Cruise to the Norwegian Fjords
by: Ton Peters on board ms Rotterdam from Holland America Line in May 2015
“Have you cruised before?” Is a frequently used introductory question on our cruise to Norway. Then all experiences are exchanged. There are wel experianced ‘cruisers’ who see this as a quick one, but many passengers cruise on our ship for the first time. In different nationalities and combinations of married couple, father – son to singleton, a long – cherished dream becomes reality for many. Cruising to the Fjords!
For us it is in any case the first time when we board the MS Rotterdam this spring. The beautiful flagship of the Holland America Line is elegantly moored at the Kop van Zuid in Rotterdam. Under the chorus of ship-wreath songs, singled from the quay, around 16.00h the clusters are thrown loose and we sail out of the imposing harbor, to Norway.
It is just a turn for someone who is used to camping; all inclusive? “So we can just fill our plates here at the buffet?” We wondered. Yes, you won’t get hungry on board. You can eat here all day, in all shapes, all kinds, go for it! Do you want a buffet or do you prefer to eat à la carte? In between a pizza or just an ice cream, it’s all there. The first day of travel we are the whole day on the open sea, so a great opportunity to get to know the ship. We go for one hour in the fittnes room after which we look up the sauna, the swimming pool and then the hot tub. Later in the day we drop down on the front deck and enjoy the sun. We end the day with a delicious dinner and various shows and performances fill our evening.
The next morning we arrived in Norway. We sail into the 179km long Hardangerfjord and moor in Eidfjord.
Today we go on an excursion to the Hardangervidda. The immense mountain plateau where a polar climate prevails and still has a lot of snow. On the way we visit the beautiful Vörringfoss waterfall. In the visitor center in Øvre Eidsfjord we learn about the area.
Towards the end of the afternoon we cruise out of the Hardangerfjord again. It is cold and wet. The snow line is low. When we have passed the new Hardangerbrug we go inside.
The next morning we arrive in Ålesund where the sun shows up. We have rented a car here and are going to tour today. Of course we first start at the viewpoint Aksla from where we have a beautiful view over the city. Then we drive through a comprehensive system of tunnels to the island of Giske and visit the old church. Then we drive on to Godøya, with the beautiful village of Alnes and a much nicer lighthouse. We climb the tower and enjoy the view. In the tiny coffee house we eat the delicious homemade cake prepared by two sisters.
As a dessert on our ride, we then also climb the mountain on foot. The view is great and nature is overwhelmingly beautiful. At the end of the afternoon we drive back to Ålesund, carry on through town for a while and get on board again.
Our cabin has been cleaned up again by the great staff of mainly Indonesian and Filipino origin. The towels are folded into beautiful figures and there is a chocolate on the pillow.
It is Wednesday and today we visit the fjord of the fjords: the Geiranger. In the early morning the ship sails into the Fjord. Mooring does not work here so we have to go ashore with tenders. Many fellow travelers get into a bus on their way to one of the viewpoints. The Dalsnibba mountain is unfortunately still closed due to the snow. We keep it on a walk through the village. Later in the day the ship cruises out of the fjord and you can get a taste of how overwhelming all this is. One waterfall after another, one even more beautiful than the other. Huge steep cliffs and snow until short on the water edge. With about 2 degrees and a strong wind only the ‘Die Hards’ who really do not want to miss anything remain on deck. It’s beautiful!
In the evening we prepare for the performance provided by the Indonesian crew. Very nice how they present their country on the ship.
The next morning we arrive in Bergen. The sun shines unprecedented in the wettest city in Europe and will continue to do so until the evening. It is Ascension Day and many Norwegians are free; yet many stores are just open in this vibrant city. We walk to the Bryggen, wooden trading houses located on the quay and the face of Bergen. Then we take the train straight up to the Fløien. Here we have an incredibly beautiful view of the city. We take a walk upstairs and then we go back into town. “Boy, what are the beautiful wooden houses here?” I buy a nice Norwegian sweater as a souvenir and of course we still get a fish in the harbor. We will not talk about the price level.
In the evening we then head back to the house slowly. On the second to last day, after all the spectacular shows, it is the turn of the Filipino crew. They also show their unusual talents.
Friday is the last sailing day. Monique goes on the ship for 5 km to raise money for research against cancer. A wonderful Holland America Line initiative that has raised 3.4 million dollars since 2006. The evening is about saying goodbye. Saying goodbye to the great crew, the delicious food and dancing one last time in the Crows Nest to the music of the BB Kings Blues Coverband.
Early in the morning we arrive back in Rotterdam and with pain in our hearts we are disembarked. From the quay we look once more at the beautiful ship, a very nice memory to look back on.