Koningsdam Cruise Review by cartervan
- Sail Date: June 2018
- Destination: Baltic Sea
- Cabin Type: Verandah Stateroom
What I didn't particularly like was the smaller state rooms with a strange little cubical coffee table taking up so much space in front of the tiny sofa. And why doesn't Holland America put a night light in the bathroom. (A hint I learned from Cruise Critic: bring a couple of little battery-operated tea lights to leave on at night.)
As for food--we ate mostly in the Lido for breakfast and lunch, and the main dining room for dinner. There were many choices, and I thought everything was good. We ate once in the Canaletto (good Italian food, but nothing extraordinary in service or atmosphere), and once in the Culinary Arts Center (where the service was efficient and friendly, but the menu kind of odd. We had fun, but again not really worth extra money in my opinion). The Lido was always hectic at breakfast, and sometimes it was hard to find a seat. The "Dive In" by the pool has wonderful hamburgers and the best French Fries I have ever eaten--I'm not kidding! You can also get pizza made to order, good sandwiches and salad at the "New York Deli" on the second floor overlooking the pool. The main dining room had a nice menu, well prepared. But it is very noisy. We like to meet new people and have had great dinner conversations, but it can be hard to hear each other. We never made reservations, so sometimes we had to wait in line. But even people with reservations had to wait.
This was a very port intensive cruise, so activities on board were kind of limited. They did have some interesting talks about Norway on sea days, and there were a couple of narrated "scenic cruise" afternoons in the fjords. Activities kind of bunched up in the evenings, and it was sometimes difficult to juggle your schedule. We never did make it to a poolside movie, which looked like fun, but they didn't start until 10, which makes a late night if you want to get up and go sight-seeing the next day. We did play several rounds of Trivia and met some fun teammates.
As I said, we chose this cruise because of the itinerary. Norway is all about the scenery, and each day the scenery was more and more spectacular. I was so glad we had a balcony.
I'm going to devote the bulk of this review to telling what we did in each port. I always try to research each place before we go, and hopefully our experiences will help others. I must tell you that we were blessed with terrific weather for the whole trip. Without all those warm, sunny days our trip might have been very different.
Our first stop was Oslo. I had read that it was an easy city to do on our own. We decided that what we wanted to see most was the outdoor folk museum and the Viking museum. As we got off the ship there were young men selling tickets on the Hop On, Hop Off bus. We opted to by a ticket that included admission to the museums. The bus gave us an overview of the city, including the "Vigeland Sculpture Park". A lot of people got off there, but we didn't because we didn't know how much time it would take to walk around the folk museum. As it turned out, we probably could have done all three stops. People who walked around the sculpture park said it was wonderful. But we had a nice unrushed time at the two museums and learned a lot about Viking and Norwegian history.
At Kristiansand we also went out on our own and had a great day. A little tourist tram is right there at the dock and provides a short narrated trip to the city center. We decided to find the park area shown on the map they gave us, but when we got to where the park was supposed to be we were at the base of a rocky hill with a steep gravel path going up. We decided to explore, and were rewarded with great views over the town and our ship in the bay. Paths wandered through a series of beautiful little lakes in the rocks. Hardly anyone from our ship found their way to this lovely spot.
The next port was Stavanger. Things worked out for us very well there as well. Again, we did not book the expensive ship excursion to Pulpit Rock. Rather we were able to buy tickets at a kiosk just down the dock from the ship. We also had time to walk around the pretty little port, up to the church on the hill and around the city park behind it. Another gorgeous day.
In Flam I had learned that the thing to do is ride the train up the mountain. To be sure of a ticket we bought a ship excursion which went up to a stop at an historic old hotel for traditional waffles with berries and sour cream. Beautiful train ride--another great day. After the train ride we stopped for a visit to the free little train museum track side, which I highly recommend. It really makes you appreciate the building of the railway and the history of that remote area.
