Outbound from Dover on the MSC Lirica on 20 May 2009. This ship is very clean and comfortable with excellent staff covering all our needs. The ship's shows were good and catered for all walks of life. On the sea days the entertainment was good, particularly the fruit carving and the jewellery talks by the manager of the jewellery shop. One criticism was the price of the drinks on board - cocktails 6.90 euros, large beer 4.80 euros, soft drinks 2.50 euros, cheapest bottle of wine 19 euros, which compared to fred.olsen prices was astronomic. Also you are restricted to eating in the main restaurant on an evening unless you want to eat pizza. We found this quite restrictive as we were on 1st sitting at 18.30 hours which was a rush after being ashore all day. According to the news page on the MSC website, the English had been catered for by providing free tea and coffee 24 hours a day. However, this was not the case as there was never any milk after 8pm.On our way to Fjords, we called at Bremerhaven. This is not a picturesque port of call and we were surprised that the ship did not have Hamburg on the itinerary instead. The cruise terminal is at least 2 miles from the city centre, although the ship did provide a shuttle service for 9 euros. We can only suggest that you take this option to the main train station and get a train to Bremen which is an hour away and the trains run every hour.As we travelled out of season for Norway, we found that in the northern ports of call in Norway - Olden and Geiranger, the public transport was not running as it did not start until mid June. This meant that people on board are forced to take the expensive excursions provided by the ship if they are not prepared to walk anywhere. However, if you want to go the view point overlooking the harbour in Geiranger, there is a local bus trip for one hour from the tourist information office which costs 200 krone. Norway is a very expensive country to eat and drink out and a cruise is definitely the best option for seeing this beautiful country, thus limiting the need to purchase food and drink ashore. However, knowing what we know now, we would have waited until June to take this cruise.
Cabin staff took excellent care of us, however the bow thrust propellers woke us up when berthing, the only day when we didn;t get this was when the anchor was dropped which was even louder. However, we were glad we were not lower down in this forward area of the ship as the noise must be worse there.
The cruise terminal is in an excellent location, only 10 miniutes walk away from Central Station where you can access all forms of public transport - buses, trams and boat trips. A walk around the red light district and is a must and perfectly safe during the day, also a boat trip on the canals. The cheaper trips are located opposite the sex museum on the dam rak.
Small harbour village with very little to do except shop, however there is a train ride from Flam to Myrdal in the mountains (about 900m). This is well worth the trip but costs 330 krone which at this altitude enabled us to play snowballs in May. The fjord views are spectacular.
Bergen is now a modern fishing port and gives the opportunity to visit the fish market and sample their fish and chips (if you can afford it). The funicular from the city centre affords a lovely view from the top and is worth the trip. Bergen is currently restoring the old wooden harbour buildings (The Bryggen) which are definitley worth a wander around.
Oslo is a large modern city with plenty of cultural things to see and do. The ship docks in the main harbour which is 5 minutes walk from the centre. If you are going to do all the sites it is worth getting an all day travel ticket which is valid on buses, train and the ferry to the museums. You can buy the ticket in the tourist information office which is on the quayside or in a 7 - 11 shop for 65 krone. Vigeland park with its numerous erotic sculptures is well worth a few photographs and the tram number 12 takes you straight there.The Kontiki museum, the polar museum and the Fram museum are all located in the same area and accessed by ferry from the quayside. Further museums ie the Viking museum and folk museum are a short bus ride away from the Kontiki museum. A walk down the Karl Johans Gate from the Royal Palace to the Parliament buildings gives a flavour of Oslo life.