Norway cruiseTravel

30 May – Day 1 – Travel to Port (Hamburg)

Setting off from Hamburg
Setting off from Hamburg

Time to get back to the business of travel blogging.

Since our last entry at the end of 2014 we’ve had a couple of trips including a 15 day trip to Hawaii and a 7 day cruise to the Caribbean.  I let the blogging slip which was a mistake as a quick glance through our NZ and Australia blog quickly brings the memories back.

We’ve taken a sudden interest in cruising and whether that’s a flash in the pan or something more long lasting we will know after we’ve done probably 3-4.  For some the downside of bring ‘trapped’ on a boat for long periods of time with 3,000 of your closest friends is horror personified but we’re focusing on those cruises which have more days on shore than at sea.  In that respect what’s on offer is perfect as for the easily bored like us is means our ‘hotel’ effectively moves us somewhere new every day.  True the shore excursion is limited to the area immediately surrounding the dock (so the opportunities to explore are correspondingly limited) but hopefully it’s enough to get a good flavor.

Great weather!

For this trip we’re on an 11-day trip exploring the Norwegian coast, fjords and coastal towns.  We chose an 11-day trip as the shorter 7-day cruises generally don’t go as far as the North Cape and…well…why would you want to miss that.  In addition, the cruise we’ve selected was not materially more expensive so the 11-days looks like good value.  The downside is that starting on a Monday and finishing the following Friday it eats into valuable vacation time.

We’re travelling with MSC cruises on one of their larger ships, Splendida.  As this is essentially a European cruise it means our fellow passengers are mostly Italian and German.  Not a problem for us but might be for those English speakers looking for more interaction with fellow passengers.

Our journey actually started yesterday with a four hour drive from Munich to Frankfurt to drop off the dog, spend a night with friends, followed by a four hour train ride to Hamburg.  Actually all pretty straightforward and the ship check in was simplicity itself.

Hamburg major commercial centre

Unlike most cruise lines MSC does not allow any carry on alcohol at all although given the relatively modest cost of the holiday, it has to be expected that they need to make their money somewhere.  We’ve purchased some drinks packages including 14 beers, 12 cocktails and 14 coffees.  Probably to be drunk in that order.  Actually the drinks are not significantly more expensive than your average Hotel and once you get used to the fact that the intention is to extract as much money from you, you quickly realize that you need to be a little selective.

Our fellow passengers this time around seem to fall into the more elderly camp and although we are clearly heading in that direction, I suspect we are bringing the average down.

First impression is that the quality is a small step down from the Royal Caribbean Cruise we enjoyed in January.  The public areas don’t feel as well thought through or as spacious.  The food is definitely not as good and the staff seem a little less friendly. However, its early days and we’ll take a few days to settle in.  Tomorrow is the first real “cruise” day which is wholly at sea before reaching Alesund on Wednesday.

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