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The Norwegian Fjords.

I don’t even know where to begin! They’ve always seemed to me to be a far away, fantasy, otherworldly, place that I’d always wanted to go, yet never put at the top of my list. Several months ago I was offered the fantastic opportunity to spend a week on Cruise and Maritime’s Magellan on the ‘Majestic Fjordland’ itinerary – it didn’t take me long to accept!
Magellan is a mid-size ship with a gross tonnage of 46,052 and a maximum of 1,250 passengers. Cruise and Maritime have a reputation for having some of the best service onboard but I must say that I was sceptical! I was very much looking forward to seeing for myself.
On the 24th September I drove down from Cambridge to London Tilbury. The drive was incredibly easy and definitely saved the hassle of flying to my destination. C&M have 11 ports all over the UK so there is sure to be one near you! Once at the car park at Tilbury, around 3pm, all I had to do was hand over my suitcase and hop on the shuttle to the ship. I didn’t see my case again until I reached my cabin and I got to keep my car keys which is always a bonus. Once on the ship I collected my cruise card and was escorted to my cabin. I stayed in a port-side outside cabin to the rear of the ship. I found that the cabin had adequate space, a good-sized bathroom with a walk in shower, and a lovely big picture window – perfect for viewing the fjords as they go by! I would always recommend a cabin at the back or centre of the ship as these are more stable in rough seas and the North Sea does tend to get a bit rough! I was a bit apprehensive about the noise in my cabin, and I must admit there was a bit, but I was shocked about how little it disturbed me. The only time I ever noticed any noise while in my cabin was when coming into port when they were lowering the anchor, but this wasn’t until around 9am when everyone was up and about already.
After leaving my bags I decided to go and find the rest of the group on the pool deck. The pool area was by far my favourite. I had the cool open air above me, yet the transparent surroundings sheltered me from the wind making it a perfect place to wind down any time of day. We completed the safety drill and watched as the ship left the dock. We then made our way to Taverner’s bar for pre-dinner drinks. Taverner’s has a fantastic traditional English pub atmosphere with great attention to detail. They even have bookshelves shaped like red phone boxes! It’s stylish and comfy with plenty of places to sit. One thing that struck me about the drinks was how reasonably priced they were – most cocktails were only £4, a beer was around £2, and soft drinks even cheaper. These are definitely some of the best prices at sea, really showing how Cruise and Maritime like to keep their reputation of keeping costs low even onboard.
If you feel like Taverner’s is not your cup of tea then there are two other indoor bar areas with different aesthetics. The Captain’s Club is the main bar with evening entertainment and a dance floor. It’s the largest, has plenty of seating, and was where I spent most evenings. The same bar menu applies to all bar areas so you don’t have to worry about not getting your favourite drink somewhere else. Sinatra’s is the third bar and I would describe it as much classier than the other two. The theme is more black and white, they have live piano music every night, and is a great option for pre-dinner drinks.
Our dining was second sitting in the Waldorf, deck 8. The restaurant is very graceful and classy with neutral colours and calm lighting. Our group of twenty was split across two tables next to each other close to the kitchen. Despite this it was never noisy and we completely forgot it was there! The food was beautiful. I was expecting a lot of traditional British cuisine but in actual fact each menu was a bit of a mix of everything! Despite this all five courses worked very well together and the wine pairings were also very successful. Each course had plenty of different options along with a vegetarian menu. One in our group was gluten intolerant and her needs were met perfectly, we couldn’t even tell that she was eating food any different to ours. After dinner we returned to Taverner’s for more drinks before retiring to our cabins. That night I found that I had the deepest sleep I had in a long while! Each cabin is fitted with black out curtains and the mattresses are incredibly comfortable.
The next morning I headed upstairs for some breakfast. Breakfast can be served in the Waldorf, the Kensington, or Raffles Bistro on deck 10 and is served between 7am and 10am depending on restaurant. The Waldorf and Raffles are both buffet style dining with Raffles being the most relaxed and casual style. In the Waldorf you still need to go up and get your food but waiters are there to bringing toast, croissants, and other pastries to your table, along with topping up your drinks. The Kensington is full waiter service with a breakfast menu. I went to the buffet at 9am, however I found that it was incredibly full. I struggled to find a seat which I put down to the time of morning I arrived and so I decided to try the Waldorf. I found that the same food was on offer as Raffles except it’s far quieter and much less busy. Here I enjoyed a delicious full English style breakfast but there was much more on offer, again, with a table specifically dedicated to those with intolerances which I think was a lovely touch. This is a recurring theme I experienced with every single dining option, down to the afternoon tea.
Over the next few days I really got to experience the expert level of service that I had read so much about. Every single staff member gave such a consistent level of service that I felt really gave to the relaxed and ‘looked-after’ atmosphere I felt onboard. Something that really surprised me occurred while sat in the Captain’s club one night. After ordering a cocktail the waitress commented in surprise that it was different to my usual order – it’s this kind of attention to detail that you can expect onboard.
