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PurpleTraveller

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

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Posted (edited)

We were in port with P and O's Azura and Aida Diva so we were expecting Bergen to be very busy. It was still remarkably quiet so we grabbed the opportunity to explore the narrow alleyways between the warehouses. 

 

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At the back of the warehouses were courtyards and old stone buildings. 

 

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When the tour buses arrived with their tour groups we moved on towards the Rosenkrantz Tower. The tower was covered in scaffolding but we were able to see Hakon's Hall which is a ceremonial hall built by King Hakon Hakonsson from 1247-1261. It was completed in time for his son's wedding and coronation. 

 

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There were also a number of other buildings in the old Bergen Castle complex. 

 

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In the park they were setting up for a Foo Fighters concert.

 

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Edited by PurpleTraveller

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32 minutes ago, PurpleTraveller said:

We were in port with P and O's Azura and Aida Diva so we were expecting Bergen to be very busy. It was still remarkably quiet so we grabbed the opportunity to explore the narrow alleyways between the warehouses. 

 

 

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When we were there, there was an enormous cat, about 450mm tall hanging around. Looked the size of a Lynx or bigger.

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We continued on past St Mary's Church which dates from the early 12th century. 

 

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We then passed back through Bryggen  and I took the opportunity to do some souvenir shopping. On our way to the cathedral we walked through pretty streets and alleyways.  

 

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The day that had started with clouds was now becoming sunny and warm. As we walked along the waterfront we had a lovely view across to the Bryggen warehouses. 

 

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We passed yet another church - the Nykirken church and up the hill to the Fredricksberg Fortress. 

 

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There was little to see at the fortress so we continued on enjoying the view we had and the pretty streets.

 

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On our walk we saw pretty shops and buildings and I loved the ornate manhole covers.

 

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Eventually we made our way to the city park with its large lake and lovely music pavillion.

 

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Up the hill we went to St John's Church and made a quick visit inside. 

 

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We were now getting close to the last shuttle time so we made our way back down the hill through the pretty streets. 

 

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Near the entrance to the dock were these two pretty buildings. 

 

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We got on a shuttle back to the ship and then had lunch from the Burger Grill on the Lido deck. Sail away was lovely in the sunshine and we sat in the sun on the Sun deck enjoying the scenery. We had dinner at Alfredo's. 

 

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We loved our visit to Bergen and it was a pity it was so short but we made the most of the time we had. 

 

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You had great weather at least, as with a lot of Norway, they get lots of rain.

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10 minutes ago, MicCanberra said:

You had great weather at least, as with a lot of Norway, they get lots of rain.

 

We expected to have rain but we were delighted to have such a good day with sunshine. We were very lucky! 

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53 minutes ago, PurpleTraveller said:

 

We expected to have rain but we were delighted to have such a good day with sunshine. We were very lucky! 

We have been to Bergen several times and have got both types of weather, I know which one I preferred. The photos come out much better with good light.

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Very nice photos of Bergen.  Did you follow a tour book or some other information when roaming the streets and churches?

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Posted (edited)
11 hours ago, JaniceB said:

Very nice photos of Bergen.  Did you follow a tour book or some other information when roaming the streets and churches?

 

Thanks. I did research before the cruise by reading tour books and marked the places I wanted to see on an app on my phone. We also got a city map from the port shuttle bus. On the day we sort of wandered but making sure we hit those points of interest. 

 

Edited by PurpleTraveller

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I am loving your review! Love the pictures. Miss my trip last year to Norway. It is over 100 degrees where I live - I wish I was in Norway now!

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Friday June 28 - Sea Day

 

I always like having a Sea Day as the last day of a cruise. That way I can relax and also get my packing done at leisure. 

 

It was a sunny morning so we spent some time sitting in the sun on the Lido deck. I popped down to the Pacific Moon Dining Room sale but didn't buy anything and then had lunch. 

 

At 1.00pm in the theatre was the last of David Russell's enrichment lectures "Midget Submarines and the Attacks on the Battleship Tirpitz".

 

At 3.45pm in the Piazza was the performance of the Princess Pop Choir. They sang a number of songs and got resounding applause. 

 

We watched "Mission Impossible - Fallout" in our cabin just so that we could watch the final scene that was filmed at Pulpit Rock near Stavanger. After seeing how high Pulpit Rock is during our fjord cruise we had a whole other appreciation of the movie scene. 

 

Eventually we had to pack but didn't have to worry about putting our suitcases out as we were doing self walk off with our suitcases in the morning.

 

Our last dinner was in the Vivaldi Dining Room with new friends that we had made during the cruise. 

 

A very pleasant last day! 

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8 minutes ago, Coral said:

I am loving your review! Love the pictures. Miss my trip last year to Norway. It is over 100 degrees where I live - I wish I was in Norway now!

