I would like to thank Philip Gordon for allowing me to post his recent review of Queen Victoria voyage to the Fjords. Philip is a frequent reader of GoCruisewithJane so Im sure he will be happy to answer any questions that you might have, and I will of course be on hand to respond to questions too.
As a seasoned cruiser (but a first timer on Cunard) it was with interest and excitement that I embarked the Queen Victoria for a one week cruise to the Norwegian Fjords.
We left Southampton on the 1st July 2010 after a very quick pass through the Ocean terminal. Luggage was delivered to our cabin even before we got there and we were treated to a very brief muster station, without all the unnecessary nonsense that Royal Caribbean insist on.
Our cabin was number 4002, the first cabin (forward) on the port side. We had a balcony which is unusual for us as we normally choose the (cheaper) inside cabin but this was the Fjords and we thought that the extra money was worth it. Please see below for comments.
The Queen Victoria is stunning, a really beautifully designed ship and so different from our last ship which was Independence of the Seas. That was a floating holiday camp, the Queen Victoria is a proper ship, some would say a liner ! She is elegant and majestic, a true throwback to a day when ships were built as ships.
I will not go into more details about the ship, if anyone has any specific questions about the ship, food accommodation etc, please ask them and I will do my best to answer them. Now, I prefer to write about the ports.
Stavanger:- We took a private cruise to Pulpit’s rock (recommended) Along the way we were treated to waterfalls, goats and stunning scenery. The 3 hour cruise was much cheaper than the ship’s shore excursion and went from a departure point which was 2 minutes walk from the port. Commentary was in English. Stavanger is a delightful port with much to see but be careful of drinks prices, maybe take a couple of bottles with from the ship. There is a lot of walking in Stavanger, much to see within easy reach of the port and no need to take any public transport to reach the shops.
Flaam:- A lovely port which leads to greater riches and is also very picturesque. The train to Myrdal is a must. The station is within sight of the ship’s docking area and tickets are available at the station. http://www.flaamsbana.no/eng/Index.html
Get off your ship early and do the journey before noon, it gets very busy after then. Make sure you stop at Kjossfossen, on the way, the waterfall there is truly amazing and worthy of getting wet ! Myrdal is also lovely, take a walk around, stop for a coffee (surprisingly cheap) and if you are feeling energetic you could even walk a bit of the way back down, depending on how much time you have.
Gerainger:- The gateway to the Briksdal glacier (although Olden is nearer) The coach journey took over 2 hours each way and the walk up to the glacier is a difficult one hour or so but the effort and the coach journey are definitely worth it. When you get near to the glacier, you are stopped in your tracks by the sheer beauty of something that could never have been man-made (just man destroyed) The colours and the size of the glacier will amaze you and I can almost guarantee that no other sight you have ever seen on a cruise will stay with you as the Briksdal glacier does. We had lunch booked at the Briksdal inn but because we stayed so long at the glacier, we arrived just in time for the pudding.
Bergen:- A bustling city, home to fish markets, souvenir shops, trolls and the Funicular. Take the funicular to the top and you will have a breathtaking view of the city and your ship. The funicular is easily reached on foot from the dock and the tickets can be bought at the lower station. There is no need to buy in advance but again, it is advisable to get there in the morning due to the popularity and the fact that the shore excursions can cause you delays if they get there ahead of you. http://www.floibanen.com/default.asp
There are many walks you can take in Bergen and there is also a road train and several open topped buses to transport you around the city.
The Norwegian ports were easily the most interesting we have ever visited and I include most of the Mediterranean and Atlantic ports in that.
Now a plus and minus comment about Cunard and their attitude towards evening dress and smoking.
Cunard insist on a minimum standard of dress after 6.00 pm. This is not (as with others) a ‘suggested’ code of dress, this is required. The requirement for the male is for a minimum of a jacket and smart shirt and long trousers on ‘elegant casual’ nights, the same but with a tie on semi-formal nights and the usual black tie on formal nights. This has the effect that 99.9% of the passengers (of both sexes) dress correctly and makes for a very pleasing evening.
Unlike many other cruise lines, Cunard allow smoking in any cabin whatsoever. Many other cruise lines only allow smoking on balconies and it is banned in inside and outside cabins.
Unfortunately if there has been a heavy smoker in your cabin before you, no matter how well the cabin is cleaned, because of the very short turnaround period, you will smell the stale smoke, this is unavoidable under Cunard’s present rules.
I noticed, whilst walking to and from my cabin, the smell of smoke on the corridors when walking past a cabin that had a smoker in it. Our balcony also had limited use as our neighbour smoked a pipe which he lit at 7.30 in the morning (on the first 2 mornings) and he seemed to be there for most of the day. Our cabin steward told me, that he never seems to leave the cabin. I had a word with the Purser but he told me that our neighbour was doing nothing wrong (he wasn’t) so I respected that and left it alone. We just didn’t use the balcony and kept our doors closed.
Despite all I have said about the beauty of the ship, this could put me (and other prospective cruisers) off from booking with Cunard again. Cunard must revise their policies and have smoking cabins together in a certain part of the ship. The Travel Lodges (at £29.00 a night) used to do this before the smoking ban came in, it would be very easy for Cunard to do.
They argue that it cuts down the choice of cabin for smokers but I see that as the smoker cutting down their choice rather than the cruise company doing so.
Thank you Philip a great review and insight to the ports visited – If anyone has a review of thier recent cruise that they would like featured on GoCruisewithJane please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org