Holidays and Other Excursions

Month: September 2016


Sunday 28 August 2016

Our first port of call is Bergen and for me this is a return visit, after almost exactly 40 years as I came here in mid-1976 when travelling on an Interrail ticket.  It is fair to say that I recognise very little of the City to be honest.  I came out from Oslo and wandered around before taking a train back whence I came.

We initially take the hop-on hop off bus as we have not booked any trips and we know these give a good background to the ports at which we call.  We stop about half way round so that we can take the Fløibanen funicular railway – which was there on my last visit but I do not remember using it.  It rises 991 ft and carries over 1m passengers a year.  The current cars date from 2002 and are fourth generation for the line.

We wander around the mountain top taking photos including our cruise ship which dominates the bay.  Lots of goats as well.

We return to sea level and continue our bus trip and then visit the preserved part of the town – Bryggen – which more reminds me of how I remember far more of the entire town and sea front.  Not quite as many different bright colours which are often used in photos promoting Bergen.  The buildings are all wooden and close together; the aim being no doubt to conserve heat in the winter.

Having wandered around we then feel entitled to some coffee and local cake – the Skillingsbolle – a cinnamon bun.  I eat little bits of Jackie’s but cannot find a photo of one in our collections.  The cost of even this small consumption is of course high!

At the waterside there is a market with a lot of fresh fish; I hope the provisioning team on board our ship have been ashore as it all looks hugely fresh.

We wander around the City – we see trams, odd buses and so on – obviously there is now a huge number of tourists which visit here.  There is a second photo album.



Sailing Outwards

Friday 26 and Saturday 27 August 2016

Another holiday starts here.  After a period when Jackie implied that she was not keen on cruising – largely due to the unpleasantness in the Bay of Biscay – here we are off on another cruise and we are joined by Steve and Veronica.  This time we are not with Cunard but we are travelling with Celebrity in one of their largest cruisers – the Eclipse.

The background to the Eclipse can be found here.  Compared to Cunard ships she is larger and with many more passengers and less staff to passengers but the entire atmosphere is far more relaxed.  We embark at Southampton and as usual once the bags are handed over life is easy.

We sail away on the Friday afternoon in bright sunshine and the sea is dead smooth.  We take what seems an unusual route to the west of Cowes before turning to port, obviously staying right in the deepest channel and then heading along the south coast.  The Spinnaker Tower at Gunwharf Quay can be seen in the distance and we head east as our destination is Norway.

There are some photographs of our initial departure to be found here.

Saturday is entirely at sea as we are heading north, although to be honest we do not get to see any land on either side as we sail at a steady rate, probably a little below the top speed on 24 knots (28 mph).  We do see numbers of oil platforms as we get further north.

Our cabin is outside with a nice balcony on which to sit and very close to the nearest lifts.  The balcony seems untroubled by wind and we are able to sit out there at times for a read quite comfortably.  Noise and vibration is non-existent and we have a very good night’s sleep.  It was the tour consultant’s suggestion and it definitely seems to be good.

Dining times are not fixed for us.  We can wander down to the restaurant and if they do not have a table for us they give us a little box which lights up and buzzes when our turn comes up on the system.  It all seems to work and they have a pretty good idea of how long before a table is free.  And there is bar not far away for a drink.

And the sea remains pretty smooth and we continue heading north!  According to my check it is about 800 nautical miles (which itself is 1852 metres – about 15% more than a UK land mile) from Southampton to Bergen which is our first port of call on Sunday.