Norway Cruise Trip 2017


Diary of Roger and Linda's London and Norway Cruise -August 2017


08/07/17 Dee Humphrey delivered us to the airport for British Airlines flight to London leaving at 8:40 pm from the San Diego airport. All went well checking in and we were happy with our upgraded seats that were 2 abreast and quite spacious with 8” more of leg space. The food was fair to bad. It was long gruesome 10 hour flight but still better than most I have experienced in the past because it was direct flight and the seating was more comfortable than most planes on this Boeing 777-300 plane.

 

08/08/17 We arrived the next day in London around 2:00 pm. It took about 1.5 hours to get through emigration, luggage pickup, and out to the taxi cab area. The 1.5 hour cab ride to our down town London hotel called Premier Inn near Kings Cross and St. Pancreas underground tube station cost was $102 pounds about $130 US dollars per night. We got checked into the hotel with no surprises or problems. I had a multi circuit electrical extender, with 4 usb’s for my computer equipment. When I plugged it in, the entire room went black. We went to front desk and they came up to look and were unable to fix it, so they moved us to another room. I again plugged the device in and the same damned thing happened BUMMER. We moved again to another room and they informed us that they had no more rooms, so I did not plug that device in again. The device had over voltage protection which apparently causes problems with the European power system, or my device was just plain bad as it made a buzzing noise when I later plugged it in on the ship. I threw that damned thing into the trash. We then went out to the Pizza Union restaurant and had a nice dinner of pizza and salad there. We were both dead tired and retired to bed early.

 

08/09/17 We sIept until 10:00 am and it was raining hard. We went to Star Bucks nearby for breakfast. Then we visited the Kings Cross huge underground station to buy an Oyster pass and also found a luggage store to buy an umbrella. We both still had jet lag and it was still raining so we decided to rest the remainder of the day in our hotel room. Had dinner in the hotel steak house restaurant.

 

08/10/17 The weather forecast was for clear and sunny weather, so we decided to go to the Hampton Court Palace, the residence of King Henry the 8th during his reign. It was a 2 hour adventure to get there. We started out on the underground, then transferring to a train, and then transferring to a city bus. The Oyster pass covered all the expenses. We especially wanted to see this palace as we watched the entire TV series of the Tudors which included the entire life of the dreadful Henry the 8th. I especially like the huge kitchen in the palace. The huge palace and the extensive grounds of this palace was really impressive and and definitely worthy of a king. The trip back to our hotel went smooth taking about 2 hours. We had dinner at our hotel steak house again. I stuck with Guiness beer over wine in London.

 

08/11/17 We were both a bit groggy this morning after the long yesterday journey. We had breakfast at the hotel and boarded the Underground to Westminster Abbey. I actually enjoyed this excursion more than yesterday’s. We had some trouble finding the Abbey after getting off the Underground, but I used Goggle maps walking mode and it took us right to it. On the way we saw the BIG BEN clock. This was a very popular destination and was a very busy place. We had to wait about an 1/2 hour in line to get into the Abbey. We decided to pay an extra 7# to have a 2 hour guided tour and it was well worth the money as the our male guide was excellent. He moved around very quickly and it did require lots of walking as this is a huge place. This Abbey is a must see and is just full of history, almost more like a museum than a church. Unfortunately photos were not allowed because of interference with prayers occasionally being done by the clergy. We did a bit of sight seeing after the tour in the area and successfully got back to the underground tube for our transport back to the hotel. We were both so tired the we only had enough energy for dinner at McDonald Hamburgers. Yuck yuck. Did some packing and retired early.

 

08/12/17 Did a 3 hour transport via QuayTaxiCab company from our hotel to South Hampton sea port to embark on our Princess Cruise ship. The cab driver a retired Navy engineer was lots of fun and kept us laughing most of the ride. The port was very busy, but suite passengers got preference for check-in and we got into our suite right away after security and a quick check in. Our suite was very nice and quite large compared to normal state rooms. They keep bringing appetizers, fruit bowls, and champagne. We unpacked and went through the dreaded life jacket and safety drill which all ships have. We ate at the Italian restaurant called Sabatini’s for dinner at 6:00 pm. My lobster was so so, but Linda’s spinach cheese Manicotti was excellent.

