Jeff Harding | September 26, 2022 | P&O Cruises | Iona
We found baggage drop off, booking in simple and getting to our cabin easy and quick.
The ship is magnificent, clean and well presented and above all the staff were brilliant. We unfortunately observed a few passengers being less than courteous to some staff so they probably had a different experience. Personally I find a smile, a thank you, tolerance and dropping a sense of entitlement tends to result in a much better experience. After all we are all human.
We loved our balcony cabin on deck 5. Being low down in the ship meant we could watch the beautiful Fjords drift past from bed with an early morning coffee. However the balcony is smaller than normal so I’d skip it for a warm weather cruise. Also as its in the ships hull the storm door was locked shut during rough the weather (force 8/9) we experienced in the North Sea. Iona handled those rough seas very well indeed and I wonder if a smaller cruise ship would have moved around a lot more.
This rough weather meant we missed our last port (Haugersund) which unfortunately is an unavoidable risk with cruising. It was surprising to see many people (including reviews afterwards) getting annoyed about this when we know it can happen and safety needs to come first. We thought the captain did a great job of explaining this to us as passengers. We did enjoy his daily tannoy announcements, both informative and humorous..
Despite the weather our Captain did an awesome job of taking us to Bergen instead, especially as Iona only just fitted under a major road bridge! Which was certainly interesting to watch and I’m not sure if it’ll happen again. A beautiful place with world heritage buildings, city centre and lovely harbourside. It was an unexpected highlight of the cruise. As was the pretty village of Olden, its churches and the sail away send off provided by the locals.
The weather apart from the first sea day was rain and cloud. However theres plenty to do on board, including excellent films, shows and activities. Loved Elvis movie, Neil Lockwood from ELO and taking part in the vocal training/singing. Oh and going through the fjords in a hot tub with 8 degrees air temp and cold rain was great fun. Well until we got out! Although very invigorating after the following hot shower :-).
Enjoyed the food, especially Sindhu and loved being served and having no dishes to clean up for a week! Used the buffet restaurant for lunch only which worked well.
The Stavenger gospel choir were amazing, such awesome energy, harmonies and passion for singing.
The queen’s books of condolences was a nice touch and we along with hundreds of others made an entry.
loved the no touch WC door opening, the decor, the glass, the pools, the hot tubs to highlight a few.
The not so goods:
Norway is really expensive so be prepared to spend £11 if you fancy trying a pint of local ale (yes it was nice) . However I do feel for the local businesses as these huge cruise ships turn up and probably hardly anyone buys anything. There is a significant tax reclaim you can do on board to get money back for anything over a certain amount, I think around £40. Which I might have hit had the wife wanted a prosecco!
The Internet access on board was extremely expensive so we didn’t buy it. Initially I was disappointed as I’d planned to do all my research on the places we were visiting. However after a few days I loved not having it, as being free from watching endless tik tok videos and social media gave me time to read my book, chat and watch the world go by. It was also very noticeable that the majority of others on board didn’t have it as no one was staring at their device screens. We were all actually communicating and interacting. Thank you for making this part unaffordable!
However you can access the ships app for free, booking restaurants, shows, etc. Mine played up all week but my wife’s was fine. We used the virtual que a lot due restaurants. Overall it was ok but I can see how the not so tech savvy would find it a challenge.
The gym was well stocked, but a lot of weights machines were broken. One of the reasons was probably due to incorrect use as we saw several people using them very heavy handedly. It would be useful to have had a member of trained staff there during busy times just helping people use them correctly.
And lastly the Fjords… what can I say… They lived up to expectation, absolutely stunning –
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