Travel: All aboard Azura to enjoy the fairytale fjords...
Glistening lakes, cascading waterfalls, emerald valleys and majestic snow-capped mountains '“ the best way to breathe in the fairytale beauty of the Norwegian Fjords is up close and personal, sailing through the very heart of them.
Home to some of the world’s most breathtaking scenery, the Fjords are never more spectacular than when gliding past your balcony as you relax and soak up their splendour.
My husband, two children and I did just that onboard P&O Cruises Azura’s Norwegian Fjords cruise and – with five-star food, impeccable service and sparkling entertainment – were treated to a truly unforgettable voyage embellished with natural phenomenons.
Captivated by every inch of the glamorous, family-friendly ship, and in awe at every port, our first stop was historical Stavanger – the Cradle of the Vikings – where a high-speed RIB ride along striking Lysefjord (Light Fjord) had the adrenaline pumping and cameras clicking. Proudly showcasing the dramatic waterscape, our guide sailed through Vagabonds’ Cave and shimmering waterfalls, culminating his tour at the famous Pulpit Rock, a towering mountain plateau hanging 604 metres above sea level.
An exhilarating excursion must, we swapped sea spray for a scenic stroll in the afternoon, meandering the cobbled streets of the old town and exploring the traditional markets before heading back to Azura.
Idyllically nestled at the tip of Nordfjord at the entrance to the gorgeous Oldedalen Valley, the cruise into our second port, Olden, was pure enchantment. Mesmerised by turquoise waters and icing sugar mountains, we relished the fairytale sail in from dawn, experiencing the awesome Briksdal Glacier early afternoon.
An awsome ice giant cascading 4,000 feet down the mountainside, a riveting 45-minute walk across river and vale bought us face to face with this multi-coloured frozen phenomenon – one of Europe’s most spectacular ancient glaciers and a photographer’s paradise.
An evening under cobalt skies, enjoying the scenic sail away along with a movie on the open air sea screen, was the perfect end to a perfect day, with Olden oil painted into memory forever.
A visual carnival of snowy peaks, wild waterfalls and vibrant greenery, there’s little wonder sky-blue Geirangerfjord is hailed one of the world’s most spectacular places.
This settlement, with an idyllic campsite and a cluster of homes on the water’s edge, is the dream port for walking, hiking, sightseeing, kayaking and cycling – but for the ultimate bird’s eye view, head for the Geiranger Skywalk – a panoramic platform showcasing the stunning fjord from 1,500 metres above sea level. A sunny tea-time sail away showed off the famous Seven Sisters, the Suitor and the Bridal Veil waterfalls in all their glory, dewy rainbows dancing in their midsts.
By coach, on foot or by exciting cable car up the mountain, enchanting Bergen is a kaleidoscope of culture, history and scenery. Nestled on the west coast, on the rippling Byfjord, Norway’s second largest city radiates small town charm and atmosphere, and is the ideal port for exploration.
Enamoured by the colourful wooden houses on the old wharf and the wild allure of the surrounding fjords, we mused shops and art galleries before taking a walking tour of medieval Bergen, capped off with a cool cocktail in the Ice Bar.
Each picturesque port and every tantalising tour was enhanced by our appreciation of Azura. From accommodation to dining, service to entertainment, this fantastic family-friendly ship ticked every box with plush cabins and an incredible choice of restaurants, bars, sports and spa facilities. Thrilled with our luxurious, spacious starboard balcony cabins, we absorbed Mother Nature’s greatest masterpieces from our very own private viewing galleries.
On black tie evenings the ship shone with grace and grandeur, whilst on casual evenings it radiated a relaxed charm in which we basked mostly in the Glass House and the Planet Bar, a chic piano lounge hideaway offering mellow ambiance and unrivalled views of the ocean from the stern.
Varied and deliciously tempting, the menu and food in our freedom dining restaurant, the Peninsular, was exceptional, whilst the ship’s select dining venues – Epicurean and Atul Kochhar’s Sindhu - took fine dining and multi-sensory gastronomy to heavenly heights.
Boasting shops, casino, kids’ clubs and a Broadway-rivalling entertainment line-up, as alluring as we found the ports, we always re-embarked with a spring in our steps and the promise of memorable sea days - and nights – to be cherished long after our return.
Fjords, 7 nights, £659pp
P&O Cruises is offering a 7 night cruise on Azura (A816) from £659 per person for a balcony cabin. Departing June 23, 2018. The price includes kids’ clubs, full board meals and entertainment on board.
Departing from and returning to Southampton ports of call are Stavanger, Olden, Flaam and Bergen. To book, visit https://www.pocruises.com, call 0843 373 0111, contact your local travel agent or visit https://www.pocruises.com/a816/Travel facts
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to get that relaxed, revitalised, refreshed feeling … before you even set sail?
Keen to unwind and experience the excitement of vibrant Southampton, we called on Destination Southampton (www.destinationsouthampton.com), to help us find a pampering pre-cruise hotel package in the culture-rich city.
Perusing their informative pages, which assist in booking cruise, park and stay accommodation with links to cruise dates, restaurants, maps, National Rail, Southampton Airport and more, we chose the Macdonald Botley Park Hotel & Spa – a prestigious four-star hotel.
Boasting 130 luxurious rooms, plus sauna, steam room, pool, Technogym and beauty suite, the hotel is just 20 minutes from the docks. The Macdonald Botley Park’s popular park and cruise package includes:
- overnight stay in a classic double room
- full English breakfast
- full use of leisure facilities
- hassle-free return transfers to the port
- parking for the length of your cruise.
- complimentary tea and coffee on your departure morning
- A dinner, bed and breakfast cruise and stay package at Botley Park Hotel & Spa is £179 per night (based on two sharing). To book call 0344 879 9034 or visit https://www.macdonaldhotels.co.uk