stored securely at Head Office and deleted from the camera following the report being compiled." Surely those at Head Office can pay for a cruise if they wish to see what life on board is like. I find this behaviour/policy abhorrent/very unsavoury and don't know of any other cruise line that breaches passengers' right to privacy in such a cavalier manner. If Fred Olsen wishes to take photos of guests they should be completely open and honest about it and at least advertise the fact that they will do this in their brochures, so that passengers are fully aware of their policy prior to booking. If you don't mind having photos being taken of you without your knowledge or permission for faceless personnel to pore over [note FO didn't say what happens to the pictures after Head Office is finished with them - just that they are stored securely], then you could have a good cruise on this ship. If you do mind the sneaky picture-taking, try another cruise line. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
We had always wanted to sail the coast of Norway into the Arctic Circle. It was our first Viking Cruise. The cruise Into The Midnight Sun sounded just what we wanted and it proved to be so. This was a new ship and was superb throughout. ... Read More
We had always wanted to sail the coast of Norway into the Arctic Circle. It was our first Viking Cruise. The cruise Into The Midnight Sun sounded just what we wanted and it proved to be so. This was a new ship and was superb throughout. We had an excellent junior suite and our stewards were wonderful. I had problems with my leg whislt on the cruise and they were willing to provide anything I needed. We had wonderful meals in Manfredi's Italian restaurant and the World Restaurant and enjoyed the uniqueness of the food at the Chef's table. The light lunches in the Explorers Lounge were also very good. All the crew were very helpful expecially reception and the medical staff whom I needed to consult as well as our cabin stewards. The waiter's especially the maitre de in Manfredi's were all extremely friendly and helpful. The evening entertainment and the presentations prior to reaching each port were very good and with the latter being very informative. We enjoyed the shore excursions immensley but we thought Bodo and Bronnisund were less interesting than the rest. We would not hesitate to recommend this cruise to other people and those in two minds we would encourage to go ahead. We will definitely book another cruise in the future based on this experience. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
Best cruise of my life! Forget the stiff cruises with dinner jackets - this is a true Exploration cruise. We went by Zodiacs to the Glaciers, hiking along some of the most beautiful and vulnerable destinations (dont worry there are ... Read More
Best cruise of my life! Forget the stiff cruises with dinner jackets - this is a true Exploration cruise. We went by Zodiacs to the Glaciers, hiking along some of the most beautiful and vulnerable destinations (dont worry there are different levels of hikes easy to advanced) and even some of us were bading in the Arctic (Hurtigruten staff kindly provided towels and warm drinks). Guides were fabulous and the ship is a true classic with cosy wooden interiors, space for 200 guests, makes it very intimate and friendly. In addition to enjoying the nature, I particularly liked visiting Barentsburg, a remote Russian mining town in the Arctic with continuous mining activities and Ny Alesund a small scientist community to get a better idea of how life is in the Arctic. It is not your typical cruise, but a true once in a lifetime experience being so close to nature. There is so much to see and experience outdoors and with the guides, spotting polar bears or whales. In short, is a truly unique experience! Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
The Koningsdam is a beautiful new ship. The crew is also new, therefore still needs to be fully trained. The service in dining room is quite slow requiring 2+ hours for dinner. The dining room food is good, but not excellent. The Tamarind ... Read More
The Koningsdam is a beautiful new ship. The crew is also new, therefore still needs to be fully trained. The service in dining room is quite slow requiring 2+ hours for dinner. The dining room food is good, but not excellent. The Tamarind however is excellent. There are premium dining venues that are poorly attended. There should be more included dining options. The Lido table cleaning is slow thus not having enough clean table available. The new mechanised hand washing stations are a bad idea, used by a minority of passengers. The restricted self service in the Lido is a welcome change, because too many inconsiderate passengers reach in to grab food with their "dirty" hands. The guest entertainment is mediocre; and significantly curtailed down to 3 shortened shows per night, which may have to do with a smaller new design theater in the round. The Norwegian fjords and ports of call were wonderful. The mountain scenery is amazing. The embarkation in the Amsterdam cruise terminal was a chaotic mess, no apparent system or staff direction. The disembarkation went well. My favorite, the Crows Nest, does not have enough appropriate seating capacity, because of badly designed benches and love seats. Lastly, the chef has changed the bread pudding to a custard with bread topping... The chef needs to look up Betty Crocker's receipe for a good bread pudding. It used to be really good...no more. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2015
