My sister and I flew into Heathrow and spent two days in London before the cruise. We enjoyed the ride on the London Eye, visits to the National Gallery and the British Museum, a cruise on the Thames, and walking around the city. We also saw two wonderful shows in London. Billy Elliot, a musical version of the movie, was very lively and entertaining - great dancing, singing, and a good plot. Woman in Black was a thriller, done with basically two actors, and very suspenseful and a great play. We stayed at the Doubletree Westend London. It was convenient to the "Tube" and within walking distance of some of the sights. On the day of the cruise, we took a train from London to Southampton. This went very smoothly and we got a good deal through Megatrain.com.
Embarkation onto the Grand Princess was very easy. Our cabin was ready when we got onboard.
The Grand Princess is a beautiful ship. Even though the ship is large and reportedly was full, it did not feel crowded. We did the anytime dining which was very convenient. We usually shared a table and did not have to wait. The two dining rooms for the anytime dining were equally attractive and good. We do like to try different options. One night we ate at the sit-down pizzeria Alfredo's. That was a very good dinner for us. The hamburgers and hotdogs on the pool deck were also pretty good. The buffet was a good option for breakfast. We also enjoyed room service breakfast (cold items only) on a couple of mornings.
The balcony cabin was really the best feature for this cruise. Besides the views in port, the balcony also was great for the cruising through the fjords between ports. That scenery is breathtaking - mountains, waterfalls, green hillsides, emerald blue-green seas. Even in the middle of July, there was snow on the mountains. It only added to the beauty.
The entertainment was good. Our favorite show was "British Invasion" - great enthusiasm, singing, and dancing. We also enjoyed the various trivia contests.
Service in our cabin was great. Whenever we met up with our steward he was friendly and helpful. The room was always clean and neat. The bathroom was good - seemed to have more room in the shower than on other cruises. Public areas we liked - the Promenade deck, the Library/Tea Room, the Explorer's Lounge (Trivia Games and a band), the Coffee bar. Going up on the top decks was great to see the panoramic views, especially at sunset, which was quite late in Norway in July.
Disembarking went very smoothly - everything was timed perfectly. We took the Princess transfer to the airport. It was right there when we collected our luggage and brought us right to our terminal. Service all around was wonderful. This was our second Princess cruise, and there will probably be more. If you have never been to the Norway fjords, give it a try. It is so breathtakingingly beautiful.
Olden is not on the list of ports to review, so I will do it here.
Olden, Norway, is one of the most picturesque places to sail into and to visit. The town is small, but beautifully situated on the fjord. We took a bus (Glacier Express) to the Briksdal Glacier. The scenery on the way there is gorgeous - waterfalls, lakes, mountains. The bus dropped us off for two hours. We took the "troll cars" to the glacier. They go most of the way, and then you walk in the rest of the way. The glacier is very large and beautiful.
Back in Olden there are a couple of shops with good souvenirs - Norwegian sweaters, trolls, etc. Olden is one of the highlights of the Norway fjord ports.
Geiranger Norway is also not on the Cruise Critic's list of ports to review. Cruising the fjords on the way to Geiranger is a spectacular voyage. It feels like you are in a dream - rolling green hills, snow-capped peaks, gushing waterfalls, deep blue emerald waters - just so very magnificent to see. Some of the highlights of cruising that area - the "Seven Sisters" waterfalls, and across from them their "Suitor", rocky coast, sparkling waters. If you do not have a balcony, then go up on the open decks or risk missing some of the best scenery ever. Passengers are tendered in Geiranger - a short smooth boat ride. Like Olden, the town is small, but lovely. There is a shop that makes chocolate where we had some delicious ice cream. There is a tourist center right there where you can book tours, etc. We took a tourist bus. There is a very scenic overlook where you can look down and see the cruise ship(s) in the port.
Stavanger was our last Norway port. Lots of little white houses that are quite quaint. You can easily walk into the town from the dock. Actually you are right there! There is a nice little church which is modeled after Winchester Cathedral. We took a public bus to the Iron Age Farm - small but interesting.