Diary of a cruise virgin – Saga Pearl: Part 4

We are now well into the cruising life and taking the lovely food in our stride, probably piling on the pounds, but who cares.

I am very impressed with the housekeeping and cleanliness on board. As well as keeping the ship spotlessly clean, outside all the function rooms and restaurants are hand sanitizer machines, an innovation that would be great to see in all hotels, restaurants and public places.

Flam, NorwayWe have been blessed with exceptional weather and on Day 3 enjoyed an exhilarating RIB ride from the pretty town of Skjolden along the Sognefjord. Our day in Skjolden was longer than usual with an early arrival and late departure, so there was plenty of time to get out and about. The RIB ride was just for an hour so after lunch back on board we explored the quaint little town on foot. Prices in Norway are very expensive so it was convenient to come back to the ship for meals.

Saga had laid on a shuttle bus into town but the distance was only about a mile and all on the flat so many people enjoyed strolling in.

Highlight for many, us included, was a stop in Flam, home of the famous Flam Railway. We had a beautiful sunny warm day to enjoy this exceptionally pretty town.

Once again my husband Clive and I split up for the day. He took the more strenuous tour, complete with picnic lunch. His group went by train to Vatnahalsen and hiked back part way, a total of 6.5 miles.

Flam, NorwayI opted for the more leisurely railway ride up to the Vatnahalsen Hotel where a warm welcome awaited us with waffles and coffee. There was time for a short self-guided stroll to admire some wonderful views before retuning to Flam and back on the ship for a spot of sunbathing until we sailed at 3.45.

Last stop was Stavanger and our luck with the weather changed, as it turned grey and damp.

Our trip today was another boat ride, although rather faster than Saga Pearl’s usual speed! We zipped along through Lysefjord to view the eerie Vagabond’s Cave and on to the famous Pulpit Rock, a towering cliff of multi coloured stone. A stop for the obligatory waffles and coffee at Helleren Beach was a welcome break and then back to Stavanger with just enough time for a leisurely stroll around the pretty old town.

Entertainment on board by Twisted RockAs we set sail for Dover we had one more formal dinner followed by some excellent evening entertainment. The entertainment every evening was varied and very professional. The resident dance group, ‘Explosive Productions’ sang and danced their way with great enthusiasm through well know melodies. We also enjoyed ‘Sounds of Simon’, a Simon and Garfunkel tribute that was absolutely amazing, some real golden oldies that we all enjoyed. A quartet of talented ladies ‘Sister Twist’ belted out songs from the Beatles, Stones and even a version of Bohemian Rhapsody that had us all spellbound.

So to sum up our week, yes I am converted to cruising – BUT only a small ship, and I would say Saga has produced a perfect product. The age group ranged from 50-99 and everyone we met was delightful, we enjoyed great conversations over dinner and made some lasting friendships. But when we wanted to share a drink or two on our own, there was plenty of space and opportunity to do so.

I wouldn’t bring so many clothes, but I say that every time I travel.

I wouldn’t necessarily take the shore excursions at every port, but would explore on my own some of the time.

And finally, I am already planning another Saga Cruise to more northern ports such as Iceland, north Norway and the Baltic States. A cruise really is the best way to travel around these areas and gives the opportunity to appreciate their beauty from the sea.

Silver Travel Advisor recommends Saga Holidays

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Sally Dowling

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