North Sea Cruise 2014

Roger and Joanne's cruise Diary, July 27 through August 8, 2014

07/27/14 Arrived in Copenhagen this morning. Unfortunately I had to switch rooms for my next cruise to Norway and Iceland, but it was relatively painless, as the porters moved my bags and I kept my computer bag with me until my room was ready. I had no room for about 3 hours. After breakfast was over we either had to stay in our old room or in the Cabaret Theater which is what I did. I used my laptop and caught up on my diary and photo editing. My sister Joanne is joining me on this cruise and should be arriving into Copenhagen airport around 10:30am. Unfortunately the ship is being sanitized right now and they will not allow any new passengers until 1:30pm. Perhaps they will give Joanne a free excursion of the city on her transport bus so we will not have to wait outside near the ship.

Joanne finally arrived at 3:00pm. She was very tired from the long SAS flight from Chicago. Check-in went smooth and Joanne got to rest an hour before having the hated mandatory fire drill at the beginning of all cruises. We had a wonderful dinner in the dinning room. My smoked duck appetizer was to die for. YUM YUM.

07/28/14 Today is a sea day and the seas are much rougher than anything we have encountered so far. The new room is much smaller but nicely decorated. Joanne is suffering from some sea sickness and has taken a couple of Boney pills putting her to sleep for 4 hours. I also rested a bit and took care of rescheduling excursions and booking two back to back cruises in September of 2015 to the Mediterranean - Barcelona to Istanbul and from Istanbul to Barcelona via the Greek Islands. . You get some substantial discounts by booking on board a ship. You have to pay about $200 per trip for the reserving, but it is totally refundable up until the last 90 days at which point you cancel or pay for the entire cruise. Conrad, Kathy, Joanne, and I had dinner at the Prime C premium steak house restaurant tonight. I had my fillet mignon with peppercorn sauce YUM YUM. My seafood sampler appetizer was also excellent and desert Sabaony sauce with a fresh fruit was light and very tasty.

07/29/14 We arrived this morning into the beautiful Geiranger Fjord in Norway. The water route through the Fjord into the town was perhaps 10 - 15 miles and was very beautiful with many waterfalls pouring down into the Fjord. I stayed on the upper deck and shot many photos of the site. We got to the town and the ship docked in the middle of Fjord which required a Tendor to get into town. We got into town for our bus excursion to the top of a mountain near the small town. Only 220 people live in this world heritage site town year round. Tourism and farming is the main industries of the area. The bus ride to the two sites we visited was beautiful but a night mare that was very dangerous as the road was mostly single lane with many many treacherous hair pin turns on it. Both Joanne and I would have gladly canceled this tour to avoid the very treacherous, congested bus ride up and down the two mountains we climbed. We were ever so happy to get back to the ship without a bus crash or accident. About half the people on the bus considered this a normal ride, but the rest of us considered it death waiting to happen. We purchased some great Belgium style candy on the return. I bought brown cheese chocolate and cloud berry chocolate both excellent and very expensive.

07/30/14 We arrived in Lerwich/Shetland, Scotland an island around 10:30am. The bay where we anchored was quite smooth fortunately. We all took the tendor into town around noon and walked around the scenic little town. Joanne bought a Shetland purple wool sweater at a shop called the Spider Web. I purchased a very cool multi colored stocking hat made of Shetland wool. We continued walking around the town visiting an old fort, public city hall type buildings, and other little shops. Got back to the ship OK and watched it depart from the port. We ate at the buffet tonight having nice made to order stir fry with chicken, beef, pork, many vegetables, and rice noodles. YUM YUM.

07/31/14 A horrible sea day with swells perhaps to 20 foot tall all day and all night. Joanne spent most the time down on deck 4 where the rolling was not as bad. She stayed outside on pool chair covered up with towels and blankets. We canceled our gourmet premium restaurant reservations as everyone except Conrad felt the effects of the rocking. Our cabin is on deck 8 toward the bow a very rough rock and roll location. Now I see why people want to stay in the lower and center part of the ship. Joanne did not survive dinner on the 5th floor dinning room and had to leave for the Hills. Conrad and I were the only two survivors of dinner tonight.

08/01/14 Slept from 9:00pm to 8:00am. Finally the ship rocking has subsided at last. Both Joanne and I are feeling much better today. We are going to be 2-3 hours late arriving to Iceland because the ship course was rerouted to avoid a bad gale out in the Atlantic Ocean. We arrived in Akureyri, Iceland about 1:00pm 2.5 hours late. There was a mad rush to get on the ramp into the port area. I made it off the ship quite quickly and actually got a seat near the front on the excursion bus 1 of 6. Iceland country side in this area is beautifully green with widely scattered farms, sheep, cows, and horses. The main crop would be hay for the animals to eat during the winter months. Crystal clear streams are coming down from the mountain glaciers all over the place. There is huge distances between the farms. The total population of Iceland is very small about 330,000. Our bus first took us to a huge water falls where we were allowed to get out and photograph it. Next we went further up the huge mountain past a large lake and then further up into a volcanic area where geo thermo wells and geysers were everywhere. The techtonic plates are the most active in the whole world in this country. The majority of Iceland's energy comes from geothermal wells. The excursion was cut short because we were late. I think we we will be given discounts on our account. This country is very beautiful in the summer but would not be my piece of cake in the winter. We all had dinner at the Aqualina Seafood restaurant at night where I porked out big time. I had Dover sole and Joanne had Lobster thermidor for our main courses. Had a better night as far as motion was concerned tonight, but had to visit the bathroom often probably because of the wine I had.