 

08/13/17 Today is a sea day. We had breakfast with Conrad and Kathy at Sabatini’s which will be our regular breakfast location. The Eggs Benedict and fruit platter I had were very good. Spent the day relaxing and working on my diary photos. It was formal night and I had no suit but was allowed to enter with a long sleeved black shirt and black jogging pants. The appetizers, salad, and soup was delicious. We then attended the theater which had a broadway type production by the same guy who produced Wicked on Broadway. We had great seats on 4 - 5 rows back and enjoyed the performance immensely. Returned to the room and was able to get on the internet at a reasonable speed because every one was dining or at the theater.

 

08/14/17 We arrived in Stavanger, Norway, the 4th largest city in the country this morning. Had breakfast and then went for a 2 hour walk on our own to the new city center and then to the old residential city area. It was a beautiful partly sunny day in the low 60’s so our walk was very enjoyable.

 

08/15/17 We arrived in Flam about 7:00 am. Our tour today on the Flam Railway and then a bus ride back, both through a very long beautiful valley in the mountains. We stopped several times for coffee and delicious pastries and then for a wonderful lunch which was mostly fresh and smoked seafood YUM YUM. The train was very smooth and comfortable with many tunnels. The scenery through the mountains was breath taking. This is must see tour if visiting this area.

 

08/16/17 We arrived into the beautiful fjord of Geiranger this morning. This is a UNESCO World Heritage site which is well deserved and perhaps my favorite location in Norway. It is my second time visiting via cruise ship. We had breakfast at Sabatini’s as usual before leaving on our tour I had to coerce Linda into this tour as she thought it was too long. It was a bus ride up to the highest mountain with breath taking views of the fjord, mountains, and fasting moving streams and rivers. After reaching the top the bus continued through a very long valley on a very narrow road with very rugged wild terrain, rushing rivers, snow covered mountains, and non flat tundra like areas. Scenery to die for. Bus stopped at some locations for photo opts and at other locations to have a snow ball fight. Linda decided that the long ride was worth it. We ended up in a different town called Hellsylt where are ship picked us up via tenders. The most memorable day of our trip so far. Really awesome.

 

08/17/17 We arrived in Trondheim, Norway this morning about 8:30 am. We did an excursion call the Best of Tronheim which started with a very long 1.2 hour bus ride through pretty farmland country side to a very old copper mine. We entered and explored with a guide the old mine which was very cold around 12 degrees C Brrrr. Sure glad I did not have to work in one of these mines. Looked very dangerous and bad for ones health. It was more like a cave than a mine. It had some stalagmite formations hanging here and there from the ceiling. Next we got bussed to town of the town of Thanmshavin for a railway journey in old vintage rail cars. Next we continued via bus to an old mansion now converted to an hotel for a buffet luncheon which was quite good. Continued via bus back to the ship This was a very long tour with lots of bus riding, but conversing with friends and other tour members made made it quite enjoyable.

 

08/18/17 I was dead tired yesterday and am glad to have a sea day to rest up on. Had a leisurely day sleeping until 10:00 am lounging around and playing bridge for couple of hours - men against women - in Conrad and Kathy’s large suite which had a nice size table for bridge Conrad and I beat up on the girls. Had lobster and fish for dinner. The food quality is a bit random on this Princess Crown ship. Some entrees are excellent and others average to poor so making the right choice is important. Our waiter Pedro, also a chef, is normally spot on with recommendations, but not last night. The fish he recommended was not good. Linda and I attended the Motown and R&B music production last night which was great. We were lucky to get a seat way in the back handicapped area as it was popular sold out to capacity night.

