Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Cruise Miss Takes A Day Visit To 'Norway'

Our special guest blogger Danielle Fear, aka Cruise Miss, provides a fascinating look at the MS Fram of one of our favourite cruise lines, Norway's Hurtigruten, during a day visit at Port of Tyne.

I knew she was small but, as we drove towards the terminal, I couldn’t see anything that resembled a ship. Finally, she peeked out from behind the apartment building that sits directly in front of the dock and I could breathe a sigh of relief.

At just 11,647 tons and taking only 318 passengers, MS Fram may well be small but she is the perfect sized explorer vessel in my eyes.

The chief purser introduced himself and said if I needed anything to make my way back to the front desk where they would assist me, otherwise I was free to explore as I wished. Perfect! I do like guided ship tours but sometimes, especially on a vessel this size, it’s nice to break free and explore at your own pace.

The front desk was located on Deck 4 and offered a rather pleasant seating area. The space was open but the seating was arranged in such a manner as to make it feel like you had your own square living room. One of the sections even had a TV imitating a burning fire on the wall which created a lovely feel - only to be outshone by the floor-to-ceiling windows and an unspoilt view across the ocean.

To the left there was a bistro, small shop and buffet area and to the right a small internet section and some function rooms.

As I made my way back to the other end of the ship I found the Imaq Dining Room, right aft and offering beautiful panoramic views. The tables were prepared and there was a large buffet station in the centre of the room. I was told they do a mixture of buffet dining and waiter service, varying per evening.

On Deck 7 the first door I came across led directly into the gym where I was  greeted by a space larger than anticipated. It was still small, of course, but it felt generous for the ship's size. There was more than enough equipment to keep fitness enthusiasts happy, including treadmills, exercise bikes, ping-pong table, weights and a rowing machine. The door at the back led out on to a small deck area which was home to two bubbling hot tubs.

The pleasant sun deck aft was equipped with numerous tables and chairs and, to my surprise, two huge chimney BBQ’s. Going up to the observation deck, I can only imagine what cruising through the Polar Regions on this ship must be like. It truly is designed for exploring and not missing a thing - rarely is your view obstructed from anywhere on board.

Now it was time to view some cabins and I entered number 539, the Thorvald Nilsen cabin. And what a cabin it was - everything was fitted with a dark wood yet with enough light from the huge window to avoid making it feel small, while the bathroom was one of the nicest I have seen on any ship. There was a large wardrobe space and then a small seating area with TV. This clearly was a high grade of cabin. I did view another, an inside, and the d├ęcor contrast was quite different, but it was still spacious and comfortable.

My visit to MS Fram was certainly something different; after all, she is an expedition ship built to explore not entertain with numerous bars, clubs and lounges. She was extremely modern and every crew member I had the pleasure of passing greeted me with a genuine smile and a hearty hello. I chatted with a few passengers and all seemed very happy on board; one couple even said it was their fourth time on the ship, so they clearly enjoy what she has to offer.

She certainly left me hoping I can also experience an expedition voyage one, so, in that sense, she has certainly done her job!