Our particular cruise was sold to us as a 14-day package. But it turns out it was a back-to-back with a stop back in Amsterdam. Since we have been in Amsterdam several times and spent a few days pre-cruise, we just stayed on the ship and relaxed. It was interesting to have a nice quiet ship for a few hours before the new people boarded. I even took a dip in the pool and laid on a chaise in the sun for a while. Most of the time during both weeks the two (rather small) pools were filled with squealing children.
The next stop was Eidfjord--a tiny village at the end of a long, deep fjord. We were up early to see port of the "sail in" to port, and it was gorgeous. How many ways to say "beautiful? A bright warm day to see that lovely setting, an awesome ship excursion up the magnificent canyon, fantastic waterfalls--I'm running out of adjectives already. The excursion ended with too short a stop at a nature center where there was an amazing panoramic film.
Molde was the northernmost port on our cruise. At first the view from the ship didn't look too promising--just another modern city. But we set out after breakfast to see what we could see and ended up having another great day. There were some girls selling bus tickets to two of the main attractions of the area: an overlook, and a drive along The Atlantic Coast Road. So we bought tickets for later in the day and then took a walk up the hill, through a nice residential area filled with rose gardens, and then onto a trail going into the woods and up to a little gazebo where you could see out into the picturesque fjord below. The trail went on to a little plateau where another living history museum was located. Later the bus ride was a pleasant trip out into the countryside and along a rocky coast. Again, you really don't need to buy an expensive ship excursion at every port.
Our only tender port was Geiranger where we did do another ship excursion. I had thought that having a ship excursion would give us priority on a tender, but since it was scheduled for mid-morning we were on our own in getting a tender ticket and making it to shore to meet the group. It was a little nerve-wracking waiting for the tender, but we made it. The excursion took us high up into the mountains to an old summer goat farm where we had a demonstration of cheese-making and a chance to taste the various kinds of cheese. It was really all about the scenery again. The road to get there was a fantastic switch-back up the steep mountainside on the edge of the fjord. When we returned to the touristy village at dockside we had time to walk around a little and found ourselves taking a path around a bend to a 300-step stairway going alongside a beautiful cascading waterfall. We kept going a little higher and a little higher until we's climbed to the top! Worth it!
The last port was Bergen, which, again, we explored on our own. We knew we wanted to take the funicular from city center up the mountain. Well, we learned that you either should go early in the morning, or at least buy an all-inclusive ticket for the Hop On, Hop Off which helps by-pass the line for tickets. It took us over an hour to get on the short, steep ride to the top. There is a great overlook at the top along with a park area and places to eat. We walked back down on a very pretty, woodsy 3 Km path. Down, down, down. My legs were shaking and my knees were sore. Reaching the bottom we stumbled back to the the old Hanseatic League warehouses and explored the medieval alleys between the ancient buildings. Another interesting, beautiful day in Norway.
All in all it was a wonderful cruise ona great ship to some of the most beautiful ports we've seen. What more could anyone ask?
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
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BergenI mentioned in my full review that it is a long wait to get on the funicular if you just walk over to it mid-morning. People in the line were cheerful and friendly, however, and it was fun to ride up and see the area at the top as well as the fantastic views. We walked down, and it was quite a workout for two senior citizens. But it was a lovely, wooded trail. You don't want to miss exploring the alleys between the old Hanseatic warehouses.View All 638 Bergen Cruise Port Reviews
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EidfjordAnother truly beautiful little port. We took a ship excursion and it was really great.View All 164 Eidfjord Cruise Port Reviews
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KristiansandWe had a wonderful day without taking a ship excursion. There is a handy little tourist tram right at dockside and we enjoyed exploring the city center and park area up on the hill above town.View All 66 Kristiansand Cruise Port Reviews
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MoldeWe went out on our own to explore and ended up with a nice walk up the hillside, and then a nice bus ride through the countryside to the "Atlantic Coast Road". The short portion of coastal highway was anti-climatic--but the overall bus ride was pleasant.View All 38 Molde Cruise Port Reviews
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OsloI discussed each of these ports in my full review. In Oslo we made use of the Hop On, Hop Off and it worked very well.View All 371 Oslo Cruise Port Reviews
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