the most disruptive people ...
4/ ON BOARD//ACCOMMODATIONS/STAFFING/ACTIVITIES ++ THE INNER WORKINGS OF THE TRIP:
a/ I’ve already extolled the virtues of our suite/cabin/accommodations..;;;;
b/It is and was as I had hoped
and expected, notoriously, and fortunately slight on amenities; no floor shows, no spa – there were two jacuzzies on the 7th deck OUTDOORS… and people actually indulged. Well, it was different, and I really don’t
think they lasted long. I left my bathing suit at home so I wouldn’t be tempted into such insanity – and you know I would have!!!! The thankfully minimal passenger entertainment consisted of Expedition Team lectures and programs on
subjects of local interest. They also provided an overtly basic exercise room.
We were strikingly and happily assured of that impressive situation the first morning: We were on our way out to visit Alesund and we dived into the bathroom
to grab our routine stash of Kleenex, and AND, LOW AND BEHOLD…. There ain’t none. Another WOW. That’s good, no waste. They also don’t set out the requisite shampoo, etc that most ships do : they
have refillable dispensers in the shower. We signed up to be a part of their ‘GREEN TEAM’ electing to forgo linen replacement. Why not? we probably kept everything the whole two weeks like we do at home.+++++++++++++++++
The Norwegian housekeeping staff is also the restaurant wait staff…everyone does everything. All the staff we’ve encountered up to now have been Scandinavian or a close equivalent; quite in opposition to the usual cruise staff
which is generally multinational, usually Asian.
The general impression is that it is a family owned business; not corporate. The atmosphere was relaxed and welcoming, not servile and seemed genuinely desiring to please.
fellow travelers: were mostly German, with a pretty good representation of British and Australian and they were all impressively adorned in subzero clothing – of course, this is the crowd that is out there doing winter sports at midnight;
d/FOOD: was definitely regional and seasonal. Very good
Breakfast appeared at a normal 6 or7 to 10-and was also the usual buffet. The selection was astronomical and Norwegian in scope; like liver
loaf at breakfast – yum. My favorite breakfast indulgence which I actually acquired on our trip in 2006 and have been faithful to ever since on cruises, is yoghurt with as uncivilized a cereal on top as is offered. The ship was
a true indulgence: three versions of yoghurt - two fruit and a plain- and a choice of eight - granola and similar type goodies to dump on top. Yumm…
Lunch was also buffet and also a huge extravaganza - THE BEST BREAD ever -
as you’d expect of the Norse. Five versions of pickled herring, cheeses, hot dishes, mussels, all kinds of versions of salmon, a real feast but the crowning glory: the dessert of course. They do a real job on whipped cream;
versions thereof. I loved dessert best. Gallons of yoghurt and whipped cream….and I discovered that real rough cold cereal was Kellogg’s AllBran – not our version.
There was a card on each table
at lunch every day indicating what was to be offer for dinner and giving a brief narrative about the heritage of the ingredients, all of which were locally sourced. I thought this was very special indeed.
Dinner, and as I feared, there were
two sittings 6:30 and 8:15; one too early leaving a great deal of left over day to contend with, the other at 8:15 was rather late even for me. We worked this out, and it worked out just fine. The seating was assigned so I was saved from sharing
my calory-imbibing with other people – yeh, that’s narrow but I’m built that way. Most dinners were seated and served – a set menu, thank god….I get so wound up with choices, and pre apportioned – no messing around.
There was no coffee offered; no time obviously, and it’s available in all forms elsewhere.
NB A STORY: Every Sunday I attempt to cook a “perfect” soft boiled egg, and every Sunday I think of Hurtegruten ( our visit in 2006)
and how impressed I was by the mountain of soft boiled eggs provided at breakfast. And I say to myself: “If they can do it I can do it”. Don’t laugh, eggs are not easy to cook successfully. Well,
the truth is that they can’t actually: the purported soft boiled eggs which appeared this time are just a bit softer than the hard boiled ones. What a discovery!
It’s tricky to figure out the right way to eat them too:
I’m working on it. (admittedly this is slightly a matter of personal preference).
e/ The BAR- CUM- LOUNGE: was impressively well stocked but also impressively underutilized …I call It “cum- lounge” as It took
up one wall of the large lounge/meeting room. I was delighted when I discovered it carried my preferred Tangueray gin – unexpectedly for sure; I expecting to be happy with any gin at all. The pricing of drinks was intriguing:
all drinks; beer, wine, cocktails, or what all, was a flat $11. It didn’t open until a rather peculiar, for a cruise, 5 pm, and there were only three THREE martini glasses…the rest had gone the way of a few rough
weathers...now that’s truly refreshing. And I never did see much in the way of bar activity – were they all sporty types?
A FEW BAR STORIES: as would be appropriate from me. One of the first evenings I entered into the bar, looked
around me; ….you could hear a pin drop and the only inhabitants were hunkered over their knitting needles - KNITTING… and one of them was even male. I was just ……whoa!! flabbergasted. I was literally struck
Speechless and I’ve never ever had that happen to me. I quietly crept to the bar, took a deep breath, and tentatively managed to get out in a whisper to Sunny the delightful Swedish bartender, “I am absolutely speechless”,
this is the quietest bar I’ve ever seen”.
the next evening I arrived a bit early and was somewhat horrified when all the lights were turned off and they launched in to a program – on the aurora borealis – in German no less.
I sat patiently for my turn for my drink…and they turned the lights out again – same program, but in English. By then I’d had enough, nothing messes with my cruise martinis, I’d had enough aurora borealis: I picked up my drink
and removed to the hall by the reservations desk to enjoy my drink in peace and quiet.
Dinner was finished early so I initiated the practice of going to the bar for - I suppose an aperitif…. I don’t know what to
drink after dinner, but I was not going to the cabin and tv? No way. Sunny set me up with something vaguely palatable. And, because there were no stools at the bar, I was off at a booth being lonely. The next day I overheard Sunny
make a comment something to the effect: Americans and their commitment to their cocktails, and when I asked what brought that on, he said there was another American couple on board. Another couple showed up to chat at the
bar, but unfortunately, there being no stools at the bar therefore no bar scene – not something I’d do anyway – so once more I was off at a booth being lonely. After dinner I made a huge effort and gave up being a loner, and marched
over to the bar and insinuated myself. Ok. And with this I happily became acquainted with Donna and Michael from Bermuda – not so far off American and certainly not from cocktails. One evening we were yakking it up with Sunny… we received
a very VERY respectful request for quiet – well, they were having a lecture IN THE BAR at COCKTAIL HOUR. There was no doubt … we were the most disruptive people on the ship. And I admit,
that was very fun.
I told you this was a unique ship.