My travel buddy and I flew to Spitsbergen from Oslo. Before our cruise we stayed overyight at the Radisson Blu Hotel. Nothing fancy, just a place to wait for the ship. The staff was helpful and friendly. I'll start with my only ... Read More
My travel buddy and I flew to Spitsbergen from Oslo. Before our cruise we stayed overyight at the Radisson Blu Hotel. Nothing fancy, just a place to wait for the ship. The staff was helpful and friendly. I'll start with my only real complaint about my Fram experience: the check in procedure. We all seemed to arrive by bus from our hotels at roughly the same time...then we proceeded to our assigned deck, where I stood in line for one hour to be checked in - really, to provide them with my credit card information. The check-in process needs to be streamlined and improved. Other than that, the crew, the ship, almost everything and everyone met or exceeded my expectations. If we didn't want to purchase a drink package we were able to have water with each meal, and the food was VERY good. Our cabin was small but acceptable for the week we were on board. One of our excursions - a hike - was really more of a forced march. The terrain was so rough I couldn't enjoy the scenery because of the necessity to look where every step was taking me. The pace was far too fast for the conditions. Before we began our cruise I hoped for just one decent polar bear sighting. Of course, with wildlife there are never any guarantees.From the ship we saw a total of seven polar bear! I was thrilled to come home with five VERY nice photos of them. We also spent an hour on land watching a large group of walrus. Gliding through the heavy ice was a thrilling experience. Because of ice conditions our route was changed and a couple of landings were not possible but we knew we were at the mercy of the weather and ice. In the end, because of the ice, we didn't just circle Spitsbergen - we went around Svalbard! Of course everyone should investigate any company and specific ship and itinerary before purchasing a cruise, but I will heartily recommend Hurtigruten and the Fram to experience Spitsbergen. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2015
We sailed on cruise X512 to Ireland, Iceland, Faroe Islands and the Orkneys. This was our second P&O cruise having cruised with Cunard on a number of occasions. Joining the ship at Southampton was very easy with no rush or hassle. We ... Read More
We sailed on cruise X512 to Ireland, Iceland, Faroe Islands and the Orkneys. This was our second P&O cruise having cruised with Cunard on a number of occasions. Joining the ship at Southampton was very easy with no rush or hassle. We used the valet parking which is excellent. One of the reasons we now choose to cruise is we were fed up with hanging around airports for hours and then getting onto an aircraft that afforded very little leg room. The Oriana is now twenty years old and some of it shows. Our cabin was adequate but the en suite facilities really do look like they are from a nineteen nineties caravan and desperately need upgrading. The toilet repeatedly broke down, this does appear to be a common problem with this ship. Our cabin steward was first class. My advice to travellers is not go to the Conservatory for breakfast at or around 9am. It borders on complete chaos and it is very difficult to find a seat. 10am is a much better time if you want to avoid the scramble for food. The same at lunch time, leave it until after 2pm. We chose 2nd sitting for dinner which was in the Oriental restaurant. We were towards the rear of the room with lovely views out of the rear of the ship but it is noisy and there is a fair bit of vibration when going at normal speed. We found the service excellent and the food was always good quality and nicely presented. If you chose freedom dining be prepared to have to wait for a table. Comments from other passengers were that they always felt rushed in the Peninsular restaurant. Our favourite place for drinks was the Crows Nest. Once again the service there was really good and the live music added to the atmosphere. The Amethyst Duo and Chris were particularly enjoyable. The entertainment is always down to personal choice and we did go to the theatre four times and enjoyed each visit. Why do people want to leave before the end of the performance? It's not as if they have a bus to catch. Is it they need more food? Bad manners. Black tie nights were enjoyable and it is nice to see people dressed up, but it is not the same experience as on a Cunard Ship. We visited Killybegs in Ireland, only a small town but nice and friendly. They do charge 2 Euro per person for a two minute shuttle bus trip. Reykjavik was nice city although there is a lot of graffiti. Isafjordur was a tender port and one of my favourites. A small very calm fishing village with spectacular views, I loved this place. Sunny but a biting cold wind. Akureyri was a lovely small town with some interesting shops, most people spoke English. After our visit into the Artic Circle we headed south to the very pretty Faroe Islands. We went on a panoramic tour during the morning but unfortunately we did not see a great deal due to thick fog, but this is a chance you have to take in this part of the world. The afternoon was spent in lovely warm sunshine in the very colourful Torshavn. We then went to Kirkwall in the Orkneys. It