We left from Southampton, United Kingdom. It is a hassle to get to Southampton from London. We traveled by bus this time which is the cheapest option if you book online and travel from Victoria Station. However, we don't suggest traveling this way unless you are strong and fit and have very little luggage, since there are no elevators(lifts) at Victoria underground and it is a couple of blocks from the underground to Victoria Coach Station.
Getting on the ship was great. There were no long lines to wait on. Our room was typical. Small, with a comfortable bed, a chair, a window, enough storage, a refrigerator, a tv and a tiny bathroom.
Food was very good. We ate breakfast and lunch at the buffet which had a varied enough offering and we ate free style in the dining room. The dining room meals were excellent, with wonderful service. We ate with different people every night and especially enjoyed dining with people from the United Kingdom. It is interesting to hear their view on things.
The shows were enjoyable. They had two excellent comedians which we enjoyed, eventhough it is sometimes hard for Americans to catch the English humor. The magician was great. However the song and dance shows with the staff were pretty amaturish. The dancers never seem to be together and the singing for the most part isn't anything special. There were a lot of movies shown and the tv in the rooms had a lot of good movies too.
Only low point was the Cruise Director, Martyn Moss. He came out at the end of the shows and had some juvenile humor. When he was telling us about the ports we were to visit, he had nothing positive to say and just complained about how expensive the beer was. The other activities on the ship were never announced during the day and you had to study the Princess Patter, the newsletter, like a bible. Some of the other members of the entertainment staff were more enthusiastic and did some fun activities like the Newlywed game and the Liar Game. The cruise director and assistant cruise director, however, never seemed to be around for any of these activites.
When we left Oslo to get back to Southampton and had to travel on the North Sea, the water was incredibly rough. They had to cancel the dancing show. A lot of people on the boat weren't feeling well, but we were fine. We take ginger pills whenever we travel by ship and it seems to work well for us. Haven't had to miss a meal yet.
We didn't go on any of the ship's excursions but went on our own. The port you land in is Zebrugge which isn't too close to the ship. The ship supplies a shuttle for 16 dollars a person round trip, which takes you to a train station in near town. The train was only about $3.50 roundtrip to Brugge which you must pay for in Euros and the trip took about 15 minutes. You then have to walk a ways to get into the town. There is a big area to walk around in and every street is interesting to look at. Prices aren't too bad in the area, except the chocolate is about 14 dollars a pound. There was a free art exhibit inside an old building. Part of it was in the attic and it was amazing to see the original beams in a building from the 1400's. They really knew how to build things then.
Only complaint was that we didn't spend more time in Brugge. We got off the boat later than we should have because the cruise director was so unenthusiastic about the port. Also there was destination speech about the port or show on tv about it. We left on saturday evening and got to the port on Sunday morning. It would have been nice to have some information about it in advance.
The scenery around Oslo is lovely, with evergreens and mountains. As the ship left Oslo, through a fjord, the scenery reminded me a little of the inside passage in British Columbia that we saw during our Alaskan cruise.
Only thing about Oslo, is since it is the most expensive city in the world now, be prepared for 19 dollar McDonald meals and 8 dollar magnets.