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Fire and Ice Review.


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Fire & Ice, 26/08/14

 

Sorry, probably too long but here goes.

 

Following on from our brilliant cruise to Norway in August 2013, we booked this cruise to Iceland not long after returning.

Check-in at Harwich was quick and faultless, and we were on board within a few minutes of arriving at the port, and in our cabin before 13.00. Our cases were outside the door within the hour and we were unpacked and happily exploring the ship in no time.

The spirit was just as it was last year but smartened up. New swivelling chairs in the Broadway lounge, and new carpets on stairs and within the public areas.

 

The life jacket drill took no time at all and most people pre-empted the warning and were waiting with their jackets on in line.

 

The weather was not our friend for the first few days and this resulted in us being unable to reach the port of Stornoway due to choppy waters and the danger this could have on using the tenders. This on its own was not a problem and safety should always take preference. The problem was in this leading to 3.5 sea days! I love the Spirit, but it's really not geared for this length of sea days when the weather is poor and the outside becomes almost unusable (a couple of evenings/nights the side doors were locked). Many people we spoke with (including the staff) were feeling unwell and just wanted some time away from the ship.

 

Most people we spoke with had a good time in Reykjavic, although some complained that their excursions felt rushed and would have liked more time seeing the natural sights. Personally, our excursion was cancelled, but not until midday, leaving us no time to make alternative arrangements and so wasting our first glimpse of Iceland.

 

Poor weather again left us unable to reach the port at Isafjord, this being a narrow entrance into the harbour. So, once again we were back to another sea day heading towards Akureyri at reduced speed to make the journey more comfortable through stormy waters.

 

Akureyri was a lovely little place and just to leave the ship and walk around was fantastic. We were lucky here and had a great Whale watching tour, something we will never forget. (Unfortunately, there was no mention that there was a walk to the whale watching boat and this was unfair on the older/infirm passengers who were not expecting it).

 

This led to the next sea day (heeelp!!) and another rough sea night before arriving at Lerwick.

Lerwick was beautiful and easy to just wander around and do your own thing. The Tourist Info were very friendly and eager to tell you exactly were to go for walks or to see the sights and Seals.

 

The following Morning we arrived in Bergen, Norway. Then the next day we were in Eidafjord. Norway is stunning, and no less so than last year. No matter where you go there is another outstanding view just around the corner. We did the hiking excursion in Bergen which was brilliant with a lovely guide (Andrea) and Canyons and Cascades in Eidafjord with another very informative guide (Helena). Both of these we would highly recommend.

 

Another sea day (in calm waters, woop woop!) and back to Harwich. Leaving the ship was faultless, we were on our way home just after 8am

 

Ok, now the problems;

 

Breakfast in the compass rose was not comparable to last year. The juices were so slow coming we just got our own. The tea and coffee likewise, but being unable to get our own, we had to ask several times if we could please have some. We were sure they had reduced the number of staff. After the third day, we gave up and used the Lido for the rest of the cruise!

 

The food was definitely not as good as last year, and although still nice, it was noticeable that the quality had dropped. We are not big eaters and so this was of little concern to us.

 

Our biggest let down and continual annoyance were the excursion/destination team, led by Gemma, I use the word 'led' loosely. The organisation at ports was poor, the information given wrong or unhelpful and their attitude arrogant and rude. It's embarrassing to see that the worse staff we encountered were from the UK.

 

The entertainment team were very good and gave it their all, unfortunate, we were spoilt last year by a stronger team and so we missed the strong male voices. Having sad that, Charly and Carrie (I think I have her name right, she played the lead in Educating Rita) were brilliant and really did shine.

 

Overall, this was an ok holiday. Over 6 sea days is a lot for anyone, when many of these are in rough weather it take its toll. Thank god for the friendly fellow passengers, the lovely smiling staff and the casino!!!

Edited by holiday ahoy
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many thanks for this review...how disappointing that the weather let you down and rather disappointing to read of slow service and poor food quality....sounds like cost cutting again? :rolleyes: :(

 

glad that overall you enjoyed your cruise...and yes...if all else fails...there's always the casino (thumbup):cool::)

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Thank you for the great review. It was our first cruise on Spirit, and we found the food fine, but had breakfast and lunch in the Lido and evening meals in the Compass Rose. We felt pressured to keep the same waiters/table and they were great with us, but it did give us fixed dining which we regretted in a way.

