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PurpleTraveller

Norway - Land of the Midnight Sun on Sapphire Princess June 15, 2019

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I have just returned from a wonderful five weeks in Europe which included a couple of days in Rome, four days in Malta, a great two weeks on Sapphire Princess on the Land of the Midnight Sun cruise to Norway and followed by ten days in the UK. 

 

We are a couple in our fifties who love to travel and usually travel a month or so combining a cruise and independent travel. We don't particularly like large bus shore excursions and try to organise independent tours or DIY where possible.

 

We were blessed to be part of an active roll call where many members shared information, ideas and advice. There were also a number of members who organised independent tours. We even had a member who was on last year's Land of the Midnight Sun cruise who was wonderful with her advice and personal experience. 

 

I will start with a brief overview of our Rome and Malta visits as they are both cruise ports before I go on to the Norway cruise. 

 

We flew from Australia to Rome via Doha and arrived in Rome after nearly 24 hours of travel. We love Rome and have been there a number of times for up to a week at a time. This was just a quick visit on our way to Malta. As we had been there before there was no need to go into any of the big sites such as the Colosseum or St Peters but we just wandered around seeing some of our favourite places and visiting some of the less visited churches and sites. We popped into or past the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, the Colosseum, the Arch of Constantine and Piazza Navonna. I also had to visit my favourite statue in Rome - the elephant obelisk in Piazza Della Minerva just near the Pantheon. 

 

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Posted (edited)

We visited a number of churches including Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri, designed by Michelangelo in the ruins of the Roman Baths of Diocletian with its meridian solar line.

 

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We then went to Santa Maria della Vittoria to see Bernini's masterpiece the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa. 

 

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We also went to Santa Pietro in Vincoli to see Michelangelo's Moses. 

 

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Along the way we visited a street market and the Arch of Drusus and San Giovanni a Porta Latina, one of the gateways to the city.

 

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We finished off our time in Rome by visiting the Pyramid of Cestius and the adjacent Protestant Cemetery before heading across the river to wander around Trastaverre. 

 

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We enjoyed our quick visit to Rome even though it seemed to be a lot dirtier than our last visit in 2016. There seemed to be more rubbish lying around on the streets and the public gardens which are usually immaculate were unkempt. Maybe the maintenance workers were on strike but it was a shame to see the city not looking it's best however there were still beautiful flowers everywhere we went. 

 

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Edited by PurpleTraveller

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34 minutes ago, jimbri said:

Great photos.  Looking forward to your review!

 

Thank you. I hope you enjoy it. 

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After our two days in Rome we flew to Malta. We hadn't been to Malta before and had wanted to visit for quite some time. It was very warm while we were there - between 30 to 36 degrees each day with sunshine and brilliant blue skies. We stayed right in the old city of Valleta and used public buses to get about. 

 

We visited the Blue Grotto on a hot morning so it was wonderful to be on the water. 

 

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That afternoon we got the bus to Mdina which was lovely. 

 

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Another day we went to the fishing village of Marsaxlokk to look at the fishing boats. 

 

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The following day we got the ferry to the Three Cities on the opposite side of the harbour to Valletta.

 

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Yes this was a great cruise and a very active roll call.  Lots of suggestions for ports which is always a bonus.  Sorry I missed you at the Meet and Greet.  Looked but with all the people couldn't find you.

 

Looking forward to reading the rest of your review.  We thought the cruise was excellent.  Food and Service on board was a step up from the norm.  Weather could have been a few degrees warmer, but that said, we were still able to do what we wanted.

 

Ray and Ann

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Posted (edited)

Throughout our stay we explored the old city of Valletta. It was beautiful everywhere you looked from the buildings to the gardens to the churches. We loved Malta and will go back another day. 

 

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St John's Co-Cathedral was spectacular.

 

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It was also great to wander around in the evening enjoying the city. 

 

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Edited by PurpleTraveller

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18 minutes ago, phabric said:

Following along.

 

Great! I'll get to Norway tomorrow. Hope you enjoy it. 

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9 minutes ago, RLK33853 said:

Yes this was a great cruise and a very active roll call.  Lots of suggestions for ports which is always a bonus.  Sorry I missed you at the Meet and Greet.  Looked but with all the people couldn't find you.

 

Looking forward to reading the rest of your review.  We thought the cruise was excellent.  Food and Service on board was a step up from the norm.  Weather could have been a few degrees warmer, but that said, we were still able to do what we wanted.

 

Ray and Ann

 

Sorry I didn't get to meet you too. There were so many people at the Meet and Greet it was impossible to talk to everyone. 

 

We had a great cruise and were pleasantly surprised that the weather was so good if a little cool. 

 

Hope you enjoy the review. 

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I have taken Princess 7 day Norwegian Cruise 2x visiting 4 ports.  I like Norway better than Alaska.

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14 minutes ago, phabric said:

I have taken Princess 7 day Norwegian Cruise 2x visiting 4 ports.  I like Norway better than Alaska.

I think it is safe to say if you like Alaska, you will like Norway. I felt Norway was like Alaska on steroids with out the large glaciers.

