Admire the beauty of the fjords up close on a cruise. Credit: Shutterstock

Fantastic fjords

Author: Gary Peters

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Gary Peters travels to the Norwegian fjords with Princess Cruises on a very special honeymoon cruise.

I’m traversing some of the narrowest roads in Norway, trying my best not to look over the side as the road disappears and nothing but mountain terrain appears beneath me.

I cannot decide if I should be happy or somewhat concerned that the coach driver navigating these perilous paths seems completely unmoved by the treachery that could befall us; our tour guide reassures me and others in the vehicle that this is certainly not his first time doing so.

Doing my best to forget about my fear of heights, I summon the courage to peer outside and am greeted by one of the most magical views in my life – snow-topped mountains in Skjolden. This small and charming village feels far removed from modern city life and hustle and bustle and is precisely why I was so keen to experience this part of the world.

Norway is famous for its fjords and a cruise aboard Sky Princess is a great way to experience them. Credit: Princess Cruises

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Honeymoon bliss at sea
This excursion – aptly named Sognefjell Mountain Scenery – is the second port of call on the seven-night Norwegian fjords itinerary on Sky Princess and takes us from one mind-blowing photo opportunity to another.

It is for moments such as this that I have for many years had the fjords on my travel wish-list. Prior to joining the cruise sector, I would have likely organised a short, land-based holiday in a large Norwegian city and attempted to explore independently.

However, knowing how intimate and spectacular fjord itineraries can be, I decide some months ago that the only, and best, option is to jump on board and go via cruise. Oh, and I should mention that this voyage also happens to be my honeymoon.

Since tying the knot in late 2021, my wife and I have debated where we wanted to spend those blissful post-wedding moments. Like me, she has long desired to see Norway and the majesty of its fjords and landscapes.

Putting two and two together, I smugly declare to her that the way to do it is via ship. Cue some nervous glances in my direction – I suddenly remember she is a new to cruise passenger.

Despite being privy to many of my post-trip exultations – "this ship had this many restaurants", "you wake up in a new destination most days", "sea days are the ultimate way to relax" – there was some hesitancy.

Nonetheless, I preserve and once she sees the itinerary and excursions on offer – not to mention the amenities and style of Sky Princess – she is hooked, and we excitedly begin to plan our cruise.

Norway's waterfalls are a sight to behold as they cascade from the mountains. Credit: Princess Cruises

Medallion Magic
The magic begins not when we step on board in Southampton, but in the months leading up to embarkation.

The MedallionClass app – part of Princess’ much-discussed Medallion experience – is not only useful for adding pre-departure necessities such as passport information and health questionnaires, but also builds the anticipation with a voyage countdown clock, interactive ship maps and entertainment schedules.

When it does finally come to embarkation day, we can barely contain our joy at stepping on board (Medallions in hand), greeted by the grand Piazza, which beats to the drum of excited cruisers sipping on signature cocktails and tucking into some of the finest pizza at sea in Alfredo’s Pizzeria.

After a customary dash around the ship (in-depth exploration is always best on sea days), we decide to put the Medallion tech to the test, firstly by entering our balcony stateroom, which is spacious, complemented with a fresh, down-to-earth vibe.

I have heard plenty about this keyless entry and I am amazed at the intelligence of a system that allows me to step out of the elevator and into a stateroom without any interaction on my part. The technology is also seamless and easy to use when ordering drinks (delivered to wherever you are on board) and making dining reservations through the ‘Dine My Way’ option.

Gourmet pizza is the order of the day at Alfredo's which is named after Princess Cruises' former master chef Alfredo Marzi. I. The venue is named after Princess Cruises' master chef Alfredo Marzi. Credit: Princess Cruises

Rocking and rolling
The Medallion Class experience is everywhere on the 3,660-guest Sky Princess. Built in 2019, the vessel is part of Princess’ Royal class and has the size and amenities to be classed as a big-ship experience. However, it also retains an intimate and homely feel – ideal for those guests who want plenty to do without the fear of missing out.

