This cruise was purchased by my Husband for my 60th Birthday.
HAMBURG - We spent an afternoon and morning in Hamburg, went to Hotel and then walked into Hamburg, visited the area around Speicherstadt, really just wandered around but the area was interesting with lots of photos, next day was Embarkation which was a breeze, we arrived at the allotted time and our luggage was taken and a number given and we were told to go inside and sit down, our embarkation was around 4.30, so I would say after the busy time but number was called quickly and we were able to go onboard.
CABIN - Was a balcony Stateroom, just right with comfy bed and a balcony which we used quite a bit. Our tags and everything were on our bed and help was available when we went to log our tags in. There was a small hiccup when the drill was done that our tags had not been counted (now that could be because we had not yet logged in, but there were a few people who got a letter saying they were not recorded and had to go to another drill. Fortunately we got that sorted, no big deal.
We had our first meal in the Dining Room and were at a table with another Aussie couple and we got on really well, our waiters were great once they got over the shock of the Aussie sense of humor and way of doing and saying things. We did try the dining room for breakfast, but found it too disorganised so we normally had dinner in the dining room with great company, and breakfast and lunch in the Buffet. Found most of the food to be great, always found something, there were things that were not to my taste but I was willing to try different things. Also in the dining room it was no problem to order an extra dessert or meal. I think the only thing I did not find to my liking was the chicken served as a normal meal,but there was enough to tempt the taste buds and if not there was always a trip up to the buffet to ease any hunger pains. The shows for most part were great, sometimes not to taste but hey there are over 3,000 people on the ship, they were not going to cater to everybody's tastes all the time.
Being Aussies we only spoke English, but found no problem with communication. A smile and a nod if someone is asked to sit at a table. A smile certainly does not cost much, and I was disturbed to see how some people on the cruise treated the staff. I think they found it refreshing to have someone chat to them but also say please and thankyou, never hurts.
We purchased our Shore excursions before we left home, they mostly put english speaking people on the buses together, I think there was only one bus that did two languages that we were on.
INVERGORDON - Visited Loch Ness & Urquhart Castle Ruins, great day and even the rain stayed away. Tour was in the afternoon so I went into the Village in the morning for a look around, there are lovely murals right through the village depicting Scottish life, walk up to the Railway Station - Murals about the war years, then make your way down, they are on both sides of the street but well worth the look. When you get off the ship you are greeted by volunteer villages who can point out where to go. There was also a Museum which was interesting and a craft market, I found the locals very friendly and willing to have a chat. The tour to Loch Ness was great, to see the Scottish Countryside, we were left to our own devices to walk around the Castle Ruins and given a time to return to the bus. The only downer was the cafeteria, really good set up but only one poor girl on the cashregister taking orders and so many people, so it did take quite a white and as I am diabetic I really needed something to eat and drink.
REYKJAVIK - This was an overnight stay. The first day we did the Heart of the Glacier and Glacier Cave. We were taken to two waterfalls for plenty of time for a photostop (Hubby is a hoby photographer) then lunch (salmon) then we were taken to an ice cave, I saw this on National Geographic, it cost a bit but well worthit in my opinion. Thor (blond and blue eyed and only needed molunjir and costume to complete the set) was a great guide and it shows his love for the country and area. It was something we would never have another chance to do, after the icecave, we went the backroads of iceland to Pingvellir National Park, then back to the ship, it was a great day. Day 2 - We did the Golden Circle, again another great tour and more great views of Iceland, we returned to Pingvellir and walked down between the volcanic plates the views were great and so interesting, we also visited geothermal areas and lunch included, the day was finished with an unscheduled visit to the Pearl, which are thehot water tanks serving Reykjavic for wonderful views of the town.
ISAFJORDUR - Another great tour, more wonderful views of a very diverse Iceland landscapes to Dynjandi Waterfall one of the most spectacular I have seen, wish plenty of time to walk up the top and photos, they also provided a snack and drink. Be aware the walk is a small track with some very uneven stone steps, but from pictures looks worth the walk, unfortunately I could not so was content to sit and photograph and watch the falls from below, view is great either way. We then came down to a fiojrd and visited the viking village, the falls were worth the visit anyway.
AKUREYRI -again another great excursion, this time we did Beauty & Landscapes of the North, another great guide who knew what he was talking about. Visited the craters at Skutustadir where we had lunch and viewed the surrounding lava landscape, then visited another Geothermal Field, then another spectacular Godafoss Waterfall.
KIRKWALL - final port, tour was in afternoon, so took free shuttle bus into town for a look, looked at Earls Palace and Bishops Palace ruins and St Magnus Cathedral, the town was lovely with old English buildings, the afternoon we did the Skara Brae & Skaill House, it was very interesting, stopped to see the standing stones of Stenness they visit the Skara Brae Neolithic Village and a Manor House, it was cold but enjoyed the history.
HAMBURG - Disembarkation was seamless, no problem, we stayed the night in Hamburg and was flying out in the evening. We just walked around Hamburg but a place to visit is Miniature World, we spent hours in there, a real miniature world with an airport and everything, well worth a visit in my opinion. My only regret about Hamburg was I found it dirty, there was graffiti everywhere, grass growing between paths and rubbish and lolly papers just lying around. It was disappointing and most likely not go back.
We enjoyed this cruise so much, we have again booked the Preziosa for a Northern Europe Cruise in 2018, and will hopefully have same cabin but if not will be a Fantastica.
Cabin was great, bed so comfortable with balcony which we used quite a bit, didn't think it was that cold. Cabin staff were excellent
Tour was in afternoon, a walk around the village is a must, check out the murals throughout the village, from the Station down. People were very friendly, Tour to Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle was very enjoyable, lots of time to look around, only downer was the cafeteria was really busy with only one person taking orders.View All 69 Highland Day Tour Reviews
Great day, got to see geothermal area and a beautiful waterfall, salmon lunch included. Great way to see the Icelandic landscape. Recommend.View All undefined undefined Reviews
another great day, variety of landscapes, a most spectacular waterfall, enjoyed verymuch
Was expensive but a chance to go inside a glacier, well worthit. Again spectacular views and waterfalls, out of the box. Saw this on National Geographic so just had to do it. They provide cold weather gear if you don't have the right kind.View All 6 Glacier Safari Reviews
Again a chance to see Iceland, well worth it, and a bonus visit to the Pearl to view the city.View All 122 Golden Circle Reviews
Tour to Skara Brae was in afternoon, so a chance to walk around the town, free shuttle, lovely English town with castle ruins and lovely cathederal. Visit to Skara Brae was informative and historical, enjoyed it very much.
Hamburg was a disappointment, City has lots of history and a great tourist area, Miniature World should be a must. But I found it dirty, grafitti, grass in pavement and rubbish around. I have seen it and most likely would not go back again.