Ocean Princess Cruise Review by cboyle: Land of Fire & Ice - Hiking and Private Tour Information
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Land of Fire & Ice - Hiking and Private Tour Information
John and I (Carolyn) are retired university professors in our late fifties, who have been cruising since October, 1991. We are Elite Captain's Circle members on Princess but have also cruised on Holland America, Royal Caribbean, Costa, and Commodore. Most of our cruises have been in the Caribbean but we have also cruised to Alaska, the Panama Canal, the Mediterranean, Scandinavia/Russia, Hawaii, French Polynesia, South America/Antarctic Peninsula, the Far East, and the Amazon River. For shore excursions, we prefer nature and wildlife tours that involve hiking, snorkeling, or SCUBA diving. In particular, we will hike for miles to see waterfalls, volcanoes, caves, or other interesting geologic features. We also enjoy lighthouses, forts, castles, and anything else we can legally climb up on for a good view. Both of us are natives of New Orleans and, as such, are interested in good food and good times. Our preferred souvenir is a small regional or national flag. One this trip, I was More
seeking flags from Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, Greenland, Sheltands, Faroes, Scotland, and St. Pierre & Miquelon.
This review is primarily a travelogue of what we did in the various ports, including links to tourist sites and maps. As is our custom, we mostly took self-guided tours/hikes or private tours arranged with other members of our Cruise Critic roll call. However, we did take some Princess tours when timing or availability was a major issue. We had previously visited only one of the ports (Reykjavik).
We booked this as a 36-day cruise. However, it was marketed as two 18-day cruises, "The Land of Fire and Ice" (NYC-Dover) and "The Top of the World" (Dover-NYC). Thus I have reviewed each segment separately. Only one port (Qaqortoq) was included in both cruises.
Day 0 (Saturday, July 25) NYC, on EDT John and I flew to NYC on Friday afternoon and spent the night (on Marriott rewards points) at a Fairfield Inn near LGA. The next morning, we taxied to the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal with hopes of a fast embarkation so we could hike across the Brooklyn Bridge. We arrived at the terminal about 11AM and checked in quickly. However, we had to wait in the Platinum/Elite lounge for over 2 hours before we could embark due to an extensive Coast Guard inspection of the Tahitian Princess. By the time we made it to our cabin, time was getting short and we decided to save the hike for another visit.
In case you are interested in trying the hike, these are the instructions that Coo359a2 obtained from the General Manager of the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal: Exit the cruise terminal at the Pioneer and Conover Street gate. Go two blocks to Van Brunt Street and make a left. Take Van Brunt for several blocks to Union Street. Make a right and go to Columbia Street. On Columbia make a left. Follow Columbia all the way to Atlantic Avenue. Make a right onto Atlantic. Go a few blocks and make a left onto Clinton Street. Clinton becomes Cadman Plaza. Follow Cadman Plaza to Old Fulton Street. At Old Fulton make a right onto Prospect Street. There is a pedestrian stair case to the bridge in that area. Total walk from the terminal to the bridge is about 2.5 miles. The bridge itself is about a mile walk. You might want to think about following Court or Smith Streets as they have some nice shops, restaurants, and bars along the way. All the streets along the route I gave you have sidewalks that are in good shape. If you want to cut down some of the walk, you could take the B61 bus which stops outside our terminal on Van Brunt Street and Pioneer Street. Take it to Atlantic Avenue and Court Street and you will cut off about 2 miles of your walk. (Note: Coo359a2 bought bus tickets at the little corner quick stop on the street straight from the ship. For more information on pedestrian access to the bridge, see transalt.org/files/resources/bridges/brooklyn.html.)
For a self-guided walking tour of the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood, check out www.brooklynhistory.org/publications/download/Brooklyn_Heights_tour.pdf or www.galttech.com/research/travel/brooklyn-heights-promenade-walking-tour.php.
Day 1 (Sunday, July 26) At Sea on EDT+1 The first full day was a sea day and we were in dense fog all day. In the afternoon, there was a Cruise Critic get-together in the Tahitian Lounge. Tonight was the Captain's Welcome Cocktail party and the first of three formal nights on this leg of the cruise.
