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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. Spa: They were wonderful. We had overpaid for the thermal suite and thalassotherapy pool by booking ahead and they quickly gave us reimbursement. The massages were lovely and we weren’t upsold (we requested not to be and they honored that). The facilities were immaculate and the manager was top-notch. Common Areas: Most were lovely. However, no one was promoting hand sanitization anywhere on the ship (a first for us in our long cruising history, but we used the machines nonetheless) and there were no sanitation wipes available for the computer stations or hand sanitizers nearby. The flu went around our ship and we were fine until the end, when we had to go up to print our boarding passes. Stateroom: The stewards were spectacular but the room was in dire need of new furniture, mattress and fixture replacement. This will probably be taken care of at the next dry dock. Plenty of storage space. Shore excursions desk: Unfortunately, they weren’t accommodating when a tour wasn’t as advertised. Grateful that we arranged most of our shore things ahead of time. Speaking of which: some of our shore experiences, booked privately: 1. Flam: Fjord Safari and Cheese Tasting: Don't let the rib boat and thermal suits steer you away from this one. A locally born and raised guide took us on an incredible boat trip through the fjords, getting us deep into the UNESCO-designated fjord, sharing stories of the local culture and lore, history and his own childhood along the way. He also slowed down to give us time to watch wildlife and snap shots of waterfalls and little villages. Unlike the regular fjord safari, our private excursion included a stop at Undredal (not sure of spelling) which is an adorable little village nestled in the fjord. We then sampled several different kinds of cheeses, served with some meat, several preserved fruits (try the cloudberry), Lefse (Norwegian flatbread), and hot red currant tea. Best part is that we had a three hour excursion and returned to the dock to be able to have a leisurely afternoon to either rest, hike or take the Flam Railway. Beautiful trip. If you want to reserve it privately, they ask that you have a minimum of ten guests sign up and they will take up to 12. They handle all the payments so you don't need to go collecting from other passengers. http://www.fjordsafari.com 2. Shetland Islands: 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. http://www.selkieventures.co.uk 3. Inverness: We went with Wendy from Iona Highland Tours. She's the owner, and she also had trainee Eddy with her. We saw everything you'd want to see and then some. The tour busses were all pulling off at other lookout points to see the castle on Loch Ness, but she found us just the right smaller one. We saw the cathedral, Cowdor Castle, an ancient burial with mysteriously placed stones (that doubled as a sundial--very neat), a fort with tremendous history and the battlefield that changed Scottish history forever. Her van has wifi and she had chargers for us too (but the wifi ran out of data early on--don't think it is a regular occurrence though). Wendy was fantastic but if you go with her, you should know that she's expanded her business and the other two guides working with her are very new (and at least one has a very strong Glasgow accent) so be sure to request her specifically. Eddy seems very nice and warm, but she's putting him into the field too soon after not enough training (in my opinion). I don't know who the other one is. http://www.ionahighlandtours.com/abo...ighland-tours/ 4. Newcastle: 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. http://houseoftides.co.uk 4. In Flam, the Edvard Munch (famous for The Scream) museum is brilliantly curated and not to be missed, rain or shine. We did that one independently via the subway/tube. 5. In Bergen, we did the ship's excursion to Edvard Grieg's home and the Grieg Museum with private piano recital. This was also very worth it to us but if you can arrange it privately, you can probably get the price down. Just contact the museum and ask. 6. In Kristiansand, we took one of the larger fjord boats out and it was totally worth it. Don't remember the name (we bought it at the port). Another fun thing we did (but it's not for everyone): We decided to take the train from Inverness to Edinburgh and stay overnight at an Air BNB with a castle view so we could see it lit up at night and get an early start the next day. You have to fill out some paperwork with the ship but it was truly worth it to get a feel for the evenings there and to see the castle in the evening. The Hop On/Hop Off there is superb (unlike Oslo's which was a disaster). The ghost tours are wonderful because you can see the history of the Black Plague and all the walled-off underground chambers. The national museum was free and it was excellent--be sure to wait near the incredible clock inside at the hour so you can see all the bizarre sculptures move and light up. Copenhagen! I shouldn't forget this. If you're not too jet-lagged, head to Tivoli if the weather is nice and the Black Diamond Library if it's rainy. Both are well worth the visit. Okay here's the bad: Portree: Avoid GoSkye tours at all costs. They overfill their vans, the guide was incredibly sour and cold, and there was minimal information about the island's culture, sites or anything else. We did have a lovely time walking around Portree, though, and soaking up the local culture at a cafe over some haggis and free wifi was the perfect redemption. Oh, if you're Le Cirque fans, know that this is the last year that the Pinnacle will be hosting "An Evening at Le Cirque."

