This was our first ocean cruise and it went well. No problems at all. We were in a stateroom with window midships and had an uninterrupted view. We were just above the door used for most pilot movements but this was not a problem and gave us a fair bit of entertainment as we made extensive use of pilots during the trip.
The size of the ship and number of passengers was ideal for this type of trip. We could go right into narrow fjords, stop for a time and then turn easily and safely.
Boarding was fast with no queue. On our arrival there was a queue at security but it cleared before we went to the screening area. Security was good with screening every time we arrived back on board. Disembarking was also problem free.
Ship's a good size with enough areas to relax in. The large space taken up by the casino and associated area could be put to better use as few passengers seemed to use this area. There was often a wait for a table in the main restaurant in the evening but the nearby bar was handy. We tended to go into the Living Room before dinner as it cleared out a bit by 7pm. There they served light tapas style food which went well with a pre dinner drink. The music there was also laid back and very good with a talented solo performer.
The main restaurant was generally very good with excellent service. The only criticism being the occasional meal being not hot enough when it arrived at the table. Included wines were very drinkable. One of our favorite places to eat, especially for lunch, was the Patio grill. This was handy after a long morning in the port - the Azamara burger was fabulous with freshly cooked sides of grilled veg and nice salads. Windows Cafe was good for self-serve breakfast.
Staff were all excellent. Maybe they are well paid, I do hope so. Ship maintenance during the cruise included carpet replacement at various times when most passenger were onshore. This illustrates the keenness of the ship's staff to have a well presented ship as indeed it was.
We didn't spend much time at the Cabaret Lounge but the entertainment looked good and it was always well attended. We preferred to relax in a quieter part of the ship.
Our captain came from Norway and he made sure we saw the best of his country in comfort. On crossing the North Sea we had some very bad weather on the first night and into the next day. He managed to take on a pilot so we could enter an inside passage as we approached the Norwegian coast. The sea was getting bigger and he knew we would have had a very bad night before arriving in Bergen. As we entered the passage the calm water was a godsend and for the whole of the next two weeks we had no bad seas. Another cruise boat doing the same journey as us didn't use the inside passage to Bergen and we later heard from one of our fellow passengers who had a friend on the other ship the sea was so bad passangers had to stay in their cabins or something like that. On the way north the captain also took us a fair way out from the coast to view oil platforms and the oil ships he used to work on which was an added bonus.
We were given enough time in port to explore and we did what most did and organised our own activities. Prices for ship tours were very expensive. We booked some tours before we left home but generally did our own thing. In all the ports we also had enough time to explore the various townships we docked in.
Recommended is the trip up Mt Floyen in Bergen via the funicular and the walk down to the town. The ship organised a wonderful concert in the Bergen Concert Hall that evening.
In Flam we walked up the valley towards the waterfall but didn't make it to the end as it was steep and slippery. Some who went on the rail trip said it was packed and they saw little - there we 3 ships arriving that morning!
In Geiranger we pre booked a bus trip to Dalsnibba which was outstanding.
In Svolvaer we caught the local bus to Henningsvaer, which is a picturesque little town, and were invited into a shed by a worker who was in the middle of stacking dried fish. Lovely views around the Lofoten islands.
Tromso is a beautiful small city and the weather was fabulous the day we arrived. We caught the bus to the ski lift and thence to the top of the mountain above the town. The views were fabulous. Then we walked along the ridge a fair distance to the start of the track down and back to the start of the ski lift. The walk down took us from above the tree line, through a beech/birch (not sure) forest and then through what a local we met said was a fern forest. This was one of the most beautiful places to walk. Maybe the beatle that wrote Norwegian Wood had been there.
In Honningsvag we had booked a trip to Nordcap and this was wonderful as we visited a small fishing port, a crab farm, saw plenty of reindeer and had enough time to explore Nordcap. As we were about to leave Honningsvag, in time to be at Nordcap at midnight, the graceful ship 'Astoria' arrived. It was built in 1948. At midnight we passed Nordcap but it was too cloudy to see the sun.
In Olden we had booked a bus trip to the Birksdalen glacier which was well worth it. In Olden a visit to the old church from 1759 is well worth it.
In Stavanger we walked the old town and visited the worker's cottage from 1836 and the Canning museum which is a must visit. There are two museums in easy walking distance. The Ledaal Museum Mansion c1800 which I think is still used by Norwegian royalty from time to time and a wonderful house called Breidablikk c1881. This latter house was last occupied by three sisters who were the daughters of the original owners and things have been left as is. Most worthy of a visit. The Cathedral c1125 is also a must visit.
One of us ended up with a cold and sinus infection near the end of the trip (maybe caught from the guide with a cold in Honningsvag!) The doctor was helpful with the needed antibiotics and the total cost didn't seem excessive.
It was a memorable trip and we wouldn't hesitate to travel on this ship again.
Cabin on deck 4 was fine. Can't remember the exact one but it was near midships. Two minor maintenance issues were attended to immediately - shower not draining fast enough and the aircon controller needed recalibration.