We boarded this cruise ship in Southampton on 9th May 2015. As this was our first experience of ocean liner cruising, we really didn’t know what to expect, so I hope this will serve as a guide to other new cruisers.
Parking was efficient as the car park was walking distance from the ship and porters came and took our suitcases direct from the car. Please be aware though that they will NOT take suit covers with hangers, as this would not go through their security system. We were taking my husband’s tuxedo, blazers and pristinely ironed shirts and all my cocktail dresses on in suit bags so that they didn’t get too creased, so we ended up having to carry these on ourselves. There seemed to be no limit to what you could take on in suitcases nor in hand luggage, but cabin space is limited so I would advise you to be sensible.
Embarkation was smooth and we were greeted with a complimentary sparkling wine or orange juice. A nice touch, but with all the gear we were carrying, it proved to be difficult to really enjoy the moment. Initially, passengers were not allowed to go to their cabins as they were still being prepared, but had the opportunity to explore the public areas. We were not able to benefit from this owing to the amount of gear we were carrying. Eventually, however, we were allowed to go and hang the suits up in the cabin so that we could go and explore the ship.
We deliberated some time before the cruise as to whether we should purchase any of the drinks packages. In the end we went for the “Classic” package (at $65 per person per day), as this included bottled water, better quality teas and coffees, sodas and (at the time of writing this), alcoholic drinks up to the value of $11. Was it worth it? Still not sure. We’re not big drinkers, but I believe that with the hotel prices that the ship was charging, it probably balanced out. If you want to drink cocktails, you’re limited to what you can have on the Classic package and you need to know your cocktails as there wasn’t really a big menu of cocktails to choose from. If you did choose a drink which exceeded the $11 you had to pay the full price rather than the difference.
When we were at sea, we found the ship a little too crowded for our liking and at times had to fight to find a seat in the numerous bars and cafes on board. We were directed to another bar by one of the waiters at one time and chose a specialised tea from the menu, only to be told we couldn’t get that tea at the bar we were in and were re-directed back to where we came from!
The ports we stopped at, (Bergen, Alesund, Geiranger and Stavanger) were beautiful. We did ship’s excursions at the first three, which we enjoyed. You can, however, go off on your own as maps are provided from the guest relations desk and in Bergen, a shuttle bus to take you into the local town, which would be at least a 15-minute walk to the centre. If you only want to take one excursion, I would recommend Geiranger, as the town is very small and you would struggle to find something to do independently, other than walking up a very steep hill or a trip around several souvenir shops.
On board, there is always some activity taking place, so no excuse for being bored. However, these activities were not to my husband’s taste and became very frustrated on the “sea” days. He did, however, take advantage of the fantastic gym on board!
The main dining room provides waiter service and I do recommend you book a sitting. We were on the 06:15 evening sitting and although I can’t fault the food and service, we both felt a little rushed knowing that there was a second sitting waiting to come in behind us. Even the formal nights were a little rushed. We did however, take advantage of the 1-2-3 meal deal for the speciality dining. Murano’s, Qsine and Tuscan Grill were all unique in their own way and absolutely faultless.
Overall, we did enjoy the cruise as Norway is beautiful and the ship is like a 5-star hotel on water.
Nice size, although the coffee table kept getting in the way when we were both dressing for evening dinner. Comfortable bed, although could have done with an extra blanket as I was a little cold at times. Kettle with basic tea and coffee making facilities provided.
Very interesting tour with a knowledgeable guide. Trip is described as strenuous owing to steep narrow stairs in the museum, but that's the only "strenuous" part. Was spoilt by torrential rain, out of the control of any human, but still enjoyable.View All 136 City Tour Reviews
Lovely Sea Park and tour of islands. You could probably have done the same tour independent of the expensive cruise excursion costs. Saw some beautiful scenery and climbed to the top of a light house which was visible from the ship when we left.View All 10 Saga Islands and Atlantic Sea Park Reviews
This trip was also described as "strenuous" by the cruise line and it certainly was! A trip certainly designed for the more active traveller as it was a 1.5 mile walk up hills and across purpose built rocks for steps. The view however was well worth it.View All 12 Hiking Westeras Reviews
Lovely picturesque town with plenty of museums to visit on foot. We arrived when it was a public holiday, so most of the town was closed and empty. It did, however, give us a good opportunity to take some lovely photos without crowds.