If you have not made the voyage to the midnight sun before, make sure you add it to your bucket list.
Our flight from New Jersey to London was late in departing so we arrived in London late. Fortunately, we had booked a HAL transfer to Dover. The transfer took forever. We waited in Heathrow for about an hour until HAL got everyone together and then started the bus ride to Dover. About 20 minutes from Dover, the driver informed us that he had to rest for 30 minutes before he could proceed on. We arrived at the ship in time for the safety briefing. The transfer was the only low point in this entire cruise.
The sail away from Dover is beautiful as you can see how white the white cliffs of Dover really are. The opening introduction show in the theater that night was very enjoyable and an indication as to how great the overall entertainment would be on the cruise.
Our first day out was a sea day, and we had arranged a meet and greet get together for cruise critic people in the crows nest. We had about 70 CC'rs attend as well as the Captain, The Hotel Manager, The Beverage Manager, the On Board Coordinator and the Cruise Director. HAL set us up a wonderful table with juices, cookies, coffee, fruit, etc. It was really great to meet people who had been only screen names before and now were real live people and new friends.
The cruise prior to ours had nothing but rain,cold and poor visibility. Ours had sunshine, beautiful temperatures and fantastic visibility. In all the days, we had only one which had some rain.
Our first port was Stavanger and we went on a pre arranged tour to Pulpit Rock with other CC'rs from the roll call. It was our first trip up into the Fjords and it was filled with great sights.
The second port was Flam and once again we had a tour set up by another CC'r on the Flam railroad. A must tour if you are in Flam. The waterfalls and scenery are not to be believed.
On to Stavanger, a quaint little town reached by tender. We did not venture out of the town area on this day, but many people did hike and tour the country side.
On our next sea day, we crossed the line into Artic Ocean and of course there was a ceremony for those joining the Polar Bear club for the first time.
Our next port was Tromso where we took the local #26 bus to the cable car station and bought 2 senior tickets for 200 NOK for the ride to the top of the mountain. FYI, there are about 60 steps from where you get off the cable car to the top of the cable car station. Once again a beautiful sight over the entire city and surrounding area.
As we head north, the days are getting longer and the sun is never setting below the horizon.
Our most northern port of the cruise is our stop in Honningsvag. Once again a CC'r tour arranged thru the roll call to the monument at the top, as well as some fishing villages and other senic places. A most interesting place, 71 degrees north. The most northern point in Europe. Native people called "Sammi" inhabit the area and there are about 5000 reindeer walking all over the place. I did NOT see any with red noses though. When we returned to the ship, we met our table mates and walked over to the "Ice Bar". A truly worthwhile experience,where you go into a room that is all ice. An ice bar, and ice table, and ice igloo, an ice seating area, Don't miss it.
On to Hammerfest, where, unfortunately all the shops and stores were closed as it was Sunday. HAL did provide a shuttle bus into town. The only place open was the Polar Bear Society Museum which was quite interesting.
After another sea day, it was on to Trondheim where we used the hop on hop off bus for sightseeing. The weather was great and after returning to the ship we lounged by the pool.
On our next port day, Molde, we awoke to the first day of inclement weather that we had. We had a HAL tour set up to go to Haholmen Island in an open Viking boat. It was a bad idea to do it in the rain, but it was already booked, so off we went, and soaked we got, but it was an experience.
Our final port in Bergen was next. We woke to cloudy sky's but the sun did break thru and it turned into a beautiful day to walk around the port and the market place and shops.
In general, the cruise was fantastic. the ports beautiful, the scenery not to be believed. The ocean was smooth and the shipped sailed well. We did find that Norway is an expensive country. How expensive you ask? I saw a sign for a restaurant, a club sandwich was $28 USD. Some people had 2 beers in a town. Cost $40 USD. We as well as many other passengers found the ships tours to be over priced in relation to being able to do the tours on your own. Internet coverage on the ship is very slow. You pay by the minute and you use up many minutes just waiting for things to happen.
In general - a wonderful cruise on an old but elegant ship. Go to the land of the midnight sun, you will not be disappointed.