Day 2 (Monday, July 27) Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, on EDT+1 We were supposed to dock at Pavilion 22 in Halifax (www.cruisehalifax.ca/our-city/halifax-seaport.html) at 7AM but that was delayed due to the low tide. Then the Captain announced that the Customs & Immigration officials thought we were arriving at 8AM and were not even at the dock yet. We finally got off the ship at about 8:30AM and hiked along the waterfront boardwalk and over to the car rental agency to pick up our compact car, which turned out to be a Sebring convertible. Unfortunately, it was foggy and misty all morning so we did not bother trying to put the top down â we just took off along the Lighthouse Route (novascotia.com/en/home/planatrip/gettingaround/scenic_travelways/lighthouse_route/default.aspx) for Peggy's Cove (www.peggyscovearea.com), hoping to get there before the tour buses. The fog was even worse at Peggy's Cove but we could walk up to the lighthouse and see it and the gigantic granite boulders. In some ways, the fishing boats and lobster traps in the village had a special beauty in the fog. We continued on along St. Margaret's Bay and the fog was not as dense there. We left the Lighthouse Route at Upper Tantallon and returned to Halifax along the main highway. By now the fog had cleared and it was warm and sunny. We stopped at the Fairview Lawn Cemetery (www.halifax.ca/history/titanicfvc.html), where over 100 Titanic victims are buried (including "J. Dawson" â J. for Joseph or James, not Jack). It is a lovely cemetery with lots of trees. Next we dropped off the car and hiked up to the Halifax Citadel (www.pc.gc.ca/eng/lhn-nhs/ns/halifax/index.aspx), just in time for a guided tour. It was fun to watch the reenactors (dressed in kilts) trying to teach some kids under 7 how to march in formation. On the way back to the ship, we walked through the Public Gardens and the Victoria Gardens. We also stopped at an Atlantic Superstore near the dock to pick up some sunscreen, wine, and granola bars. I was able to find flags for Nova Scotia and Newfoundland in the cruise terminal and a flag for Scotland at the Citadel.
Back on the ship, almost everyone returned on time except for two older men. An officer had to go fetch one of them away from the shops. When the ship left, the Captain announced that some of the passengers had used calendars instead of watches to tell time. Day 3 (Tuesday, July 28) At Sea, on EDT+1.5 We had some sun in the morning and John actually saw a whale spout (I was brushing my teeth and missed it). Later the fog moved in again.
Day 4 (Wednesday, July 29) St. Anthony, Newfoundland, Canada, on EDT+1.5 It was foggy all night but it was pretty clear by the time we started tendering into St. Anthony (www.town.stanthony.nf.ca/attractions.php) at noon. We had hoped the dock would be the municipal dock but it was one furthest from where we wanted to be (Fishing Point Park) and near the "downtown" by the Grenfell Handicraft Center. Once we got off the tender, we headed for Fishing Point and the trails there (www.town.stanthony.nf.ca/Hiking_trails.php); that took 23 minutes at fairly fast pace. The trails were quite nice, especially the Santana Trail to the top of the headland â only 477 steps to a great viewpoint. After hiking all the trails there, we went back towards the dock and did the Tea House Trail around the Grenfell House; it has nice lookouts. After that we headed for the Harbour Trail but we were getting tired, so we decided to punt on that and go back to the ship about 4PM. The last tender was at 4:30PM and the ship left at 5PM â no stragglers today.
Day 5 (Thursday, July 30) At Sea, on EDT+2 Today was the "Most Cruised Passengers" luncheon; this is for the 40 passengers with the most days on Princess. The Captain's Circle host, Sylvain, told us we barely made the cutoff with 282 days; we were just happy to have made it. BTW there are supposedly 674 people onboard and 80% are past passengers. There is a new perk for Elite members â a special lounge with snacks and a $5 special drink. John and I have been twice but it doesn't seem very popular; only 2 or 3 other couples were there. The snacks are not very special either although the smoked salmon yesterday was very nice. Also, there are wordy signs in the Internet Cafe explaining that you cannot get bonus minutes (like the embarkation special) unless you buy an internet package that costs more than the complimentary Platinum/Elite package.
