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PurpleTraveller

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

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18 minutes ago, Colo Cruiser said:

What an awesome review!

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

 

Thank you. I hope you enjoy the rest of the review. 

 

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Sunday June 16 - Sea Day

 

I love it when the first day of a cruise is a Sea Day. It allows me to chill out and enjoy being on a cruise again. We had a few events that we went to. First was the Destination Presentation on Stavanger at 9.45am in the theatre by Debbie Shields the destination expert. I found her to be fairly informative and she gave information on independent options as well as information on the ports. It was a lovely sunny day so we were able to spend some time on the Sun Deck in the sun. Next was lunch at the International Cafe followed by an Enrichment Lecture "Sink the Bismark" about the pursuit and destruction of Germany's most powerful battleship by the British Royal Navy in 1941. The lecturer David Russell gave a series of lectures throughout the cruise on interesting events that had occurred during WW2 and in the seas around Norway.

 

Here are some photos from around the ship. 

 

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At 3pm was the Meet and Greet in Skywalkers. I know we had an active roll call but I was very impressed with the large turn out. There were so many people that it simply was not possible to meet everyone. Free non-alcoholic fruit punch was provided by Princess which was very pleasant and a first for me. A number of officers attended including Matthew Thompson the Entertainment Director and Miguel Netto Rocha the Customer Service Director. I had a wonderful time meeting many lovely fellow cruisers. 

 

We had a lovely dinner at Alfredo's followed by going to see the Production show "Bravo" in the theatre at 8pm. We got there early at 7.15pm and the theatre filled up quickly. If you weren't there by 7.30pm it was difficult to get two seats together and as the cruise progressed the theatre filled earlier and earlier. On a number of nights the theatre was full by 7.40pm and people had to stand. 

 

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18 minutes ago, Aus Traveller said:

I am also enjoying reading the review. The photos are great.

 

Thank you. Hope you enjoy the remainder.

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I see the tea kettle in your cabin -- what tea was provided with it? We will be on the Sapphire in late October and I'm so excited to finally have a tea kettle 🙂

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28 minutes ago, PurpleTraveller said:

Sunday June 16 - Sea Day

 

I love it when the first day of a cruise is a Sea Day. It allows me to chill out and enjoy being on a cruise again. We had a few events that we went to. First was the Destination Presentation on Stavanger at 9.45am in the theatre by Debbie Shields the destination expert. I found her to be fairly informative and she gave information on independent options as well as information on the ports. It was a lovely sunny day so we were able to spend some time on the Sun Deck in the sun. Next was lunch at the International Cafe followed by an Enrichment Lecture "Sink the Bismark" about the pursuit and destruction of Germany's most powerful battleship by the British Royal Navy in 1941. The lecturer David Russell gave a series of lectures throughout the cruise on interesting events that had occurred during WW2 and in the seas around Norway.

 

Debbie Shields is a great destination lecturer. She is also very pleasant and approachable. It's interesting that you had an Enrichment Lecturer. Princess seems to have them less often than they used to.

 

You mentioned the show "Bravo". Love that show. 😁

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46 minutes ago, Alaskanb said:

I see the tea kettle in your cabin -- what tea was provided with it? We will be on the Sapphire in late October and I'm so excited to finally have a tea kettle 🙂

 

The tea provided in the cabin was PG Tips so I gathered some Twinings English Breakfast from the Horizon Buffet (they had a large range of Twinings in the buffet). I also had to get extra sugar from the buffet as there wasn't enough provided for more than one or two cups a day and we drank more. DH asked the steward for extra coffee as she sometimes only provided decaf which he doesn't drink. We put the little milk containers in the fridge so that we could get extra. It was wonderful having tea and coffee making facilities in the cabin and we made use of them every day. 

 

Hope you have a great cruise in October. 

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29 minutes ago, Aus Traveller said:

Debbie Shields is a great destination lecturer. She is also very pleasant and approachable. It's interesting that you had an Enrichment Lecturer. Princess seems to have them less often than they used to.

 

You mentioned the show "Bravo". Love that show. 😁

 

I enjoyed Debbie Shields destination presentations. She gave lots of useful information as well as some history of each port.

 

We have had Enrichment Lecturers on two Princess cruises (the other one was on our South America Cape Horn cruise) and thoroughly enjoyed them.

 

We also really enjoyed "Bravo".

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Posted (edited)

Monday June 17 - Stavanger

 

Before the cruise I had looked at the long range forecast and it had not been looking good. Cool temperatures and rain for much of the cruise was forecast. We packed accordingly and planned for the worst and hoped for the best. 

 

We woke up to find a lovely morning with some clouds but also sunshine. Stavanger looked lovely as we sailed in. 

 

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I had planned to go on a Lysefjord cruise but did not want to book and pay ahead of time in case it was raining. As it looked like a good day we got off the ship at 8.15am and went to walk to the Rodne Cruise office. Just a couple of minutes later I saw a Rodne Cruises booth on the waterfront and was able to buy tickets for the 9.00am cruise. The tickets cost NOK550 each. You can see from the following photo how close the booth (where the people are standing) and the Rodne cruise boat was to Sapphire Princess. 