Unfortunately we were unlucky enough on our cruise to encounter two itinerary changes. This was to no fault of Cruise and Maritime, was completely unpredictable, and was due to the weather conditions. Despite the disappointment I was exceptionally impressed with how they handled the situation. Our first itinerary change was Eidfjord. Due to the weather conditions we were unable to dock at that port so instead they took us to nearby Ulvik. From here we could partake in the same shore excursions we had originally booked with the added bonus of a coach ride through the mountains at no additional cost! The second itinerary change was also unavoidable and while somewhat more disappointing they definitely made up for it. We were scheduled to visit Geiringer on the fifth day but regrettably that was no longer possible so instead we journeyed to Alesund, a beautiful and very different coastal town. We were given the option here to rebook onto other excursions and we thoroughly enjoyed the day. While onboard we had the pleasure of meeting the excursion team onboard – a taskforce of only 3 people on Magellan! I highly commend how much work and effort they put into sorting excursions for 1,250 people overnight and I must say they did an absolutely fantastic job.
A little information about our ports of call and excursions
The first port of call was Eidfjord (or Ulvik, as we were diverted too) where we took part in the ‘Hardangervidda Nature Centre and Vøringfossen Waterfall’ excursion. The nature centre was truly a different experience which really delved into the history of the hunting side of Norway. They played a fantastic movie showing a helicopter ride through the Fjords that was quite breathtaking! After the nature centre we were taken to the Sysenvatnet dam where we learned about the importance of hydroelectricity in Norway – they are almost self-sufficient from it. After a short break here for some photos we made our way to the Fossli hotel for tea and coffee. This hotel is a beautiful structure that sits right on the edge of the magnificent Vøringfossen fall. The sight of this waterfall and the surrounding scenery is – and for no better use of the word – awesome. I felt like I was stepping right out of the 21st century into a movie set. I could show you plenty of photos but nothing compares to what it looks like to actually be there.
The second port of call was Flam. We were first allowed off the ship at 10am and our excursion wasn’t until 1pm so we had plenty of time to explore this quaint little village. What I felt here was this overwhelming sense of calm. The air was so crisp and clean, the water was absolutely crystal clear, so much so that we could see little star fish at the bottom of the harbour. Flam is really no bigger than a small village with only 350 inhabitants in 2014 so it’s quite fascinating to see such large ships docked right by. I would recommend paying a visit to their bakery because they do fantastic cinnamon buns! Even though most of the 1250 passengers were wondering around the village, surprisingly it never felt congested like you would imagine. In the early afternoon we left for the Flam railway. This is something I would HIGHLY recommend to anyone, you just can’t do Flam without it! The railway takes you all the way up the mountain a further 866 metres above sea level and was previously voted the world’s most beautiful train journey. It also has a fascinating history which you can see in the museum located just by the train station.
At first I was really disappointed about the cancelled trip to Geiringer. It’s a UNESCO world heritage site and is supposed to house even more spectacular views. Despite this I actually ended up really glad that we went to Alesund. The town is so pretty, steeped in rich history, and unlike anything you can find in the rest of Europe. We visited an 18th century dwelling that was perfectly preserved and open to anyone, we drove past old WW2 bunkers from the German occupation of Norway, and we went to the viewpoint that had a perfect angle for viewing the whole of Alesund and its surrounding islands. All together it was a perfect day.
The last stop was Bergen. Although the largest city that we had visited yet and indeed the most commercialised it still felt so different to the rest of Europe. They have done so well at retaining their culture within their cities and being surrounded by mountains still was really special. We started by taking the Funicular up to the view point which is a fantastic piece of engineering. We then took a coach tour of Bergen showing us the parts that you just wouldn’t know were there if you wondered around yourself. After the tour we then wondered around and did some shopping. If you’re looking for souvenirs I would definitely wait until Bergen. They have beautiful traditional wooden buildings running alongside the wharf which are filled with souvenir shops, but not all as you know them! My favourite was the all year round Christmas shop which was accessed by the wonkiest stair case I have ever seen! I purchased some beautiful traditional hand-painted baubles which were not as pricy as you would think.
All in all I had the most amazing trip to Norway with one of the best cruise-lines for it. I am already booking to go back onboard Magellan for my own holiday next August! If you have any questions about the ship please don’t hesitate to call and ask, I could go on for pages and pages!
I would absolutely love to help you book your next holiday to Norway or with Cruise and Maritime, or both! Please call 01954232802 or email [email protected], I’m always happy to help.
I hope to speak to you soon!

 

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