Iceland and Norway were on our bucket list so this cruise seemed the perfect way to tick them off. As destinations they didn’t disappoint and are both amazing places.
We had sailed with Marella at Xmas in the Caribbean and selecting Marella again was an easy choice.
This time departure was from Newcastle so no flights and extra luggage allowance. Departure was fine. It took a little while and there was some queues but overall not a problem and thankfully the rain kept off.
We had inside cabins on Deck 9. Excellent fit out with a good bathroom and shower. Cabin stewards attentive and helpful as were all the staff onboard. Cabins serviced twice daily too.
The ship itself is good. There is a good selection of restaurants. Some you have to pay extra for but there is enough choice and variety if you don’t want that. Food quality good throughout. One shortfall is a general shortage of indoor seating which can create challenges when the weather is not so good.
Bars excellent as is the range of all inclusive drinks.. there’s enough variety and choice.. if you do fancy an up market brand for a change then you can pay as you go for those adding it to your cabin bill. This works well and saves you going for the drinks upgrade package. The prices are reasonable too.
Entertainment was a mixed bag. The shows and tribute act in the Broadway lounge were generally excellent and to a good standard. They certainly had the family looking forward to the next nights show. Otherwise it was a hit and miss affair with bands quizzes etc mainly catering for an older audience. This did get wearing after a while and we did crave something more up to date and modern after a few days. This was a particular issue for my teenagers who continually joked about this being a cruise for “old duffers”. This wasn’t the case although this perception can only have been exacerbated by the frequent and somewhat petty gripes of some of the more senior patrons on the boat.
Movies were good with some up to date titles. Outdoor cinema was chilly at night so good that blankets were provided.
It was the destinations that made this trip special however.
Orkney - We took the tour to Skara Brae - A must for history buffs with a knowledgeable guide. Really excellent. Kirkwall was also fun to explore and there’s enough to do and see here.
Aukeyreri was jaw dropping and the cascading waterfalls either side as we entered the fjord were amazing. We took the tour to Mvaytyn baths. This was a long ride on a coach .. over an hour but we got so see some of this fantastic landscape. The bath itself is quite an experience and highly recommended. The town is also fun to explore with some good shops.
Isafjordur was a gem. There is so little there at first glance . I can imagine some people only spent an hour ashore. A helpful guide in tourist information provided an excellent walking map and a few hours later we were up amongst the ski slopes with a vista that rivals anything I’ve ever seen.
Reykjavík is a funky place with lots going on. We self booked onto a whale watching tour which was excellent and we saw plenty of minke whales feeding.
2 days at sea then into Norway - Flam is so pretty. Everyone heads for the railway and it gets very busy . We didn’t pre-book so couldn’t ride. Instead we hiked and climbed up to see Brekfossen waterfalls which was spectacular. The old town of Flam is also worth an explore .Good walking here and plenty to see.
Bergen is excellent and all the key sights are worth your time . Funicular provides great views and fish market is amazing.
Eidfjord is also pretty and there is an excellent circular walk which takes a couple of hours if you take it slowly. But not much else other than that at the port. It seems this is a place to look at excursions or car hire.
Haugesund was surprisingly fun. Great walks up the coast provided stunning views. Great town and shops too.
Kristiansand was a wet day . There is a good nature park to explore at the back of the town and this town had some excellent shops also.
Overall - The destinations provided an amazing holiday. The Marella Explorer is a good ship with an excellent crew. There’s little to complain about really and it’s good value for money.