 

Thanks! It's a pity you couldn't make the cruise but hope the review helped you relive your memories of your cruise last year.

 

Hope it cools down a little for you soon! 😊

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Posted (edited)
3 minutes ago, PurpleTraveller said:

 

Thanks! It's a pity you couldn't make the cruise but hope the review helped you relive your memories of your cruise last year.

 

Hope it cools down a little for you soon! 😊

It definitely did! :classic_smile: 

Edited by Coral

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Posted (edited)

Saturday June 29 - Disembarkation, Southampton 

 

We docked at the QE2 terminal at Southampton just before 7.00am. We had opted to do self walk off as we only had a medium sized suitcase and backpack each. We also had a National Express bus to catch at 8.30am and we were uncertain how long it would take to get off the ship and get a taxi. We were allocated "Walk Off A" for 7.00am and met in the Savoy Dining Room to wait. Right on 7.00am we were given the go ahead to leave and it was time to farewell Sapphire Princess.

 

In the terminal the staff there would not let anyone with a large suitcase use the escalators and they had to wait to use the lift to get to the ground floor. We were allowed to use the escalator so skipped ahead of almost everyone to the taxi queue. There were about half a dozen taxis waiting and we got in one and were on our way. The taxi driver even asked us how we had managed to get off the ship so quickly! 

 

We arrived at the National Express Coach Station at 7.15am and the taxi fare was GBP8.00.

 

So we continued on our journey visiting friends in Cheshire and family in Buckinghamshire. The weather was good and it was great to catch up with our friends and family. 

 

We spent our last two days in London which is my favourite large city and where we have been many times. We walked everywhere from our hotel near Waterloo station, visiting some old favourites and my husband went to the Imperial War Museum while I went to the National Portrait Gallery. 

 

Horse Guards

 

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St James Park

 

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Buckingham Palace

 

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Victoria Memorial

 

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Wellington Arch

 

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Bomber Command Memorial, Green Park

 

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Piccadilly Circus

 

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Trafalgar Square

 

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London Eye

 

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Westminster and Big Ben under scaffolding 

 

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Westminster Abbey

 

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The following day we flew home from Heathrow. 

 

Next up I will do my conclusion and wrap up this review. 😊

 

Edited by PurpleTraveller

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8 minutes ago, MicCanberra said:

It has been wonderful following along.

 

Thank you for following along! 😊

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Just before I get to my conclusion I wanted to show you the surprise we found in our mail box on the last evening. Along with the Log of the Cruise was a certificate for each of us for our Arctic Circle Crossing. It was a very nice touch and much appreciated. 

 

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I see that your captain was Paolo Ravera. He was captain on the Sea Princess on one of the World Cruises. I think it was 2016.

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Posted (edited)

Conclusion

 

These are my opinions only and I am sure others on the cruise would have different opinions so here goes. 

 

Cabin

 

We chose an obstructed ocean view as it was $2000 less per person than for a balcony. We figured we could use the difference for tours. We like to be forward and chose the cabin based on the view between two lifeboats and proximity to the forward stairs. We didn't like the cabin layout as much as the obstructed ocean views we have had on Crown and Emerald which have the bed on the side wall as it seemed smaller and to look out of the window we had to sit on the bed. We didn't have the barrel chair and while in this cabin layout it was good for the limited space it meant that my husband had to sit on the floor to eat when he had hot food. Absolutely ridiculous! However the cabin was comfortable, in a good location and had a good view. 

 

We didn't hear any noise from our neighbours but could faintly hear noise from the theatre during shows and rehearsals. It didn't worry us too much but some may not like the theatre noise so bear this in mind when choosing a forward ocean view cabin.

 

Our steward was okay but not great. We are used to those wonderful stewards who seem to have a sixth sense and make up your cabin when you go for breakfast. On a number of days our cabin wasn't made up until the afternoon which meant we were unable to relax in our cabin as we were expecting to be disturbed. On the other hand the only reason we were in Skywalkers at 2.00pm on the second sea day and got to see the pod of orcas was because we were waiting for our cabin to be made up, so there is always a silver lining to every cloud! 

 

Food

 

We found the food in the dining rooms to be very good and enjoyed all our meals in them. We missed the larger menu in Alfredo's that is on the Royal class ships but still enjoyed our pizzas. Sabatini's was excellent as usual. The buffet was good though there was not a lot of variation. We really enjoyed having lunch from the International Cafe on most days. 

 

Service

 

The service was great on Sapphire and a huge step up from our last cruise on Majestic. All crew members we came across were friendly and helpful. It seemed to be a "happy" ship and it showed by the attitude of the crew members. We were very impressed that the crew member in the International Cafe each morning would see my husband walk into the Piazza and start loading a plate with two chocolate donuts before he had even reached the counter. Very impressive! 😀

 

Entertainment 

 

We enjoyed all the shows we saw in the theatre. It was good to see more Production Shows than we have seen on recent cruises and we also enjoyed the guest performers that we saw. It was also great to have Enrichment Lectures and thoroughly enjoyed all of them. 

