A year ago, while sailing on the Azamara Journey, Captain Johannes stopped by my table in the coffee bar and seeing the future cruise brochure laid out on the table, he asked if I had any questions about places of interest. After expressing an interest in Scandinavia, he began telling me about his homeland and the unique opportunities available for passengers on the Journey when sailing in his homeland of Norway. Tales of stopping for fresh cheeses in his favorite village, chances for the crew to catch fresh fish in his favorite fishing spot, fresh strawberries from his friend’s farm to be served with waffles on deck, the Troll Fjord that is barely wide enough to allow the ship safe passage and room to turn around and come back out and sailing under a low hanging bridge with only inches to spare. Certainly sounded intriguing and worthy of investigation. I booked the following day and I have to say that everything the Captain had talked about was true and even more wonderful than he had told us.
From the moment I arrived in Hamburg even though I was tired after travelling all night from Miami, this trip seemed to be a dream come true. We booked a room at the Hotel Atlantic Kempinski which was the original hotel where cruise passengers stayed before starting their transatlantic voyages in the early part of the century. A very elegant hotel situated on a lake and within easy walking distance of several wonderful restaurants and picturesque walking and shopping areas. It was easy to get around without the need of a cab. On embarkation day, it was a simple cab ride to the pier.
As with most Azamara cruises, embarkation was a breeze. The size of the ship and Azamara’s organization make this process easy for all. Even a malfunctioning x-ray machine in the port hardly slowed down the process. Soon we were under way and the Captain made it known that he was proud of his country and provided periodic commentary to all about the areas we were passing by or things of interest that would happen along the way. It was a personal touch that is not found on many cruise ships in this day and age.
Cabin 6073 was well appointed and well maintained. The cabin steward and assistant were always available and never failed to greet or inquire if there was something I needed. The cabin was extremely quiet and I never heard a noise from any of my neighbors during the entire cruise. This is important when you are travelling to the land of the midnight sun as sleep patterns get disrupted by the constant sunlight and a noisy cabin would be a drawback.
This was a wonderful city to begin a cruise. Very picturesque with great shopping and lots to see.
We elected to walk around the city which is larger than most of the ports we visited. We found a small local restaurant named Emma's where we enjoyed a lunch of King Crab and fresh bread with mayonnaise that was superb and very close to the pier. They recommended a local beer that was fantastic to wash down the crab. A place to visit again.
We went on a shore excursion through the ship called Crayfish on Nordfjord. This included an exhilarating ride on a RIB boat through the fjord where we pulled up pots with fresh salt water crayfish. The captain stopped every so often to give us history of the area and show us interesting features along the way. Upon returning to the pier adjacent to the ship, we cooked the crab while enjoying glasses of wine. Once the crayfish were cooked we went into a local restaurant where we enjoyed our bounty. This was a fabulous tour and the crayfish were succulent and delicious. After the tour we enjoyed walking around the scenic town.
We chose the King Crab Safari through the ship which was fantastic. The tour starts with a RIB boat ride through the harbor and down a fjord where you stop tp pull up some crab pots full of local King Crab. After securing the feast you jet off to a small island where the crab is cleaned and cooked over a wood fire in an indigenous Sami hut. While the crab is cooking you are free to roam around and look at the herds to reindeer grazing in the nearby fields and talk to the guides who tell you stories of what it is like to live in these remote parts of Norway. It was a fascinating tour that is not to be missed. The crab was delicious and everyone left stuffed.