If you’ve been in touch for any length of time, you’ll know I have always fancied a cruise. This summer was my chance to give it a try as Shanhong and I (and Teddy of course) joined the Oceana for a one-week trip to Norway.
The cruise left and returned to Southampton in the UK, and consisted of two ‘sea days’ getting to/from Norway and 4 days where we got off the ship and went to explore. Needless to say – it was every bit as good as I hoped and we will certainly be cruising again in the future. This report is about the ship… the next ones will be about our destinations in Norway!
Given it was our first cruise, and I wanted it to make a good impression, I booked a ‘better’ cabin – and it lived up to expectations… there was a bottle of champagne in the fridge and our canapes arrived at 5:00 each evening! As you can see, there was lots of room and a lovely private balcony – photos from our first day!
It really was a beautiful ship! 2 Theatres, 4 restaurants, 5 swimming pools, gym, spa, endless bars, row of shops etc… and more sunloungers than a beach in Blackpool!
Of course, one of the main features of cruising is the food! We had buffet food available almost 24 hours a day, for free, on the top deck… and we had a very ‘posh’ restaurant for our evening meals with a choice of waiter service 5-course meals, including a special from celebrity chef Marco Pierre White. I dedicate the rest of this report to pictures of food… including the Chocoholic’s buffet on the last day!
Mouth watering yet? That is it for this report – the next few will show our destinations in Norway. More photos on the website as always.
Trevor, Shanhong & Teddy. xxx
One of the really lovely things about a cruise is waking up in the morning, opening the curtain, and finding a completely different view. Our first stop was Stavanger, the third largest city in Norway. The first few photos give a feel of our ‘first view’ and then views of the ship from the ground… she’s big!!
We started the day with a walking tour of Stavanger, unfortunately in the pouring rain – but the sky cleared at lunchtime and from then on we had beautiful sunny weather, not just for the day, but for the rest of the trip. Average temperatures around 24/25 degrees – not bad at all for Norway!
The Valberg Tower (Valbergtårnet) as it stands today, was built in 1853 as a watch tower. The tower is 26.5 meters tall. It lays in the middle of the city on a height looking over the town centrum. It was most likely built upon the ruins of an older watch tower. The eight-sided tower was designed by the Norwegian architect Christian Grosch who also designed the Norwegian Royal Palace.
Several fires have haunted the city up through the ages. The largest was most likely in 1860 after the tower was built - 210 houses burned down leaving more than 2000 people homeless. Today the tower is used as a private art gallery presenting contempory art by local and national artists.
The building of the church started in 1123 - 1128. The first bishop was a Benedictine monk named Bishop Reginald (or Reinald) from Winchester, England. Stavanger Cathedral is also called St. Svithun Cathedral after a 9th century bishop from Winchester who was canonized.
Stavanger's core is to a large degree 18th- and 19th-century wooden houses that are protected and considered part of the city's cultural heritage. The area is quite beautiful, especially when the sun comes out! The area has been pedestrianised, and all owners have to sign an agreement to paint the outsides of the houses white, and to plant and tend for flowers!
As the third largest town, Stavanger has a modern city with all the usual brands such as McDonalds, H&M, Vision Express, Zara etc. It also has a modern library and cinema complex where we made use of the wifi! One part of the city centre has been developed, however, with some beautiful colourful shops.
Well, there you have Stavanger, our first port of call. More to come!
Trevor, Shanhong & Teddy xx
Our second stop was the village of Flåm, located at the inner end of the Aurlandsfjorden, an arm off of the main Sognefjorden. Sailing into Flåm there are beautiful waterfalls all along the sides of the fjord and the most amazing scenery. Flåm is a very quiet village, but is connected by road (including the first every roundabout inside a tunnel I have ever seen) to the main Oslo-Bergen route, and has one of the steepest railways in the world.
Here are the views sailing in… and of the ship in port.
Today’s excursion was a drive, by coach, via a Viking settlement, and a large waterfall, to a neighbouring town, where, after a stop for lunch we boarded the train for the trip back down to the ship. The weather was absolutely perfect – as you can see by the brightness of the sun in these pics!
First stop – Viking land! This ‘quiet harbour and coffee house’ is home to one of the largest viking camps in Norway – I can only begin to imagine what it must be like then!!
After the Viking camp, we stopped at one of the waterfalls for some more beautiful pics
Then, off to lunch at a hotel on the lake – with a small church and town to explore before the train.
Finally, time to board the Flamsbana, one of the most beautiful railways in the world… just 20km or so, but a 1 in 18 climb/descent… and, in true Norweigan fashion – the train stops at the waterfall so you can get out and take photos !!
There you have it, another great day in Norway!
Trevor, Shanhong & Teddy, xxxx
Our third stop was the beautiful village of Eidfjord, situated at the end of the Eidfjorden, an inner branch of the large Hardangerfjorden. The village of Eidfjord is a major cruise ship port of call with various tourist sites such as the Sima Power Plant which is built into the mountain itself, the Måbødalen valley, and the Vøringsfossen waterfall. Once again, the view on arrival was stunning.
The tour here was a little disappointing – basically amounting to a one-hour bus ride to a little stop that gave home-made apple pie, a look around an old church and the bus trip back! The apple pie was good – but probably not worth a 2 hour round trip. Nice views though….
The journey back was interesting, as you can imagine in the fjord areas of Norway, there are lots of road tunnels… but this was the first time I had ever seen a major traffic roundabout inside the tunnel!
Once back in Eidfjord, we had a nice walk up into the village, and then back down to the fjord, with some lovely pics of the ship. It was a very quiet and peaceful day, but glorious sunshine once again.
So, there you have it, our third day in Norway. Hope you are enjoying these reports and photos. Take care and keep in touch!
Trevor, Shanhong and Teddy xx
Our final stop was the town of Kristiansand, the fifth largest municipality in Norway. The day started, as most, with our booked excursion. This time it started with a sailing boat trip around the beautiful coastline… it’s a lovely area – made me want to go out and buy a boat!
We then had a short drive and walk through a neighbouring village.
As always, we were taken back to the boat … but rather than get straight back on board, went for our own walk, through the fish market and into the town, taking in the cathedral, the town hall, a rather impressive MacDonalds and a ‘fort’ now used for weddings and special events!
This is the last of the reports from Norway. As I said before, we enjoyed the cruise, and I am sure it is something we will do again in the future, although probably to a very different area. We didn’t take any pictures of the ship in port in Kristiansand as we berthed in a working container port and hence not a particularly attractive area. However, I will end this report with three pics taken on the ship.
Hope you enjoyed the pics as much as we enjoyed our cruise!
All the best! Trevor, Shanhong & Teddy. xxx
The cruise left and returned to Southampton in the UK, and consisted of two ‘sea days’ getting to/from Norway and 4 days where we got off the ship and went to explore. Needless to say – it was every bit as good as I hoped and we will certainly be cruising again in the future. Full details can be found in the reports section of the website under Norway Reports.