Norway, Iceland and the Faroe Islands with Cunard
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Ok! You're no spring chicken and you need a few aids to keep you going!
Do not be deterred!
- It is quite easy
- Work out what help you need in the way of equipment etc
- Enquire of your shipping line what help and equipment they will provide and what you can bring on board
Book! Go! Enjoy!!!
Having joined the Queen Victoria at Southampton, I unpacked in my enormous disabled cabin equipped with a well-appointed wet room and wheelchair accessible balcony.
We enjoyed a leisurely cruise down the channel and up a remarkably calm North Sea to our first port of call which was Stavanger. This is a very pretty port with many of the old port side warehouses still preserved although converted into shops, offices restaurants etc., many of them are painted in the colours that vary as to purpose with white reserved for residential houses.
Bergen was next on the list. The fish market is a must to visit with all types of fish on sale to see and many places in which to sample them. The cleanliness and freshness of the town has to be seen to be believed! No graffiti or litter anywhere. The Norwegians love flowers and everywhere colourful blooms could be seen. Most of the older and many of the more modern houses in Norway are built in wood and a lot of the older houses in the countryside still have grass roofs on which traditionally the farmers used to graze a goat or two. I saw the turf roofs, but no goats! The countryside is verdantly green with forest of birch and spruce interspersed with lush green meadows, where farmers were cutting the first hay crop of the year. Like England, spring is about a month late this year, so the traditional Norwegian strawberries were not yet available.
Olden was incredible! I woke in the morning as we were gliding majestically down a glassy fjord, with the sun just appearing over the snow and ice topped mountains. After breakfast eaten on my balcony in the unshine, I boarded the coach for the 'leisurely' tour down the fjord and back up past the lake. How can I describe it? I can't! Words fail me! The mountains sweep down to the water, the white of the glaciers and ice fields reflecting in the water below. The wild flowers on the slopes leading down to the road were beautiful. Fields of Lilly of the Valley fragrant beneath the greens of the birch and spruce. Wood Anemone, Pink Campion, Clover, Cow Parsley, Buttercup and many others, all redolent with perfume and the hum of the bees in the sun.
On return to the vessel a marvellous meal awaited, served by smiling waiters who seemed delighted to serve you and could not be more helpful. I find all the staff on Queen Victoria to be cheerful and helpful, particularly Sarah who is the Grills Suites concierge. She will reserve tickets on tours for you, help with any problems, in fact do anything she can go make your trip easy and memorable.
Alesund has an interesting medal winning aquarium which is built into the mountainside. It's worth a brief visit. There is a shuttle bus that runs from the town to the aquarium. Children would love this visit as you can feed the fish in an open aquarium and watch the penguins being fed by a white shirted gentleman wearing white gloves and tailcoat!
The next day was spent at sea. It was made memorable by both the lifts that serve the grills restaurants and lounge being out of action for several hours, thus leaving the less agile of us stranded! However there must be worse places to be stranded other than in a well-stocked bar next to the restaurant with all the attending staff! My only worry was that it meant I missed a lecture by Robert Powell the actor and I had a hair appointment later to have my hair put up for the formal evening to follow.
Well, another day, another country. When I awoke, we were gliding up the Nordefjord to the port of Akureyri snow and glacier clad mountains were reflected in the still waters of the fjord as we glided towards our destination port. It was decidedly chillier than Norway and extra layers were a necessity. I had booked a leisurely tour of the town with a visit to a waterfall into which, legend says, the pagan idols were thrown on the adoption thus named Godafoss falls. They were quite dramatic with large boulders in the steam bed, which as everyone knows, as trolls which have been caught out in daylight and therefore turned to stone!
The next port was Instefjord, which as it was a tender port and they can't lift my luggie on board I was ship bound.
The following day we berthed at Reykjavik and I boarded my coach for a visit to the Blue Lagoon. The day was icy cold with a bitter wind and slight drizzle. At the lagoon you all have to strip and shower naked before bathing. The sight of many middle aged and more senior ladies trying to retain their modesty was --- well, I'll leave it to your imagination! The lagoon itself was heaven, the waters luxuriously warm and silky feeling. The colour is an opaque milky azure and the steam drifting across the surface made it seem slightly surreal. The mud is said to have therapeutic properties and everyone wad plastering themselves with tons of it, in hope of instant rejuvenation! ( it didn't work on me, but my skin did feel silkier).
On return to the ship the panic was on for manicure, hairdo, makeup and on with my silver sequin dress for a formal dinner.
The Faroe Islands
The captain of this ship, is Cunard's first female captain. This is Queen Victoria's maiden voyage to the Faroe's. The captain is a native of the Faroe Islands! We were greeted by the pilot vessel complete with news camera on board. I was amused by the spectacular run across the pilot vessels deck, followed by a leap aboard, instead of the usual leisurely saunter and step across if the weather is not rough! (it was a glassy calm). Robert Powell the actor is aboard, perhaps he should take lessons from the pilot?
I didn't go ashore at the first port as it involved a shuttle bus. However it was the Captains home port, so I gather a good time was had by all. In the evening the local dance troupe came aboard and we watched a survival of very early dancing - the chain dance with accompanying chant! She joined in and obviously enjoyed it!
Torshavn, Faroe Islands
The last day of visits before sailing back home! I went on a tour again, it started in mist but it gradually lifted and we were able to see the valleys with their countless multi-coloured sheep. Once again the wild flowers were lovely. I even saw some orchids. We saw many houses with turf roofs. The main difference between these and the Norwegian versions were their lawn mowers. In Norway they're goats, in the Faroes, sheep!
I found that my luggie gave me much more freedom than even I had expected. All the coach drivers seemed very happy to load and unload it at stops for me. The waiters almost fought with each other to bring it to my table at the end of the meal. I gather that Cunard have now decided that luggie owners can occupy ordinary cabins as it is narrow enough to pass through normal cabin doors.
So book go enjoy.
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