17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
The main reason for taking this cruise was to see exotic Greenland and Iceland at the same time. This cruise only offered 1 stop in Iceland after leaving Reykjavik but I spent a full week in Iceland on my own using a rented car to ... Read More
The main reason for taking this cruise was to see exotic Greenland and Iceland at the same time. This cruise only offered 1 stop in Iceland after leaving Reykjavik but I spent a full week in Iceland on my own using a rented car to appreciate that wonderful and scenic island. We were lucky to have smooth sailing the whole trip, slightly bumpier going across to Greenland but still pretty smooth considering. Weather was also in our favour 90% of the time, with fog lifting when appropriate. All of the stops on this itinerary where worthwhile and Hurtigruten does a great job of getting everyone off and back on with their small tender boats (max. 8 people). Generally, the stops were interesting enough on their own but most stops had excursion options if you wished, like escorted hikes, glacial boat rides, kayaking, etc. Two stops included a guided hike without charge. The first stop in Greenland included a natural warm water spa which was fun to partake with a small changing hut nearby. The regular cabins are done well while the suites (which I had) are that much better in the bedding, amenities, wine & beer at lunch/dinner, espresso/cappuccino at breakfast, 2 bottles of water and chocolate each evening and housecoats to keep. The vast majority of the crew and staff are friendly and helpful. The front desk staff stood out for me. Most of the expedition team are interesting, friendly and approachable. Among 14 expedition team members, there were only 2 natural English speakers and the rest were mostly from Germany originally (although 1 was from Netherlands, another from Poland, 2 from Greenland and 1 other from Iceland). All lectures, information sessions and excursions were in 2 languages: English and German. I am sure the Germans had it easy with so many German native speakers in the team, but the lectures in English were often difficult to follow or at least awkward to listen and understand, except when the very interesting and knowledgeable Canadian guy lead a session or a group/excursion ashore. Of the 12 European expedition team members, I would say 2 of them had great English (as a second language) and 2 more were pretty good, while the rest ranged from OK to terrible English. Food was EXCELLENT overall with a good variety and different menus such as Norwegian (of course), Greenlandic, Filipino, sea food and lots of great lamb. All of the service staff (restaurant, bar and stewards) were from Philippines. They worked very hard and most were super friendly. The Fram ship is fantastic and well dressed for sailing polar waters in great comfort. The decorations around the ship are interesting and well done, relating to polar expedition history and the original Fram vessel from the 1890s. There is a wonderful lounge and bar on the top level, 2 hot tubs, good size gym, 2 lecture rooms, a bistro and games room and a spacious and well appointed restaurant at the stern on deck 4 (of 8). There are also great outdoor viewing spots on decks 5, 7 and 8. One day, we could not get to our planned port of call because of too many icebergs blocking the entrance. To make up for this, the captain stopped in a strategic spot in a large fjord with several stationary icebergs around and we spent a few hours exploring these bergs close-up with the small tender boats (either 7 or 10 pax at a time, depending on the boat size). This was an unexpected great surprise which really added a wonderful experience to all to feel the wonder and awe of these creations of nature. The last 3 days on this trip were perhaps the most memorable starting with viewing the ice berg factory at Ilulissat, then stopping at a small hamlet where we got to visit inside a Greenland home for coffee and sweets, participated or watched a football match between the Fram crew/guests and the village (they won easily), enjoying some Greenland music in a sing-along with villagers, and on the final day a well orchestrated day of visiting the Greenland ice cap, looking for animals (Musk Ox was spotted) and a wonderful outdoor meal before being flown overnight to Copenhagen on a chartered Airbus 330 Greenland Air flight ... which was also excellent with open bar, full hot breakfast served, headphones and in-seat personal entertainment system. This was a super experience with an excellent and appropriate ship which is well thought out and executed by Hurtigruten. Highly recommended. Read Less
19 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
We took an "Arctic Islands Expedition" trip on FRAM, sailing from Tromso, Norway on May 13, 2016 and finished at Reykyavik, Iceland on May 22nd. In between we had three Zodiac landings (Bear Island, Hornsund, and Jan Mayan) as ... Read More
