Day 3 – Cruise Embarkation – Oslo, Norway
Saturday morning – had a wonderful sleep last night in Oslo, at the Thon Hotel Astoria after meeting with some of my CruiseCritic.com friends for drinks in Aker Brygge. I woke up and enjoyed an amazing breakfast, smorgasbord as the Scandinavians would say. For those of you unfamiliar with smorgasbord, it is a Scandinavian tradition of mixed cheeses, coldcuts, fruit, breads, and nuts and raisins. Occasionally, there will also be the “odd” hot foods such as meatballs and sausages. Today’s smorgasbord included all of that, with the addition of pate, herring, and scrambled eggs with cheese. I ate everything but the pate and herring. I haven’t decided if I’m going to give that a try yet, although, as I will be staying in Stockholm after the cruise, I may have to be adventurous.
After breakfast, I went back to my room to finish packing and catch up on some conversations online while I still had Internet. It’s a weird feeling to be disconnected from all electronic communication while on the ship, but at the same time, perhaps it’s a good thing – to focus on the here and now, instead of being connected electronically back home. It is holiday, after all.
This may sound crazy, but I was very excited today because it started to rain – living in Southern California, I do not see rain that often – in fact, it has been a few months since I had seen rain! After waiting out the rain, I went down to reception, and had them call me a taxi. Fifteen minutes (and 300 Kroner [with tip]) later), I was at the Filipstad Pier. I’m sure I overpaid, but whatever, I’m on vacation, and I wasn’t about to walk to the port from my hotel. Twenty minutes later, I was onboard my cruise ship.
Funny story: I almost got denied entry onto the cruise ship!! Apparently, I had a screwdriver in my laptop bag. I made it through the USA TSA checkpoints (which, are by far, the most innane and bullyish I’ve experience so far), UK security, and Norwegian security, but apparently, it raised concern with the security unit for Royal Caribbean International. So I stood there for 10 minutes, waiting for a supervisor. I told them repeatedly, “you can have this, I don’t need it,” but they made me wait. Thankfully, I was able to board the ship, and I kept the screwdriver.
Once on board, I had to wait a few hours until my stateroom was ready. I explored the ship, and started taking pictures while there were still no people around. It was nice, I was one of the first people on the ship, so it was an interesting experience to walk the ship and only see crew members.
One thing learned real fast: my choice to not drink on ship quickly went out the window! It’s vacation after all, and I’m going to enjoy myself. I met up with more people from Cruisecritics.com in the Schooner Bar and enjoyed some drinks – I had a Peroni beer, and an Old Fashioned, and a Glenlivet 12 year scotch. Later, I had a Carlsburg beer. I liked the Carlsburg, but prefered the Peroni. Vacation!
Sail away was approximately 4:45 PM after our mandatory muster (long story short – in case of a Titanic like sinking, women and children first, put on a lifejacket, and hope for the best – that was the unspoken jist of things). Seeing the ship pull away from port, and passing by all the islands in the fjords was breathtaking. As expensive as Norway is, the beauty makes up for it.
Dinner was Prime Rib, cooked Medium, with a baked potatoes and vegetables, paired with a glass of New Zealand Syrah. The meat was good, although the steak knife I was given was a bit dull, and it took quite a bit to cut through some of the fatty parts.
I spent most of the day walking the ship, and staying on deck watching the scenery. A quick nap due to the alcohol, and then a mile jog on the deck 10 and I went back to exploring. The ship is a bit small, but it’s nice – you see the same people.
One thing I’ve noticed about Norway – it seems the sun never sets – in fact, what started out as a cold, cloudy, and rainy day, turned into a beautiful day filled with sunshine later in the evening!
Tomorrow is Copenhagen!