I sailed on NCL’s Jade, cruising Norway from Southampton to the North Cape June 29-July 11, 2008. Here is my day by day diary.
Note: At the time of travel 1.00 USD = 5.09180 NOK
United States Dollars = Norway Kroner.
There are a lot of sightseeing ideas on the official tourism site: visitnorway.com
Day 0 We took Delta to London Heathrow. A very smooth on time flight.
Day 1 When we arrived at Heathrow, we looked for the coach terminal to take our pre-booked bus to Southampton (National Express) at 1150. Since we arrived at 9AM, this was plenty of time to get our luggage and walk to the terminal. The directional signs were not quite the overly precise way you an expect in Britain, so we wound up in Terminal 5, where we waited. Unfortunately, the coach terminal is nowhere near Terminal 5, something we did not find out until 1145, when we asked the bus dispatcher.
We missed out 1150 bus, despite the best efforts of the bus dispatcher from terminal 5, who called ahead to stop of bus from departing. She arranged another bus to take us to the proper coach terminal, where we waited for the 1250 bus, which would have brought us to Southampton just an hour before the scheduled departure time of 4PM for the Jade. We were wait listed for the 1250 and told to come back just before departure. Fortunately, an understanding bus driver allowed us on board, with the wrong tickets. He was masterful at avoiding the traffic pile up on the motorway, and by taking side roads through pretty towns, we were able to get into Southampton early! A taxi, readily available at the coach station took us to the ship in 5 minutes. One advantage of arriving so late was that there were no lines to board, and we were soon on the ship, just in time for the muster call. Before we knew it, we were on our way. The cruise left from City Cruise Terminal
A good long nap (we had been up for what seemed like days) meant we had a very late dinner, and missed the shows. Oh well!
Day 2: A day at sea with so many activities in the daily that we had trouble accommodating what we wanted to do in one day. Breakfast, a stretch class, learning to play bridge, entertainment, and more. I am so confused by bridge. I had always thought it was a game played by ladies with too much time on their hands. I have since discovered that it takes a lot of brain power to know all of the tricks.
Day 3: Alesund, a lovely small port with Art Noveau architecture and shops. A walking tour on our own included the stone church, and many nicely decorated shops and houses around the harbor. Very manageable on foot. Trolls are important here, and every one of them appears in the carved ornamentation of the buildings. Spend some time finding the trolls hidden in the buildings around Ålesund.
Day 4: Kristiansund – another nice small harbour. We strolled the area, although there was quite a bit to do in the vicinity if you wanted a shore excursion. Close to Kristiansund, you’ll find the island of Averoy, a fishing and farming society for generations. You may choose to visit the Milnbrygga – Norway’s National Klippfish Museum. Klippfish is salted and dried cod, which, exported to the Mediterranean countries, laid the foundation of Kristiansund’s growth.
Day 4 Svartsien Glacier – our first glacier was spectacular! Clear skies and clear blue waters. There was very little snow on the mountaintops – quite a bit less than in Alaska.
Day 5 Honningsvag is the stop for Nordkapp (North Cape) most northerly point of Europe. It was cold, even in July. The Arctic Ice Bar – made completely of ice – is a short walk from the cruise ship dock. Sjogata 1A (by the sea, alongside the taxi station). A modern design made by Laila Kolostyák, it can be visited in summer. All you will see in the inside is made on natural ice from the lakes of Lapland. Bar, walls, seats, tables, ramp with sledge, a map of the Artic, a life-size igloo where you can get in. In the shops in Honningsvag, you meet the local Sami people and their reindeer. If you go to the North Cape by bus, There is a huge hall here where you can see a film about the area have something to eat and drink and buy your souvenirs, and see a film. Another warning it was around this northern part of Norway that we had the roughest seas, although they were not bad.
Day 6 Cruise The Barents Sea
Day 7 Trondheim
Trondheim was the old capital of Norway, and the cathedral is where all the monarchs are crowned and if you go to Kristiansten Fort you get one of the best views across the city. After a catastrophic fire in 1681 destroyed most of the houses in the city, a new city was planned in the Baroque style. The streets were made wide to prevent fires from spreading. Some of the narrow alleys and narrow streets, many from the Middle Ages, nevertheless still. Even today Trondheim is spoken of as one of the typical wooden cities of Europe, and the city center has many special wooden buildings, some built as far back as the 1700s. Trondheim is filled with historical sights, museums, and art galleries.
Crossing the Blomsterbrua (Flower Bridge) over the River
You can walk along the salmon river Nidelven in the city’s downtown district and the old wharves along the mouth of the river
The majestic Nidaros cathedral, the largest in Scandinavia. The Viking King, Olav Trygvason,was buried here in 997. The King was known as St. Olav, the holy king and the Patron Saint of Norway. Pilgrimages to the shrine of St. Olav started soon after his death and grew to great dimensions in the Middle Ages. Work on what was to become the Nidaros cathedral started in 1070 over the grave of St. Olav.
