We are experienced "cruisers" who often sail with Holland America, and like their small ships and elegant ambiance. However, we choose our cruises by itinerary, and so we found ourselves on The Koningsdam--the biggest ship we've ever been on--because it was going to Norway, a place we'd never been. Now, I know The Koningsdam is not really a mega-ship like some of the floating cities that are out there. But it loomed over most of the ports, and is big enough that I didn't gain weight despite all the food because of walking from one end to the other several times a day. We did like the ship, actually. I thought it was elegant in a different way. Some of the things I really liked were the two-story area around the Lido pool with the comfy little alcoves all around the second floor. I liked the weird, intimate, little theater with its innovative technology using lights and images to enhance the entertainment. I liked the "Music Walk" with excellent musicians around each bend, including a wonderful string quartet with its own venue. I really liked the free "Navigator App" passengers can download on their phones to access the daily schedule, menus, personal account and even use for communication with your traveling companions.
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.
The cabin was very clean and comfortable with a large flatscreen TV and nice little sofa. However it was pretty "tight" and a peculiar cubical "coffee table" took up a lot of the floorspace between the sofa, desk and doors to the balcony. The shower was very nice!
In Stavanger the thing to do is cruise up the Fjord to Pulpit Rock (or for energetic young dare-devils, hike up to the top!) If you just want the Fjord cruise to Pulpit Rock, there is no need for a ship excursion. You can easily buy tickets in the port. And it is probably better to wait to see if you are going to have good weather or not.
I 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.
We 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.
Another truly beautiful little port. We took a ship excursion and it was really great.
We 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.
I 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.