Disney Magic / Norway 2016
We booked our cruise to Norway out of Copenhagen about a year ahead of the sail date.
– The main reasons for booking our Norway cruise was to take the kids back to Norway, which is their ancestral home from my side of the family. My mom is 100% Norwegian, and her grandfather left his farm near Bergen and moved to the U.S. In the mid 1800’s. Also, we were not sure how many years Disney would continue to sail to Norway, after the hype of Frozen started to die down. So it seemed like the perfect time to do something crazy and fun.
– We booked an deluxe ocean view stateroom on deck 7. Three weeks prior to sailing we got a huge surprise. Disney called us and said they had upgraded us to a balcony stateroom on deck 8. With the great weather we had on the trip, we ended up spending a lot of our mornings on our balcony, taking in the scenery, before we went ashore. This really made our trip.
– We were also a couple doors down from the Walt Disney suite, and the family who booked it, invited us in one day to see it…I didn’t even realize they had rooms that big on the ship. It was amazing.
We flew on Delta into London Heathrow a day and a half prior to our sail date. I highly recommend getting there a few days prior, to get adjusted a little bit to the new time zone before the cruise.
– Having the 2 days before the cruise let us see some sights in London, and got us adjusted to the time zone change.
– We talked to a few people who flew in the day of the cruise, and they felt like they lost a day or two on the cruise getting adjusted.
– Looking back on it, if you don’t have hotel points to use in London (hotels are very expensive), it might be worth exploring air B and B. Or heading straight to Dover. There was a beautiful castle up above the cliffs, which would have been fun to explore the day before leaving on your cruise.
The port of Dover is about a 2 hour drive from Heathrow. We ended up booking our transfers to and from the ship with Disney. Pricing it out, it was the same cost as what several private shuttles were charging. You could take the train for a cheaper price, but it involved transferring twice. We probably would have done this if it was just my wife and I, but with kids and bags, we took the easy route.
Didn’t realize the London marathon was being run the day we left…along with it being a national holiday, so it took us over 3 hours to get to Dover because of traffic…so we didn’t get on the ship until 2pm. Dover itself is a very small terminal, but by the time we got there, our bus was the only one checking in. The check in process was really quick, and we got right on.
Customs – Because we cleared customs at Heathrow when we arrived, and Norway and Great Britain are both EU countries, we didn’t have any customs leaving or coming back from the,cruise.
We missed the sail away party, because we were still getting settled in after our later arrival. We did make it up for the very end though, as we left Dover.
Dinner for us that night was at Lumiere’s. We shared a table with a similar family from England the whole cruise. They had two boys the same ages as our kids. When we got to the table, they had us adults at the ends, and the boys sitting together in the middle…it didn’t take long for the boys to start talking, followed by us. We really enjoyed our dinners with them the whole week…especially learning how similar things were between our two countries (mine craft is just as huge with elementary aged kids in England as well:)).
We skipped the show that night, because the kids were excited to go and play in the oceaneer’s lab/club. They have the Marvel Avengers Academy on the Magic, and our youngest was all over that. So my wife and I headed up to the cove and relaxed with a couple glasses of wine.
That night, the ship was completely enveloped in fog as we cruised up the coast of England. They blew the ships horn every couple of minutes all night as we cruised through the fog…it was really cool sitting out on our balcony on a foggy night, listening to the waves and the horn.
Day 2: Sea Day
This really was the only bad weather day we had. It was misting and cold up on the deck..so the kids played in the clubs most of the morning, while my wife and I headed to the gym.
– similar to the Alaska cruise we took last summer, where they had a naturalist on board to give talks, on this cruise they had a college history professor who gave several talks during the week on the history of Norway and the Vikings (Who knew Dublin is really a Norse word that means “dark pool”. There is a dark pool formed by a river that runs into the Dublin area..hence the name when the Vikings landed in Ireland). I went to several of them…he was really witty and engaging, so the talks were a real hit with the adults on the cruise.
– The kids did want to swim in the afternoon, so I braved it up there with them. Just like the cruise to Alaska, the pools were almost bath tub warm, so even though it was cold and misty, they had fun in the pools and on the slide.
