Hannah Campbell managed our booking at short notice, it is our 4th tour booked with Hannah & Global Journeys. Well done yet again. It was a busy tour, travelling over 5800klm, long days of driving, early starts, and one night stop overs, some places with little to do or see there. For example there wasn’t a lot of choice when we had to find our own dinner in Narvik, there were only two restaurants an Asian and an Italian Pizza Parlour!
Our wonderful friendly driver Joseph kept us safe, especially on some scary fjord roads. Lena our Tour Director was knowledgeable of all the 4 countries we visited, and kept the tour on time. The Baltic Cruise from Stockholm to Helsinki through the archipelago was spectacular, but do question the brochures description of “High class sea-view cabin”. It was in fact a small cabin with bunks; it was a commercial ferry so extremely busy. The larger city hotels were adequate, linen and beds were of a good standard and some rooms offered robes and slippers. Although the quality of the bath towels in some of the hotels was most disappointing. I questioned one city hotel at the lack of soap; to be informed they had run out!!! As we travelled north the hotels became pretty basic, some double rooms plus luggage left little room to move around. Others lacked a safe, or tea/coffee facilities, which would have been welcomed after a long day of travelling. Another problem was the concept of a shower over the bath, difficult for older people.
Hotel breakfasts and dinners were varied, with something for everyone. When three or more coach tours were booked in at the same hotel, meal times often became a ‘bun fight’. I did not pay Insight prices to stand in a queue with an empty plate, only to then have to search for a vacant table. Alcoholic drinks i.e. beer in the hotel bars were very expensive. Believe discrimination was shown to coach tour guests, over regular guests. Especially in The Union Hotel at Geiranger, where guests were told they could not drink a cup of tea on the terrace, as it was for hotel guest only!!
The Geiranger Fjord is magnificent, with the Union Hotel built above the lake. Be prepared if you need to go down to the harbour to catch a cruise boat or do some shopping, you can walk down the roadway which extremely narrow and busy, or attempt the steel stairway. The Danish and Swedish optional dinners were acceptable but nothing out of the ordinary, the Russian dinner was very good. We had to leave the venues soon after dinner, leaving little time for a chat or to get to know other guests. The visit to the North Cape to view the midnight sun was totally disappointing, owing to the inclement weather which set in earlier in the day, and therefore should have been cancelled.
Favourite Included Experiences: Puijo Tower, Alaskan Husky farm with dinner, Viking Ship Museum, Geiranger Fjord, and Santa Claus Village. Favourite Optional Experiences: The Arctic Experience – Arctic Cruise, Fjord St Dalsnibba, Wilderness River Adventure, Vasa Galleon, Traditional Lapland Dinner and Reindeer Farm. Took 10 of 15 Optional Experiences, this cost Euro 1186 which exchanged to approx $3000!! So be prepared for this on top of the tour price. Scandinavia was an incredible tour, but also worked out very expensive.