We set off for Southampton on a Saturday in the school holidays, mid Olympics, expecting a lot of traffic but were pleasantly surprised at a good run. Parked the car, got a taxi to the City Terminal and arrived at check in. Everything flowed quickly and we were on board by 11.45. Had lunch and went to cabin. Had a Concierge stateroom so luggage was already there. Unpacked and went to sit in the sun till sailaway.
Had lifeboat drill and then went to the Sunset Bar to meet with fellow Cruise Critic members. Having been on the Equinox the ship was familiar and we had no trouble finding our way around.
We had select dining and never had to wait more than a couple of minutes to be seated. Shared tables and always had pleasant dining companions.
2 sea days followed which were not good enough to sit outside but we had plenty to do (especially as the tv had an Olympic channel).
First port was Reyjavik and we were straight off the ship for a privately booked tour with IG of the Golden Circle. Weather was cool and overcast but didn't spoil the trip. Very interesting to see the volcanic landscape and the geysers. Next day was an early start to the Blue Lagoon. Again weather was chilly and we had our only rain (which was more of a drizzle).
Then on to Akureyri. Oh dear, sea was a bit rough and quite a few of us felt queasy! Next day - beautiful hot and sunny day and Akureyri was a lovely town. Had a tour in the afternoon and the landscape was completely different. Much greener and picturesque. Godafoss Falls were amazing and the botanical gardens were lovely. If not on a tour, you can easily walk to the gardens through the town.
On with another murky sea day to the Faroes. Wow! Again we were lucky with an amazingly hot day and we had a tour booked with 62N. Lovely, lovely islands with stunning scenery and completely unspoilt towns and villages. Must be an idyllic upbringing for children - we saw them helping with cutting the silage and playing in a river (they don't get many days as good as we had - we noticed how white they all were!). Other people who just stayed in Klaksvik said how friendly people were. One of the churches encouraged them in with free coffee and cakes. Our guide was lovely and told us to tell everyone to visit the Faroes. It would be great for a walking or touring holiday, but you couldn't expect the weather we had.
Then another murky day to Geiranger. Somebody up there liked us and Norway was bathed in warm sunshine. Don't bother with tours here or in Olden. The local buses take you to Dalsnibba and the glacier at Briksdal and there is no problem getting on either. In fact, the Celebrity buses turned up everywhere we went so you weren't getting any more. Note: if you are not very fit, the first bit of the climb at Briksdal is pretty steep and you might want to book a troll car online before you go.
Sailing out of the fjords is stunning but Celebrity need to let people take it in without loud techno music as a background. Sitting in the Sky Observation Lounge gliding along peacefully would also be better without the interruption of an irritating quiz. The whole point is the scenery and the quiz could have been moved somewhere else.
Flam. Well, I'm glad we bit the bullet and booked a ship tour. People who queued for tickets on the day didn't all get on and it wasn't possible to make a group booking ahead of the trip. We went on to Voss for lunch and a wander and came back by coach with stops at a massive waterfall and a hotel with a stunning view before negotiating the road with hairpin bends back to the bottom. Fantastic trip.
Then to the last port at Bergen. Easily done on your own. I wish we'd had more time there as it's a beautiful city and I don't think we did it justice. We took a tourist train which was a nice trip and then had a look at the fish market and Bryggen (the old houses). Would like to go back there. Tip: buy your souvenirs here as the range is much bigger and prices cheaper.
Then one last sea day which wasn't good enough to be outside and back to Southampton.
During the cruise we went to most shows - the 3 big shows were excellent, the other shows a mixture of singers, comedians, hypnotist, musical act and sleight of hand. Some were better than others for us but they're trying to have something for everyone and I think generally they succeeded. The BEST entertainment was the a capella quartet, Full Tilt. They were amazing and by the end of the cruise packed out every venue they sang at. Other music around the ship was also good.
Service on board, as always, fantastic. All of the staff have a smile and welcome and I don't think it's false. Top marks to the Jamaican lady who danced and sang in the mornings at the entrance to the buffet while doling out the hand gel. Made everyone smile.
Cabin was great, though I wouldn't pay extra to go Concierge again. Having bigger towels was good but nothing else was that special.
Food - what can I say. I haven't weighed myself yet but I don't think I've lost weight!! We didn't go to any of the speciality restaurants because the MDR is excellent and we didn't really have a special occasion to celebrate.
We heard from others that the kid's club was very good and I was surprised to find it's free. We went to some very good Beyond the Podium lectures by Emile Balard (?) and a couple of dance classes.
Disembarkation was a bit of a crush as people funnelled up stairs, out of lifts and from Deck 5 of the theatre into two narrow lines but that only took 5 mins and we were moving and off. Could have sent less people at a time.
All in all, a fabulous cruise, great itinerary and a very friendly cruise. Certainly the most friendly I've been on, mostly due to the Cruise Critic roll call and meeting a lot of the people on that and spending our tours with them.
I'd encourage everyone to do this cruise, but it was enhanced by the good weather we had so don't know if it would be as good with rain and colder weather. Sorry to have used so many superlatives but it was a stunning cruise! I'll be very happy to answer any questions people have.