This was our fifth Princess cruise, seventh overall, and it was one of the best. The ship and the staff were great and the scenery was spectacular. We spent 2 great days in London before the cruise and stayed at the Cherry Court Hotel near Victoria Station. Although the room was tiny, this was a very nice, clean place for just under $100 in a great location on a very quiet street about 3 blocks from Victoria Station. We took the bus from nearby Victoria Coach station to Southampton for less than $20 and then about a $10 cab ride to the ship. Embarkation was very quick and smooth.
We had a balcony cabin near the front of the ship on Baja deck. Everything worked fine in the cabin and service was great. Entertainment was very good, especially Whorbey and Farrell (not sure of spelling), 2 pianists who played the same piano together. That was one of the best shows I have seen on a cruise ship. We did anytime dining and although it was somewhat disorganized the first night when we had to wait quite awhile, the rest of the trip we never had to wait to get seated. Service in the dining room was outstanding. I require a gluten free diet, and Rui, the head waiter provided the best service I have ever had on a cruise. He took great care of me. The food in the buffet was also consistently good and I appreciated that they always had a gluten free dessert in the buffet every day. There were always plenty of activities and entertainment options during the day and night to keep us busy. The casino was never really too busy. The blackjack tables were never full (often emply) and roulette seemed to be more popular with this crowd. They had a $30 texas hold em tournament every day. I appreciated the low limit to enter the tournament and I participated a couple of times. My only complaint was slow internet service in this part of the world. It was frustrating to watch your expensive minutes pile up while the little clock kept spinning and nothing was happening on the screen. I think they should give you a break on the price when the service is super slow.
The ports were all great and we had overall great weather. It was supposed to be pretty rainy in Norway in early September but we only had one day with semi-bad weather. Bergen was our first port and we docked a bit outside of the downtown area but the ship had a free shuttle which was convenient and easy. We looked around the Bryggen area in the morning while it was cloudy and we took the funicular up to the viewpoint when the sun came out later in the day. There was a bit of a line to ride the funicular, but it wasn't bad. It is nice up at the top with some great views and nice hiking trails.
In Geiranger we took the ship's excursion to Mt. Dalsnibba and we were fortunate to have a beautiful sunny day. It is a scenic drive to the top and great views from there as well as the flyjuvet viewpoint along the way. The excursion took pretty much all of our time in port and we weren't able to do see much else of the town although there didn't appear to be a whole lot there.
In Olden we took a shuttle from the Tourist booth at the dock for about $50 to the Briksdal Glacier and this was well worth it. Another very scenic drive and then we had 2 hours to spend at the glacier. It took about 45 minutes of pretty steady uphill climbing to reach the glacier itself, but the trip was beautiful. You could also pay about $20 to ride the "troll car" to get up the trail if walking wasn't for you. After returning to the port we had time to look around town and visit the 2 churches that are within walking distance from the ship.
We had a full day in Flaam. In the morning we took the Flamsbana railroad up the mountain and back down again right away. Through cruise critic roll call, we joined a group of at least 10 that can reserve tickets in advance with about a 10 % discount on the cost and that worked out very well. Unfortunately this was our rain day which took something away from the views, but it was still a very nice trip. In the afternoon we took the ship's excursion to the narrow fjord. This started with a bus ride through one of the long tunnels into a beautiful valley and up to a hotel above the valley with great views over the valley. Then a boat ride from Gudvangen through the narrow fjord back to Flaam. This was an excellent excursion. The valley and the fjord are beautiful. When we returned to Flaam the local band was playing at the dock as the ship departed the port.
Stavanger was another very pleasant port. The ship docks right in the downtown area and we spent the day strolling around this nice city. Disembarkation was very efficient. In fact our group was called about 1/2 hour before scheduled and we got off the ship and found our luggage very quickly.