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capriccio

Excursions on the Land of the Midnight Sun Cruise 6/15-6/29/19

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We (my brother, sister-in-law, husband and I) were also on this cruise.  Given the wonderful quality of the reviews (see Purple Traveller's thread

and United_11's thread)

I’m just going to give some comments on our excursions sans pictures (the ones already posted are fabulous) in the hopes that the information will be useful to those contemplating or already booked on a Norwegian cruise.

Southampton – we arrived a day early using Smiths for Airports car service from Heathrow and stayed at the Premier Inn West Quay.  We did the exact same thing on our 2013 British Isles cruise and were happy to see that Smiths and the Premier Inn were still excellent choices.

Stavanger – we took the Princess excursion Flor og Fiaere Gardens & Cruise ($139.95 p/p; 8:30 am – 11 am).  This was expensive but truly a highlight of our cruise.  To quote the description on the Princess website: “Stavanger boasts a mild climate and the longest growing season in Norway. You'll get to marvel at the spectacular flora and fauna as you tour the well-tended paths that wind past plantations of tropical palms, bamboos and bananas. During the summer months the gardens are ablaze with color from the over 15,000 flowers planted every spring.”  The gardens were started about 20 years ago on 3 acres and now cover more than 20 acres.  It is family run and  two generations (daughter or daughter-in-law and granddaughter of the founder) split us into 2 groups for a short tour before letting us roam at will.  We also had tea/coffee and a snack (IIRC) before taking the boat back to port.  When we returned to Stavanger we walked around the port and old town ending at the Petroleum Museum which was very interesting.

Flaam – this was another Princess excursion, the Best of Flam:  Railway & Voss ($299.95 p/p; 8:45 am – 3:15 pm).  We actually took the railroad to Voss (changing trains in Myrdal), had a good buffet lunch at a local hotel followed by free time to walk around the downtown, and then took a coach back to Flaam with stops at a waterfall and then the hotel at Stalheim for coffee/tea and pastry.  This was a very long and expensive day and in retrospect, while we enjoyed Voss and Stalheim, if we had it to do over again, we all agreed that the train ride to Myrdal would have been sufficient.

Gerainger – my DH and I took the Panoramic Exclusive Bus excursion with www.geiranger.no/panorama-exclusive-bus -  (495 NOK p/p; 2:30 pm – 5:30 pm) and enjoyed it as much as Purple Traveller.  My DB and DSIL rented e-bikes (he is an amazing cyclist and my DSIL is no slouch either) and rode up to the top of Mt. Dalsnibba (over 4,700 feet above sea level).  They left an hour or so before we did and when we arrived at the top there they were holding court and explaining the e-bikes to a group of tourists!  It was the first time either had been on them but I guess they got a lot of experience in that short time climbing the roadway full of hairpin turns.

Trondheim – as others have said, what a wonderful city (and perfect sightseeing weather)!  We walked from the ship to the old town, up the hill to the Kristiansten fortress, then to Nidaros Cathedral where we went inside, and finally visited the Archbishop’s Palace next door that houses a number of small museums (archeological, military, crown jewels, etc.).  

Honningsvag (North Cape) – we too took the Blue Puffin tour and highly recommend it!

Tromso – we have friends (she’s a native of Tromso, he lives in Fort Lauderdale) who got married the week before in Tromso and we knew we would be spending the afternoon with them so we decided to take a guided e-bike tour (my DH rides at least 3 or 4 times a week, I haven’t been on a bike in years, and you already know that DB and DSIL should be trying out for the senior Olympics!) for the morning from Tromso Outdoor (995 NOK p/p; 9:45 am – 1 pm).  We took a taxi into town and joined the other two cruisers from our ship.  As others have said, at times the weather was drizzling but it didn’t stop us or the many Norwegians of all ages who were out biking, walking, or jogging, etc.  Much of our ride was on bike paths but even the parts that were on a road had very little traffic on a Sunday morning.  We rode about 20 KM and made stops along the way.  We rode downtown along the water, to the only farm on Tromsoya, around the biggest lake (nature preserve) on the island, to the ski jumps, down to the Botanical Gardens (where we stopped for delicious warm cranberry juice and a snack) and then back through downtown to the office.  We all had a great time and I had no trouble keeping up!  My DB has already bought an e-bike and my DH is campaigning for one.