 

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We were in port with three other Cruise ships - Viking Sea, Vasco da Gama and a Pullmantur ship, so expected the cruise to be full but we left with only about 50 people so there was plenty of room for everyone to take photos and move around. 

 

We cruised into Lysefjord past lovely countryside and pretty buildings and villages. Even though the sun was shining it was a bit cold with the wind when on the top deck. 

 

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As we got into the fjord we could see the steep cliffs. It really was a lovely morning to be on a cruise! 

 

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Before long we were at Pulpit Rock. I knew it was very high but didn't expect it to be as high as it is. We could see tiny dots moving around which were people up there taking in the view which must be amazing. 

 

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Our next stop was at Hanging Falls where a crew member leaned out with a bucket to gather water from the waterfall which we then drank. It was cold and refreshing. 

 

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We turned around to head back to Stavanger past other waterfalls and Pulpit Rock again. On the way back the clouds started coming over. We got back to Stavanger at 11.45am. It was a lovely cruise and I think we probably had the best weather of the day. 

 

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Edited by PurpleTraveller

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Thank you for the review, looking forward to reading more and enjoying your fabulous photos.

 

When we did the Norwegian Fjords cruise on the Emerald Princess a couple of years ago the weather was so bad in Stavanger that when we did the boat trip we couldn’t see more than a couple of feet in front and the rain was torrential (still enjoyed it).  We ended up stuck in Stavanger for a couple of days because it was too windy for the ship to get off the dock and we missed Flam which we had been really looking forward to - will definitely visit Norway again.

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4 hours ago, Lovetotraveltami said:

Thank you for sharing your beautiful cruise with us!

 

Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoy the rest of the review. 

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1 hour ago, Frflatt said:

Thank you for the review, looking forward to reading more and enjoying your fabulous photos.

 

When we did the Norwegian Fjords cruise on the Emerald Princess a couple of years ago the weather was so bad in Stavanger that when we did the boat trip we couldn’t see more than a couple of feet in front and the rain was torrential (still enjoyed it).  We ended up stuck in Stavanger for a couple of days because it was too windy for the ship to get off the dock and we missed Flam which we had been really looking forward to - will definitely visit Norway again.

 

Thanks and thank you for reading along! I remember reading your review and that was why I didn't want to pre-book and pay for a cruise in case it poured. We were very lucky with our weather in Stavanger and Flam and in many other places and didn't miss any ports. Such a pity you missed Flam but it just means you will have to go back to Norway! 😊

 

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When we got back to Stavanger it was bustling with the visitors from four cruise ships. We walked around the waterfront past an outdoor market that was very busy. 

 

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We walked to Ovre Holmegate, a very pretty street with brightly coloured buildings and then to the Valberg Tower. 

 

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We continued on past the Domkirken and around the Breivatnet Lake. 

 

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Our final destination was Gamle Stavanger an area of cobblestone streets and late 18th and 19th century white wooden houses. The houses and gardens are very pretty and the whole area is lovely.

 

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As you can see the ship was docked very close to Gamle Stavanger - just across the road. 

 

It was now completely cloudy and beginning to cool so we returned to the ship for a late lunch at the International Cafe. After an afternoon of relaxing we had dinner at the Savoy Dining Room. 

 

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Tuesday June 18 - Flam 

 

I had heard that the sail in to Flam was beautiful so I got up at 5.15am (I know I'm supposed to be on holiday!) and was at the front of the Promenade deck before 5.30am. It was overcast but so very peaceful and tranquil as we glided through the fjord. I was the only one on deck until just before we got to Flam when a few fellow photographers and an occasional crew member passed by. The scenery was lovely with many waterfalls, snow capped mountains and small villages. 

 

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In the last photo you can see Viking Sky on her way to join us in Flam. We were fortunate to be docking whereas Viking Sky had to moor and tender her passengers.

 

As we docked I dashed upstairs for breakfast so that we could leave the ship as soon as possible.

 

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At 7.45am we left the ship to start our day in Flam. When planning this day I had considered a number of options including the train and going to the Stegastein lookout. However, I like to do something different in each port so decided that if the weather cooperated we would go on a hike to the Brekkefossen waterfall.

 

The weather was cloudy with a few glimmers of sunshine so the hike was on. We popped into the Tourist Information Centre to get a map of the walks in the area and were on our way at 8.00am. The way to the waterfall is easy to find and at first we walked along a road past pretty farms and countryside. You can see the waterfall from the road. 

 

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We turned off the road onto a well marked path and started our way up. At first we were on a good path which then changed to stone stairs and then to a dirt trail. I must admit my knees did not enjoy the stairs and the way up is fairly steep and not for the faint hearted. 

 

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As we climbed upwards we could hear bells and when we got to the top of the path at 9.00am we were greeted by sheep.

 

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We walked over the rise and this is what awaited us. 

 

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What a great view! The sun was out and much to our delight we were the only people there! We walked over to see the waterfall which was glistening in the sunshine. 

 

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After taking our photos we sat on a large rock in the sunshine and simply enjoyed the serenity and wonder of nature. We were so fortunate to have all this to ourselves, in the sunshine and peace and quiet, except for the gentle sound of the sheep bells. 

