We greatly enjoyed our trip to Norway. This review will be particularly helpful for families and travelers with disabilities, since we brought our 6 year old and two year old children on this vacation.
Our precruise stay was in London. We stayed at the Dolphin House Service Apartments, which is conveniently located within a short walk or cab ride to many major London tourist attractions. The hotel is very clean, well designed and spacious – we had a 3 bedroom suite and the kids were so excited that my son said it was the perfect hotel to play hide and seek in. Families should consider staying in executive apartments which are primarily designed for long term business stays, because they often have a one bedroom apartment with a living room and kitchen for the price of a regular hotel room. The concierge and hotel staff were extremely helpful and friendly, and this hotel is an excellent choice for families.
Our son loves Harry Potter, so his first request upon learning we would be visiting London was to see Kings Cross station. They kindly let you pose for free with a Hogwarts scarf and wand (and let family members take pictures), but please note that since this is free and each individual gets to make several poses, there can be a very long line (we visited midweek in May and waited 20 minutes – the photographer said it could be over an hour wait on weekends during the summer). Please also note that Kings Cross is about 20 minutes away from Westminster Abbey via the Underground or cab, so you might want to know that it isn’t that close to most tourist attractions before promising your kids they can go (I didn’t realize this, but my son loved it so it was all worth it in the end). If you love Harry Potter, there are a lot of options listed here: http://www.visitlondon.com/things-to...resQQm5GdUx.97. If you like the movies, there might be better places to visit than Platform 9 ¾, particularly the Warner Brothers Studio tour, which is located 20 miles from London. We visited the London Eye (and bought the more expensive tickets that let you bypass the lines, since the kids were tired and jet lagged and we only had one day in London) and then took a double decker bus that got us halfway to Kings Cross station.
nice, quiet cabins. we booked very late and couldn't get a balcony that would fit four people. If you are more organized and can afford it, a balcony would be very nice on a Norway cruise.
www.salisburystonehengetours.co.uk , provided us with an outstanding tour of Stonehenge and the Salisbury Cathedral. Our tour guide, Jeff, is extremely knowlegeble about the history of Stonehenge, and even brought books along for us and our children to learn more about why the site was built. Anyone who would like an in depth understanding of these sites would greatly enjoy this tour.
If you are visiting Pulpit Rock, this is probably a wonderful port. If you aren't, it isn't a highlight of Norway. There's a nice old town and we took a nice cruise to the waterfalls.
If you want to ride the amazing Flam railway, you should book this first, since the railway tickets tend to book up quickly during the height of the tour season. The Flam railway is a five minute walk from where you dock or tender, so this can easily be undertaken as an independent excursion. We booked our tickets online at the Norwegian Railways site at https://www.nsb.no/en/?gclid=CMuvnubiitMCFYoy0wodZb8BnQ .
If that site is showing that everything is booked, other cruise critic posters have mentioned trying http://booking.visitflam.com/en/to-do/a1488268/the-flåm-railway/showdetails , and other posters have stated that this site has access to different tickets and sometimes has availability even when the Norwegian railway site lists no availability. Also, people have reported on the forums that when the train was initially sold out, they kept checking and eventually tickets opened up due to cancellations. Another option is to check with your cruise line – it will be more expensive to purchase this excursion through the cruise line but worth it if you cannot purchase the tickets independently.
A quick online search seemed to recommend that you should sit on the right side of the train on the Flam to Myrdal journey. The view on that side was quite lovely, but might also be on the other side.
In Flam, we had a lovely afternoon visiting a goat farm, exploring the beautiful town of Undredal, and then eating local cheeses (including brown caramel goat cheese) and a delicious lunch that was organized by Flam Guide Service (http://www.fjordsafari.com) . Fjord Safari's booth is located about a minute away from the Flam railway platform, so you will have no problem finding your tour. You can combine this tour with a hike and boat ride along the fjords if your group is all physically fit. It was a very pleasant and enjoyable excursion, which I would highly recommend. We traveled in May, before the goats move to their summer farms so this excursion had to be individually arranged. Flam Guide service stayed in contact with us and gave us updates as they worked to book this reservation, and they also helpfully provided car seats for our children. Our tour guide was highly knowlegdable and helpful and this tour was one of the highlights of our cruise.
Visitors should please note that if you are planning on driving to the beautiful scenic viewpoints at Dalsnibba that Road 63 opens between mid-May and early June, depending upon how long it takes to clear the snow and when the avalanche risk has ended (the engineers wait until the big spring avalanche occurs before opening the road). You should consider choosing a cruise that visits later to ensure you will be able to experience all of the beauty of Geiranger.
In Geiranger, Geiranger Fjordservice is the dominant tour operator. We booked a private limousine tour for just our family to visit the various scenic viewpoints. When I was organizing the tour, I emailed the company to request that they provide a car seat booster for my 6 year old. I was told that they did not have this, and we’d need to bring it. This was the only transfer on our trip that refused to provide a booster seat, and it required us to transport 2 car seats to Europe. After the cruise, I learned that transportation services in Norway are required by law to provide car seats upon request.
I had also emailed them ahead of time to request that we stop at a goat farm by a lake we were scheduled to visit. Their company told me in email that they could not arrange a visit ahead of time, but we could stop our car and the goats would probably just come to us along the fence.
We had a delay in being issued tender tickets by Cunard that caused us to be late for our private tour. I had called the company at 8:30 in the morning since our tour was scheduled to begin at 9 and requested that we please move it to 10. The woman who answered the phone said, “oh, it’s no problem – your driver will just be here whenever you arrive.” I told her we were having difficulties getting off the ship and could be delayed longer and she assured me there were no problems and to just come whenever we were able to leave the ship.
When we were finally able to exit the ship, the driver told us he’d been waiting a long time and had almost left without us. It was unfortunate that his office chose not to tell him about our delay, and we explained that we’d tried to leave a message with the main office. Geiranger Fjordservice runs buses to the attractions we visited, but we booked a much more expensive private tour for our family so we’d have control over the itinerary, which is important when you are traveling with small children. Unfortunately, when we asked if we could stop at the goat farm that was just down the road from our last stop, our driver told us that in Norway it was illegal for anyone to visit a farm without proper vaccinations. If this is correct, then it would be quite odd since Norway’s travel website includes a link to the goat farm experience we undertook in Flam. My kids were starting to get a bit carsick after the long drives through the hairpin roads in Geiranger, so I didn’t argue with the driver about the fact that we were told by the office in email it would be possible to stop (we saw the goats from the road so it would have been easy to visit). Families who would like to visit the goat farm should note that it is located at the first curve off Eagle road from Geiranger, which is a 2 minute drive from Geiranger, near a lake they will probably take you to. Hopefully other families will have more luck being able to visit there.
Visitors should note that the viewing platforms in Geiranger are amazing (especially on a clear day) but there are hairpin roads to reach them, and it could be a little challenging if you are prone to car sickness. I would not recommend using Geirangerfjordservice for private transportation, but they do run a bus to the panoramic viewing stations and I don’t think you would experience the problems we did on a group bus tour.
At the end of the tour, we decided to stop for lunch in Geiranger. We were a little scared to stop at Braserie Posten, since it is in a tourist trap location right near the cruise ship terminal, but the yelp reviews were positive and the food was excellent. There is seating with a beautiful view of the harbor in the back of the restaurant. We went through two bowls of fish soup, since the kids were so happy eating all of it. It is a very short walk from this restaurant to the dock, so this is a nice way to conclude your day in Geiranger.