This cruise had an amazing itinerary--the wonders of the Norwegian fjords, charming little ports, the Arctic with its eerie light, and the fascinating little medieval stave church at Urnes. We loved all the sights, were very lucky with the weather (just missing the weeks and weeks of rain), and enjoyed experiencing Holland America's newest ship.
The Nieuw Statendam is stunning. We thought our Vista Suite cabin was the most thoughtfully-designed cabin ever (especially the easy walk-in glass shower), loved the glorious fresh flowers and the interesting art in the public spaces, and especially enjoyed the serene Retreat of the Explorations Lounge on Deck 12 where there was always excellent coffee (though not free), stylish coffee table books to browse, and a few shelves of briskly traded cruisers' fiction paperbacks. And definitely the most relaxing music on the ship. Only the garish decoration of the main dining room seemed out of place (a kind of interior design fail of a bold burgundy and orangey-yellow modern carpet underneath lipstick red and metallic red ceiling fixtures. And for some reason truly terrible pop music. It's a loud place, both literally and metaphorically.).
The Step One Dance Company's performance, which we'd already seen twice on the Eurodam, we loved all over again, but all the rest of the entertainment was C, not B, list. No one, however, probably chooses Holland America for the shows. It's the music venues that are the real entertainment--especially the lively BB King Blues Club band. Lots of dancers on this cruise: The Americans all danced as they did in high school, the Asians did ballroom dancing moves with dramatic arm and hand gestures, and the Dutch and the Norwegians took it all in with anthropological interest. :)
I loved everything about the cabin--but especially the easy-access shower, the comfortable balcony chairs with ottoman, and the best thermostat for temperature control that I've ever experienced. I could have done without the towel animals, but the stewards truly seemed proud of them and I didn't have the heart to ask them not to bother.
An interesting bus tour to see the tundra landscape around Eidfjord. The waterfalls even presented a rainbow for us--but the highlight may have been the coffee break with delicious Norwegian waffles rolled up with sour cream and homemade strawberry jam.
Bergen is a prosperous town with a quaint harbor, easy to walk around on your own.
Absolutely gorgeous scenery; everywhere we looked it seemed we were gazing at a postcard.
The visit to Urnes Stave Church, near Skjolden, and the stunning fjord scenery for 124 (!) miles were the high points of the trip for me.