Norwegian Fjords 7 Nights 28th July 2011
My Mother and I are experienced cruisers and have sailed with Princess, P&O, Royal Caribbean, Holland America, Fred Olsen & Cunard.
Pre-cruise information by email was good, but I did not like having to print my own luggage labels. I had to reinforce the paper with sticky back clear film, otherwise they would have pulled off too easily. However I understand you can ask your travel agent to do it for you, but whether they would have gone to this amount of trouble I am not sure. Also Princess do not provide any printed literature about excursions. In contrast, P&O still send a beautifully presented bound folder with all the information about your cruise, excursion information and ready printed luggage labels.
We arrived at the Ocean Terminal in good time and after leaving our car with Cruise & Passenger Services we had a speedy check in (we had priority check in). Then it was through security and onto the ship. All our cases arrived within 30mins of arriving in the cabin.
Our Cabins Mini Suites on Dolphin deck were excellent in every way, very spacious, pristine condition, large sitting area with three seat sofa and large 5sq Mtr balcony. There was a large walk in wardrobe area and the ensuite had bath with shower. Shelf space was good, but drawer space however was minimal. Our cabin steward arrived to introduce himself and he looked after us very efficiently throughout the whole cruise.
After a freshen up it was off to the Horizon Court (Lido Cafe) for a drink and something to eat. The food here was very good indeed, we had our breakfasts and lunches here and our evening meals in the Cafe Caribe which is adjacent to the Horizon Court at the rear of the ship. The service in these areas is first class, with staff anxious to assist you at every turn, very useful for elderly or disabled passengers. Once seated they are constantly at your side to assist with more food or drinks. These waiters are in addition to the staff clearing the tables, who do so efficiently and on a constant basis. A wide range of hot & cold food is available, in the evening sometimes with a particular theme. For us the only thing missing at lunch time was cold meats such as Ham, Beef or Pork, but there was always cheese and a very varied choice of salad items.
We never had to queue when eating in these areas. It is also worth mentioning that hand gel was actively insisted upon whenever anybody entered the cafe and was freely available in all areas throughout the ship. Another aspect of hygiene was that milk was dispensed in jugs and jam and butter was in bowls with tongs or spoons which removed the process of multiple fingers diving into bowls for small packs of butter, jam and UHT milk (which we experienced on P&O Oceana the following week - see our separate report of this cruise)
We ate only twice in the dining room, so cannot really comment on the standard of service here. The menu's we felt were not to our taste, a little too European and on one of the occasions for us, under cooked and poorly presented. However the evening meals in the Cafe Caribe were very good with plenty of choice and excellent desserts.
If you are on anytime dining, there can be long queues if you want to eat in the dining rooms, so it's best to book a table early in the day.
The layout of the ship is good, very easy to get around, the elevators are fast and numerous. The Piazza (Atrium) which covers three decks is the central hub with an attractive Coffee Bar which has lovely pastries throughout the day including sandwiches at lunch time (all free with the purchased drinks).
We did not book any tours on the short cruise so cannot comment on how efficiently these were organised, but had no trouble getting on or off the ship at the various ports.
PORTS OF CALL
BERGEN city has some attractive areas in the town, with a large central park area with fountain and bandstand. The main shopping areas have wide pedestrian areas, although on our visit the pavements seemed very dirty and there were a lot of buskers. The attractive port area (with the pretty coloured quay side buildings) was rather spoilt by the covered market stalls and food outlets. The small harbour has some major building work on the quay side at the moment so it's in a mess.
GEIRANGER We did not get off the ship here as it was a tender port and mostly for people going on tours who would be meeting up with the ship later in the day at HELLESYLT. The scenic cruising of the fjord here was very pleasant.
HELLESYLT Service call only for passengers returning to the ship from overland tours.
OLDEN is a small village at one end of the Nordfjord which has a few useful shops. The old church in Olden (the one in the village) was built in 1759 on the site of a stave church dating from around 1300. It's pew doors and jambs are made from timbers of the old stave church. This is well worth a visit and is only a 15 minute walk from the ship. During the Summer a small motor driven train with passenger cars does a shuttle service up and down the main road leading into the village.
STAVANGER our final port is of course very large, we were docked very close to the Cathedral which is worth a visit if time permits. At the time of our visit a certain air of sadness prevailed due to the numerous memorials left in memory of all the students who died in the recent shooting tragedy.
We did not go to any of the shows or entertainments so cannot comment on these.
The usual array of daytime activities were available on board, including shuffle board, quoits, putting & table tennis.
Disembarkation was smooth and trouble free.
Overall an enjoyable relaxing cruise on a well run ship, with excellent service, accommodation and food.