-The bright red old town bridge (“Gamle Bybro”) with its carved gate – The Gate of Fortune
– The picturesque, wooden houses painted in vivid colors in the downtown and old part of the city – Bakklandet districts
If you want an organized tour, take a sightseeing tour of Trondheim and its outskirts by bus. Daily departures at 11am.You will visit the Haltdalen Stave church at the Trøndelag Folk Museum, pass the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Kristiansten Fortress, the Royal Residence and the Cathedral. Duration 2 hours. Departure from McDonald’s next to the shopping centre Trondheim Torg. (Crossing Market Square with its colourful stalls, the statue of the Viking king who founded the city looks down on you from a great height. ) Tickets are sold by the guide and at the Tourist Information Office.
Day 8 Hellesylt A 3 hour stop was made here to let passengers take the overland tour to Geiranger, but we sailed instead to Geiranger, passing magnificent waterfalls.
Geiranger Fjord is known as “the most beautiful fjord in the world.”. From the village of Geiranger, your first visit is the Norwegian Fjord Centre, describing the daily life in Geiranger from the past and present. From here, you can see the winding, switchback roads to the top of the mountains. Sod roofed houses, and souvenir shops and beautiful views of the hills are the main draw if you do not take an organized tour.
Day 9 Bergen 8:00 AM 7:00 PM
Bergen is the second largest city in Norway, yet it’s got a great small-town feel. It is easily walkable, but we also took the tourist train for a 1 hour ride through the area and up over the city, Bergen of course is famous for its fish market, with UNESCO world heritage status The Wharf / Bryggen is characterized by its wooden buildings with pointed gables facing the harbor You can also take a trip on the Floibanen (funicular) for amazing views over the whole of Bergen and the surrounding hills.
Edvard Hagerup Grieg is from Bergen. (15 June 1843 – 4 September 1907) He was a Norwegian composer and pianist who composed in the romantic period. He is best known for his Piano Concerto in A minor, for his incidental music to Henrik Ibsen’s play Peer Gynt (which includes In the Hall of the Mountain King), and for his collection of piano miniatures Lyric Pieces.
Day 10 Stavanger European Capital of Culture in 2008.
Your exploration begins in ‘Old Stavanger’, a lively area that consisting of more than 150 houses – well-preserved 18th and 19th century wooden houses, mostly built for seafarers, craftsmen and traders. An important rehabilitation project has meant that this is now northern Europe’s largest and best-preserved ‘wooden house’ settlement. Your stroll through Stavanger continues to the market square at the head of the harbour bay. A colourful scene greets you where fruit and vegetables, flowers and seafood are laid out on sale. There are lots of shops to explore, too. The impressive Cathedral forms a backdrop; built in 1125.
Day 11Thu Cruise The North Sea – –
Day 12 Fri London (Southampton)
The Ship: NCL Jade – Beautifully designed and maintained. Built in 2006
Crew: Unfortunately, this ship was just recently repositioned to Europe. It had been in Hawaii, with an all American crew, as required by law. When it was deployed to Europe, a mostly new crew boarded, although some are from other NCL ships. The lack or coordination and absence of team spirit was clear. I hope they will get better.
The daily newsletter was often wrong, even telling us to turn our clocks back on the wrong day. The activities were mis-timed. The announcements from the activities director ranged from silly to stupid young girl musings.
Our cabin was not made up on the first night, but things improved after that.
The Food: The Buffet had generous, always varied offerings and was nearly always open. The main dining room had slow service when we sampled it. Teppenyaki, one of the premium restaurants was good. The Italian Kitchen, though was inconsistent, being unable to reproduce the same dish on two successive nights. Different chef, different recipe perhaps.
Entertainment: The shows were aimed at the mainly English passengers on this cruise, which left from Southampton. I missed most of the jokes of the famous comedian, and could not understand why he made fun of anyone who walked in late. The dancers were just okay. The singers were mainly good, particularly the gospel singers. The crew show was foolish and required not a bit of talent.
Shore Excursions: We did not take any ship sponsored shore excursions. Since this was the Jade’s first visit to Norway, it seemed that no one bothered to do any shore excursion research in advance, and I found more information on the internet than at the shore excursion desk.
What to wear: Layers, including a fleece of some sort. It was not warm enough for summer shorts, although we sailed in July. It was sunny, and we never needed raingear or umbrellas.
Overall: We did have a good time, and I attribute the problems listed above to the inexperienced staff. I would try the Jade again, but at a much later date. after the staff has time to assimilate into a team.