We took an "Arctic Islands Expedition" trip on FRAM, sailing from Tromso, Norway on May 13, 2016 and finished at Reykyavik, Iceland on May 22nd. In between we had three Zodiac landings (Bear Island, Hornsund, and Jan Mayan) as well as three port dockings at Ny Alesund, Longyearbyen, and Isofordur, the first two were in Svalbard and the third was in Iceland. The scenery was excellent, this goes without saying. There were a bit more than 200 passengers, about 40% are Germans, 30% Norwegians, 25% British, and 10% Americans. Most passengers are quite experienced. In particular, in preparing for the tour I read numerous reviews on CruiseCritic, and noticed that several of them had rather harsh reviews on the ship. We are quite satisfied with the ship and with our cabin (cabin 346, category N, about 140 sq ft and fitted for handicapped access). In comparing with many other cruises we have taken on other cruise lines, we did not find anything close to excessive nickeling-and-diming. Water, coffee, and tea in the dining room are freely available, and good hot cocoa is available round the clock outside the dining room. The food is plentiful - it does become monotonous after a few days but nobody comes abroad for Norwegian cuisine anyhow. All services, from dining staff to expedition team members, are at least functional. Read Less
23 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2016
The company is wonderfully skilled at the cruise thing. The exploration team was varied in expertise and covered every aspect of animal, mineral and social knowledge. They put safety first and we always felt in good hands. They educated us ... Read More
The company is wonderfully skilled at the cruise thing. The exploration team was varied in expertise and covered every aspect of animal, mineral and social knowledge. They put safety first and we always felt in good hands. They educated us thoroughly on our landings, what to expect and encouraged exploration. The ship is designed for beautiful flow and both social and solitary activities. The many possible sitting areas and the view from the windows and decks would satisfy anyone. This is an exploration and expedition cruise. The cruise is for people interested in learning and being actively involved. This is not a cruise for those interested in being passively entertained or have a need to be pampered and treated like royalty. On this cruise you are encouraged to learn, read, listen, question, kayak, camp, walk, sleep and eat a wonderful array of food. The bread and desserts as well as the roasted lamb was wonderful. I slept like a baby. The ship's stabilizers prevented almost all side to side movement and with seas almost without waves for the three weeks I can't speak to how the ship handles during storms. We made all landings and even an extra stop at Deception Island because of our legendary good weather. But I did hear people at Port Stanley say that the bridge crew of Hurtigruten is more skilled and confident than many other tour companies and often makes landings when other ships are afraid to do so. Besides camping and photography lessons and reading with tea and cookies in hand, I loved all the watercolor lessons we were offered. From the hotel, and back to the hotel, ships staff made everything so easy. Nothing seemed impossible. And I did not meet one grumpy or unpleasant person onboard the ship. I am currently making plans for my next Fram with my son and also another Hurtigruten voyage with my mother. My only complain is for the Hurtigruten front office. Getting responses or questions answered by them is like pulling out your own teeth one at a time. Read Less
31 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2016
Firstly, I am not a travel writer or Author, I write as it comes to my head and this is my honest opinion. This was our first time cruising on Hurtigrutens Ms Fram. After reading all the reviews we were somewhat skeptical about our ... Read More
Firstly, I am not a travel writer or Author, I write as it comes to my head and this is my honest opinion. This was our first time cruising on Hurtigrutens Ms Fram. After reading all the reviews we were somewhat skeptical about our trip. We consider ourselves well traveled, this was our 7th Continent, 69th Country, 409th City (Ushuaia) and 14th Cruise. I cannot Thank Hurtigruten enough for providing us with a FANTASTIC experience, Fantastic Service and Unforgettable Trip. The Drake was kind to us although not the smoothest sailing but it was not hectic and with a little medication we made it with no more than a wobble here and there. WARNING - take your own Motion sickness meds and take them when boarding Fram, don't wait to you hit the Drake Passage. Our Stateroom Category M2 was very comfortable on Deck 6. The catering was very good and satisfied our pallets. Enough choice and to be honest we could have had buffet over the whole period. The bread was top class, freshly baked and such a variety. Salads great, Ice cream and desserts great. Water, coffee, tea and Hot chocolate available all day at no charge. Dining staff were very good and attentive. The Expedition team were fantastic and who needs Las Vegas entertainment when on an expedition, there was something for everyone and we learned so much about this wonderful continent thanks to the on-board team of experts in this field. There was a very entertaining evening that the staff put on toward the end of the cruise. Just love the Fram Choir. For those who need to be entertained, I would suggest you go on a Carnival Cruise or go to Las Vegas. This IS AN EXPEDITION. Our first landing went extremely well and we made every landing planned for the whole 12 days. Muck boots are very comfortable and at no charge either. Obviously changes have been made on Hurtigruten regarding charges and this did make a difference to passengers. Polar circle boats were easy to access and with