 

08/19/17 We arrived in Honningsvag this morning around 9:00 am. This is the most northern location in Norway near the eastern end of the country and in the Arctic circle about 71 degrees latitude north. Finland is to the south of us and Russia is to the east. The predicted high today is 55 degrees. We did a 45 minute bus ride up the mountain and through a tundra to visit the North Cape Hall cliffs with panoramic views of of the Norwegian Sea. The windless weather turned out to be in the high 60’s with beautiful sunny skies and no wind. We had a lovely day at the cape walking along the scenic cliffs observing sea birds and seeing wild Reindeer off in the distance. The visitor center gift shop there had very high quality sweaters and other clothing for sale. I bought a nice t shirt for $37 US after converting the $266 Krona’s to US dollars via credit card. Linda and I enjoyed the bus ride through the green water laden mountainous reindeer infested tundra to and from the ship. A very pleasant and relaxing day. Weather really affects the satisfaction of a trip like this. August is a great month to take a chance on northern weather.

 

08/20/17 Sailing back toward England now, we arrived in Tromso today about 9:30 am. Just the opposite weather today - windy, cold, and raining. We have a tour scheduled at 1:00 pm, but Linda did not go because it was raining. I went on a tour called “THE BEST OF TROMSO”. The first stop was a cable car ride up a small mountain called the Mt Storsteinen which was not very impressive as it was cold, raining, foggy, and over crowded. We all could not get off that mountain soon enough. The bus then drove us around the inner city for a while. Next we went the Polar Museum which was indoors and very impressive, but very crowded. Our Italian guide was very good and I tipped him. The last stop was the Arctic Cathedral which had ultra-modern construction consisting of eleven architectural features of arched triangles of glass, steel and concrete with a beautiful stained-glass window. The building had very nice natural lighting because of the eleven ached triangle slits of glass. The tour was OK in spite of the rain and moderately cool temperature.

 

08/21/17 We arrived in Gravdal, a town on the Lofoten Islands early this morning to beautiful partly sunny cold windy weather. Linda decided to attend this long 8 hour + tour with the rest of us today. It was a very long bus tour from island to island along ocean coasts and through many fishing villages. What really made these villages viable was the Cod fishing industry. The conditions here, mostly because of the warm gulf stream waters, made these ocean bays just right for the cod to spawn in. The villages and coast lines were very beautiful and somewhat similar to our PACIFIC SOUTHWEST COAST IN THE USA except that the area is older with slightly smoother rock and stone features. Our first stop at 1.5 hours out was a rustic outdoor museum fishing village self guided tour. Myself and a Japanese guy almost got lost returning to the bus. Started returning to cruise ship on slightly a different course with several photo stops. My two favorite stops were a country church and a world famous black smith’s shop. The church had sheep herds nearby and I got to photograph some healthy looking ewes in their lush green pastures The blacksmith was a very colorful crazy like talented artisan who specialized in making metal alloy cormorant statues of all kinds. Apparently he is world famous and has commissions to do work all over the world. I wanted to buy a double one mounted on a pretty gray stone for $85 EURO but SHE WHO MUST BE OBEYED was not happy about it so I refrained. This artist also collected extensive quantities of antiques and had several shops on the beautiful marina where his shops and galleries were located. This may have been my favorite photographic stop of the entire Norway trip. We finally stopped at a hotel for lunch at 1:45 pm for lunch. It was another buffet and again the seafood was excellent. Smoked salmon and other white fish was excellent and fresh cod in a white sauce may have been the best cod I ever had. YUM YUM Did a couple more photo stops and got back to the ship around 4:30 pm. I would highly recommend anyone visiting Norway to come here to the Lofoten Islands because of the raw scenic coast line beauty, many old villages some with hotels and restaurants. Photography any time of year here would be amazing. Rested an hour and attended the normal Club Class dining room where we dine with Conrad and Kathy. I really enjoyed Pedro our head waiter who is also a chef in private life in the country of Peru. The food quality here is sporadic, but some of it is really excellent. I have been going with Pedro’s recommendations and I would say that he is about 80% spot on for best food of the evening.

 

08/22/17 Sea day. Kathy and I attended a wine tasting event at 3:00 pm this afternoon.
I can not believe how many showed up - perhaps 1/3 + of the ship was there. The wines were actually very reasonable and the speakers had informative and interesting stories to tell about each wine. I intend to buy a Malbec wine from Chili which I considered to be the best. we enjoyed the tasting with a very knowledgeable couple from the north of England. There is actually more English on this ship than Americans. We enjoyed another fun meal with our friends Conrad and Kathy down in the Club Dining area on the 6 floor being served and joking around with are 3 waiters which served our table tonight next to the window.