Lofoten Islands – our excursion with Lofoten Lights’ (1250 NOK p/p) time was cut short by the change in arrival time at Gravdal as others have noted so the overall feeling was of being rushed.  We were appreciative of the fact that they could re-arrange their schedules (they had 4 – IIRC – vans of passengers) to accommodate us. 

Alesund – we took a taxi (about a 5 minute ride) to the Sunnmore Museum (http://www.sunnmore.museum.no/english/sunnmoere-museum/), an open air museum with buildings from medieval to current times and an extensive boat collection.  They also had an indoor exhibit on Rollo, the Viking who became the first Duke of Normandy (for The Vikings fans he wasn’t Ragnar’s brother).  They provided handouts in English and it was very easy to take our time wandering around the grounds.  The information desk called us a taxi who dropped us off downtown and we spent an hour or so looking at the lovely Art Nouveau buildings.

Bergen – we walked around the old town (Bryggen), around the grounds of the Bergenhus Fortress, and then to the Maritime Museum.  The museum records the history of Norwegian shipping from pre-history to the current day.  The film loop on Viking burial practices was fascinating.

Southampton – since our flights to the US were after 4 pm, we took the Princess excursion transfer that included a stop at Windsor Castle ($149.95 p/p; 7:30 am – 1:15 pm).  It was very well organized with a comfortable coach (only half filled since the number of passengers is constrained by how much luggage they need to fit) and excellent air conditioning (it got up to 90 that day).  Our tour guide was informative on the drive.  They intentionally arrive at Windsor before the castle opens for tourists at 9:30 and there was already a long line.  We got to security around 10 am and through it about 15 minutes later so we had 2 hours to tour.  Entry includes an audio tour that was very good and in our two hours we had no trouble going through the State Apartments and St. George’s Chapel.  The guide then narrated the short and pretty drive to Heathrow along the Thames and through the village of Runnymede (where the Magna Carta was signed).

This was one of our favorite cruises ever.  The scenery was breathtaking and the ports were varied and interesting.


 

 

 

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Thank you for your lovely comments about my review and thank you for your review. It is always really interesting to find out what others did on the same cruise, particularly when there were so many choices on this cruise. It sounds as if you had as good a cruise as we did and that you enjoyed all that you did. 

 

I am seriously impressed with your brother and sister-in-law riding e-bikes up to Mt Dalsnibba! That was one amazing road and I take my hat off to them! I'm also impressed with your ride in Tromso. It sounds like a really great day. 

 

Thanks for sharing your cruise experience and I hope we get to cruise together again. 😊

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I'll echo PurpleTraveller and say thank you for your nice comments about my review and for sharing your review of the ports!  It's been fun seeing what everyone else got up to on the same cruise.  I too am very impressed with your brother and SIL for riding bikes up Mt. Dalsnibba!  I remember seeing people ride up that steep and windy road and thought it would be so challenging to do so.  I also had wanted to take the Princess excursion transfer that went to Windsor Castle, but unfortunately our flight left at 3:30pm, so we just missed the 4:00pm cutoff.  I've been to Windsor Castle before, but it would have been a nice way to spend the morning rather than sitting in the airport for over 4 hours.  😊

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20 hours ago, capriccio said:

 

Stavanger – we took the Princess excursion Flor og Fiaere Gardens & Cruise ($139.95 p/p; 8:30 am – 11 am).  This was expensive but truly a highlight of our cruise.  To quote the description on the Princess website: “Stavanger boasts a mild climate and the longest growing season in Norway. You'll get to marvel at the spectacular flora and fauna as you tour the well-tended paths that wind past plantations of tropical palms, bamboos and bananas. During the summer months the gardens are ablaze with color from the over 15,000 flowers planted every spring.”  The gardens were started about 20 years ago on 3 acres and now cover more than 20 acres.  It is family run and  two generations (daughter or daughter-in-law and granddaughter of the founder) split us into 2 groups for a short tour before letting us roam at will.  We also had tea/coffee and a snack (IIRC) before taking the boat back to port.  When we returned to Stavanger we walked around the port and old town ending at the Petroleum Museum which was very interesting.

 

I am enjoying all of these reviews as I was on this sailing last year. I did the Pulpit Rock boat ride but also wanted to do the gardens. Will definitely do the gardens next time! Those who did it on my cruise also loved it!

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