We chose this cruise mostly because we stumbled upon it in a casino user promotion that we got in the mail. We didn’t even know that itinerary was offered and we’ve been wanting to visit Norway and Scotland in greater depth than we knew was possible from the ship. This itinerary was a DREAM and it fit with my work holiday. A+ on the itinerary.
Dining: Lido buffet was consistently good at all meals (4.5 out of 5 the whole time). Would have been perfect if they enforced the “no filling the water bottle your mouth has touched at the water machine” rule. Dining room was spectacular at dinner but abysmal at breakfast. It seemed everything was pre-plated and both “cold” and “hot” items were the same tepid temperature. (We didn’t attend lunch there). Pinnacle was spectacular for lunch, dinner and Le Cirque night. Room service was expedient and friendly.
Entertainment: The only one we really took advantage of was listening to Adagio (classical) after dinner. We heard all the shows were spectacular as would be expected. However, we were sad there was only one educational lecture. Would loved some more history and culture themed ones but then, almost every day was a port day so when would they have done it? No complaints.
The room was in a wonderful location, one of the aft-facing staterooms on the mostly-suites deck, with staterooms above and below. We had the most amazing views. The room felt smaller than some we've had in the past but it could be our imagination. The balcony was gigantic. It was half covered and half open to the elements, with a tiered setup so we could see those above and below us.The half covered and half exposed balcony was lovely for sunny days and for getting better photos. We never had a plumbing issue and everything was very clean.
We had an amazing time there. It was our second time to the city, so we knew our way around. We went to the beautiful Black Diamond library to see the rare Jewish collection that the gentile librarians protected from Nazi destruction during the Holocaust, then took the canal boat tour, then spent the evening at Tivoli Gardens where we had a lovely dinner and enjoyed several rides and some shopping.
We loved Oslo. The only thing we didn't like was their abysmal excuse for a Hop On/Hop Off bus. We got off almost immediately and then went to the metro station to go the the Edvard Munch museum, which was superior. Then we strolled around and had lunch before returning to the ship, via taxi.
We took the larger passenger fjord boat, which was wonderful. You can buy tickets at the pier and there's plenty of space. We then strolled along and went to Cow & Fish, a lovely restaurant adjacent to the mall, for lunch, where we tried the incredible halibut and the surprisingly tasty whale steak.
We had the most amazing tour guide. We hired Robina Barton, who is a university-trained archaeologist who has worked on projects in the shetlands, including as the coordinator of the Shetland Geopark (a UNESCO site). She's also involved in the historical society. She was truly fantastic. Kept us away from the large bus tours, gave us a brilliant variety of nicely-paced sites to see, and showed us everything from an incredible archaeological site, castle, maritime museum, and nature--breaking for non-crowded, clean restrooms and a lovely lunch at a local tea and sandwich shop. She also made sure we saw plenty of wildlife: puffins, other sea birds, lots of seals, and even some domestics like shetland ponies and sheep. At the end, even after our tour was scheduled to end, she helped me find a local bookstore (sort of a travel passion of mine) and walked us back to the tender. Total A-plus. So much so, that I plan to return to the shetlands. She can fit up to eight passengers but is comfortable taking two or four. You can find her with an internet search.
Since this was our last day, we really wanted to do something special and relaxed because we knew we'd be "over" all the touring by then. If you enjoy finer restaurants and want to truly taste the UK's countryside and waters, the Three Michelin Star rated House of Tides is the perfect venue for a lovely lunch, right on the river. We had local oysters, Shetland mussels, beautiful English produce and lamb... They have a regular and a vegetarian price-fixed tasting menu with optional wine pairings that usually books up at least a month in advance. They also accommodate allergies and food preferences. If you'll be there on a Saturday, there will be a bazaar in the metro station with some neat finds. You simply take the metro into Newcastle like everyone else and then walk down the hill half a mile to House of Tides. On the way, you'll pass all sorts of historical buildings including one that proudly proclaims the historical Earl Grey (and his namesake tea). Our recommendation is to see sights before lunch, walk down the hill to the restaurant, and then take a taxi back to the ship from the restaurant because it's quicker than she shuttle and less of a hassle than walking back up the hill.