Norway/Scotland: Incredible, unique itinerary, lovely staff, limited sanitation.

Zuiderdam Cruise Review by BakedAlaska7751

5 people found this helpful
Trip Details
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.

Spa: They were wonderful. We had overpaid for the thermal suite and thalassotherapy pool by booking ahead and they quickly gave us reimbursement. The massages were lovely and we weren’t upsold (we requested not to be and they honored that). The facilities were immaculate and the manager was top-notch.

Common Areas: Most were lovely. However, no one was promoting hand sanitization anywhere on the ship (a first for us in our long cruising history, but we used the machines nonetheless) and there were no sanitation wipes available for the computer stations or hand sanitizers nearby. The flu went around our ship and we were fine until the end, when we had to go up to print our boarding passes.

Stateroom: The stewards were spectacular but the room was in dire need of new furniture, mattress and fixture replacement. This will probably be taken care of at the next dry dock. Plenty of storage space.

Shore excursions desk: Unfortunately, they weren’t accommodating when a tour wasn’t as advertised. Grateful that we arranged most of our shore things ahead of time.

Speaking of which: some of our shore experiences, booked privately:

1. Flam: Fjord Safari and Cheese Tasting: Don't let the rib boat and thermal suits steer you away from this one. A locally born and raised guide took us on an incredible boat trip through the fjords, getting us deep into the UNESCO-designated fjord, sharing stories of the local culture and lore, history and his own childhood along the way. He also slowed down to give us time to watch wildlife and snap shots of waterfalls and little villages. Unlike the regular fjord safari, our private excursion included a stop at Undredal (not sure of spelling) which is an adorable little village nestled in the fjord. We then sampled several different kinds of cheeses, served with some meat, several preserved fruits (try the cloudberry), Lefse (Norwegian flatbread), and hot red currant tea. Best part is that we had a three hour excursion and returned to the dock to be able to have a leisurely afternoon to either rest, hike or take the Flam Railway. Beautiful trip. If you want to reserve it privately, they ask that you have a minimum of ten guests sign up and they will take up to 12. They handle all the payments so you don't need to go collecting from other passengers. http://www.fjordsafari.com

2. Shetland Islands: 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. http://www.selkieventures.co.uk

3. Inverness: We went with Wendy from Iona Highland Tours. She's the owner, and she also had trainee Eddy with her. We saw everything you'd want to see and then some. The tour busses were all pulling off at other lookout points to see the castle on Loch Ness, but she found us just the right smaller one. We saw the cathedral, Cowdor Castle, an ancient burial with mysteriously placed stones (that doubled as a sundial--very neat), a fort with tremendous history and the battlefield that changed Scottish history forever. Her van has wifi and she had chargers for us too (but the wifi ran out of data early on--don't think it is a regular occurrence though). Wendy was fantastic but if you go with her, you should know that she's expanded her business and the other two guides working with her are very new (and at least one has a very strong Glasgow accent) so be sure to request her specifically. Eddy seems very nice and warm, but she's putting him into the field too soon after not enough training (in my opinion). I don't know who the other one is. http://www.ionahighlandtours.com/abo...ighland-tours/

4. Newcastle: 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. http://houseoftides.co.uk

4. In Flam, the Edvard Munch (famous for The Scream) museum is brilliantly curated and not to be missed, rain or shine. We did that one independently via the subway/tube.

5. In Bergen, we did the ship's excursion to Edvard Grieg's home and the Grieg Museum with private piano recital. This was also very worth it to us but if you can arrange it privately, you can probably get the price down. Just contact the museum and ask.

6. In Kristiansand, we took one of the larger fjord boats out and it was totally worth it. Don't remember the name (we bought it at the port).

Another fun thing we did (but it's not for everyone): We decided to take the train from Inverness to Edinburgh and stay overnight at an Air BNB with a castle view so we could see it lit up at night and get an early start the next day. You have to fill out some paperwork with the ship but it was truly worth it to get a feel for the evenings there and to see the castle in the evening. The Hop On/Hop Off there is superb (unlike Oslo's which was a disaster). The ghost tours are wonderful because you can see the history of the Black Plague and all the walled-off underground chambers. The national museum was free and it was excellent--be sure to wait near the incredible clock inside at the hour so you can see all the bizarre sculptures move and light up.

