Cruise was actually two 7-day back-to-back cruises from/to Amsterdam:
Week 1 Week 2
Day 1: Amsterdam, Netherlands Day 8: Amsterdam, Netherlands
We booked an aft Vista suite (7191), which I would highly recommend based on the views both entering and leaving ports. While referred to by HAL as a suite, it is basically a mini-suite that does provide additional space. The balcony was larger than what we previously experienced in normal veranda cabins. Plenty of storage space. Unlike a standard veranda cabin, bed was located by balcony window/door, which we enjoyed.
Bathroom was standard, which the exception of a large shower twith a glass door in lieu of a shower curtain. My issue was with the location of the toilet, which was placed at an angle causing we to open shower door to sit comfortably.
Room Stewards were very attentive, but not intrusive, and kept our suite spotless.
There is an issue with vibration when the ship is at higher speeds in open ocean, but not significant enough to bother us but may be an issue with some. There was no issue with exhaust or soot from the ship’s funnel.
Since we arrived early with a pe-cruise hotel stay, we had a chance to spend the day touring this beautiful city. Definitely take a canal boat tour. We stayed at the Apollo Hotel, which was outside the Old Town District but within walking distance (45 minutes). Bikes were also available at hotel for rental.
We also returned to Amsterdam after the first week’s cruise and took “The Best of Delft and The Hague Tour.” Tour drove first through The Hague to view the various country embassies with stops at the Peace Palace and beach area just outside city. For us, the highlight of the tour was visiting the city of Delft where were we visited the Royal Delft Museum (makers of the iconic Delft Blue pottery) and the old town area itself that was beautiful. www.royaldelftmuseum.com
Ship docked right in the main port area across from the old fortress, so you could just walk off ship and into city. We took the “Biking in Oslo Tour,” which included stops at City Hall, which also serves as the Nobel Peace Prize Hall and is a must to enter and tour, the royal palace, and Vigeland Sculpture Park that is also a must see. For those that are not frequent bikers or in good shape, there is an option when picking up bikes to pay an upgrade for an electric bike, since the hill up to the palace is challenging. Also beware that bike tour is over city streets and stone and gravel paths, rather than designated bike paths.
A narrative commentary is provided by the Cruise Director upon sailing out of the Oslofjord, which is more like an archipelago landscape yet beautiful.
Docked in a harbor area about a 30 minute bus ride from the historic area. We chose the “Lillesand: The Jewel of Sorlandet Tour,” which included a bus ride to the charming resort town of Lillesand. This was followed by a boat ride through the surrounding senic coastline to view the charming summer vacation homes scattered along the coast. However, it was a chilly ride as we crossed over open water back to Kristiansand.
(docked) Took the “Lysefjord: Pulpit Rock Cruise Tour,” which was a rather chilling and rainy boat ride from port to fjord. Luckily, upon arriving at fjord the weather cleared to
view the various shear cliffs, which appeared more like rock art, and waterfalls. Tour includes a stop for all you can eat waffles and coffee, which was a benefit after the chilly ride over. Cruise was definitely a primer for the upcoming fjords.
Definitely a highlight of the cruise! We woke up that morning and opened the curtains of our aft balcony to see a beautiful view of the resort town with a waterfall running down the mountainside and through the town. Impossible to describe the beauty in words, simply amazing.
Almost all tours included a ride up the mountainside and through valleys on the Flam Train, whose terminal was located right off the pier. We chose “The Flam Valley & Bike Adventure.” If we could choose again, we would have walked down the mountainside and valley rather than bike to truly enjoy and admire the scenery. The bike ride was very steep in places with numerous hairpin turns, so focus was on path rather than scenery except for a few planned stops.