experienced staff there were no problems at all. I can highly recommend Hurtigrutens Ms Fram for anyone lucky enough to be able to venture to this exclusive part of our planet. The weather was great, 3 short days of snow but this gave us the real feel of Antarctica, rest of the time was sunshine and fine days. Of course its cold but with all the correct clothing it was perfect. Read the tips on what to wear and you will be fine. Read the documents for your cruise online and you will inform yourselves about what you can expect and what is needed by the company and all should run smoothly. If you are reading this then you have access to the internet so go ahead and inform yourself. Its no good going on a trip like this and not being satisfied with only 6 flavors of Ice Cream, really!?? We were lucky to see thousands of penguins, loads of whales and seals. Many different bird species. On our way back toward the Drake Passage we encountered about 10 Orca/Killer whales attacking an elephant seal that had sort refuge on the ledge of a floating iceberg - the captain stopped the ship and encircled the iceberg for about an hour and a half - what an experience. We are back just over a week now and I am still pinching myself that what we experienced was real and experienced on this very planet Earth. Thank you Hurtigruten, Thank you Ms Fram and all those on board that made this journey/expedition so great. Here's wishing that if you are reading this that you have plans to travel to the Antarctic and that your trip will be as fantastic as ours. I can highly recommend Hurtigruten. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2015
The Fram is a modern small ship with stabilizers.. Norwegian cruise line with experience in ice. The crew and excursion guides were excellent. South Georgia is a spectacular place and we were there for two nights and one and a half days. ... Read More
The Fram is a modern small ship with stabilizers.. Norwegian cruise line with experience in ice. The crew and excursion guides were excellent. South Georgia is a spectacular place and we were there for two nights and one and a half days. Great tour locations. We hiked the last portion of Shackleton's hike across South Georgia and it was a memorable experience. Grytviken is spectacular.... I would have liked to spend more time there. Great excursions on the Antarctic archipelago and on the continent itself.... we missed a few neat places (Elephant Island) and the Penguin Post Office because we were so early in the season.... but a beautiful cruise with experiences and organized cruise line. When you are there the environment dictates where you can go, So sometimes you just have to move on or adjust your expectations. Food was great. We loved every minute and are keen to return. I cannot say enough about the professionalism of the Hurtigruten folk! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2015
We loved every bit of the Climate cruise on the Fram...we chose a balcony suite which was great lots of room and even on cold days we could sit outside with a drink and watch the ice slide past! We were blessed with really good weather ... Read More
We loved every bit of the Climate cruise on the Fram...we chose a balcony suite which was great lots of room and even on cold days we could sit outside with a drink and watch the ice slide past! We were blessed with really good weather so were able to see and do loads of expeditions including Jan Mayan volcano and kayaking past Glaciers... We also saw Polar bears,Reindeer ,Walrus,Seals,and Whales. The on board talks were on the whole pretty good. There is no real entertainment ..apart from one night of mini cabaret by the crew and an on deck BBQ but that was fine with us as we just wanted to soak up the peace,quiet and beauty of the area. We had the best of times and will remember this trip for a very long time Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2015
This is a fantastic way to experience the Antarctic, the Falklands and South Georgia. If you want to go on an expedition to see wildlife and nature this is for you; if you want dancing girls with feathers and dinners with tuxedos and black ... Read More
This is a fantastic way to experience the Antarctic, the Falklands and South Georgia. If you want to go on an expedition to see wildlife and nature this is for you; if you want dancing girls with feathers and dinners with tuxedos and black cocktail dresses then book another sort of trip. This is a professional operation with an excellent boat and expedition crew. Personally, I pay good money to avoid dancing girls with feather but YMMV. We saw penguins unnumbered, humpback whales bubble netting, whales surfacing next to the ship (!!!), seals hunting penguins returning to the rookery, Rock Hopper penguins kamikazimg off the cliffs to avoid seals, fantastic hospitality of the Falkland Island residents, Hour Glass dolphins viewed from the observation deck, Wilson's Storm Petrels and Falkland Island Steamer Ducks doing what they do naturally, visits to British 1950s Antarctic Stations and a fascinating impromptu talk by a Norwegian ex-whaler (and I am a card carrying anti-whaler!). The only problem is should we be travelling to this delicate and fragile eco-system? We would be back again (for the third time) but for wrestling with our conscience about whether we should be travelling here at all. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2015

