We chose this cruise because we wanted to see many of the cities and areas the cruise visited in Norway and actually, despite being quite an expensive cruise, at the price we got it it was pretty close to what we would have to pay if we had trained/planed/driven and paid for food and accommodation to the same ports and areas on the ground.
Choosing a cruise because of travel goals rather than partly just to cruise did make a difference to the feeling of the cruise. The itinerary was also very port heavy so that might have made a difference too. In terms of cruising, I did not enjoy this cruise as much as others. I found a lot of the 'fun' cruise things to be simply annoying and did less of the entertainment activities than ever before - I did not attend a single sail away for example. So, having a different focus did change the experience. I did enjoy, as usual, being on the sea, watching the sea and scenery from the balcony, not having to cook or clean and waking up with a different view every day. I don't think those things ever get old.
The ship is nice enough but honestly I prefer the older ships like Sea Princess. The promenade on this ship is too skinny and involves stairs. That was okay but it just didn't have that classic feel that Sea, Sun and Dawn do. The interior public rooms were very nice though. It did have some funny design quirks though, like decks that only have one thing on them or you have to go up a floor, elevators in the middle that were not for passengers etc. As far as sailing went, the ship was a good mover. I never felt uncomfortable when the ship was in heavier waters.
This was a nice cabin - I particularly liked that it had a roof and could not be seen into from above. The view below was of staggared balconies rather than the ocean. The cabin was clean and had a great size wardrobe, though may have the smallest shower I remember using on a cruise ship, made worse by having a fixed shower head. The whole bathroom was pretty annoying actually. But it was still a good cabin - not much noise other than other people out on their balconies, but the sound proofing is good if you close the door.
I can't say much about Southampton. It was a decent place to stay a night before a cruise but we didn't do much there. It was good that there were lots of shops to stock up on anything necessary before the cruise
This is a fabulous port to visit. You are right where you want to be when you get off the ship. The cathedral is well worth a visit if you like old buildings - you can even smell how old this building is, and it is a very beautiful and peaceful space. The narrow streets are wonderful to explore and the town is just so pretty with its white buildings and red roofs. We went on a Rodne Fjord Cruise up the Lysefjord independently and this was great - saw pulpit rock from below and drank the fresh waters of a waterfall. It's a really great little town.
Flam is a beautiful port to visit. We went on the Flam railway (booked independently) and just went up and down the mountain. It was a great train trip with some really spectacular views, but next time I would book a tour where you hike part of the way back as it really looked like a spectacular walk. We also got on a boat at the very nearby dock and sailed down the Naeroyfjord and that was beautiful. We caught a bus back through the mountain which deposited us within walking distance of the ship. Everything is very close to the port so it is easy to do most things and return to the ship in time. There was a tour I missed out on booking because I was too late - Norway in a nutshell. I would try and book this if I had not been here before. Great port.
We booked a rental car independently for this port. This was a great choice - especially as we managed to get off the ship pretty quickly, unlike some passengers who told us that later tendering was a disaster. We picked up our car and drove straight to Mt Dalsnibba, which was just the most awesome thing to do. I would recommend a visit here. We visited other viewpoints on the way back, but due to the short time in port could not visit everything we wanted to or anything for long enough. We also visited Eagle's Bend. We didn't really get enough time to explore the town itself, which seemed quite lovely.
They kind of divide this port into Geiranger/Hellsylt but the Hellsylt part is useless - don't really know why they do this. There is a tour available from Hellsylt but all it really does is put every other passenger who isn't on the tour out. The people doing this tour should be tendered or boated down to Geiranger to rejoin the ship instead - it's not that far.
I didn't know anything about this port but had a great day here exploring the city. It is easy to get to the city from the port by walking, and we simply walked down the canals to see the wharfs and buildings and this was beautiful - better than Bryggen. Then we continued down to the quite French looking cathedral and visited the cathedral itself, saw the crown jewels and visited the museum. We considered the art gallery but didn't end up visiting that, so we went to see the wooden palace and sat in the garden there for a time and then went to eat a lovely meal at Ravnkloa fish market. This was a really nice visit.
I had a bad cold in Alesund so we did not do much. We ended up paying for a taxi to take us up Aksla viewpoint as there was no way I could do the steps that day. It was beautiful. Definitely go here if you visit this port. The taxi driver was great as well and told us a number of amusing tales, so that was worth the money.
We came back to the centre of town and visited a bar/cafe/restaurant named Anno and that was a great place to while away some time. Great hot chocolates and the food was awesome. Great views of the canal area too. This is a very pretty city. We went for a bit of a walk and loved everything we saw. I'd love to spend some more time here - it was wonderful.
This was a funny port because they provide a free shuttle bus to the centre of town and it seems really great - until they drop you just outside the port gates. Apparently that is the centre of town, lol. Then you walk the rest of the way. It's a reasonably short walk though.
We visited the fish market - lovely and colourful and then went on to see Bryggen. Again, this is just a lovely old city - lovely winding streets and old buildings. You could get lost happily for hours. We had another stupidly and unexplainably short stop here so that was very disappointing, but the port itself is fabulous.