was dull overcast and raining, Kirkwall is only small and to my mind very plain and grey. I did not like it at all. I was glad to leave. On to Dublin. This city is buzzing and there is nothing not to like. There are a lot of road works as they are building a tram system and it does hold up the traffic but we still managed to get around. If you are thinking of going on the Oriana it is getting old but it is still a nice ship. They do seem to have major plumbing problems and this part of the ship does need up dating. The service we received was always excellent and everyone was very friendly. The food was good and evening dinner was very good. If you are planning to go to Iceland it will be cold/cool in the summer take suitable clothes. The midnight sun is amazing something not to be missed. A good value for money cruise Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
The ship was fantastic, small but very friendly as you got to know lots of people. The food the entertainment and all the staff were fantastic. This was my first cruise and I worried that there may not be enough to do.What a joke we ended ... Read More
The ship was fantastic, small but very friendly as you got to know lots of people. The food the entertainment and all the staff were fantastic. This was my first cruise and I worried that there may not be enough to do.What a joke we ended up running from deck to deck in order to do all the quizzes, table tennis and every thing else we wanted to do. The out door pool even though we were in the Arctic was 30 degrees so we swam nearly every day. The cabin was amazing but we did have a suite. Some of the information was incorrect. We were told we could get on the ship early due to our suite.We got to Dover early and that information is wrong you have to wait like every body else.We took priority disembarkation and this was excellent we got off the boat at least 2 hours before everybody else. The cruise was excellent except we never knew exactly where we were. The day sheet for all the on board entertainment was great but we needed one to tell us where we were passing and where we were. We took the drinks package. For me that was fine but for my sister it was a waste of money. Strongbow cider was included but Kopperberg cider which cost 5 pence more was excluded so she had to pay 50% of the price every time but she could drink rum and brandy until she fell over. Read the small print before you pay. DO NOT BOOK ANY TRIPS WITH THE CRUISE COMPANY. They are a total rip off. Example in Bergen a trip to the Funicular including price up and down £40. Distance from ship a slow 5 mins walk. Return trip £10 on the Funicular. Do the maths yourself. And this was a cheap trip most were at least £90 each and you did not get the right time off the ship and you had no time at the attraction. The Atlantic Road was fully booked up price £80 each. We got a taxi and did it alone for less than £50 for the 2 of us. The ship photos are good but expensive choose carefully but the video is great. All the services on the ship were amazing nothing was too much trouble. I would do another Fred Olsen Cruise but not book any trips. Research them before you go and do it yourself. Would recommend the Braemar to anyone it is a first class ship with a great crew and Captain. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2015
We just came back from a 15 night cruise to Norway, Arctic Circle. It was a relaxing cruise and we thoroughly enjoyed it, although it was not a perfect cruise. Then we always enjoy cruising, as there is so much to do and not a dull moment ... Read More
We just came back from a 15 night cruise to Norway, Arctic Circle. It was a relaxing cruise and we thoroughly enjoyed it, although it was not a perfect cruise. Then we always enjoy cruising, as there is so much to do and not a dull moment if U R flexible. The movies we saw were one of the best selection we had ever encountered and that include movies based on the life of Dr. M. L. King and Pros. Stephen Hawking, as well as Cinderella, McFarlane etc, 12 in total. The shows were not up to the high standard we would expect, as there was no Ice shows, the one we enjoy most. But to be honest, not all ships put on such extraveganza. Shore excursions were good but a bit expensive and there were too many ports with tendering, a little bit of a problem for someone like me with slight disability. The food was good, especially in our "Any Time Dinning" where Chefs would prepare our favourite dishes, as we are vegetarians. But the food in the buffet restaurant on deck 15 was cold most of the time, although variety was good, especially variety but it could be better. The ship on the whole is in need of refit and I understand it is going in the dockyard in 2016, not before time. The Princess Theatre was our favourite spot for afternoon movies and evening shows. But it is a bit small, need a bit bigger capacity with some 3500 passengers. But being a disable person and going in well before starting time, we always found the seats. All the staffs were wonderful and would go out of their way to help us, especially in the dining room and our Cabin stewardess, although we never saw the Captain. Being a journalist, I also enjoy lectures but they were few and at wrong time, clashing with other, more enjoyable shows. On the whole it was a great experience and we thoroughly enjoyed it. But it could have been better. Read Less

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