First off, be clear about it: there is no cheap way to go to the Antarctic. We chose the Hurtigruten Fram because we had cruised with them before and had great confidence in their competence. There are more luxurious and expensive ships ... Read More

First off, be clear about it: there is no cheap way to go to the Antarctic. We chose the Hurtigruten Fram because we had cruised with them before and had great confidence in their competence. There are more luxurious and expensive ships but none that are more seaworthy. A very good value.

The cruise officially began in Buenos Aires. We spent a week there on our own so had not purchased an airport transfer from Hurtigruten for the charter flight to Ushuaia. This became the source of some stress when we belatedly learned that our flight was to depart at 4:40 AM, meaning finding a cab on our own at 2:00 AM. If we had known about the ridiculously early flight in advance, we would have spent the last night in Buenos Aires with the Fram group.

We were met at the airport in Ushuaia by Fram personnel. No problem with check-in on the ship, and our luggage was already in our cabin when we arrived.

As been mentioned before, the standard cabin on the Fram is astonishingly tiny. There are two berths with very little space between them. During the day one berth is turned up and the other becomes a couch, to allow for more floor space. There is adequate storage space, but it is mostly in open cubbyholes. Travelers used to large cruise ships will be shocked. The "superior outside stateroom" is much larger and nicer, with a queen-sized bed and large bathroom, but is of course more expensive. We have cruised on the Fram before, and to save money had paid for an "unspecified inside cabin." After all, we never spend any time in the cabin on an expedition cruise. As it turned out, we were upgraded to a "superior" cabin, our good fortune this time.

The Fram is a lovely ship, especially built for polar conditions. For this cruise it was completely booked with 224 passengers. Public rooms are very attractive. There is a large observation lounge on Deck 7 forward, a wonderful place to watch the scenery in a hostile climate. Deck 4 is the nerve center of the vessel, with the dining room with windows on three sides; two lecture halls; a cafe with drinks and snacks; a shop offering cold-weather gear and a few souvenirs and essentials; and the administrative center. There are large windows on both sides. The ship also has an outdoor hot tub and a fitness room with a sauna.

Outside on Decks 5 and 8 are large observation areas. Of course, in the Antarctic these were used primarily when something especially exciting was going on, such as whale watching or threading our way through gigantic icebergs.

We were generally fortunate with weather. The notorious Drake Passage was glassy smooth on the two-day cruise south, and we were able to make two landings a day in Antarctica. (On the return trip over the Drake, it blew a full gale, force 8 on the Beaufort Scale.) The temperature on the Antarctic peninsula hovered around freezing twenty-four hours a day. There is no real darkness this time of year. For shore excursions we wore layers and shed them if there was no wind and the sun was out. Then it seemed surprisingly warm. When it was windy, or when we were in the 8-passenger "Polar Zirkel" boats, we needed all our cold-weather gear, including waterproof parkas (a gift from Hurtigruten) and pants. We also wore study rubber boots for all excursions. These were available for rent from the ship at a reasonable cost.

It's hard to describe the eight days we actually spent in the waters of the Antarctic Peninsula. Antarctica is not a place, it's an experience. Twice-daily excursions brought us into close contact with three species of nesting penguins, who have no fear of humans and will walk right up to you. We also had close encounters with seals on land and on icebergs. The scenery is beyond spectacular. We've all seen pictures and videos of glaciers and icebergs, but no pictures can capture the reality of being there.