 

Loved our inside cabin 314 on deck 4 which seemed huge. I had no noise issues there despite being near the front, but was up before any activity took place with the anchor anyway. We had an amazing surprise of a bottle in the cabin so there is some loyalty scheme, but we are newcomers compared to some of you. We have had 4 cruises in a 12 month period (Oct 13, Jan 14, May 14 then Aug 14 ) so maybe that was why. Don't know but we did enjoy it.

 

Had a go in the Jacuzzi in the rain one sea day, and used the gym at the start of the cruise a few times, as well as doing some turns round the deck when they were not locked up. I didn't get bored sea days, but was glad to get onto land.

 

If Gemma was the blonde destination services lady I totally agree with you as to her attitude with passengers falling short. I didn't like to go if she was there as she seemed to be sharp and spoke in a clipped voice to me as though I was a problem she wanted rid of. We only booked 2 tours with them. We did Reykjavik on our own, and enjoyed wandering round. Our Iceland trip was in Akureyri to Godafoss waterfall which we enjoyed. Never saw the Northern Lights, stayed up till 1am but it was a bit too cloudy. Lerwick was relaxing and we had a wander round and I got to paddle in the sea there. Spent some time on the back of Lido before catching the tender watching the crew on the deck below catching fish - loads of them. They have a competition for the most fish. One of the passengers was fishing from Lido when we got back. Loved Bergen. No trip booked here, so started with the Hoho bus round, then tried whale meat in the fish market, and wandered round the lake area. Got some sunbathing in a lovely outside bar area with wifi. The Ulvik to Eidjford run was so beautiful Loved Norway and want to go back so much. Our Hardanger trip was great and I got another paddle as well as the lovely apple cake and ice cream.

Staff and crew great and we loved the Broadway shows. Best shows we have seen so far and well put together. I hate ice in drinks, and it didn't take long for the waiting staff to know not to put ice in, but they don't like issuing cocktails ice free. I hate the watery fruity end to cocktails that have ice in - spoils the end of the drink, but once they knew no ice, they were fine.

I lost a little purse on board with my door key, on board card and safe key in. Reported to reception, and they came to see that safe had a new key and charged £40 for the loss, and gave me a new door key. I didn't get a new on board card, but some kind person found my purse and handed it in, so I got everything back and the £40 invoice was ripped up. They were really helpful as I got a bit stressed by the loss, so if the person who found my purse is on here - many thanks. xxx

All in all, a fantastic cruise.

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Thanks for the reviews H -A and Gill :)

 

Sorry about the weather and your encounters with Gemma:(

 

You still managed to enjoy your cruise and that's the main thing :)

 

Gill .. I lost a card on the Princess cruise ,so after that we got one of those Straps that people would use for ID cards and when

 

we board we get them to punch a hole in our cards ,so then I wear it under the shirt when out and about :cool:.

 

I Did notice some were doing the same with their own little purses clipped to it .. maybe an idea for your next cruise ;) Glad you also had a good time .

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Thanks for the reviews Holiday Ahoy and Gill, very interesting :) I too felt a bit pressured to stay on the same table in the restaurant, in the end we let our daughter go first and she decided lol. Interesting the bridge tour was offered as a loyalty reward, I wondered why these didn't appear to do one this time (Best of British) wish Thomson would make these things clear - although it doesn't appear clear to them either :D

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Thanks very much for your reviews Holiday Ahoy and Gill :)

 

I love reading reviews :D

 

I am sorry the weather had such an impact on your cruise.

 

Mind you, we shouldn't really complain about the weather. The poor couple we got to know missed the sailing from Harwich due to getting caught up in traffic, they immediately got in touch with a TA and organised transport to Stornoway. Imagine their disappointment when they are waiting at the port and are told that the Tenders won't be running due to the choppy seas. They then contact the TA again and travel to Reykjavic via Birmingham to meet us there. Now that's commitment!!

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Mind you, we shouldn't really complain about the weather. The poor couple we got to know missed the sailing from Harwich due to getting caught up in traffic, they immediately got in touch with a TA and organised transport to Stornoway. Imagine their disappointment when they are waiting at the port and are told that the Tenders won't be running due to the choppy seas. They then contact the TA again and travel to Reykjavic via Birmingham to meet us there. Now that's commitment!!

 

Crikey that must have cost a bit. All that adventure while we did 3 sea days though. Shame the lifeboat that collected the couple with medical problems from the ship at Stornoway couldn't have brought them to the ship as it was doing there anyway.

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