Category: 04 – Cruise 6 – Scandinavia

Our sixth cruise, taking in Scandinavia (Norway and Denmark)  with Princess Cruises

A night at the Moxy

Departure port: Southampton
Destinations: Oslo, Copenhagen, Skagen
Cruise Line: Princess Cruises

We had a decent journey down to Southampton, taking just 2.5 hours. Before checking into the hotel we drive down to the Town Quay car park so we can watch the MSC Virtuosa sail. We’re considering booking a cruise on the ship in December, so we’d like to see what she looks like – and to catch what turns out to be a decent sunset.

She’s big.

Afterwards, we go back to the West Quay car park, using the ‘secret’ back door on level 1 to exit into the car park behind the Moxy hotel.

We’re both tired and can’t be bothered to go hunting for food, so we opt to eat a pizza in the Moxy ‘restaurant’. £10 is a lot for a frozen pizza, but such is the cost of convenience – at least they have beer on draught.

The room is comfortable and familiar (we have stayed here before). Unfortunately we have a rear-facing room – great for keeping traffic noise out, but you can’t see the ships that dock at City Terminal in the morning.

Sleep.


Top tip: Unless you’re an avid collector of Marriott Bonvoy hotel points, book through ebookers or booking.com to get the best rates – you should be able to pick up a room for about £70 if you book in advance. Plus you will earn cash back or points through their loyalty schemes too.


Come sail away

There’s only one ship in town today, so the roads around Southampton are far less busy. Embarkation at City Terminal is smooth and painless – especially as we have now reached Platinum status with Princess Cruises. This entitles us to priority boarding, which is nice. There is also no longer any need to provide proof of a negative Covid test, which dramatically speeds up the check-in process.

Onboard, and everything feels very familiar. We have a sandwich and a cocktail, visit our cabin stateroom, enjoy the ‘complimentary’ glass of bubbles and head down to the dining room for lunch. Later we go out on deck to witness our departure from port to the strains of Styx’s classic Come Sail Away.

Later after dinner we visit the Vista Lounge in the hope of playing in the quiz being hosted by celebrity chef, John Torode. It’s standing room only, so we head back to our stateroom and watch a movie instead.

Tomorrow is a sea day, so everyone onboard is hitting the bars hard. Things could be messy at breakfast.

Sleep.

Sea day

A day at sea means little more than eating, drinking and lazing. Which is nice.

After dinner we head to Crooners Bar on Deck 6 and score two seats at the bar. This turns out to be a risky move as Richard, head bartender, rarely serves the drink you order. Instead he will yell ‘boring’ before presenting you with another drink he thinks you will prefer – and he’s inevitably right.


Top tip: Do not order a ‘Dirty Banana’ from Richard – this is guaranteed to make him yell ‘Boring!’


Later we head down to the Princess Theatre. Tonight I made the mistake of submitting a terrible joke / question for the celebrity cooking show in the main theatre. On the plus side, I got to eat an inch-thick porterhouse steak and deep fried squid cooked by John Torode, so there is that.

Oslo tomorrow.

Slow in Oslo

We’ve arrived in Oslo without any firm plans, so there won’t be much on the agenda. After breakfast we fight our way through the crowds down on the dock and indulge our dark tourism tendencies by heading for the Vår Frelsers gravlund (Our Saviour graveyard) and the grave of Edvard Munch.

We make a detour at the Trefoldighetskirken (Trinity Church) to pick up a geocache (#GC1XE09) and take a quick look at the Devil of Oslo. On our (uphill) journey we notice that just about everyone in Oslo goes running on a Sunday morning – there are packs of joggers everywhere.


Top tip: They take Sunday seriously in Oslo, so all the shops are shut. If you’re going on a shopping spree, visit on a Saturday.


Dark tourism done for the day, we head back down the hill in search of a bar. Passing a pro-Ukraine rally, we take a patio seat at the Williamsburg Bab & Beer kebab restaurant. They may have craft beers and free WiFi, but at more than £22 for two pints, you can’t afford to stay for long.


Top tip: Alcohol is ridiculously expensive in Norway. Your best bet is to head back to the ship if you really want a cocktail or second beer.