Day 6 (Friday, July 31) Qaqortoq, Greenland, on EDT+2 The people on the previous cruise (Dover-NYC) could not get into this port because of ice. We arrived in Qaqortoq (www.qaq.gl/index.asp?lang=eng&num=45) at noon, grabbed the first tender, and headed out to hike the mountain behind the town. If you want to hike, download a map (www.greenland.com/content/english/tourist/towns_regions/south_greenland/qaqortoq/map_of_qaqortoq); the tourist office has a more detailed free map of the town but it does not show the trails. Princess does not offer any tours in Qaqortoq but there were some local tours listed on a board outside the tourist office.
The weather was sunny and cool when we started to hike but we were down to shirt sleeves by the end. The trails were supposed to start behind the high school (#1 on the map). We found something that looked like it might be a trail and headed up. I would call it a "slightly improved pig track" but John said that would be an insult to pigs. There was nothing to mark the trail except a few cairns near the top. Occasionally though there was some litter and a shotgun shell, which told us people must have passed that way sometime in the last 50 years. Fortunately, there are no trees and few bushes of any size; it is easy to see where you want to go even if you can't see a trail.
Anyway, we first took the "trail" past the lake but did not go all the way to the green triangle (that's on the next fjord), only as far as the saddle between the hills. This is where we first encountered midges. We had brought DEET wipes and also no-see-um head nets that drape over our hats (www.coghlans.com/catalogue/productList.php?catID=11) because we had been warned they would be needed at Lake Myvatn in Iceland. However, all of that had been left back on the ship and we had to resort to vigorous swatting instead. We then backtracked to the second trail shown from point #1 to the top of that peak (about 1000 feet high). The views from the top of the ocean and all the icebergs were spectacular!
No luck finding flags here, The tourist office had patches but the only flags were "party picks." They suggested that I try the grocery stores. I finally found paper flags about 8x10 inches in pack of 10. I decided to try to find one in Nanortalik.
Day 7 (Saturday, August 1) Nanortalik, Greenland, on EDT+2 Today we had a full day in Nanortalik (www.nanortaliktourism.com/uk/home.html) so we did not even get up until the Captain announced that tendering had started. The tender ticket system was abandoned today because there was no huge demand to go ashore (unlike yesterday). However, we thought the scenery around Nanortalik was even more beautiful than at Qaqortoq. Princess does not offer any tours in Nanortalik but the tourist office had a number of activities scheduled (for a price). Princess did not seem to know anything about these activities; an announcement was made about them after the ship had started tendering and they are listed on the Nanortalik web site.
We had downloaded a map (www.nanortaliktourism.com/uk/map.html) and copies were available from the tourist office. We climbed up the second highest mountain, Quassik or Raven Mountain. Again, we encountered midges but this time we were prepared. The DEET did not seem to have any effect; the midges seem to like "tourists with DEET sauce". We did use the netting and it works but obscures your vision. Plus you look like a real dork. However, it beats midges in your eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. Take my word for it, they do not taste good but are high in protein.
We originally planned to walk back down the trail to town and then take the trail along the coast to see the fjord. However, the trails here were only slightly better than the ones in Qaqortoq. We decided that if the Greenlanders didn't care about marking their trails, then we did not care about staying on them. So we simply hiked down the opposite side of the mountain to the fjord and walked along the shore back to town. There were some small bergs grounded on the beach and we got to touch one. John saw one further out calve and another split â I was not looking and only heard the crack. Again, the trail (such as it was) appeared and disappeared but we made it back after about 5 hours (John estimates we hiked at least 9 miles). There have been a lot of icebergs â in fact the Captain said that he had to thread his way into Nanortalik very carefully. It has been interesting seeing so many weird shapes. Not much sea life although John did see a seal yesterday leaving Qaqortoq; by the time I got my binoculars focused he had dived. Also, the wildflowers are gorgeous; we took a lot of pictures of those. The wild blueberries were ripening in both Greenland ports and were delicious, much better than the midges. There were no flags here.
