We chose this cruise as it was a fairly late decision to go on a Norway cruise, and the American cruise lines were sold out. We were a little worried that Pullmantur is a Spanish language cruise, but we never had a problem communicating ... Read More
We chose this cruise as it was a fairly late decision to go on a Norway cruise, and the American cruise lines were sold out. We were a little worried that Pullmantur is a Spanish language cruise, but we never had a problem communicating with any of the staff on board. Important announcements were also made in English, and we were provided English menus and daily cruise news. Entertainment is in Spanish, which we knew in advance, so we skipped it. Excursions are also in Spanish, so we booked our own independent excursions where we wanted.
We had stateroom 5147, which had staterooms above and below it, so hoped for a quiet room. Unfortunately, we were very aft, and evidently above engines or thrusters. When they came on (middle of the night, and when docking and leaving), our entire cabin would shake very hard, and it was extremely noisy. Woke us up every time. It generally lasted 30 minutes or more, so very much disrupted our sleep. Stay away from any lower aft stateroom. Walking down the hallway, it seemed like the shaking and noise continued for at least another 8-10 staterooms toward midship. The stateroom itself had 2 sets of bunk beds. Beds were comfortable, although the pillows were very flat. We had two closets in the room, and plenty of drawers. Only seating was one chair by a small table; it would have been nicer to have a small loveseat. The bathroom was decent size, as was the shower. No cabinets in the bathroom, but there was a glass shelf above the sink. No problems with the toilet as some have reported. I only saw our stateroom attendant once. Rooms are only serviced in the morning or early afternoon, so if you sleep in and miss your time, you are out of luck. Service was more like any regular hotel. We did get one towel animal in the middle of the week. The room was clean, but the bathroom desperately needed a really thorough grout cleaning, and the tile on the floor was uneven.
My major complaint with this cruise was the food. It was absolutely terrible. Almost everything was very overcooked, sometimes to the point where you could not even cut the meat. We had early seating dinner at 7:30. Late seating was 9:45. We were seated with the other Americans at our table of 9. The dining room food was never hot, lukewarm mostly. No coffee or after dinner drinks are served; you have to go to the buffet or bar afterwards for those. Dinner is 3 courses, an appetizer, entree, and dessert. There are everyday choices, vegetarian, and daily. Portions are very small, and entrees do not come with sides or veggies for the most part-just meat. There was a sugar free dessert choice every day except the gala dinner. The gala dinner was a set menu, you had no choice of anything on that 6 course meal, not even a sugar free choice (I'm diabetic). Out of the 6 courses, I only ate the soup, the rest was food I could not/want to eat (like the salmon in baby squid sauce-yuck). Most at our table started ordering two appetizers at dinner. You have to order your dessert with the rest of the meal, and no options to try something different if you did not like something. Most nights we went to the buffet to find more food as we were hungry after dinner-and saw our table mates there :-). I skipped two nights in the dining room too.
The "hot"food on the buffet was never hot, except for the carving meat they had at lunchtime, and generally the soup. Sometimes the food was actually refrigerator cold, meaning the cooks had not even attempted to warm it up before putting it on the buffet. The best choices on the buffet were the salad and deli meat area. At breakfast, there was no omelette or made to order area. Everything was on the buffet only. The scrambled eggs were always soupy, and the fried eggs generally very overcooked. Best bets were the breakfast breads-croissants and brioche bread was always fresh-and the fruit. At lunch there was also a 4 item vegetarian area in the back corner-one item was always plain white rice. Gluten free breads were also available in the other back corner. The only fruit at lunch and dinner was a fruit cocktail, which was the breakfast fruits cut up. At dinner, the best choice was the pasta station -you could chose your own veggies and protein (varied between chicken, salmon, ham) which was stir fried for you, and then pasta was added. You put on your own sauce, generally marinara, pesto and/or alfredo. Since it was cooked individually it was always hot.
Some days breakfast was offered in the dining room too, but it was also a buffet with even fewer choices. Lunch was only offered in the dining room on the sea day, as a buffet.
There was no ice cream machine anywhere on the ship.
Signs on the coffee/tea dispensers in the dining room said they were available 24 hours a day, but that was not really true, as they were not continually kept warm .
The ship had all inclusive beverages, but the alcoholic choices were poor quality. You could buy an upgraded package with top shelf brands if you wanted. Also you could buy individual glasses of better wine at a reasonable price (3-4 Euros) if you wanted. Soft drinks were included, but only poured from 2 liter bottles, and were always flat. Generally the attendants poured out the entire bottle into glasses at once, so if you were not there at that time, it sat for awhile. The specialty coffees in the bars were all consistently good, and included in the cruise fare.
We were mostly on time for all our ports. This cruise goes between Rostock, Germany and Trondheim, Norway. We started in Trondheim, but logistically it would have been better the other direction I think. Starting in Trondheim, our first port was Alesund on Sunday, and a lot of the town was closed, no port area car rental was open, and bus service was severely limited there. You could fly directly into Trondheim or take a 6 hour train from Oslo (scenic except the last hour). Plus connecting to a flight back to the US in Germany required an overnight somewhere as Rostock is several hours from Berlin or Hamburg. Docking in Rostock was in an industrial area, no buses nearby. A taxi to the train/bus station was 40 Euros. Luckily we bumped into friends we met on the ship and shared a taxi. All the taxis we saw there were minivans, so we managed to fit 5 of us and luggage in one taxi.
If embarking in Trondheim, you DO NOT go directly to the ship. Instead you check in at the far end of the Clarian hotel near the ship. Signage for this is very poor, and wandering around in the rain with our luggage trying to find where to go was not fun. No one was interested in seeing our health forms or the bar code form we were emailed after checking in online. They also insisted on keeping our passports, which was unnecessary as we were not leaving the Schengen area on this cruise. One family at our table refused to leave their passports, and they were allowed to keep them. We took our own luggage on board, as we just had carry on luggage and it was already mid afternoon when we arrived and all staterooms were open. We also carried off our luggage at the end. Debarkation was from the 5th floor, our floor, so no hassle with the luggage on elevators.
If you treat this cruise more like a ferry service and stay in a quieter room, you will probably not be as disappointed.
Alesund: has a very nice art nouveau walking tour for $15, we also walked a few km to the aquarium which featured Norwegian sea life.
Geiranger: We rented a car ($200!) from the TI and drove to Tollstigen, stopping at the Eagle Bend viewpoint, and also towards Dalsnibba. There are numerous buses that go to the viewpoints. Geiranger itself is very small. The TI only had a few cars to rent, so be sure and reserve in advance if you want to do that.
Flam: We were too late to book the Norway in a Nutshell tours. Two took a bus to Gudvangen to do a kayak trip in the narrower fjord, and one a 2 hour Segway trip.
Bergen: We planned to take the funicular up the mountain, but with 4 other ships in town, that was impossible. We walked up instead, a long steep walk with a lot of other people. At the top, there were tons of people, so no peace and quiet. There was shopping in the Bryggen area, but again wall to wall people. We found a quiet coffee shop and tried the Norwegian waffles. Not our favorite port, way too overcrowded.
Stavanger: We split up and two took a ferry/bus connection and hiked up Pulpit Rock. We docked about 15 minutes late, so they missed the first ferry, which meant more people on the trail later, but still very nice. There was time to explore the old town a little. One instead did a Viking tour to see the 3 swords monument, iron age museum, and archeology museum. Also the petroleum museum was near the port, about a 10 minute walk, and was very modern and well done. Probably our favorite port. Read Less