My 19 yr old daughter and I were late additions to a large group of family and friends on a cruise from Amsterdam to the Norwegian fjords. This was our first cruise on HAL and our first in this part of the world. We very much enjoyed our spontaneous vacation.
Embarkation was simple, our cabins were ready as soon as we boarded. There are no flashy waterslides or shopping atriums etc - two nice pool areas, one with a retractable roof (very useful in Norway) and a giant movie screen on the upper decks. Clientele was on the older side. Our group was half 40-50ish and half 17-23ish in age and we felt younger than many. Most of us were in balcony cabins or suites on deck 10, which were lovely spaces and provided us gathering room. My daughter and I were in a standard interior cabin on deck 4. It was extremely comfortable - beds were fluffy, TV was large, storage was plentiful, bathroom spacious and nicer than I imagined it would be.
We mostly ate in the main dining room for dinner and the Lido cafe for breakfast and lunch. Food was great for all. We did one night at Rudy's Sel de Mer, which was special but probably not worth the upcharge. We enjoyed high tea in the main dining room on a few days :-)
There are many evening entertainment venues on the 2nd deck, lots of music in a variety of styles. The biggest downside for us is that our last minute cabin was interior on deck 4 and we could hear it all from there. We played a "guess the song" game which could have developed into something fun with some planning (we would have had to station a few people on the stairs to verify our guesses.)
In port, we booked one kayak trip on our own in Flam and bought an OsloPass in Oslo which allowed us many museums and transportation. The one HAL adventure we bought was to climb Pulpit Rock outside Stavenger - it was the number one thing we wanted to do in Norway but could not find an outside vendor who could do it on our timetable. HAL did a great job - it was definitely a disciplined march to make sure we accomplished the goal - but they had buses, guides, and got us back to the ship in time with no stress other than physical trauma from climbing up a mountain. Several of us also went on the "behind the scenes" excursion on our last sea day which was highly interesting.
Our main complaint is about itinerary. We have been to Alaska where the "scenic cruising" part is when people are actually watching the scenery. This trip along the fjords involved scenic cruising after leaving port until sunset. We traveled the length of the Sognefjord - the "King of Fjords" and the longest/deepest fjord in Norway twice (once to get to Flam, situated at the end, and once to leave.) We cruised to the end in the middle of the night. We left while everyone was eating dinner and it was dark before we reached the ocean again. I abandoned food et al in order to see the fjord and capture photos. Granted that I will not starve on a cruise but the scenery is supposed to be a highlight.
Similarly, the onboard entertainment is not in synch with the dinner seating times in the MDR. The MDR takes too long to make the World Stage shows, you have to leave early. I also think the stage shows were poorly promoted. We are huge fans of Postmodern Jukebox, who performed two nights. The theater wasn't even half full. There's no nightly standard show.
Final complaint: Amid the many pieces of paper selling jewelry or future cruises that arrived at our door each day, I completely missed the one saying that we would not be arriving back in the center of Amsterdam where we left. Missed the deadline for the bus back to the departure point and had to pay 50E for a cab. This detail may have warranted a little extra attention.
In summary: I would absolutely go again.
Cabin set up with 2 twin beds, there was plenty of room to move around. Beds extremely fluffy and comfortable. Large TV with channels showing view of outside ship make it feel less interior! Bathroom very spacious for this size cabin. Plenty of storage.
NOISE is the only problem. BB King's is 2 decks below and you can hear it all.
This is my first cruise with an interior cabin, and I would definitely do it again.
Our first visit to Amsterdam, we came a few days early to see it before leaving on the cruise. Loved the city, very accessible. Did the major museums, Heineken, ARTIS, explored. Mildly traumatized to not arrive back at the port we left from, that piece of paper got stuck among the jewelry ads
Kayaked independently with seakayaknorway.com also took the tram ride to the actual town
Once in a lifetime views. Definitely a strenuous experience for cruisers, especially when we're on a timetable. It was more of a march than a scenic hike. Please keep offering this, the time in port was too short for most independent tourguides to be able to say we'd be back in time for the boat.View All 76 Pulpit Rock Reviews