Leaving Liverpool and setting sail to Iceland at about 6pm on a Friday evening, we will not arrive at our first port of call, Seydisfjordur, Iceland until early Monday morning. That gives 2 clear days to familiarise and acclimatise ourselves to the ship MS Borealis and prepare for what lies ahead.
First a look at the accommodation, the cabin and bathroom. The latter being very clean and functional with a reasonably sized shower but obviously no bath. Whilst not as luxurious as I would expect from a land based hotel, when at sea space will always be at a premium.
The room, a balcony suite, was very comfortable with an excellent, large bed, couch and storage facilities. Once everything finds a home then space improves and with the large mirrors you get an extra sense of space. The balcony is private and remained so even when docked, as we were port side and it always docked starboard side. An anomaly of historic vessels, the rudder being at the stern of modern ships. Although we had more than a basic cabin we were not PoSh, rather PoPh.
Navigating the ships 10 decks is vital to getting where you want to go smoothly. Bear in mind that not all decks will allow you to go from bow to stern, so you need to hit the right deck when traversing along the ship. Three sets of lifts make it a doddle to get up and down the ship although each has a set of stairs if you want the exercise. As you will see from these images, colours and lighting are always warm and comforting, nothing harsh, but a fair amount of bling.
Between the Bow and Midship is a Grand Staircase with a central column of nautical instruments, ornamental fish and topped by Atlas holding up the Globe. This goes up from deck 3 to deck 5. Off this is the Theatre, Galleries, Shops, Bars and Guest Services. This area is used for special events throughout the cruise. Obviously very colourful, and a nice calm area to visit on a regular basis throughout the day. this also a congregating area for guests before going into the theatre for the evenings entertainment. The theatre comprises of 2 decks at the bow of the ship. As well as evening entertainment it is also used for daytime lectures and meeting up for onshore excursions.
The top decks include a Lido with a closable roof complete with pool, hot tubs and loungers. It was a beautiful day when we departed Liverpool. The roof was open, but it closed soon after and did’t open again, to my knowledge. The pool itself was open when things were calm, but again it shut during the stormy deep waters sailing up and down to Iceland. The external sun decks would be ideal for a warmer climate but used sparingly of this cruise.
One deck that you will be invited to visit at an early stage is the Promenade Deck. Mainly because it is where the life boats will be released from. It does rather remind you that you are initially following the route of the Titanic. Still this is a deck you can walk or jog around in a circular pattern, close to the water for observing wildlife but a bit hazardous when the sea is up and the wind is blowing.
On Deck 9 above the bridge is the Observatory bar. With a high vantage, looking forwards, and panoramic windows it’s a good place to spend some time in the day. Evening entertainment goes on into the early hours, and a comfortable place to look out for whales.
One of the select restaurants on the Borealis is the Colours and Tastes Restaurant. Positioned at Mid-ships on the Main Deck 4, about as stable a place you can find, the menus vary but are Asian based. A very relaxed and quieter experience than the Main Restaurant or the Buffet. The name sums it up well.
The Aurora and Borealis Restaurants are the main waiter served dining areas. The Aurora being the balcony to the Borealis. Located at the stern of the ship our table was allocated for the duration of the cruise. You can of course select one of the many other places to eat, and we did most evenings.
The internal decor of the guest areas is a mix of Neo-classical, Chinese, Art-deco, and just plain old bling. It is important for a place where people will spend long hours for it to be bright, interesting and stimulating. I thought the ship was all those things.
One of the most decorative day rooms is the Oriental Tea Room. Beautiful inlayed marble floor, tastefully decorated, a place to sit quietly and enjoy a refreshing cup of tea of your choice.
Adjacent to the Tea Room is the Plant themed Botanical Room. This was one of my favourites, especially if you get there early and get a window seat. If not, there were plenty of times during the day and evening when it was virtually empty. The greenery providing a visual relief from the blue yonder. Lots of really good coffee table gardening and plant books. O for a ‘green and pleasant land’, and we are just about to see one, Iceland.
The 5th Deck or Lounge Deck has more space for sitting and reading and enjoying the views out to sea. A library of books is available should you have not brought you own. The Earth Room is set aside to concentrate on environment issues and what makes it possible to enjoy life on earth, or not.
Many events take place throughout the days, and every day there is published ‘The Daily Times’. Usually delivered to your room the night before. It will keep you informed of all that is going on throughout the day. Demonstrations, Lectures, Entertainment and more. Wine tasting being one of them, where you can also purchase select bottles of wines and spirits from around the world. Here is the display area. On this level there are also jewellery, watches, cosmetics, gifts, etc. Some unique items and worth a look. There is a photo gallery area where you can find images of yourselves taken at different times and events, these can be purchased of course as a memento of your cruise.
Finally, some external views of the Borealis, a very modern stable, comfortable ship. That is useful as we cross the deep North Atlantic Ocean on our way to Iceland. Even in June the winds will blow and the swell will rise. When we wake up on Monday morning we will already be docked in Seyisfjordur.