I sailed on NCL’s Jade, sailing through Norway from Southampton to the North Cape from June 29 to July 11, 2008. Here’s my day-to-day journal.
Note: At the time of travel 1.00 USD = 5.09180 NOK
US dollars = Norwegian crowns.
There are many ideas for sightseeing on the official tourism site: visitnorway.com
Day 0 We take Delta to London Heathrow. A very smooth flight on time.
Day 1 When we arrived at Heathrow, we searched for the bus terminal to catch our pre-booked bus to Southampton (National Express) at 1150. Since we arrived at 9am, this was plenty of time to collect our luggage and walk to the terminal. . . The directional signs weren’t as accurate as you’d expect in Britain, so we made it to Terminal 5, where we waited. Unfortunately, the bus terminal is not close to Terminal 5, something we didn’t discover until 1145, when we asked the bus dispatcher.
We missed the 1150 bus, despite the best efforts of the terminal 5 bus dispatcher, who called ahead to stop the bus from leaving. She arranged another bus to take us to the proper bus terminal, where we waited for bus 1250, which would have brought us to Southampton just an hour before the scheduled 4:00 pm departure time for the Jade. We were waiting on the waiting list for 1250 and we were told to come back just before departure. Fortunately, an understanding bus driver allowed us to board, with the wrong tickets. He was a master at avoiding crowded motorway traffic, and by taking back roads through pretty towns, we were able to get to Southampton early! A taxi, available at the bus station, took us to the boat in 5 minutes. One of the advantages of arriving so late was that there were no lines to board, and we were soon on the ship, just in time for the meeting call. Before we knew it, we were on our way. The cruise departed from the city’s cruise terminal.
A good long nap (we had been awake for what seemed like days) meant we had a very late dinner and missed the shows. Oh good!
Day 2: A day at sea with so many activities on a day-to-day basis that we had trouble accommodating what we wanted to do in one day. Breakfast, stretching class, learning to play bridge, entertainment, and more. I am so confused by the bridge. He had always thought it was a game played by women with too much free time. Since then, I have found that it takes a lot of brain power to know all the tricks.
Day 3: Alesund, a charming little port with Art Noveau architecture and shops. A walking tour on our own included the stone church and many beautifully decorated shops and houses around the harbor. Very manageable on foot. Trolls are important here, and each one of them appears in the carved ornamentation of the buildings. Spend some time finding the trolls hiding in the buildings around Ålesund.
Day 4: Kristiansund – another nice little port. We took a walk around the area, although there was plenty to do in the surroundings if you wanted a shore excursion. Near Kristiansund, you will find the island of Averoy, a fishing and farming society for generations. You can choose to visit Milnbrygga, the National Klippfish Museum of Norway. Klippfish is salty, dried cod that, exported to Mediterranean countries, laid the foundation for Kristiansund’s growth.
Day 4 Svartsien Glacier: our first glacier was spectacular! Clear skies and crystal clear waters. There was very little snow on the mountain tops, considerably less than in Alaska.
Day 5 Honningsvag is the stop at Nordkapp (North Cape), the northernmost point in Europe. It was cold, even in July. The Arctic Ice Bar, made entirely of ice, is located a short walk from the cruise ship dock. Sjogata 1A (by the sea, next to the taxi station). A modern design made by Laila Kolostyák, it can be visited in summer. Everything you will see inside is made on natural ice from the lakes of Lapland. Bar, walls, seats, tables, sled ramp, a map of the Artic, a life-size igloo to enter. In the shops of Honningsvag, you will meet the local Sami and their reindeer. If you go to the North Cape by bus, there is a great room here where you can watch a movie about the area, eat and drink something, and buy your souvenirs and watch a movie. Another caveat was around this part of northern Norway that we had the roughest seas, although they weren’t bad.
Day 6 Barents Sea Cruise
Day 7 Trondheim
Trondheim was the ancient capital of Norway, and the cathedral is where all monarchs are crowned and if you go to Kristiansten Fort you get one of the best views of 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 widened to prevent the fires from spreading. Some of the narrow lanes and narrow streets, many from the Middle Ages, still. Even today Trondheim is spoken of as one of Europe’s typical wooden cities, and the city center has many special wooden buildings, some built as early as the 18th century. Trondheim is full of historical landmarks, museums, and art galleries.
