My wife and I chose this cruise as our honeymoon. She has sailed with Royal Caribbean before, but I never had. This was my first experience cruising and overall we both had a great time. Specifically we wanted to go to Norway, somewhere neither of us had visited before, and we both felt seeing five locations in Norway, from the sea, and cruising through some of the longest and most beautiful fjords in the world, would be a great experience. Ultimately it was and we had a wonderful time.
We didn't take up any of RC's excursions, because in my opinion you pay through the nose for them. Something similar or the same can easily be booked separately, for much cheaper, which is exactly what we did. We had wonderful plans for each of our five days in port. And we definitely maximised our time in the cities and towns we visited. Across the five days we trekked around beautiful Norwegian cities, went up a funicular and had a lovely walk and canoe on the mountain (and lake) overlooking Bergen, had a thrilling RIB ride around Alseund and the surrounding islands seeing grey seals and lots of sea birds, kayaked along the Geirangefjord to see the magnificent Seven Sisters and Suitor waterfalls up close, and even took some llamas for a walk in Skjolden. Seeing Norway in this way was the main reason why we decided to do this cruise.
On the boat, it was a very interesting experience. I have never seen anything that floats that’s quite so massive! The ship was a whopper (but not even the largest in the fleet!). We had a balcony room, which was a great decision; I’m not sure I’d want to downgrade to either an internal room or even an ocean view room if we were to cruise again. It’s amazing being able to pull open your curtains in the morning to see where you are the next day and then be able to have breakfast on the balcony overlooking beautiful scenery. I’d definitely recommend it! However, it was quite confusing when we first arrived on the ship. Even though the boarding process was easy – much easier than dragging yourself and your luggage through an airport terminal – it became a little bit confusing when we were actually on board for the first time. We didn’t really know what to do, where to go, how to find our room, or even what was free or not (food and drink in particular). The staff we spoke with weren’t amazingly knowledgeable or helpful at this point unfortunately. However, there was no rush and nothing to really worry about. And now, in hindsight, if we ever to go cruising again, we’d both be far more familiar with the processes. As it turned out, we basically spent most of the first afternoon (as we boarded at about 3pm) exploring the ship – and there was a lot to explore!
Our balcony cabin was lovely. It was a little less modern than I expected and there was a weird hole in the side of the shower which occasionally let water flow into the shower room (there was no bath - but that was fine for us). Overall the room size was fine, with enough cupboard space (and hangers provided). The balcony was the same width as the room and had a couple of chairs and table, where you could enjoy room-service breakfast or the sunset at the end of an evening. A hair dryer was provided but an ironing service was separate and you had to pay for it. The bed was fairly comfortable, albeit perhaps on the hard side, but was a good size (king perhaps). Overall we were happy with the room and would definitely prefer to stay in a balcony cabin next time we cruise.
When we first arrived it was a bit rainy, but it cleared up, and was mostly overcast. We had a nice wander around the centre of Bergen exploring shops, main areas and little back roads. All of which was pleasant. We then stopped for a drink and a quick bite in a quirky cafe before going up the funicular on Mount Floyen. At the top you have amazing views over Bergen and the sea, plus there are some nice walks around the forest. We ever had a go at canoeing on the lake, which was free!
Geiranger was beautiful and there was a lot of things you could do - mostly adventure-based stuff, which was perfect for us. We explored the small town and checked out the gift shops before taking a nice walk up the hillside beside the river, viewing the amazing waterfall and tumbling white-water rapids. After a lot of photos and videos, we eventually got to the top and stopped for a bit of a rest in the sun, before walking back down the road, viewing the octagonal church on the way down. Unfortunately the weather turned in the afternoon - going from beautiful sunshine to torrential rain. And we had a three and a half hour kayak along Geirangerfjord planned! We got pretty well, but at least we had prepared for it and packed some suitable clothing. The kayak itself was amazing - pretty hard work at times as it was quite a lot of time spent kayaking, but it was amazing to paddle along the fjord to see both the Seven Sisters and Suitor waterfalls, which were impressive and stunning. We took lots of photos! The guide was really knowledgeable and really nice - he was a pleasure to go kayaking with. That basically concluded our long day in Geiranger, which was an amazingly beautiful place to be.
The next stop was another small city, Alesund. It was a lovely little place with a really nice harbour vibe to it. We immediately went for a little explore before booking with local adventure company 62 degrees nord, onto a RIB sea safari at 10am. It would last two hours; we'd don weather protective suits and life-jackets, and head out on a Rigid Inflatable Boat, speeding across the water passed beautiful islands and scenery to see grey seals and a lot of wild sea birds, and even three white-tailed fish eagles. It was a lovely sunny day in Alesund and the experience on the RIB was awesome. It was super-quick and we had a lovely guide telling us about the wildlife. In the afternoon we grabbed a local taxi which took us to the nearby Aquarium/small zoo. The focus was of course on marine life, but it didn't just had fish, crabs etc, they also had Humboldt penguins, otters and seals, in a really unique outdoor setting with amazing views out across the sea and nearby islands. It didn't cost a lot and was worth seeing for an hour or two.
To get to Skjolden we journeyed down the longest fjord in Norway, and one of the longest in the world, the Sognefjord. The village of Skjolden was at the very end of the fjord which took about eight hours of cruising from open water to get to! Needless to say, if you can get up early to experience some of the journey before you get to Skjolden, it's worth it! When we arrived the weather wasn't great. It was raining pretty hard. There was a short walk to the visitors information centre, but luckily the weather fairly quickly cleared up after that. We then trekked up the mountain side, passing quaint residential properties on the way, and stopped at a well-known viewing spot to take some photos across the fjord - the scenery and views were stunning. In the afternoon we met with a local farmer who was from the UK originally but had been living and working in Norway for over 16 years. He owned a llama and sheep farm a short walk away from the village centre, where we had the hilarious pleasure of taking some llamas for a walk around the fields. By this point the weather was lovely, so it was a really nice end to the day. We had a lot of fun!
The final port-of-call on our journey up and down the west coast of Norway was Stavanger, the most southerly of our destinations, and technically the closest Norwegian city to the UK. Unfortunately, once again, the weather was a bit grim and we got pretty wet in the morning exploring the lovely town. The real shame was that the shops didn't open until either 10am or 11am, so we were mostly walking around wet cobbled streets, gawping through windows, waiting for the shops to open. There were plenty of things that could be done and seen in Stavanger, including a medieval cathedral and several museums, but we didn't really get the chance to do these. Once the shops opened, we checked out several and bought a few bits. The old town in particular was lovely, and was really nice to stroll around (just a shame about the weather!). In the afternoon, when the rain has stopped, we jumped on another boat and were taken passed lovely hamlets and islands into the Lysefjord where we saw the Pulpit Rock from below. From sea-level it looks tiny, not quite what I expected from the photos, but it's not surprising as it's so high up above you! Needless to say, it was still something special to see - but the bonus was seeing some wild mountain goats on the hillside which, when the boat got close to them, were able to jump on board and get some food from the captain!