We were very unsure what to expect as we hadn’t travelled as far north before, but we were really looking forward to the cruise. The Oriana had been recently refurbished and we felt that most of the changes were for the better. The seating in the Conservatory looked more basic now but it was far easier to get seated as many of the curved upholstered benches and large round tables had been replaced by square tables seating two. These were placed close enough together for groups to sit near each other, while couples would have a greater selection of seats to use and it certainly cut down the wandering about in search of a table.
The entertainment was good, as we have come to expect, although we had seen some of the shows presented by the on-board entertainers before. But this meant we could go and try other kinds of show, or a quiz, or relaxing music in different venues. We really enjoyed the visiting singer, who we had seen before, but were delighted to see again, and also the comedian who had the audience helpless with laughter.
In my opinion, the food had improved quite a bit since our last cruise on the Oriana and we really looked forward to dinner each evening. We also visited the Sindhu where we knew from previous experience that the meals would be exceptional and we were not disappointed. The service there was exceptional too, and the dining room service was really good and unobtrusive as well.
This was the first time that we took a tour excursion in every port, but we decided we needed some kind of direction in what we did. The weather didn’t let us down either and we only had one day of really bad weather and, as we were in northern Iceland at the time, perhaps it was appropriate that we should experience a chill wind, rain and fog to give us a sense of reality as so far we had sunshine and good weather all the way. On this occasion, we visited Godafoss which was a stunning waterfall and, wrapped up to challenge the weather, we walked up to it through the rain and took photographs. It was a great experience.
In Reykjavik we went on a whale spotting trip, mainly because we left it late and there was nothing else available. But we really, really enjoyed it. When I say we saw some whales, I have to point out that we only saw the hump of their backs as they came to the surface and dived down again, but they were Minke whales and we could smell them when our guide pointed this out to us. We also saw quite a few dolphins, and the views of the coast from the boat were breathtaking, particularly as we had sunshine and calm sea.
Our visit to Dublin gave us the chance to watch some Irish dancing and hear Irish music while sampling a glass of Guinness or Baileys. The dancing was extremely impressive and the tour was most enjoyable.
Without doubt, our visit to the Faroe Islands was the high point of our cruise. There were mountains and deep valleys, rich and green in the sun, and streams and waterfalls cascaded down the slopes, glinting in the sunlight. We went into a local hostel where we sampled their speciality – pancakes with rhubarb jam and cream – really tasty, and a welcome snack. After that we had time to stroll down into a pretty little village by the sea. Wide streams tumbled through, fast-flowing, and clear as they rushed over the stones. The weather was a great influence on us, I’m sure, but this peaceful little village surrounded by mountains, streams, and the sea seemed idyllic.
If I were to evaluate the excursions, undoubtedly, this was our favourite as it was so relaxed. On the whole, we found the excursions rather rushed. It felt to me as though they had reduced the time allowed, possibly to cut the costs of guides and coaches, and had still packed them with all the same number of varied points of interest, but with insufficient time to do them justice. Wherever we were required to walk a distance we barely had time to see all we wanted to as well as visit the restrooms and café for a snack. The Giants’ Causeway was the best example of that. If we hadn’t done a tour of Belfast first, (it was listed – ‘if there’s time’) – we could have had our expected 2 hours there, and had time to listen to our digital guide.
This being said, we really enjoyed our visit to the North Atlantic and are already booked on the Adonia to go even further north, into the Arctic Circle, next year.
Chris and Peter Jones.