Crossing the Blomsterbrua (Bridge of Flowers) over the river
You can walk along the Nidelven salmon river in the downtown district and the old docks along the river mouth.
The majestic cathedral of Nidaros, the largest in Scandinavia. The Viking king, Olav Trygvason, was buried here in 997. The king was known as Saint Olav, the holy king and patron of Norway. Pilgrimages to the Sanctuary of Saint Olav began shortly after his death and reached great dimensions in the Middle Ages. Work on what would become the Nidaros Cathedral began in 1070 on the tomb of Saint Olav.
-The bright red bridge of the old city (“Gamle Bybro”) with its carved gate – La Puerta de la Fortuna
– The picturesque, brightly painted wooden houses in the city center and old town – Bakklandet districts
For an organized tour, take a sightseeing tour of Trondheim and its surroundings by bus. Daily departures at 11 am You will visit the Haltdalen Stave church at the Trøndelag Folk Museum, past the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, the Kristiansten Fortress, the Royal Residence and the Cathedral. Duration 2 hours. Depart from McDonald’s next to Trondheim Torg shopping center. (Across the Market Square with its colorful stalls, the statue of the Viking king who founded the city looks at 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 allow passengers to make the overland tour to Geiranger, but we sailed to Geiranger instead, passing magnificent waterfalls.
The Geiranger Fjord is known as “the most beautiful fjord in the world”. From the town of Geiranger, your first visit is the Norwegian Fjord Center, which describes daily life in Geiranger from the past and present. From here, you can see the winding and zigzag roads to the top of the mountains. The grass-roofed houses, souvenir shops, and beautiful views of the hills are the main draw if you don’t go on an organized tour.
Day 9 Bergen 8:00 AM 7:00 PM
Bergen is Norway’s second-largest city, but it has a great small-town feel. You can easily walk, but we also took the tourist train for a 1 hour trip through the area and over the city. Bergen, of course, is famous for its fish market, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The quay / Bryggen is characterized by its timber fronted gabled buildings facing the harbor. You can also take a trip on the Floibanen (funicular) for incredible views across Bergen and the surrounding hills.
Edvard Hagerup Grieg is from Bergen. (June 15, 1843 – September 4, 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 music incidental to Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt (which includes In the Hall of the Mountain King), and for his collection of miniature piano lyrical pieces.
Day 10 Stavanger European Capital of Culture in 2008.
Your exploration begins in ‘Old Stavanger’, a lively area consisting of more than 150 houses, well-preserved wooden houses from the 18th and 19th centuries, mostly built for sailors, craftsmen and merchants. A major rehabilitation project has now made this the largest and best-preserved settlement of “wooden houses” in northern Europe. Your walk through Stavanger continues to the market square at the head of the harbor bay. A colorful scene welcomes you where fruits and vegetables, flowers and seafood are displayed for sale. There are also many shops to explore. The impressive Cathedral forms a backdrop; built in 1125.
Day 11 Thu North Sea Cruise – –
Day 12 Friday London (Southampton)
The Ship: NCL Jade – Beautifully designed and maintained. Built in 2006
Crew: Unfortunately, this ship was recently transferred to Europe. It had been in Hawaii, with an all-American crew, as required by law. When it was deployed to Europe, it boarded a mostly new crew, although some are from other NCL ships. The lack of coordination and lack of team spirit was evident. I hope they improve.
The daily bulletin was often wrong, even telling us to turn back the clock on the wrong day. The activities were not scheduled. The activities director’s announcements ranged from silly to stupid girlish thoughts.
Our cabin was not made up the first night, but things got better after that.
The food: The buffet had generous offerings, always varied and was almost always open. The main dining room had slow service when we tried it. Teppenyaki, one of the premium restaurants, was good. The Italian Kitchen, while inconsistent, was 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 ship, which departed from Southampton. He missed most of the famous comedian’s jokes and couldn’t understand why he made fun of anyone who was late. The dancers were good. The singers were mostly good, particularly the gospel singers. The crew show was silly and didn’t require a bit of talent.
Shore Excursions: We do not undertake any ship sponsored shore excursions. Since this was 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 some kind of fleece. It wasn’t hot enough for the summer shorts, even though we sailed in July. It was sunny and we never needed rain gear or umbrellas.
Overall: We had a good time and I attribute the issues mentioned above to inexperienced staff. I would try the Jade again, but at a much later date. after staff have time to assimilate into a team.