We ate at Animators Palate that night.
– the menu each night featured food from the regions we were near. English dishes the first two days, and the last. Norwegian dishes on the days we were in Norway. All of the food was outstanding. They did have chicken and steak for those who didn’t want to be as adventurous. All of the kids meals were kid friendly.
– we did go to the show that night. It was a British group called Junnk…very similar to stomp, but with more modern music. Fun show!
Day 3 Stavanger
All of our port stops had some similarities. You could walk right off the ship, and within 5-15 minutes walk, you were right downtown. Every town had several things you could visit and do within walking distance.
– pretty much every port, we did our exploring in the morning, and on into the early afternoon…returning to the ship by 4 at the latest, so the kids could play in the pool, or at the Oceaneers Lab prior to dinner. This made for a very relaxing cruise for all of us.
In Stavanger we booked a port adventure for a 3 hour cruise up the Lysefjord. I can’t say enough how amazing the scenery was. We stopped at several waterfalls, and just below Pulpit Rock. You could actually make out people standing on the edge of pulpit rock. There were plenty of kids on the boat, and they had space up top to run around a bit and burn off some energy while my wife and I took in the scenery.
On the way back, we stopped at a small restaurant that served up coffee and tea with some traditional Norwegian pancakes. These were amazing…basically sweet bread which you put clotted cream mixed with jam on. We got back in time to wander around some of the shops in the center of town, before heading back on board.
– while there were some tourist shops in each port, the cool thing about each of the towns, is you were also wandering areas where the locals shopped and ate. It was refreshing not being jammed into only ports with only tourist shops everywhere.
That night we ate at Carioca’s. That night we all went to the Buena Vista theater, and finally got to see Captain America Civil War, which myself and the boys were dieing to see…my wife was a good sport, and came with as well:🇳🇴
Day 4 Alesund
In Alesund, we booked a tour that took us to an outdoor museum which showed us houses, buildings and boats from the 1700’s and on. It was amazing to learn the history of Norway, and the importance they put on education for not only men, but women as well. It’s why Scandinavia tends to be much more progressive than many other parts of the world. There were also several examples of ships that the Vikings would have used to travel when they were roaming the North Atlantic. From there we were taken to a view point above the city, so we could get some good pictures of Alesund and the ship. They dropped us off back at the ship about lunch time, so it was easy to head back on for lunch. We then headed back into town to do some more sight seeing and exploring. We found a hotel which offered a light house at the end of a pier, as a room to stay in for the evening. It even had its own bathroom and shower!
That night we ate at Lumiere’s again. 1/2 way through dinner, soldiers from the royal court broke in to the restaurant, and started questioning several tables on the whereabouts of Flynn Rider…it was hilarious. Our youngest one was exhausted, so he and my wife headed back to the room, where he fell asleep immediately…she on the other hand enjoyed sitting out on our deck, and caught up on her book club book. Our oldest and I went to the Musical Tangled. It was an great show, with a lot of humor.
Day 5 Geiranger
This was the big Fjord day. They had coffee, rolls, and breakfast sandwiches up on the deck at 0500 as we entered the fjord. The upper deck was pretty crowded with people by the time I got up there at 0615, to take in the scenery as we cruised up to the end of the fjord. There was fog off and on, along the water and land, which really added to the beauty as we slowly cruised to the end. The scenery here was somewhat similar to the Tracy Arm Fjord we had cruised up in Alaska, a year earlier.
We booked a tour to a farm located up in the mountains next to an adjoining fjord to Geiranger Fjord. I wanted to see where my moms grandfather had immigrated from, and this was the best opportunity. We took a bus and drove the 45 minutes to the farm…we got some amazing shots of the ship, and Geiranger Fjord as we climbed up and out of it. We had some amazing views as we traveled to Martin and Ingrads farm above an adjoining fjord (I didn’t get the name of the fjord, they were above).