We visited a couple of inhabited islands and got a change to understand what it's like to live there. Some historic sites were included, such as a former whalers' processing station, and Elephant Island, where Shackleton's crew managed to survive for 4 1/2 months awaiting rescue. Lectures on the wildlife, geology, and history of the region by members of the outstanding Expedition Team put things in context.

In addition to the included daily shore excursions, there were optional kayaking trips and "boat cruising" in the small boats. There was also one long guided hike, and the chance to spend a night ashore in a tent. These optional excursions cost extra but provided an even more intimate experience with this unique environment.

There was no evening entertainment per se: a "Crew's Show," a Tango demonstration, some relevant movies, etc. We were too tired after the busy days to have any interest in evening activities, and I never heard anyone complain about the lack of entertainment.

Breakfast and lunch were always buffets; there were two official dinner seatings, but because of the extensive shore excursions, all but three dinners were buffets. Service was excellent throughout.

I have read complaints elsewhere about food aboard the Fram. It certainly does not measure up to the standards of a traditional cruise ship. However, we found that there were plenty of options, including lactose-free and gluten-free. The beef was not great, and vegetables tended to be overcooked, but the fish, cheeses, salads, breads, and desserts were outstanding. And does anyone expect meals on an expedition cruise to play the important role that they do on, say, a Mediterranean cruise? We were quite satisfied.

Passengers were a diverse group. Probably more than half were American, but there were large contingents from Germany and France, and we also met South Africans, Australians, Japanese, and Indians, to name a few. This was a very well-traveled assortment of lively, adventurous people, as you would expect on a cruise to the Antarctic.

We've been on many cruises, including some to rather exotic places (Greenland, Svalbard, Galapagos, Amazon), but Antarctica will always stand out in my mind. I feel privileged to have had the opportunity of experiencing it. It is totally unlike anywhere else on earth, absolutely indescribable.

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4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2014

We have travelled with Hurtigruten before on their costal round trips a couple of times. We enjoyed these very much so we decided to take the plunge and go for one of the explorer voyages.

We booked direct and received ... Read More

We have travelled with Hurtigruten before on their costal round trips a couple of times. We enjoyed these very much so we decided to take the plunge and go for one of the explorer voyages.

We booked direct and received confirmation suggesting a two flight journey each way. When the paperwork arrived we had a three flight journey each way spanning a total thirteen hours not including first airport pre flight time.

Arrival at Svalbard on night in the Raddison Blu hotel. Arrived around midnight, checked in and went to room. Our hearts sank! Annex accommodation comprising of a small unit. Main bed was a sofa bed large enough for one. Second bed was either a top or bottom bunk bed. Room, furniture and fittings looked tired, but at least clean. Curtains as thin as tissue paper so would not keep out midnight sun.No coffe, tea or milk provided.

Transport to ship satisfactory.

Embarkation a little long winded with queuing of around 40 minutes or more for some.

Cabin was as expected. On deck three with window. A little small and very compact, but more than adequate. Clean and comfortable and v good housekeeping.

Dining. Breakfast and lunch were buffet style with an excellent selection for all. Dinner was a mix of buffet or fixed menu. Again very good with alternative for vegetarians etc.

Tea coffee and cookies available 24/7

No children's club or facilities due to nature of voyage. Non advertised or expected.

Evening entertainment was very low key. Again due to type of voyage and other activities ongoing. Polar bear spotting or landings.

Disembarkation. Well organised and efficient.

Summary. For a once in a lifetime voyage to see the wild Arctic, this would be difficult to better.

A wonderful experience on a well run efficient ship. Excellent crew and staff including all expedition team who were extremely knowledgable.

A wonderful experience let down by the first night hotel accommodation and the more than expected number of flights to reach our destinations.

Possibly a little on the expensive side.

 

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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2014

My husband and I were very pleased with our cruise to Antarctica aboard the Fram. The expedition staff is great and our suite (634) was spacious and comfortable.

I recommend you make your own arrangements for hotel and ... Read More

My husband and I were very pleased with our cruise to Antarctica aboard the Fram. The expedition staff is great and our suite (634) was spacious and comfortable.