08/02/14 Got up at 9:00am and had breakfast at the buffet on 9th floor. Attended a lecture about the next city I will be visiting; Reykjavik, Iceland. Next on the agenda for me is a Whale watching tour by Nigel Marvin a famous TV naturalist (Joanne is not going). The whale trip turned out very enjoyable as the weather was perfect with no wind or waves, mild temperature in high 40’s with broken clouds and sunshine. We saw lots of Melinke whales, water birds including puffins, and pods of dolphins. Tonight is an Amazing Evening - Land of Fire and Ice - at the opera house. (Joanne is attending) Temperature 10 degrees C or 50 degrees F. The beautiful glass building opera house was beautiful with many colors bouncing off the pieces of glass. The performance consisted of a piano player accompanist, a male tenor and a female soprano all opera singers. The female was very good and the male was just good. I am not a fan of opera in non English but I still enjoyed the performance. Got back to the ship at 10:30pm. Conrad and I had a steak dinner repast in the Aqualara gourmet restaurant, as we had virtual no dinner between whale watching and the opera performance.

08/03/14 Still in Reykjavik, Iceland. Got up early for breakfast and to go on our free American Express Mariners Club excursion. The tour left from the ship parking lot with a big bus holding perhaps 40 occupants. We toured Ice lands Volcanic area seeing many large lakes, snow capped mountains, and a Geo thermo area (similar to Yellowstone NP in the US). At lunch time we stopped at a small ocean side and riverside town where we had a very good local seafood lobster boil lunch. Returned back to Reykjavick the capital city of Iceland. Our guide was well informed about the country and also had a great one on one sense of humor. I tipped her $5 in US dollars (my standard tip for a guide I like).

08/04/14 The night was quite turbulent tipping, dipping, and twisting all night long. I will never book another cruise on this part of the Atlantic. I did not get sick but I was very light headed all day. I could not visit the show lounge where most of the lectures were being held, because it was the roughest tippy-est spot on the boat. Joanne could only stay in this area for 5 minutes before sea sickness set in. The captain told me that waves/swells were 4.5 to 5.5 meters last night which is 18’ high a very menacing height. The officers of the ship served a buffet barbecue for lunch today on the 5th deck a bit smoother at this lower elevation in the middle of the ship. Late in the afternoon I treated my self with a hair cut, facial chemicals, upper body massage, and a shave all very heavenly and done in the bow of the ship which had a great view. After the body massage my right sore arm and shoulder were feeling a lot better. The seas got worse as the day went on and we cowered to our beds before 9:00am.

08/05/14 Arrived at Torshavn in the Faroe Islands (it is owned by Denmark) this morning at 8:00am. It is calm with some sun but I am still feeling rocking waves sensations from last night’s body brain stabilization memories. Had breakfast with Joanne. She is visiting shore for shopping opportunities. I am taking a hiking tour in the mountains at 1:00pm. The 3.5 mile hike was indeed strenuous as advertised on the excursion write up. We went up a near by mountain via a bus. The first 1/3 of a mile was extremely steep going up the mountain and perhaps 8 out of 40 people decided to go back to the bus. We were in a mist and the trail was a bit muddy and quite slippery indeed. The guide gave me a walking stick which was really very helpful especially on the down hills. The trail was very beautiful with sheep and Nordic horses at many locations. Little streams of water were all over the place and crossing of streams was required many times. The hike really tired me out but dinner later at the Prime C really tasted good and I also slept like a baby this night. I am glad I did the hike.

Joanne and I were finally up to watching the dance music show tonight called White Nights (as there is only about 2 hours of darkness up here at this latitude). Even Conrad and Kathy got out on that dance floor. They served some excellent tasting crepe Suzette before the performance. To my surprised the Faro Islands gets virtually no snow because of warm flow from Mexico.

08/06/14 Got up at 6:45am and washed my dirty clothes in the laundry. This is a sea day as we head back to the west on relatively flat waters to Kristiansand, Norway. It turned out to be a nice partly sunny day with a smooth sea. Joanne and I attended a lectures and then sat out by the pool where I soaked in the jacuzzi. We had a grilled bratwurst at the pool grilling station for lunch. At 3pm I did a wine tasting event with Kathy. Next we all watched a lecture with slides and video by Nigel Marvin in the Cabaret Theater. Ate at the 9th floor buffet which featured Asian food tonight. At 8:15pm we attended the theater group Broadway tribute presentation which was excellent. Joanne loved it especially the tall producer actor Erick from Canada.

08/07/14 Coming into Kristiansand, Norway this morning scheduled to arrive at the dock at 8:00am. The weather was perfect in the mid 60’s here in Norway today. We did an Azamara excursion to a scenic fishing village about 20 miles from the city center. This area reminded me of the Lake Tahoe area in California and Nevada. We then continued on our excursion to an outdoor museum of very old farm houses and buildings as they would be 200-300 years ago in Norway. The guides to both destinations were excellent. The country of Norway has been in boom status since they found off shore oil in 1974. The political system is socialistic and they have actually created a monetary fund from the oil revenues to help the country prosper when the oil runs out. A very clean and beautiful country indeed.

We returned and made final preparations for disembarkation of the ship in Copenhagen our next stop and our air transport back to the USA.

08/08/14 We did excursion tour in Copenhagen which ended up at the airport.