 

Alaska is cheaper than Norway but I do like Norway better.

 

Loving these pictures! Can't wait to read and see more!

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Great photos!  We've been in Rome several times, but didn't see some of the places you visited so those photos, especially, were a treat.  Look forward to your Norway photos since we've only been to southern Norway.

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Fantastic. Been looking forward to your trip report. Cannot wait to hear all the details and see some great photos (as per usual 😍).

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4 hours ago, phabric said:

I have taken Princess 7 day Norwegian Cruise 2x visiting 4 ports.  I like Norway better than Alaska.

 

I haven't been to Alaska but I loved Norway! 

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4 hours ago, Coral said:

I think it is safe to say if you like Alaska, you will like Norway. I felt Norway was like Alaska on steroids with out the large glaciers.

 

Alaska is cheaper than Norway but I do like Norway better.

 

Loving these pictures! Can't wait to read and see more!

 

Thanks. I hope you enjoy the review particularly since you were so helpful when planning our cruise. I am so sorry that you weren't able to come as I would have loved to meet you! 

 

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1 hour ago, BarbinMich said:

Great photos!  We've been in Rome several times, but didn't see some of the places you visited so those photos, especially, were a treat.  Look forward to your Norway photos since we've only been to southern Norway.

 

Thank you! We like to visit new places whenever possible and Rome has so much to see. Northern Norway was beautiful and I am so glad we did the 14 day cruise. 

 

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51 minutes ago, Geoffa30 said:

Fantastic. Been looking forward to your trip report. Cannot wait to hear all the details and see some great photos (as per usual 😍).

 

Thank you!  I hope you enjoy the review as your review was helpful when I was doing my planning and I think we did some different things than you did.

 

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10 minutes ago, Stonewolf Cruiser said:

Fantastic photos of Rome and Malta.  Looking forward to your Norway review - I go there next Summer.

 

Thanks. Hopefully you will find some of my review helpful. Norway is beautiful and I am hope you have a great time on your cruise. 

 

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Posted (edited)

From Malta we flew to London Gatwick arriving at 11.45am. Getting through immigration was exceptional - it took 30 seconds. Yes, you read that correctly - 30 seconds! I have never been through immigration anywhere in the world that quickly! 

 

When planning this trip I looked at both the bus and train to get from Gatwick to Southampton. I decided on the National Express bus as it was less expensive (GBP15 each), we didn't have to keep an eye on our luggage and we got to see the countryside. We got the 1.10pm bus and arrived at Southampton at 4.00pm.

 

It was a short ten minute walk to our hotel, the Premier Inn West Quay. We have stayed there previously and like its location across the road from the West Quay Shopping Centre with its many shops and restaurants.

 

We had a day to spare so the next day decided to get the train to Portsmouth. We got the 9.44am train that arrived at 10.44am and cost GBP11.90 each for a day return. We had been to the Historic Shipyards previously so went for a walk to Southsea Castle. Henry VIII built the castle and it was from here that he watched his warship the Mary Rose sink. 

 

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It was overcast with a blustery wind but as the day wore on it became sunny and warmer. We walked past the large War Memorial to the Royal Garrison Church. The Church was bombed during WW2 and the damaged half has been left as a ruin while the other half is a functioning church with some lovely stained glass windows. 

 

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We then made a visit to the Cathedral before walking to the Square and Round Towers that had defended Portsmouth from the sea. 

 

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We had lunch at a cafe sitting in the sun with our fish and chips before ending our day at the Spinnaker Tower. 

 

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We got the 3.38pm train to Southampton arriving at 4.38pm after a very pleasant day. 

 

Edited by PurpleTraveller

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Saturday June 15 - Embarkation Day

 

After a walk around Southampton in the morning we returned to the hotel to get our luggage. We had planned to walk to the Mayflower terminal but just as we were about to leave it started to rain lightly. We rang a taxi from the free phone in the foyer and five minutes later our taxi arrived. We left at 11.45am and it took eight minutes and cost GBP7 to get to the terminal. Boarding was very quick - only ten minutes and we were in our cabin. 

 

We had an obstructed Ocean View cabin E211. We prefer the set out of the obstructed Ocean View cabins that we have had on Crown and Emerald Princess where the bed is on the side wall but the cabin was comfortable, the view was good and was in a convenient location. We did get some noise from the theatre when a show was on or they were practising but it wasn't too bad. 

 

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Our suitcases arrived at 12.40pm and we then had lunch at the International Cafe. Muster was at 3.15pm and took 25 minutes. Sail away was at 4.00pm and we led a procession of cruise ships including Britannia, Independence of the Seas and Oriana out of Southampton. 

 

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We sailed down the Solent past Netley Castle and the chapel that is all that remains of the Royal Victoria Hospital at Netley.

 

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We also sailed past Portsmouth and the Solent Forts which were built to protect the eastern approaches to Portsmouth Harbour in the 1800's. 

 

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We had dinner in the Vivaldi Dining Room and shared a table for six. We had a lovely meal and enjoyed meeting some of our fellow cruisers. 

 

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What an awesome review!

Thanks for taking the time to put it together and posting.  😁

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