There were high winds in the Denmark Strait so we did some rocking and rolling during the night. The Captain made an announcement to the cabins and public areas at dinnertime that anyone prone to motion sickness should pop their pills, slap on their patches, or snap on their bands in preparation.
Day 8 (Sunday, August 2) At Sea, on EDT+3 Tonight was the second of three formal nights on this leg of the cruise. The Captain's Circle Cocktail Party was held tonight. Day 9 (Monday, August 3) At Sea, on EDT+4 Tonight we did the Chef's Table for the third time. We had previously done it on the Emerald and the Pacific. It was outstanding, as usual. The people who went to the "Most Traveled Passenger" luncheon on Thursday were allowed to visit the bridge today. This was top secret!
Day 10 (Tuesday, August 4) Grundarfjordur, Iceland, on EDT+4 This was our first of 5 ports in Iceland. As we sailed into the harbor, we could see Kirkjufell mountain, reputedly the most beautiful mountain in Iceland. We took the first tender ashore and walked into town; I was told that the town provided a free maps and a shuttle later in the day. In all our cruises, this is the only port for which Princess did not provide any port guide.
Although we had doubts (given the difficulty of arranging it), our rental car was available once we found the office and someone to fill out the paperwork. If you want to rent a car (the availability is very limited), get the details from the tourist office (www.grundarfjordur.is/default.asp?tre_rod=002|&Sid_Id=10283&tId=1&qsr) well in advance. Bobtroll and his wife joined us on our tour of the Snaefellsnes peninsula, so we opted for a slightly larger Toyota Avensis instead of the Hundai Getz that I had originally reserved.
First we drove east on Hwy 54 (www.bigmap.is/resources/Images/6238_bigmap2008_1.jpg) to see a tall waterfall just outside of Grundarfjordur. Then we made a U-turn and drove towards Olafsvik, stopping at the Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall and reflective pool near Kirkjufell. There are many waterfalls all along the coast road. About 5 km before Olafsvik, Hwy 54 turns inland and becomes a gravel road. We think the bus tour went that way but we did not.
We continued along the coast on Hwy 574 until reaching Hwy F570 (also a gravel road) just before Olafsvik. Here we turned left (south) towards the town of Arnarstapi. Hwy F570 passes through the SnÃ¦fellsjÃ¶kull National Park (english.ust.is/Snaefellsjokullnationalpark). The volcano is the setting for Jules Verne's "Journey to the Centre of The Earth." As we crossed the volcano, we could see parts of the glacier but the top was hidden in the clouds. The road was a little rough but the rugged volcanic scenery was fascinating.
On the southern side of the peninsula, we rejoined Hwy 574 and turned left (east) towards Budir for a couple of miles. We stopped at the Raudfeldargja ravine just north of the highway; this is an unbelievably narrow gorge that was cut into the east side of Mt. Botnsfjall by the Sleggjubeina River. It is supposed to have elves and many birds during nesting season; we did not see any elves or many birds. We only walked a short way into the ravine because of the amount of water flowing out. Further east we could see the Hnausahraun lava field.
We turned west on Hwy 574 to Arnarstapi. By now we the clouds were dissipating and we were getting good views of the glacier. At Arnarstapi, we caught up to the ship's tour. Here, we took a short hike to the coast and along it for about a mile towards the Arnarstapi harbor. There is a sculpture of Bardur SnÃ¦fellsas (a demi-troll who protects the area from evil) above the beach at Arnarstapi. The coast is lined with magnificent lava formations, columnar basalt, ravines, natural bridges, and grottoes. One landmark is a large arch with a hole alongside called Gatkettur. More formations surround the pier.