 

Passengers

 

We were blessed by having a really wonderful group of passengers on this cruise. We met many lovely people and it was a pleasure to cruise with them all. It really is special to bump into a new friend on shore in a new port and have a friendly chat!

 

Internet

 

I had my Platinum 250 free minutes and I am very glad that I didn't have to pay for the internet. The internet was the worst I have had on any ship. I can accept that there was no internet when we were in the fjords but to not have internet access when docked at places such as Stavanger and Tromso was ridiculous. Even when there was internet it was very slow.

 

The Ship

 

Sapphire Princess is a lovely ship and I really like her size, the Promenade, the viewing deck over the bridge and Skywalkers. She was in good condition and I saw crew doing maintenance on her. I would happily sail on Sapphire Princess again. 

 

Weather 

 

The forecast before the cruise was for cool temperatures and lots of rain. We were very fortunate that we got mostly fine days and even a number of sunny days. On the two very overcast days with a very little light rain that we had we were still able to get out and sightsee. We layered our clothing and were never cold. We wore our light rain jackets a lot but more as a wind break. We only wore our gloves and beanies at North Cape. 

 

Ports

 

This cruise was a great combination of cities, small towns and magnificent scenery. The scenery was varied between the north and south of Norway. You are probably tired of all my lovely, cute, pretty, wonderful, great, amazing and beautiful descriptions but Norway really is spectacularly beautiful. I really enjoyed every port and the scenic cruising. Trondheim was a pleasant surprise probably helped by the beautiful day we had. Geiranger was a highlight and the view from Mt Dalsnibba was magnificent. Crossing the Arctic Circle was interesting and going to North Cape and seeing the Midnight Sun amazing. The fjords were beautiful and I could go on and on. I loved Norway! 

 

Overall

 

This was a fantastic cruise and I had a wonderful time. I would happily cruise this itinerary and on Sapphire Princess again. 

 

What I Learned on this Cruise

 

Norway is expensive. 

Norway is very expensive. 

The weather in Norway can be very changeable. 

Norwegians are very friendly. 

It is worth it to get up early for wonderful experiences such as sailing past North Cape and being alone on deck when sailing into Flam. 

It is worth it to stay up late to see the Midnight Sun. 

Norway is spectacular! 

 

It is now time to wrap up this review. Thank you for reading along and for all your lovely comments. I truly appreciate them. 

 

Where will my next adventure be to? Well I can't believe I am writing this but for the first time in about eight years I don't have a Princess cruise booked or planned. There are a number of reasons for this - not being inspired by any itinerary at the moment, the lack of a second chair in ocean view and balcony cabins (I don't expect to pay thousands of dollars to have my husband sit on the floor to eat hot food and not be comfortable in my cabin) and after some very bad phone customer service (much too long to go into) when I said I wouldn't book a cruise with Princess for 2020 and the attitude was "so what", so I haven't. I will cruise with Princess again because I love their ships but just not any time soon. 

 

I have a land trip to China booked for September and one to India planned for next year. I am also in the planning stages of a trip next June to Istanbul, Croatia and Slovenia with a cruise along the Dalmatian coast on a small 40 passenger ship. 

 

Once again thank you and Bon Voyage! 

 

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Edited by PurpleTraveller

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Absolutely with our doubt one of the best reviews I have ever read.  Thank you for taking the time to bring us all along with you, and for your tips and tricks.

 

With respect to my SIL he is in the RAAF and would have actually been in Wagga the same time as your son, as my SIL was attending a 9 week training course which he finished at the end of June...

 

My first cruise on Princess was at Christmas on Majestic  and like you was underwhelmed with the service and food, so am looking forward to comparing Sapphire.

 

cheers V

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43 minutes ago, Kangakid said:

Absolutely with our doubt one of the best reviews I have ever read.  Thank you for taking the time to bring us all along with you, and for your tips and tricks.

 

With respect to my SIL he is in the RAAF and would have actually been in Wagga the same time as your son, as my SIL was attending a 9 week training course which he finished at the end of June...

 

My first cruise on Princess was at Christmas on Majestic  and like you was underwhelmed with the service and food, so am looking forward to comparing Sapphire.

 

cheers V

 

Thank you so much! Hopefully my review has been of some help to those planning a cruise to Norway or inspired others to cruise to Norway. 

 

My son and your SIL would have been in training at the same time. It's a small world! 

 

Hope you enjoy your Sapphire cruise! 

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Many thanks for your excellent review.  I have added this cruise to my bucket list.

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