Cruising the Norwegian Fjords
At the end of the August, GTO’s Feature Writer, Brenda Watkinson, was delighted to accept an invitation from Cruise & Maritime Voyages to join a cruise to Norway on board the latest addition to the fleet, their flagship ‘Magellan’. Cruise & Maritime Voyages is a privately owned British cruise line offering a traditional cruise experience from a choice of UK ports. In fact, during 2016 cruises will depart from London Tilbury, Bristol Avonmouth, Dundee, Newcastle, Liverpool, Hull and Greenock. On this ‘Summertime Fjordland’ cruise, the Magellan departed from the London Cruise Terminal at Tilbury, so convenient for many groups. It is Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ homeport and Brenda was very impressed by the ease at which the passengers checked-in and boarded the vessel. Once on board, Brenda and her husband settled into their cabin, a very comfortable Superior Plus Twin located on the Pacific Upper Deck 7. These ocean view cabins have a picture window, are air conditioned and feature private en-suite facilities with shower. Brenda was impressed by the size of the cabin in particular the spacious wardrobe and storage space. The Magellan carries up to 1250 passengers accommodated in 726 cabins on nine passenger decks.
All unpacked and there was time for Brenda and Peter to explore the Magellan before the ship set sail. On deck 10, the Raffles Bistro was already buzzing as passengers sampled their first meal on board. This self service restaurant is an excellent alternative for passengers looking for a more casual dining experience. However, for many people, cruising is all about formal dining and on the Magellan, there are two beautifully appointed dining rooms; the Waldorf and Kensington Restaurants. On their first evening, Brenda and Peter joined their group for pre-dinner drinks in Sinatra’s Lounge Bar before enjoying a wonderful five-course meal in the Kensington Restaurant.
After a comfortable night’s sleep, there was a full day at sea when Brenda really began to appreciate the great facilities of the Magellan. It was a beautiful sunny day so many passengers spent the day on deck while others enjoyed the programme of activities. Brenda began her day by joining her first Craft and Creation Class. Under the watchful eye of crafter Jan Allston, the group made a needle case. This was just one of many craft sessions held during the cruise.
Cruises are renowned for their evening entertainment and Brenda and Peter really enjoyed the daily sessions performed by the resident pianist in Sinatra’s Lounge Bar and the live music of The Excelsior Trio in the Captain’s Club as well as the colourful shows staged in the Magellan Main Show Lounge. There was even an opportunity to dance the night away in Scott’s Nightclub.
On the third day of the cruise, the passengers got their first glimpse of the spectacular Norwegian scenery as the ship sailed along the Handanger Fjord. A small group disembarked in Ulvik by means of a tender to travel overland to Eidfjord while the majority of passengers continued to the port on the Magellan. There were several excursions on offer from Eidfjord and Brenda’s group travelled to the Hardangervidda Nature Centre and Voringsfoss Waterfall. Their first day in Norway certainly didn’t disappoint and there was lots to talk about during the evening meal.
Sailing overnight, the Magellan entered the Sognefjord, ‘the King of Fjords’, and made her way eastwards through majestic scenery, arriving in the next port of call, Flam, just after breakfast. This tiny village, sheltering between steep mountain sides at the head of the Aurlandfjord, is famous for its railway, which travels up to Myrdal station at an altitude of 2,845 feet, in approximately 40 minutes. With dramatic scenery around every corner, the Flam Railway certainly impressed Brenda’s group who returned back to the village with some magical memories. Brenda and Peter spent time relaxing in the sunshine on the banks of the fjord before exploring the Flam Railway Museum and Documentation Centre and enjoying a drink in the Aegir Brewery.
Sailing through the night, the ship arrived in Bergen the next morning for another fun day exploring this interesting city. From the ship, it was just a short walk into the centre of Bergen and Brenda and Peter headed firstly to the Mount Floien Funicular which transports passengers up 1050 feet to the top of the mountain for panoramic views. This is fantastic opportunity for keen photographers to capture the spectacular Norwegian scenery. Returning to the quayside, there are many more attractions to explore including the open air Fish Market and the UNESCO Heritage Site of Bryggen, which is a reminder of the town’s importance as part of the Hanseatic League’s trading empire from the 14th to the mid-16th century.
As the Magellan sailed back to Tilbury, Brenda and Peter reflected on this most enjoyable cruise with Cruise & Maritime Voyages.