I recommend you make your own arrangements for hotel and transportation in Buenos Aries. Hurtigruten wanted $500 per person for transportation between airports and to book a room at the Emperador Hotel for the first and last nights of our trip. I booked the hotel online myself for $125 plus taxes per night. Cabs are easy to get on your own. This saved us approximately $650. I do recommend you book at the Emperador because it's a very good hotel and Hurtigruten uses it for their hospitality base in Buenos Aries so you can talk to one of their representatives in person once you arrive.

We booked a day trip to Tierra del Fuego upon arrival to Ushuaia. I paid a bit more to book it through Hurtigruten because I didn't want to take a chance that another tour provider would not get us back in time for final boarding. The park tour was very good and well worth the time and money.

It turns out I didn't need to worry about the ship sailing without us. Our scheduled 6:00 p.m. departure was delayed until 1:00 a.m. because a customs issue between Hurtigruten and the Argentine government. I'm not sure who was at fault but another passenger told me the same thing happened to them on another cruise line in Ushuaia two years ago.

I recommend you bring something for sea sickness with you. The Drake passage can be very rough or very calm. Our southern crossing was pretty rough with 60+ knot winds and 20 foot seas. I used to live on a sailboat and had never been sea sick before but I would have had a miserable crossing without the patch. If you use a patch for sea sickness make sure you keep a bottle of water next to your bed. Most people experience significant dry mouth with the patch.

We thought the food and service in the dining hall was fine. Not gourmet but not bad at all. I wish they had offered more than one brand of beer and a few more vegetarian choices but I had plenty at every meal. My omnivore husband enjoyed almost everything he tried. My only complaint about this aspect of the cruise is that Hurtigruten charges for water at the table. We had a suite so it was included for us but most of the passengers were taken aback that something as basic as water was not complementary. It really doesn't make sense when you can get cookies, tea and coffee free all day near the lecture hall but have to pay for water at your meals.

The expedition staff was terrific. They provided a full schedule of interesting lectures between landings and did a fantastic job when we were ashore. The crew that gets passengers ready to go to shore and drives the Polarcirkles were very good and absolutely safety conscious. Speaking of the Polarcirkles, they are really nice with high sides to help keep passengers dry and have good, sturdy rails to hold on. The boots they provide for going ashore are very good. But, like the tap water, use of the boots should be included in the price of the cruise. I would rather they charge a little more up-front so it doesn't feel like I'm being nickled and dimed. Okay, I'm done complaining because those really are only two things I didn't like.

They have a small but well equipped gym that we used almost every day. Random magic moment: I was in the gym one morning listening to my iPod while using the treadmill. Just as "Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes" started playing we motored by an ice floe covered with penguins and then a humpback whale breached right in front of me. There are two heated jacuzzis and a sauna right outside the gym.

The planned itinerary had to be changed a couple of times during our cruise but the staff chose alternatives that had to be every bit as good as the original plans and I didn't hear any complaints. The first change was because our planned landing site was iced in but the back up site was fabulous. The second change was more substantial because of a health crisis aboard the ship. We had to abruptly head to the South Shetland Islands to get a crew member who had suffered a stroke to an island with an air strip so he could be evacuated to a hospital in Chile. Even then, our alternative landings at Half Moon Bay and Admiralty Bay in the South Shetlands were wonderful. In fact, if we hadn't gone to Half Moon we would not have gotten to see a Macaroni penguin at all.

One of the reviews here mentioned a charge for seeing the ship's doctor. I fell and needed to get patched up for a minor injury. The doctor and her assistant were very nice and took good care of me. The provided a brace, analgesic cream, and ibuprofen at no charge.

We have done expedition cruises in the Galapagos, the Amazon, and the Seychelles as well as safaris in Kenya and South Africa. This Antarctic cruise ranks close to the top for me. It is absolutely thrilling to see so many penguins, whales and seals up close. We also enjoyed getting to know our fellow passengers as most were incredibly well traveled and had great stories to tell.

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Fram Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 3.9
Dining 3.0 3.4
Entertainment 2.0 2.8
Public Rooms 3.0 4.2
Fitness Recreation 2.0 3.5
Family 1.0 3.5
Shore Excursion 4.0 4.0
Enrichment 4.0 3.8
Service 4.0 4.1
Value For Money 4.0 3.5
Rates 4.0 3.8

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