There is an eclectic range of complimentary dining – from the World Fresh Marketplace buffet, main dining rooms, Slice – perfect for an on-the-go snack – and Salty Dog Grill, which proves very popular while we’re on board.

These all hit the sweet spot, but where Sky Princess really shines is with its speciality dining. Crown Grill, with its premium aged beef and fresh seafood items, is a stunning place to dine, and we also try Sabatini’s – no doubt the best pasta I have ever eaten – and the French bistro-style Bistro Sur La Mer, created with acclaimed chef Emmanuel Renaut. Top marks all round.

The pools are a good size and there are enough hot tubs dotted around to satisfy demand, even on sea days and with a Norwegian chill in the air. One highlight is the Retreat, a small area tucked away on deck 17.

Even with the ease of drink and food on demand through the Medallion app, the bars are always alive on Sky Princess. A favourite spot for many is Take Five, which has live jazz in the evenings, and Vines, specialising in varieties of wine from across the globe. The redesigned Vista Lounge, at the aft of the ship, also comes into its own in the evenings, as entertainers take to the stage, while Good Spirits is the place to be for a huge range of cocktails.

Elsewhere, Princess Live! is a charming spot to grab a coffee (or something stronger) and take part in a quiz or watch a comedy act. For those of sufficient will to brave the late-night weather, Movies Under the Stars does what it says on tin – big-screen films played out in the poolside amphitheatre, complete with blankets and complimentary popcorn.

The Princess Theatre plays host to two key productions while we’re sailing – Rock Opera, and 5 Skies. The former, which debuted on Sky Princess in 2019, is a showstopper, fusing the heavy riffs of rock music with avant garde fashion. Meanwhile, 5 Skies, described by Princess as “one of our most technologically advanced production shows yet”, takes place in a virtual reality game and features some brilliant visuals.

5 Skies transports guests into a virtual reality gaming world. Credit: Princess Cruises

Waking up to the fjords
Speaking of visuals. Rewinding back to day three of the cruise, I wake to the eye-popping sights of fjords, perched just beyond my reach, in Bergen. Our first port of call sees us take an organised excursion to the many waterfalls in the area, including one at which we can walk directly underneath. Dripping with the spray of the water, I am aware of just how powerful nature is, as the water thrashes over my head and into the lake below.

Next is the aforementioned stop in Skjolden and the Sognefjord, where my wife delights in walking perilously close to the mountain edge, as the frozen snow crackles beneath her foot – thankfully we both have our hiking boots.

As the cruise reaches its halfway point, we arrive in Olden to see the imposing Nordfjorden. As opposed to the other excursions, this time we take a short boat-ride along the Lovatnet Lake, gliding effortlessly across the still water to a restaurant for traditional Norwegian waffles and coffee. This is soon followed by an easy hike to the Kjenndalen Glacier, imposing in its size (although in recent years it has retreated) yet wonderfully tranquil and invigorating.

This is a common theme throughout the voyage – striking mountain tops and the harsh reality of its terrain hold natural beauty and it’s impossible not to be moved when experiencing this in person.

As we sadly come to the end of the itinerary, we fit in a final day of exploration in Stavanger along the Lysefjord, which is home to Pulpit Rock, one of the most famous mountain hikes in Norway.

Our view is from below, and although my wife is clearly desperate to don her hiking boots again, thinking back to my earlier experience on the roads in Skjolden leads me to believe that being at sea level might be for the best.

View from Sky Princess. Credit: Princess Cruises
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About Gary Peters

Gary is an experienced cruise journalist and editor who has been at the helm of Cruise Trade News since 2019. In that time, the brand has focused on investigative journalism and long-form feature content. Gary has also overseen the launch of new digital publications. Prior to joining Cruise Trade News – initially as deputy editor in 2018 – Gary worked in music and sport journalism, and as a senior editor for B2B magazines in the transport and environment sectors.