Continuing clockwise around the peninsula towards Hellnar, we passed through the Hellnahraun lava field, which stretches from the sea up to the glacier. Turning off the main road, we followed a steep dead-end road to Hellnar, with its picturesque hoof-shaped harbor and tiny pebbly beach. To left of the harbor is a sea cave, Badstofa, known for its special light exposure and colorful interior (we did not have time to hike to it). Valasnos, a freestanding rock, extends east of the bay. The National Park Visitor's Center is here; there are displays and some brochures and maps on the area. Hellnar is the birthplace of explorers who settled Vineland and had the first European child there. As we left Hellnar, we passed Lake Bardarlaug, an explosive crater from the close of the last glacial epoch. The crater is said to have been the bathing pool of the Bardur SnÃ¦fellsas.
Driving further west along Hwy 574, we stopped at Malarrif to see a lighthouse, the basalt pillars of Londrangar, and the hill SvalthÃºfa. The latter two are the remains of a crater, which has been eroded to its present form by the sea. The farmers in the area never made or make hay on the hill, because it is said to belong to the elves living in the area. Younger lava fields surround this old crater ruin.
About 10 km west of Hellnar is the turn off for Djupalon, where a short steep trail took us to Djupalonssandur, a beautiful pebbled beach with the remains of a shipwreck. On the beach there are also 4 big stones, which people used to test their strength in the days of the fishing stations: Fully Strong 154 kg, Half-Strong 100 kg, Weakling 54 kg, and Bungler 23 kg. Weakling marked the frontier of wimphood; any man who couldn't lift it was deemed unsuitable for life as a fisherman. The stones were actually less impressive than the beach.
After another 4 km, we saw the Holaholar Crater (113 m), believed to be an elf town/community. We drove through the wall of Berudalur Valley and into a natural amphitheatre inside the cone. We did not have time to hike to the top of either this crater or the Saxholl crater, which is a little further down the road.
Next we turned east onto the gravel road up the Eysteinsdalur valley, which runs alongside the MÃ³Ã°ulÃ¦kur river, towards the SnÃ¦fellsjÃ¶kull glacier. We hiked to the waterfall Klukkufoss, just a short distance from the road, before returning to Hwy 574.
We took another detour from the main road to SkarÃ°svÃk, an attractive little bay with light-colored sand and then the long road to ÃndverÃ°arnes for relics of fishing and domestic occupation and a lighthouse. It turned really cold and windy here. An ancient well named FÃ¡lki was a water source for the residents of ÃndverÃ°arnes that was supposed to have three flavors â fresh water, sea water, and wine. I didn't get to find out for sure about the well as it was dark in there and I didn't bring a flashlight.
Retuning to Grundarfjordur, we had time to drive through the town and visit the church before returning the car and walking back to the tender dock.
Day 11 (Wednesday, August 5) Isafjordur, Iceland, on EDT+4 Our day in Isafjordur (www.isafjordur.is/english/) was a bit of a disappointment. We had planned to hike to the Gleidarhjalli shelf above Isafjordur in the morning (www.vesturferdir.is/index.php?k=3&p=140<=en) and take the ship's boat tour to Hesteyri in the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve (english.ust.is/National-Parks/Protectedareas/Hornstrandir/) in the afternoon. However, the weather was expected to be bad in the afternoon, so the boat tour was rescheduled for the morning. We tendered in, walked (in the rain) to the boat, and settled in. After a lot of discussion among the crew, captain, and the coordinator from Princess, it was decided that our tour would be cancelled. We were offered another boat tour (to Vigur Island) but hardly anyone (except us) wanted to do it. Then they said the weather was too bad to do that tour either â John believes they just thought it would not be worth the cost of the fuel to take so few of us. We got off the boat and walked around in the rain for awhile before heading back to the ship. The trails there all involved steep skree slopes and the tourist office (and our own common sense) recommended that they not be done in the rain or even when conditions were wet. The weather finally cleared up with about 2 hours left to the port stop. With the tendering taking