We took this cruise as we wanted to do something different for our Silver Wedding Anniversary and fancied the Norwegian Fjords. We were unsure about cruising but knew that the best way to see the dramatic scenery of the fjords was by ship. We were not disappointed, the amazing scenery as we sailed into and out of the 4 ports we visited was breathtaking and seeing it as we sipped cocktails on our balcony was perfect.
Since returning this week I have found this site and read the reviews. I was not intending to post but felt it important after reading some of the negative comments. P&Os organisation on embarkation and disembarkation both at Southampton and at each port we visited cannot be faulted. The ship was spotless, every member of staff we encountered courteous and helpful, food and service in the Meridian restaurant of a high standard though I have to say having to dine with strangers at breakfast and lunch was a disappointment, especially with people who never did anything other than cruise (and thought we needed to know about it), never left the ship at port (what boring photos & stories they must have to take home), moaned at every opportunity (the breakfast bowl was not big enough for the shredded wheat !!!) and their only topic of conversation was which other cruises they had been on (I think some people actually "collect ships").
The ship had all the facilities we needed, plenty of activities if you needed them, some great live shows (from the resident Headliners team, the great voice of Mark O'Mally and the very Funny John Evans) and live music from the on-board pianist in the piano bar and the visiting concert pianist (a very memorable last evening listening to Grieg as we sailed across the open sea).
The gym was well equipped and I enjoyed the free classes that were on each day. Steve was very patient with people (even those who had never seen their toes for years let alone touched them).
We visited a number of the bars and never had any trouble getting a waiter to bring us drinks, or to bring them to our cabin.
We did a number of the organised trips in port and were glad we had pre-booked as some were already booked up when we got on board. People tried to do the trips independently and found that they couldn't get tickets for things like the Flam railway so missed out (all to potentially save a few quid). The advantage of the organised trips is that if anything goes wrong (one of the coaches on a trip broke down so they were late back to the ship) and you are delayed the ship waits for you. The downside of the organised trips is that they tended to spend too little time at the interest point and too long stopping for coffee and cakes (i.e. 20 mins at Tvinde waterfall but 40 mins for coffee) Not sure why they have to stop for coffee anyway people had just had cooked breakfasts and were less than 2 hours away from getting back to the ship where food is served 24/7.
So all in all we got what we expected, great organisation, breathtaking scenery, fantastic service and great food. However, we will not cruise again for many years as we prefer to have more flexibility on how long we stay in a place and most importantly not be surrounded by people who think that cruising is the main event and the ports of call an incidental (if they did a cruise that just went to the middle of the ocean and anchored for 2 weeks there are some people who would take it !). This trip was all about the scenery for us and it certainly delivered over and over again.
Great location in the middle of the ship. Fantastic views and very stable even when the sea was choppy. Noise from food trolleys being pushed in the Belvedere restaurant on the deck above.
We decided not to take the funicular up to the viewpoint and instead got a map from the station and walked up. It was a 2 mile uphill walk on good surfaced tracks but the roads twisted and turned upwards and there were lots of benches along the way to stop and admire the amazing views over the Fjord and the ship. It took us an hour up and 45 mins down and the view from the top was well worth the effort.
There is not much at Flam, but it was fun going ashore via tender and these ran backwards and forwards the whole time we were in port. We decided against the railway trip, (the reviews say that the views are not that spectacular it is all about the engineering feat that built the track) and went on a coach trip to see the Tvinde waterfall and Nry Valley. The waterfall was spectacular and the only criticism is that we didn't have long enough there. The view over the Nry Valley from the hotel where we stopped was amazing but we stayed there too long.