Norwegian Fjord Cruise
When we started discussing the idea, we knew we wanted to leave from Copenhagen so we could see our Danish family and we had specific dates that we were looking for. Well, as it turned out, the only cruise that matched our criteria was a Disney cruise on the ship called the Disney Magic.
I was pretty skeptical at first about a Disney cruise. I thought it would be screaming kids running everywhere and just over-the-top Disney. It wasn't like that at all. In fact, the adult areas were perfectly never crowded, the quality of everything was incredible, and it was actually Disney-ish in the most delightful ways. As I am a fan from my younger days of Disney musicals like The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King, and annoyingly, still know the words to all of the songs, it was nice to be in a sing along most of the time as they pumped the music in the background of a lot of ship locations.
The service was absolutely incredible, as well. They would seriously cut your food for you, if you had asked. Each night our waiter, knowing that we liked hot sauce, had a bowl of Sambal Oolek on the table and even made us special order Indian and Indonesian food a few nights. Really, the service was so good that at first we were kind of uncomfortable- like trying to clear our own dishes- as it is just so weird to be waited on that degree.
This was not a "relaxing" beach cruise, this cruise was busy! Every day we were at a different port on Norway's west coast. And, to top it off, I was also taking two summer graduate classes for my Principal's License and so during any down time, I was writing papers and reading. The ship took off just after 4pm on a Saturday and then started with one day at sea from Copenhagen to Stavanger, Norway. I don't actually think they needed to have a full day at sea for this, it isn't really that far, but the ship went pretty slowly, I guess. We had one day at sea on the way back as well, but other than that, we had a stop every single day.
Each day, when we would get back from whatever we'd done on the shore, we attended a Broadway-quality show. The shows were also incredibly great. In most of them, they took existing Disney characters and put them in new situations and combinations to create original shows. Then, following each show, we attended a history lecture from a visiting university professor who was an expert on Scandinavian folklore, history, and culture. Fortunately, during all of this, we were able to also have happy hour as you were allowed to bring your own alcohol as long as it fit in your carry on. The bartenders knew to get limes ready when they saw my dad coming after like the second day!
After the shows and the lectures, we went to our assigned restaurant. There are three restaurants on the ship and we rotated through each of them, eating at them each three times over the nine days. Our waiters also rotated so that meant we had the same waiters every night. We had three waiters; One from Jamaica, one from Indonesia, and one from Portugal. They were all super accommodating and friendly, as was every employee on the ship. I suppose that is to be expected. It was Disney, after all. As a germ freak science teacher, I enjoyed the fact that they made everyone wipe their hands with disinfecting wipes any time you entered the restaurants. You always hear about those "cruise ship viruses" and it was nice to see that they were taking such care to ensure that didn't happen.
The ship was mostly filled with Americans, so despite the fact that I did not go back to the USA this summer, it feels a bit like I did. I often miss that overt friendliness of Americans where you can just strike up a casual conversation about where you're from, how many cruises you've done, and what excursions you've been on that day. And, there were unlimited refills on Diet Coke. What's not to love? I had a drinks buffet of Diet Coke, coffee, and water every morning for breakfast and another that included wine for dinner!
The shore excursions were really fun each day. Because we had never been on a cruise and were in small towns in the middle of nowhere, we participated on excursions organized by the ship. As a teacher who has organized a lot of field trips over the years, these excursions were like a master-class on field trip organization. You would be given an assigned meeting time, told to show up at that exact time, not early (which is hard for my early-arriving family), and then organized into groups. Each group had a sticker with a specific number and they even had a person to take the trash from your sticker. That's some serious organization, if you ask me. Tourists often have limited collective brain power to follow directions...sort of like large groups of middle schoolers...and so there were pretty much no options to go to the wrong place. I definitely have some ideas from this trip for my next field trip.
Below is a slideshow of some of the gorgeous scenery pictures from Norway. It was one of the most beautiful places I have ever been and I loved it there so much. Stayed tuned for the next blog entry when I post about my next trip there a few weeks later where I got to be on the land at a cabin in the mountains.
The weather was spectacular for the three days we were there and we sat on the back patio sipping gin and tonics in the sunshine in the evenings and having family dinners outside. We spent one day in the city of Copenhagen as my mom had not been there since 1977 and my dad since 1999. We took a boat cruise of the harbor and poked around the Danish design shops downtown.
We also finally got to meet their other daughter, Britta, who we had not met before. It is so great to meet new family members and about a week later, I showed up to dinner at her house on the other side of Denmark as part of my road trip with my friend Kris and her kids. She was a good sport when one of the kids got sick in the driveway! Initiation to being "family" right away!
This was such a wonderful trip. We lucked out weather-wise and never even had to wear our rain paints! The scenery, the ship, the food, the company....all outstanding.
Skål! (Cheers in Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish!)