Copenhagen! I shouldn't forget this. If you're not too jet-lagged, head to Tivoli if the weather is nice and the Black Diamond Library if it's rainy. Both are well worth the visit.

Okay here's the bad:

Portree: Avoid GoSkye tours at all costs. They overfill their vans, the guide was incredibly sour and cold, and there was minimal information about the island's culture, sites or anything else. We did have a lovely time walking around Portree, though, and soaking up the local culture at a cafe over some haggis and free wifi was the perfect redemption.

Oh, if you're Le Cirque fans, know that this is the last year that the Pinnacle will be hosting "An Evening at Le Cirque."
BakedAlaska7751’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Deluxe Ocean-View Verandah Stateroom
Cabin VB 7136
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.
Observation Deck Inside Cabins, Balcony Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Troldhaugen Concert
    This tour, which was all about Edvard Grieg, was truly spectacular. We first went to an old church in the forest, and then we went to the Edvard Grieg museum, had a private piano recital of his music, and then a tour of his home. The views were breathtaking and the ride was comfortable.
    View All 24 Troldhaugen Concert Reviews
  • Copenhagen
    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.
    View All 1,089 Copenhagen Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Copenhagen Cruise Port Review
  • Flam
    Don't let the rib boat and thermal suits steer you away from this one. A locally born and raised guide took us on an incredible boat trip through the fjords, getting us deep into the UNESCO-designated fjord, sharing stories of the local culture and lore, history and his own childhood along the way. He also slowed down to give us time to watch wildlife and snap shots of waterfalls and little villages. Unlike the regular fjord safari, our private excursion included a stop at Undredal (not sure of spelling) which is an adorable little village nestled in the fjord. We then sampled several different kinds of cheeses, served with some meat, several preserved fruits (try the cloudberry), Lefse (Norwegian flatbread), and hot red currant tea. Best part is that we had a three hour excursion and returned to the dock to be able to have a leisurely afternoon to either rest, hike or take the Flam Railway. Beautiful trip. If you want to reserve it privately, they ask that you have a minimum of 10 guests sign up and they will take up to 12. They handle all the payments so you don't need to go collecting from other passengers. You can just google "fjord safari" to find it. They handled everyone's payment separately so it was very easy to manage as a group who met on the boards.
    View All 12,771 Flam Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Flam Cruise Port Review
  • Highland Day Tour
    We went with Wendy from Iona Highland Tours. She's the owner, and she also had trainee Eddy with her. We saw everything you'd want to see and then some. The tour busses were all pulling off at other lookout points to see the castle on Loch Ness, but she found us just the right smaller one. We saw the cathedral, Cowdor Castle, an ancient burial with mysteriously placed stones (that doubled as a sundial--very neat), a fort with tremendous history and the battlefield that changed Scottish history forever. Her van has wifi and she had chargers for us too (but the wifi ran out of data early on--don't think it is a regular occurrence though). Wendy was fantastic but if you go with her, you should know that she's expanded her business and the other two guides working with her are very new (and at least one has a very strong Glasgow accent) so be sure to request her specifically. Eddy seems very nice and warm, but she's putting him into the field too soon after not enough training (in my opinion). I don't know who the other one is. You can find Wendy Ford through an internet search. Just FYI: the one downside was that she brought up her commitment to right-wing politics in the UK and celebrating Brexit. It really put a damper on the day.
    View All 57 Highland Day Tour Reviews
  • Kristiansand
    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.
    View All 66 Kristiansand Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Kristiansand Cruise Port Review
  • Lerwick (Shetland Islands)
    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.
    View All 101 Lerwick (Shetland Islands) Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Lerwick (Shetland Islands) Cruise Port Review
  • Newcastle (England)
    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.
    View All 53 Newcastle (England) Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Newcastle (England) Cruise Port Review
  • Oslo
    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.
    View All 369 Oslo Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Stavanger
    This was an abomination and a truly disastrous letdown. The excursion was to be three hours. Of that, we had 2 hours in the bus and another 20 minutes waiting for the restroom since there was only one stall. The place was not a real cavern like the description said--it was a man made cave with no natural features and the place sold yard sculptures. It was the most dishonestly represented excursion I've ever experienced.
    View All 12,771 Stavanger Cruise Port Reviews
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