|08/05/2014||Bergen||Bergen City Highlights||Stave Church, Cable Car & Outdoor Museum|
|10/05/2014||Flåm||Iconic Norway||Myrdal, Voss & Gudvangen|
|11/05/2014||Stavanger||The Occupation of Stavanger||Interesting War & Aviation Museums|
|13/05/2014||Dover||-||Home by 12:30 pm|
I drove down to Dover via Ashford and was on board the ship by 1:30 pm. In Asda's superstore in Ashford I bagged a new FujiFilm camera reduced from £90 to £45 to replace my old £30 Nikon camera which had started to play up. After the safety drill, I watched the sailaway from Dover in brilliant sun. I attended the Cruise Director's welcome cocktail party at 5:30 pm, before dining with Sheila from the Forest of Dean, sisters Heather & Rosemary from Gloucestershire, Jim from Guthlaxton College in Oadby and another gent. I had the braised beef cheek at a window seat in the main dining room with views of a lovely sunset. I danced one set in the Britannia Lounge from 9:45 until 10:30 before going to bed.
On the first sea day I attended Carol's line dance class where she taught the Electric Slide, Cowboy Charleston & Stroll Along Cha Cha. I had offered to run the line dancing but the cruise director preferred that I lead the ballroom dancing class instead. At 10:45 am I gave my first lecture entitled "Bergen: Gateway to the Fjords" & "Olden: Fjordland Gem". After lunch of roast lamb in the Verandah restaurant I led my first ballroom dance class which the cruise director John Parton had asked me to take in the absence of a dance couple. I taught the social foxtrot with the aid of the two dance hosts, Ernie from Thorpe Bay and Danny from Warrenpoint. After the Captain's welcome cocktail party, I dined on lobster in the Verandah restaurant which was actually busier than the main dining room. I led off a couple of social foxtrots before the variety showtime. After some late night snacks I was in bed by 11 pm and slept for eight hours.
In Bergen I escorted my first choice City Highlights tour. We visited the reconstructed Fantoft stave church; the Mount Ulriken cable car and the Old Bergen outdoor museum - all for my first time, so I was very pleased. Back at the ship, I lunched on delicious lamb navarin before sleeping for an hour and a half. I then walked into the city via the free internet terminal and free wi-fi in the foyer of the Thon hotel, taking pictures with my new camera. I dined on a Salisbury steaklet with Elaine and her sister from Alcester, Molly and her husband from Cheddar, Jim from Oadby (again), a lady from Chedworth (again), and another gent on a large round table in the main restaurant. I danced with Janet the jiver, Carrie the rumba aficionado and others before the Big Band Show. I went straight to bed again at 10:30 after another busy day.
In Olden I breakfasted on two Eggs Benedict as we berthed in the majestic fjord. I then escorted the all day tour to Geiranger for the third time. The smorgasbord buffet in the Union Hotel was as good as ever. I breezed through the vintage car museum and the fjord centre in order to explore the new waterfall walkway being constructed down the valley. It will be a great asset to the village when completed since the thousands of cruise passengers will be able to avoid walking on the main road. The fjord cruise was majestic as usual until it started to drizzle towards the end. The final drive home was in rain. My coach was the last back after 4:30 pm and I was due to lecture at 5 pm! Back on the ship the cruise director asked if I might stay on for the next cruise as the dance instructor but unfortunately I had an Open University meeting in London the following Saturday. My talk on "Flåm: Fjordland Gem" & "Stavanger: City of Fish & Ships" was well received as usual. After the Britannia Club cocktail party, I dined on veal in the Verandah restaurant. I danced with Janet, Carrie and others before watching the one man band entertainer who ended his act by singing Alan Jackson's "Remember When". I wanted to get up and dance "Where we've been" - definitely the song of the cruise!
In Flåm (pronounced Florm) I escorted the Iconic Norway all day tour. We rode the famous Flåm railway to Myrdal where we changed on to the ordinary train to Voss. Here we had a magnificent smorgasbord in a classic Victorian hotel. I began lunch with a whole dressed crab, continued with a plate full of prawns and finshed with poached salmon and pork. I couldn't manage a dessert! After a brief walk around sunny Voss, we boarded coaches for the return to Flåm via the majestic Stalheim Canyon. Back at the ship we saw a small pod of harbour porpoises swimming towards Flåm as we departed. I then had a siesta before dinner of gammon, egg, chips and peas in the main restaurant with five northerners and two southerners. I danced with jiving Janet both before and after cruise director John Parton's famous Gershwin show, which I have already seen several times but which is always worth seeing again. I then listened to the two male singers, Darren & Gary, in their cabaret show in the more intimate surroundings of the Drawing Room.
In Stavanger I breakfasted on two Eggs Benedict before escorting my first choice Wartime Occupation tour. This was running for the very first time and, for only the second time in my cruising career, I was on a coach with mobile wi-fi! We visited the Commonwealth War Graves cemetery, the Swords in the Rock monument, the Rogaland war museum and the Sola aviation museum. The latter was particularly impressive with British, German, American, and Norwegian planes on display. The tour ended with coffee and cakes: apple, marzipan and Danish pastries. Back at the ship there was a queue for the Verandah restaurant so I went to the poolside Beach Club for their lovely chicken and chips for the first time. After a two hour siesta I popped back into the city. I went into the Romanesque (cf. Norman) cathedral and also took pictures of the colourful Greenpeace ship protesting about Arctic oil exploration. After the Captain's farewell cocktail party, I dined on Chateaubriand steak in the Verandah restaurant with three single ladies. I then danced with Janet and others, but not Carrie, before Mark O'Malley's second show.
On the final sea day I breakfasted with Janet before going to Carol's second line dance class. She taught the Electric Slide, Honky Tonk Stomp & Stroll Along Cha Cha. I worked on this blog in my cabin whilst listening to Ralph's lecture on Svalbard and Captain Philip's reminiscences. After lunch I led my final dance class teaching the social rumba. Immediately afterwards I gave my final lecture entitled "The Story of the North Sea". After packing I dined on a mixed grill with Sheila, Rosemary, Heather, Margaret, Morgan and another couple. Margaret generously gave me a glass of her white wine. I danced both before and after the production company's show.
Back in Dover, I had my final breakfast of two Eggs Benedict. I had been allocated baggage tag number 8 and so got off the ship at 9:40 am. My car was parked right by the terminal door so I was soon off and home by 12:30 pm. Betty from Rochester gave me a note saying "Thanks for all your lectures on several cruises I've done". Later Jan from Telford wrote "Well young man just wish to thank you so much for your company and for coming down to dance - it was super and a bonus"! Kayleigh Lucas the ACD also wrote saying "Thanks for the great job you did. Was nice to see you again".
4 Tours escorted 3 Lectures given 3 Cocktail parties attended 2 Dance classes led
5 Cruise Lines (Saga, Fred. Olsen, Cunard, Seabourn, Voyages of Discovery) 18 Cruise Ships travelled on (6x Saga, 5x FOCL, 4x Cunard, 2x Seabourn, 1x Voyages of Discovery) 82 Cruises enjoyed worldwide 309 Different Ports visited 418 Tours escorted 733 Port calls