 

08/23/17 We arrived in Alesund, Norway this morning around 7:30 am. We got up and had breakfast as usual at Sabatini’s a morning restaurant for suite people only. The service and atmosphere is great but much of the food is bad so what you order is important to ones satisfaction. We had no excursions booked for today. We all got off the ship around 10:00 am for walk around this pretty little city. It was a beautiful windless sunny day in the mid 60’s F. We first walked a short distance perhaps 1/2 mile to Alesund’s finest building the 100 year old Alesund Church. The stone church and grounds were very impressive. Next we walked through town and through the very nice shopping district which had high end and middle price range shops of all kinds. I escaped again without a purchase. We decided to walk to the city park and then up the hill a ways toward the Mt. Aksla viewpoint, but 418 steps was too many for all of us to negotiate. We took a different trail back toward the ship. We were all enchanted with the pretty Art Nouveau architecture the Norwegian’s used for their houses and commercial buildings in this quaint little city. We went back to the ship and had a lite lunch at the buffet on the 16th floor.

 

08/24/17 Arrived in Bergen, Norway around 7:00 am. Our excursion called “Highlights of Bergen” left the ship at 9:00 am. on an excursion called “the Highlights of Bergen” We first went to an open air museum called “Old Bergen Museum” which was very scenic and picturesque. Next we were dropped off for a walk through Bryggen waterfront district which was very impressive. The seafood market fish looked wonderfully fresh. I almost bought some smoked fish to take home. The bus picked us up again and we drove to the UNESCO World Heritage site that preserves wooden buildings from the days of the Hanseatic League. Our guide took us into one of rooms in the building and explained in excrutiating detail the league hiarchy of the members. I do not personally think this site deserved UNESCO World Heritage site status. My cold and flue was getting worse at this point however and perhaps I just had a bad attitude because of bad cold symptoms I was nursing.

 

08/25/17 Our last sea day of the cruise. In the afternoon I packed up my large suitcase for transfer to customes. I picked up cash in the morning for tipping the following shipboard crew members: Efram MEXICO our cabin room stewart - $60; Pedro PERU dining waiter - $30; Vinod COSTA RICO assistant waiter - $15, Estephean ROMANIA dining rm head waiter - $20, Lucy MEXICO our dinning room hostest - $10. We pay $15.50/per day/ per person for group tips. Most people give more to the people they like or who have helped them a lot. I was under the weather the whole day and when I went down for dinner I almost upchucked, but then all of sudden for some reason I felt better. Pedro gave me a lite beef broth which is all I had for dinner and I actually felt better. Went to bed right after dining down stairs.

08/26/17 Arrived in South Hampton, England this morning at 7:00 am. We got off the ship at 10:00 am and got on a Princess transport bus to Heathro airport in London. Our British Airways direct flight to SanDiego left at 3:40 pm. I talked to several other people on our transport to London Heathro and found that a fair number of people actually contracted the same malady I did. Our direct flight from London was fine and we were happy again with our upgraded seats. Food tasted really bad with my ongoing cold/flue. We got to SD airport about 6:30 pm. The GO people in emigration held me out and decided to investigate my crimes during college days again, asking same questions same as the first time during application and they decided I can keep my card I guess. Took about extra 15 minutes. I asked him if this will be an ongoing problem and he said maybe? The problem is that there software does not flag me as OK. Matt picked us up and we were home by 7:30 pm. I felt like death warmed over, unpacked a few things and was in bed by 8:00 pm. Linda and Matt caught up on there cigarette smoking outside. There was a marine layer out and it was actually cool outside in the low 60’s F. I enjoyed the trip a lot until I got sick. Norway is a great Venue and having dinner with you Conrad and Kathy every night with Pedro taking care of us was lots fun. I think Linda actually enjoyed Norway a lot in spite of her sad news about Matt.

 


Last updated on September 14, 2017