about 20 minutes each way, we decided just to stay on the ship and enjoy the gorgeous scenery from there. As we sailed out of the fjord, we saw flocks of puffins furiously flapping their wings to stay airborne. Here, as in other high-walled fjords, there was no internet service. Day 12 (Thursday, August 6) Akureyri, Iceland, on EDT+4 In Akureyri (www.visitakureyri.is/en), I had arranged a private taxi tour to Lake Myvatn for us and 3 other couples (Bobtroll, Sydney1a, Sandbucket) with AuÃ°un Benediktsson, owner of Taxi 17 (www.taxi-no17.com/index_en.html). The translation of "Myvatn" means "Lake of the Midges." Fortunately, the midges did not bother us that day; the wind was so strong they were all blown away. The day started with a quick tour of the highlights of Akureyri. Then we went to GoÃ°afoss, the waterfall where the Lawspeaker Thorgeir Thorkelsson destroyed the statues of the Norse pagan gods when Iceland converted to Christianity. Next we drove to Lake MÃ½vatn. The first stop was at SkÃºtustaÃ°ir, where we walked one of the trails to the pseudo-craters. Next was Dimmuborgir (dark castles), where our driver/guide, AuÃ°an, took us on a circular tour of the black lava pillars and pointed out numerous troll profiles. These trolls had partied too long and were turned to stone when the sun rose. From there, we crossed the NÃ¡maskarÃ° pass to visit the hot springs and boiling mud pits of Hverir. After that, we visited the Krafla geothermal power station and VÃti, the crater from the 1724 eruption. The runoff from Krafla is the source of the water at the Myvatn Nature Baths, a mini Blue Lagoon. We stopped at the Nature Baths for a snack and bathroom break, then took the northern route around Lake MÃ½vatn back towards Akureryri. At this point, we still had plenty of time and decided to extend the tour to visit the old traditional turf farmhouse and the church at LaufÃ¡s; this was definitely worth the additional cost. Upon returning to Akureyri, AuÃ°an dropped us off at the top of the botanical gardens (northernmost in the world) and met us at the bottom. Our final stop was at the Akureyri Cathedral, which has gorgeous stained-glass windows. The altarpiece is from the cathedral in Coventry, England, and another window shows Thorgeir holding the statues of the pagan gods just before he threw them into GoÃ°afoss. AuÃ°an provided us with an outstanding tour of this beautiful part of Iceland.
Day 13 (Friday, August 7) At Sea, on EDT+5 We tried the pub lunch today. John had the fish and chips; I had the ploughman's lunch. Both were good with a Guinness. Then we had the Princess Grapevine wine tasting and the Captains' Gala cocktail party. Plus it was the third and last formal night. About 6PM we passed the Faroe Islands and had some good views from our balcony.
Day 14 (Saturday, August 8) Lerwick, Shetland Islands, on EDT+5 This was the first of three days in a row of port stops. As we approached the Holmsgarth Ferry Terminal dock in Lerwick (www.visitshetland.com), we were greeted by several harbor seals frolicking in the water. I had arranged a private tour for us and 3 other couples (Paul929207, Sydney1a, Sandbucket) with Allen Fraser, owner of Shetland Geotours (www.shetlandgeology.com). From Lerwick we drove north through beautiful countryside dotted with Shetland ponies and sheep to a lookout above the village of Voe. (Allen mentioned that the area was famous for its woolen fabrics. On one tour, an older gentleman told him, "I'll have to tell Ed that I saw where his underwear was made." "Ed" was Sir Edmund Hillary and he wore that underwear while climbing Mt. Everest.) Then we headed west through Brae to Shetland's narrowest point at Mavis Grind, where the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean are only about 20 yards apart. Next we drove up Collafirth Hill for a view of Shetland's highest hill, Ronas Hill. After that, we drove along Shetland's only fjord, Ronas Voe and took a short break at a cafe in Braewick. The cafe has a gorgeous view of St. Magnus Bay, an ancient meteorite impact crater, and Shetland's best known sea stack, Dore Holm. Next we headed northwest to the spectacular volcanic cliffs at Eshaness and more sea stacks. Some of our group needed another pit stop, so Allen took us to the former capital of Shetland, Scalloway. The major site there is Scalloway Castle (www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/shetland/scallowaycastle/index.html); Allen