 

After about twenty minutes we greeted the next people to arrive and over the next half an hour we watched more and more people make their way along the road and up the path to us. 

 

After enjoying our fill of the scenery we made our way back down to the road and it was much easier than the way up. 

 

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Posted (edited)

When we got back down to the road we continued walking along it, crossed the river and continued on towards Old Flam and the Flam church. It took us about an hour to walk from the waterfall to the church, with a few stops to chat to people we met along the way. 

 

Flam church was built in 1670 and is made of wood. We made a short visit inside then sat on a bench in the churchyard for a while. 

 

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We then walked back to Flam through the countryside and there was a brief light shower of rain.

 

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It took us about 50 minutes to walk back to Flam where we then visited the small Railway Museum which is free to visit. It shows the history of the building of the Flam railway and roads in the area and has photos and displays. 

 

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We then went back to the ship for lunch before heading back out for a walk along the waterside. We passed four very pretty red boathouses and continued to a park where we sat in the sun with a view of the Sapphire Princess. We were back on board at 3.00pm.

 

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Edited by PurpleTraveller

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Posted (edited)

Sail away was at 4.45pm and we stood at the front of the Promenade deck to enjoy the beautiful scenery as we sailed through the fjord for a few hours. We had dinner at the Horizon buffet so we could still see the scenery then sat in the Conservatory so we could continue watching but stay warm. The sail out was just as lovely as the sail in. 

 

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Edited by PurpleTraveller

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1 hour ago, Dobby_The_Ship_Elf said:

Excellent review ..... another one keenly following ....

 

We are on Sapphire in November heading to Singapore

 

Thank you! We really enjoyed Sapphire Princess. She is a lovely ship and we like her size. I hope you have a great cruise in November. Hope you enjoy the rest of the review.

 

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Posted (edited)

Wednesday June 19 - Geiranger

 

We sailed into Hellesylt at 9.00am to let off by tender the Princess shore excursion passengers going on full day tours and finishing in Geiranger.

 

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We were supposed to leave at 11.00am but we left early at 10.00am. We had a lovely sail through the fjords to Geiranger past the Seven Sisters and Suitor waterfalls.

 

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We arrived at Geiranger at 11.20am which was great as we got an extra hour there. Geiranger is also a tender port and we had to collect tender tickets by lining up at Crooners from 11.30am. We were able to get tickets on Shuttle one and then had to wait in a public area until our tender number was called. 

 

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The tender left at 11.50am and took 15 minutes to get to the dock. Holland America's Rotterdam was docked at the floating dock.

 

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The sun was out and we went for a walk around the town. There were some cute wooden boathouses on the waterfront. We walked up to the waterfall that cascades through the middle of Geiranger and then past houses with not just grass on their roofs but large ferns. 

 

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Edited by PurpleTraveller

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Posted (edited)

At 2.00pm we went to a meeting point near the Tourist Information Centre to get our 2.30pm booked bus tour. When planning this day I knew where I wanted to go and found a bus tour in a 16 seater bus that went to all three places I wanted to go. It is run through the Geiranger Fjordservice and is called the Panorama Exclusive Bus and cost NOK495 each. (geirangerfjord.no/panorama-exclusive-bus)

They also have a number of other bus trips in full size buses.

 

Our driver was Christian and we set off at 2.20pm. The bus made it's way up the road out of the town to our first stop at Flydalsjuvet where we had 15 minutes to take in the view. The view was great!

 

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We continued on up the winding road to Mt Dalsnibba where we had another 15 minutes. Mt Dalsnibba is almost 1500 metres high and we were surrounded by snowcapped mountains. The views were amazing! 

 

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We boarded the bus and went a short way down the mountain and had an extra stop at a frozen lake. Djupvatnet Lake is at an elevation of 1,016 metres and was just starting to melt. 

 

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We headed down the mountain and had yet another extra stop near a waterfall and an old farm. 

 

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Edited by PurpleTraveller

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Posted (edited)

We carried on all the way down the mountain, through Geiranger, out the other side and to Eagle Road. Eagle Road zigzags up the mountain and our final stop was at the lookout near the top. We were able to see Geiranger from the opposite side to that which we had seen previously and the Seven Sisters Waterfall. 

 

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I was able to get this shot of Sapphire Princess. 

 

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We returned to Geiranger at 5.25pm after a wonderful tour. This was a highlight of our cruise and we are still amazed at the breathtaking views we saw. We were so lucky to have had a warm day with some sunshine.  

 

There was a long queue for the tender and crew members were serving cold water to those waiting. The queue moved fairly well and after 20 minutes we were on a tender. We sat on the top of the tender and were back on board at 5.55pm.

 

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Sail away was back the way we had arrived and we went past the Seven Sisters and Suitor waterfalls again. It was beautiful cruising the fjord. 

 

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Edited by PurpleTraveller

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Thank you for your review so far! We are doing a Fjords cruise at the end of August so always good to see some inspiration for the ports. Like you I think we will be waiting to see what the weather is like before making our decision for the day!

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