For anyone looking to visit Norway for a cruise holiday why not consider a cruise aboard Fred. Olsen’s Balmoral. I was lucky enough to sail aboard Balmoral last year and experienced a wonderful holiday with beautiful scenery and breathtaking sights. Fred. Olsen Captains are Norwegian and the company have strong Norwegian Heritage, and by having small ships they really enable passengers to see the real Norway.
The holiday started off in style with the Sussex Cruise Club taxi service. We then met our coach and travelled down to Southampton for our 4pm sailing. We spent the first evening exploring our ship and learning everything this small ship had to offer. I stayed in an outside twin cabin which was more than comfortable for my stay onboard. Our group gathered in the morning of the second day for a welcome drinks party, which was a great opportunity for everyone to get acquainted with other passengers travelling with us and also ask any questions that had arisen.
The following morning we arrived in Bergen, Norway’s second largest city, to a beautiful sunny day. I decided to take the ten minute walk into Bergen to see the colourful wooden houses and shops along the Hanseatic Quay and then made my way to the Funicular (Fløybanen) station. We were 320 metres above sea level to Mount Fløyen, so I could see the spectacular views of Bergen and the surrounding area – quite breathtaking on a clear day. We returned to the ship to enjoy our first formal evening with the Captain’s Welcome Drinks Party.
The following day we arrived in Olden. I rose early to enjoy Fred. Olsen’s organised excursion to the Briksdal Glacier, which I thoroughly recommend. We enjoyed a scenic 30 minute coach drive before an hours walk to see the Glacier. It was a steady up hill path with plenty of scenery to enjoy, with snow capped mountains and breathtaking waterfalls. We arrived at the Glacier to be amazed by its beauty and the wonderful clear air. I recommend a visit to this wonder – although its uphill, it’s a slow pace, the gentleman that walked with me was over 90!
Flåm was our next stop and here I travelled on the famous ‘Norway in a Nutshell’ excursion – although a little pricey, I felt it was an excellent day out to experience a snapshot of everything Norway has to offer in a day. We boarded our train next to the port and then were whisked up the mountain to see the spectacular waterfalls and a troll or two! We changed trains and continued our journey onto Voss, where we enjoyed a sumptuous 3-course lunch before enjoying some free time. We then drove to the Stalheim Hotel to enjoy afternoon tea and the amazing backdrop that this hotel enjoys before driving down twelve hair pin bends down the mountain side – not for the fainthearted - before returning to the ship.
Our next sunny afternoon was spent in the picturesque town of Eidfjord – which is truly like being in a picture postcard. The ship berths right into this beautiful village and you are free to wander through the pretty streets or perhaps a hire a bike and burn some of those calories off from all the wonderful food enjoyed onboard.
Our last port of call was Kristiansand. This is one of Norway’s most popular tourist destinations in the summer months and we arrived on a beautiful sunny day. It’s a short walk into the centre, where I found the local fish market and I enjoyed lunch in one of the cafes. It is a very clean and pretty place with plenty of shops and walks to enjoy.
We spent our remaining day at sea, enjoying the activities on board, and said our final farewells to our fellow companions. At Southampton, my group and I were collected by our Woods coach and then taken back to the local area to meet our taxis to take us all home. Overall a wonderful cruise on an excellent ship and some wonderful memories.
Written by Alison Waterfield-Jones, Sussex Cruise Club
Contact Alison on 01243 871663
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