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« Why I tip my hat to Tony Blair | Main | Open thread »

My holiday hell

Just kidding.

Actually, I've been on a 12-day voyage that embraced Iceland, the Norwegian fjords and, for a brief period, the Arctic Circle.

The last time I took my family on a cruise someone commented, rather sarcastically I thought, "How nice for you, Simon", so I'll keep this short.

Or, rather, I'll report - direct from the Captain's Log (with my own observations in brackets) - on the conditions we experienced:

Southampton: Cloudy, 75oF
Reykjavik, Iceland: Overcast (very wet/very windy), 56oF
Akureyri, Iceland: Overcast, 59oF
Alesund, Norway: Cloudy, 67oF
Hellesylt/Geiranger, Norway: Cloudy (showers), 68oF
Olden, Norway: Overcast, 60oF
Bergen, Norway: Overcast (incessant rain), 62oF

Apparently it rains, on average, 235 days a year in Bergen and between October 29, 2006, and January 21, 2007, rain fell for 85 consecutive days. Fact.

To be fair, the sun did pop out from time to time and when it did it was worth the wait. You can't beat sitting on a stateroom balcony, good book in one hand, gin and tonic in the other, while the world goes by at approximately 17.5 knots. (It helps if there is some scenery to look at. I'm less keen on cruises where there is nothing to see apart from the horizon.)

Of course there's always a downside (why else would you read this blog?) and the downside of cruising is that you put on at least half a stone in weight. As a result, the trousers I wore quite comfortably before I left are now hopelessly redundant.

The good news is that I'm a lightweight compared to many of the ship's passengers. On the final evening there was a fire sale of clothing and, I kid you not, sizes included L, XL, XXL, XXXL and XXXXL!!! I bought a couple of t-shirts sized XXL. However, another week of eating and drinking on this scale and I'd be searching for a label that reads XXXXXL - or "You fat bastard" for short.

Anyway, I have posted some photos of our enormous floating hotel.

Above: the Crown Princess towers above Alesund, an attractive Norwegian town renowned for its colourful Art Nouveau architecture. While we were there we visited the Jugendstil Museum. The exhibits were interesting but the cafe was outstanding. I particularly recommend the chocolate cake.

Below: the ship in Geiranger fjord. To get this photo we had to climb a steep hill. Fortunately there was a bar a bit further on and I was able to get my breath back with the help of a large glass of beer.

One more post - about my holiday reading - and then it's back to work.

Reader Comments (11)

All sounds (and looks) rather splendid, Simon, if a tad chilly. Welcome home!

August 11, 2010 at 9:32 | Unregistered CommenterRose

How nice for you Simon (only joking)
Anyone I know that went on a cruise always put on weight.
Seeing as how the temperature was highest on home turf we wont slag you off.
Welcome home.

August 11, 2010 at 10:04 | Unregistered Commenterann

Simon, back to business. As you are probably aware P&O banned smoking ANYWHERE inside their ships. Just wondering if there were any smoking allowed bars on board the Princess?

August 11, 2010 at 10:33 | Unregistered Commentersheila

Sheila, smoking wasn't allowed in the main bars but there was a cigar bar where passengers could smoke and people were allowed to smoke on various decks (no hardship). You could also smoke cigarettes (but not pipes or cigars) in the casino (apart from one night which was advertised as a "smokefree casino").

From our cabin balcony I saw lots of ashtrays on the balconies below us so I don't think smokers had too much to complain about. Smoking policies are changing all the time, though, so always best to check in advance.

August 11, 2010 at 10:54 | Registered CommenterSimon Clark

There was an article in one of the papers last week Simon, showing the Icelandic PM, or was it the Mayor, I am not sure which?

He was dressed completely in drag!

I wondred if you encountered him while you were there, and if you noticed if he smoked those long Sobranes (I think they were called) with the pink filter tips?

August 11, 2010 at 11:02 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Thurgood

It looks wonderful and sounds as if cruise ships remain a puritan-free zone - for now! Anyway, now that your're back and a trifle cuddlier you can look forward to being hectored by them for daring to forget your obligation to Society by enjoying yourself!

August 11, 2010 at 12:13 | Unregistered CommenterJoyce

I've given up on P&O (with whom we had a very similar cruise, but with good weather, ha ha!) because of their insane smoking ban - not even in one's own cabin. I chose a cabin next to the doorway to the after deck. At the end of the cruise the door was nearly off its hinges with people nipping in and out. I kid you not. So I'm hoping for better treatment on Princess Lines.

August 11, 2010 at 12:37 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge Speller

Wow Peter... that's a blast from the past. I used to smoke Sobranie Cocktails about 25 years ago. Very swish. George... very funny to think of the door nearly off it's hinges. What more evidence do they need?

August 11, 2010 at 13:31 | Unregistered CommenterLiberty

Lovely photos ! Hope you are relaxed and re invigorated after your holiday. Sadly as you know I dont do well on boats... 10 minutes on the" Elizabethan ". and some unkind folk thought I was drunk (as if ) (well - not after 10 minutes !!) We just got back from a weekend in Amsterdam... v interesting. Each bar had decided if it is adhering to or ignoring the ban. We found plenty in the latter category. Of course what happens in Amsterdam stays in Amsterdam but to summarise - late, lashed, lost and locked out... nuff said! (and no more than a dunhill was inhaled i should add )

August 11, 2010 at 22:57 | Unregistered Commenterdunhillbabe

I wonder if any of you who have enjoyed cruising have registered on the forum of There is currently a thread on there entitled Poll.- smoking on cruise ships. What,s your feeling on the matter. An extremely heated debate going on. You might like to add your views and your preference on the smoking facilities on board ships.

August 12, 2010 at 12:55 | Unregistered Commentersheila

Nothing in here about smoking bans in Iceland and Norway. Did you go ashore to sample the local pubs? More for the potential non-cruise tourist, please.

August 13, 2010 at 13:16 | Unregistered Commenterchris

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