At the end of August my husband and I went on our first cruise and we choose Norway as our destination. We packed our bags with trepidation, unsure if we were going to enjoy the experience of being trapped on a ship with nearly 3000 other people for seven days.
We arrived at the port of Southampton in the UK in plenty of time and parked in the shadow of the huge Celebrity Eclipse. Within minutes our suitcases had been whisked away and we walked the short distance to the departure area.
Check in was quick and painless and very soon we were on board and had found our way to our cabin. It was bigger than I expected with a very comfortable bed, a nice sofa and a big balcony with comfortable chairs and a table.
We had about thirty-six hours before we arrived at our first stop in Norway. Bergen is a pretty town famous for the area of old wooden houses called the Bryggen and the fish market. It is possible to take a funicular railway up to a viewing point above the town. Some people went up on the train and walked down. Hubby persuaded me to do the opposite!
After an hour and half of walking up hill, we arrived at the top, me exhausted. I was soon revived with an ice cream and a cup of tea. (I’m easily pleased!) We rode down on the railway, a short five minute journey.
Our second port was Flam, a pretty little village at the head of a fjord. A river runs down the valley and last winter it had burst its banks and swept away the bridge and some of the roads. They were still rebuilding.
Our third port was Geiranger. It’s not possible for a cruise liner to dock here, so they deployed a floating sea walk, an amazing walkway that unfolds and zig-zags out. The normal population of Geiranger is around a hundred, but it can go up to ten thousand people when they have a number of cruise ships in port.
We took an excursion here to the top of Mount Dalsnibba, for a view down the narrow serpentine road up which we had traveled to the fjord below. Our huge cruise ship looked like a toy.
At the top outside the gift shop, I posed with one of the ubiquitous trolls that are found all over in Norway.
To reach Geiranger we sailed eighty miles up the fjord and passed many picturesque villages, waterfalls and mountains.
Our next stop was Alesund, one of the larger towns that is really a series of settlements on islands all joined by bridges and tunnels. Early in the nineteen hundreds, the town burnt down leaving ten thousand people homeless in the middle of the winter. Since then it has been illegal to build houses of wood. Tradesmen from all over Europe came to help rebuild and the town it’s now well known for its art deco buildings.
Our final stop before we headed back across the North sea to the UK was Stavanger, the oil capital of Norway. Here we visited the petroleum museum, which charts the rise of the Norwegian oil industry.
For a first cruise this was a fantastic itinerary. We loved sailing up the fjords to Flam and Geiranger. The scenery is spectacular and the only disappointment was the dearth of wildlife. The only wildlife highlight was porpoises swimming beside the ship on the way to Geiranger.
My verdict on the cruise: I’m hooked! I loved being looked after for a week with such wonderful meals, polite members of staff and comfortable cabin.
Next time hubby and I plan to head to the Mediterranean for a warmer cruise. I’d love to hear about your cruising experiences.
Helen lives in South West England near Plymouth in Devon between the windswept expanse of Dartmoor and the rocky Atlantic coast. As well as her wonderful, long-suffering husband, she shares her home with a Westie and a burmilla cat. Helen's latest project is a boxed set called Christmas Pets and Kisses, full of wonderful stories about love and pets. Her book in the boxed set is Golden Christmas. Find Helen on FaceBook and Twitter, or visit her website.
Two wounded hearts are brought together at Christmas by a trusty golden Labrador and an adorable golden retriever puppy.
Every Christmas Vicky hides so she doesn’t have to celebrate the date she lost her husband and son. She doesn’t want to see anyone but when she finds a dog’s lost ball she meets Jon, a wounded ex-soldier who’s struggling with his own problems. This brave man touches Vicky’s shattered heart and makes her realize she can’t hide forever. With his support, can she find the strength to love again?