Norway, home to trolls, elves and over a thousand waterfalls; we were looking forward to our cruise to the Fjords on board Cruise & Maritime’s adult-friendly flagship Magellan.
Initially Carnival Holiday and sporting Carnival’s winged funnel, Magellan was launched in 1985, but has a modern feel. Our cabin was spacious with adequate storage space and well planned bathroom. The generous size of the shower area meant that the plastic shower curtain avoided its usual habit of wrapping itself around us and the shower head was detachable, handy for those not wanting to get wet hair. The two single beds were in an L shaped format, as they were in other cabins, although cabin stewards are happy to re-arrange them into a double bed.
There are two main dining rooms, both offering two sittings at dinner, and no speciality restaurants. Throughout our cruise the food was of a good standard and the service excellent. The main dining rooms were popular at breakfast time but proved a haven of peace and tranquillity for lunch. There is also a buffet which is sensibly laid out in stations rather than one long line, which avoids queuing.
Magellan has all the usual facilities including a show lounge, the Captain’s Club, a music and dance venue, lounge, disco, casino, and the Jade Spa.
Our first day was spent at sea as Magellan headed north towards Norway from her home port of Tilbury. The following morning we made a short stop at Ulvik, a small village on Hardangerfjord, so passengers could take an overland trip to Eidfjord, our first port of call. Like most villages in the Fjords, Eidfjord is quiet, peaceful and set against the stunning scenery of towering mountains and deep waterways. We visited a nature centre and drove up the mountains to the Fossli hotel which opened in 1891 and overlooks the spectacular Voringsfoss waterfall. The hotel, now run by the third generation of the family that built it, has attracted royalty and the composer Edward Grieg. Its postbox is guarded by one of Norway’s famous trolls.
On our return we visited the Nils Bergslien Gallery where the Mayor was on hand to introduce us to this famous Norwegian artist. We admired his work to the accompaniment of some of Grieg’s better known compositions played by a local concert pianist – a memorable end to our day ashore.
Next morning saw us in Flam, another small village with a population of around 400. Its main attraction is the Flam Railway, the main attraction for over 400,000 people who visit Flam each year. With an incline of 1 in 18 it’s the steepest railways that doesn’t use some form of special traction. The railway connects Flam to Myrdal station, some eight miles away and 2,850ft above sea level, where passengers can connect to the main Bergen to Oslo line. The journey offers some spectacular views and there is a short stop to admire and photograph one of Norway’s many waterfalls. We returned to Flam on the train but many visitors cycle back down so they can take more time to admire the view, and of course very little pedalling is involved. Flam is also home to a small brewery near the port but take care, a pint in here will set you back!
Later that evening we were invited to an amazing midnight buffet. Beautifully decorated food, vegetables and ice carvings adorned buffet and it seemed a shame to eat them. However, once started, the guests clearly thought the food tasted as good as it looked.
Our final port of call was Bergen. A town of a quarter of a million people, home to the world’s oldest Philharmonic orchestra, and the Hanseatic Wharf of Bryggen, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site. Bergen as a harbour dates back to the eleventh century and in 1360, merchants of the Hanseatic League opened an office there. The buildings facing the port have been rebuilt but in the original style; venturing behind them takes visitors back to a bygone age. The harbour is also home to a small but famous fish market.
Known as the City of the Seven Mountains, Bergen is dominated by Mount Floyen. We took the funicular railway which runs from close by Bryggen to the top of the mountain, 1,000ft above sea level. From there we had a stunning view of Bergen and the surrounding area. We also enjoyed a tour of the City in a hop-on hop-off bus with open sides that made photography easy, especially as the driver stopped at various photo opportunities so we could get the best shots.
Back on board we found an invitation to meet other guests at the pool bar on deck 10. Once assembled, we were led to the bridge where the captain was on hand to greet us. Champagne and canapes had been arranged and we stood on the bridge as the captain ordered our lines to be let go and the pilot steered us away from the dock and through harbour towards the open sea and home to Tilbury; without doubt the most memorable sail-away party we have had.
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