You can tell from the photo’s what an amazing view they have. Martin admitted, that farming alone on a small farm, cannot pay the bills, so they have begun doing other things. He brews beer which he sells in the local village…we had an opportunity to sample it, along with several of his cured meats he sells…they were outstanding. Meanwhile, Ingrid took all of the kids into her workshop where she does hand printing using large antique metal stamps and ink onto fabrics, which she sells locally, and on the web. Each of the kids got to make a beautiful case for a throw pillow, with stamps they picked out…unfortunately, I don’t have a picture. It made for a true memory, which we will always be reminded of the farm and Martin and Ingrid, every time we see it. It was really neat seeing the country where my ancestors came from.
We then returned back to the small town of Geiranger after a quick stop at a mountain lake.
Back in Geiranger we explored the little town, found a great chocolate shop, and hiked up along a raging river which was dumping into the end of the fjord.
We then got back onto the ship about an hour before we sailed, hit the pool, and had dinner in Animators Palate again that night. We got to draw our own characters that night, and they then danced across the screen to some cool music. Our English friends absolutely loved this, because they didn’t know what was coming:) We then all went to see Hector is Magic perform as the headline show that night. He was a magician from Spain, and was amazing. It was neat that all of the performers were from around Europe, so we got a taste of some different cultures and acts along the way.
Day 6 Bergen
After 3 busy days, we decided to take it slow in Bergen, and just wander around. We all slept in, had a late breakfast and left the ship about 1000 to explore the town. There was a really neat castle next to where the ship parked, but the kids decided they wanted to ride a funicular up to the top of a mountain that over looks the city instead. We wandered around the shops (where our two kids who are soccer fanatics, finally found jerseys for Norways national team🇳🇴) along the Bryggen (their harbor area), through the fish market (where you could buy and try just about everything from King Crab to Whale). We then made it to the funicular, where we rode it up to the top of Mt Floein for some great views.
There was an ice cream shop and a huge play ground with a rope course through the tree’s at the top of the mountain. Several families and kids we had met on the cruise were up there, so our kids had a blast playing with friends, while I sat and talked to several of the families, and a few of the servers from the ship, who had the day off. I got a huge kick from talking to Jose, a server from Spain… He said he had to leave the playground, because the kids were all over him…he told me, on the Magic, he’s ” more famous than Mickey!”. After seeing him in action with the kids…I think he’s right. It was a great afternoon!
We got back to the ship in time to play at the pool for an hour or two. I think I rode the Aqua Duck about 20 times, since there was a never a line the whole cruise… It was a seriously fun ride. Had a blast talking with the life guards who worked it, and hearing about what their life was like on the ship. It’s amazing how friendly the cast members are, when you ask about them, their lives, and families. Another reason we love DCL!
My wife and I ate at Palo that night, and had some spectacular views as we left Bergen. Amazing meal!
One tip. Instead of eating at the kids club, we took the kids to Cabana’s for dinner before they went to the club, and we went to Palo. They had a great selection of food for the kids, and because not very many people were up there, we had some of the best service I’ve ever had from the servers on the ship. They really went out of their way to do magic tricks and make it a fun meal for them.
Day 7 Sea Day
We had an excellent day relaxing around the ship, and packing up to leave early the next morning. The seas were totally calm (it felt like it did when my wife and I cruised the Mediterranean in September 2 years ago), and it was about 80 degrees up on the deck around the pools. Needless to say, we spent a totally relaxing day up there, swimming, riding the aqua duck, and watching movies on the funnel vision.
For the last night we ate at Lumiere’s, and it was bitter sweet hanging with our English friends (John, Caroline, Sam, and James) one last night. We all went to the Disney Dreams show together afterwards (which I think is my favorite show..the Lion King piece is amazingly), then on to the Frozen Fever Deck Party..which was at 1030…but still light out. It was a great way to end an awesome cruise…here are some of my favorite pictures from that day!
Day 8 Back in Dover and headed home to Portland
We spent the last morning having breakfast with our English friends (but we connected with them through Facebook when we got home, so hopefully we’ll see them again…as I’ve learned in my life, never say good bye on the road…its till we meet again). Then it was off the ship, back to London Heathrow, and a great trip back home to Portland.
We had an amazing cruise and time in Norway. If anyone is thinking of taking this cruise, has any questions about Norway, traveling to Europe with younger kids, or Disney Cruise Line, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @westcoastmouse
Never stop exploring!