When we woke the following morning we found ourselves already in Alesund and had barely noticed the ship coming alongside. The town itself was right outside our window. Neither the weather nor the scenery were as amazing as the previous two mornings, but Alesund looked quaint so we decided to get off for a quick look around.
We wandered through the narrow streets and found ourselves in a small park just as the heavens opened. We took refuge for a few minutes under a tree until the rain eased and then we carried on. There was a stairway up the side of a large rocky hill to a viewpoint over the town, but given the weather (and the overindulgence in the buffet restaurant all week) we decided that we would maybe attempt the 418 steps when we visit again next year.
Back on board we spent the rest of the day lazing around, relaxing until sail away. As we slipped away from the quay there was much horn blowing and tooting so we went up on deck to investigate and found a lovely old fashioned tug boat alongside us ceremoniously guiding us out with water cannons shooting high in the air and whistling along in response to every blast from our deafening horn. After watching the archipelago and distant mountains disappear over the horizon we made our way back to the cabin to get ready for dinner.
Stavanger was our last stop and, as in Alesund, the scenery was more of a typical small Norwegian town adorned by white wooden buildings clinging to every hill side. It may not be on a par with the natural wonders of Flam or Geiranger, but it is still a nice place. We’d explored the town previously and will also be back next year, so decided to spend a relaxing day onboard. The fact that there was also torrential rain and thunderstorms helped us make the decision.
For the last formal night we put on our glad rags and had dinner in the main restaurant before taking in the Ovations production show from our VIP theatre seats.
One more day at sea followed as we made our way back down the North Sea heading for Southampton.
Having now done two cruises on Celebrity Eclipse, I can honestly say she is the perfect ship to enjoy a scenic destination like Norway on and is equally at home in the warmer climates of the Mediterranean or Caribbean. She has a real class about her without being stuffy or elitist.
Another thing that I’ve been amazed by is just how professional, friendly and welcoming all her staff are.
The ship itself is still pristine and oozes quality out of every fixture and fitting; from the soft close drawers in the cabin, to the comfy captain’s chairs in the Sky Lounge, everything feels a cut above the rest. The same goes for her buffet, in terms of food choice and layout, the Oceanview buffet restaurant is the best I’ve experienced (although like some other cruise lines, it does have a limited choice of an evening).
If I had to pick one thing that didn’t quite do it for me on either of my cruises, it would be the entertainment. The day time “Celebrity Life” activities are generally very good with the usual choice of quizzes and game shows and the production shows are also excellent, but the one thing that let it down for me were the guest entertainers in the theatre. None of them appealed on a 14-night or on an 8 -night cruise. They were always just piano playing comedians or singing comedians. There was no variety.
As far as destinations go, until I pluck up the courage to do a fly cruise to Alaska, I can’t imagine a more relaxing cruise than one to the Norwegian Fjords. With another already booked, my annual pilgrimage is set to continue for a third consecutive year.