is a descendant of the earl who built the castle. John and I had asked Allen to drop us off at the Broch of Clickimin (www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/shetland/clickimin/index.html), on the outskirts of Lerwick. However, Allen insisted on giving all of us a tour there; he seemed pleased that we knew about this site and proud to show it off to us. After a quick drive past the highlights of Lerwick, we were back at the ship with a half hour left for a quick trip to the grocery near the dock. We saw more than 3 of the Princess tours combined for considerably less cost and with an excellent guide who actually was involved in developing some of the geologic exhibits we saw along the way. However, there were no Shetland flags at any of our stops. Day 15 (Sunday, August 9) Bergen, Norway, on EDT+6 The forecast for today was drizzle, not unexpected because Bergen (www.bergen-guide.com/download.asp) typically gets 300 days of rain per year. However, the day started cloudy and ended up warm and sunny. The ship docked at the Skoltegrunnskaien pier, within easy walking distance of downtown; the port authority also ran a free shuttle to the fish market. We took a walking tour downloaded from Frommers.com (www.frommers.com/destinations/bergen/3082010008.html) while we waited for some of the haze to burn off. Around 10AM, we took the funicular up Mt. Fløyen and hiked for about 1-1/2 hours (www.floibanen.com/map/). Note that good city maps were available free on the dock; if you want to hike, print out the trail map and take it with you. When we came back down, we couldn't believe the huge line of people waiting to get on the funicular and the even more enormous line of people waiting to buy tickets; our timing was perfect. Then we walked around the Bryggen area (www.visitbergen.com/Bergen/Dokumenter/Om oss/Publikasjoner/2005/Meeting_Point_Bryggen_ENG.pdf) and ended up at Haakon's Hall (www.bymuseet.no/?vis=78), where we got tickets for the Hall and the Rosenkrantz Tower (www.bymuseet.no/?vis=202) and signed up for the guided tour. That was well worth doing, especially the tower â we got a great view from the roof. After we walked around the Bergenshus Fortress (www.visitnorway.com/en/Articles/Theme/What-to-do/Attractions/National-Fortresses/Bergenshus-Fortress/) some more, we headed back for our 3:30PM appointment with the ship. We had just gotten comfortable when the first officer came on and said the refueling barge had only just arrived and we would have an extra hour in port. We wish we would have known that earlier so we could have spent more time hiking on Mt Fløyen. We were really glad we had late dinner seating as sailing out of Bergen to the ocean was gorgeous and we got to see the whole thing from our balcony.
Day 16 (Monday, August 10) Kristiansand, Norway, on EDT+6 Another great day of hiking in Kristiansand (brochure: www.sorlandet.com/getfile.php/2105/Brosjyre%20for%20Region%20Kristiansand%202009-web.pdf), the Floral City. For some reason, there was a stuffed moose at the dock, which is the Cruise Quay. First we walked through the downtown area, along Radhusgaten, past the cathedral, to Festningsgata. At the end of Festningsgata, there are ramps up to the Baneheia park area (map in the brochure, pages 30-31). We hiked there for about 2 hours, then walked through the old town, Posebyen (walking tour in the brochure, page 41). It started to rain, which is a laugh because Kristiansand is supposed to be the SUNNIEST place in Norway. Anyway, we had an umbrella and our plastic ponchos, so we just looked dorky and carried on. We walked along the river and the waterfront to the Christiansholm Festning (Kristiansand Fortress). Some people had taken shelter inside the fortress but we decided to head back to the ship until the rain stopped. After it stopped, we hiked in the Odderoya recreation area (map in the brochure, page 20), which was next to the area where the ship was docked. We had not realized that it was covered with German bunkers and gun emplacements from WWII!
Day 17 (Tuesday, August 11) At Sea, on EDT+6 Resting up for tomorrow! We had a Cruise Critic luncheon today to say goodbye to all the new friends who are getting off in Dover.
Day 18 (Wednesday, August 12) Dover, England (Turnaround Day), on EDT+5 Our experiences in Dover are detailed in the "Top of the World" cruise review. Less
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