We squeeze in another geocache (#GCJ3CA) on the way back to the dock and then back onto the ship. Enchanted Princess sails quite early in the afternoon, allowing us to really enjoy the views as we head back to the Baltic.

Copenhagen tomorrow.

Coping in Carlsberg, Copenhagen

Docking at midday, we had initially planned to spend the day at Tivoli. However, the weather looks pretty poor so we decide to try something different.

Boarding the 164 bus from the stop directly opposite the cruise terminal, we head down to the Nordhavn train station. We then jump on the ‘B’ train down to Carlsberg station (definitely not probably the best station in the world).


Top tip: You can buy a 24 hour ticket valid for all public transport for 80 DKK from the vending machine next to the kebab shop opposite the cruise terminal


This area used to be the home of the original Carlsberg brewery and there are some great brick building reminders. However, we’re here for the Elephant Gate:

Suspicious elephant seen, we’re back on the bus towards Assistens Cemetery for some more dark tourism. Here we come across two ‘celebrity’ graves – Hans Christian Andersen and Nils Bohr. The graveyard is surprisingly busy – not with tourists, but dozens of Danes walking and jogging.

There are also some quite unusual headstones to see:

We walk back up to the Nørrebros Runddel metro station and hop on the M3 to Copenhagen central station. We score an outside table at the very welcoming Jernbanecafeen and sample a local ale. The pub is a family-run affair and very well looked after – apparently it is also the third best bar in Copenhagen. Again, not cheap, but more pleasant than many we have visited.

Afterwards it’s back to the ship and a quick snooze before dinner.

Hop on, hop off

We’ve been to Copenhagen before, doing our own whistle-stop tour of sights from The Bridge. Because the ship sails early at 4pm, there isn’t a huge amount of time to do anything.

We decide to take it easy. There’s two or three geocaches (#GC4GQMG, #GC85DRJ and #GC5752N) within easy walking distance of the ship, so we decide to find those, then spend the rest of the day lazing onboard.

The caches take us an hour or two, then we try out the hot tubs. That’s plenty of activity for today.

Skagen tomorrow.

Fishy town

We arrive in Skagen early in the morning. As soon as we open the balcony doors we are greeted by the overwhelming smell of fish – this is very much a working fishing port.

We had planned to do an escape room in Skagen, but realise it’s further from the port than we initially thought. We then discuss doing the six mile round trip to the Skagen lighthouse on foot.

Instead we buy two shuttle bus tickets. One for the short journey into the centre of the town and a second for the trip to Grenen. We take the opportunity to grab a quick geocache (#GC3C3KE) in the centre of town before boarding the second bus. This takes us out to the very end of Denmark, the point where the North and Baltic seas meet.

Even from Grenen car park, it is a considerable walk across sand dunes and the beach, but eventually we reach a very long, thin sand bar that marks the meeting point. Rolling up our trousers we do the tourist thing and stand with one foot in each sea. Clichéd perhaps, but still good fun – and the weather is lovely.

For dark tourists, there are several WW2 bunkers left behind by the Germans in varying states of disrepair.

After the epic walk we are glad we bought the shuttle bus tickets – even though we have to queue for about 45 minutes for the next bus.

Skagen itself is fairly unremarkable, but it was apparently incredibly popular with Danish artists over the years. Something to do with the light apparently. Lin reckons she could spend another day easygoing here, looking around and maybe enjoying one of the local restaurants.

Tonight is formal night and we have been invited to the Elite Captain’s Circle cocktail party. Held in the Vista Lounge, one must pass a phalanx of senior ship crew who applaud you as you enter – a little disconcerting for us as relative newcomers to cruising.

Once seated we are treated to free cocktails and a short presentation by the chief officer for guest loyalty. The three most travelled guests are each awarded a bottle of champagne and then we are sent on our way once more.

Afterwards we take our chances at Crooners Bar once more. It’s fun.

Homeward bound

Another day at sea is another excuse to try out the hot tubs on deck. We are lucky and manage to secure a space in one on the main deck. I even do a few laps of the (unheated) swimming pool in a fit of madness.

The day is unremarkable. After dinner we go to the Princess Theatre, this time to catch celebrity chef and presenter of BBC’s Saturday Kitchen, Matt Tebbutt. Although he cooks a couple of dishes, the session is mainly memorable for the banter. Matt is hilarious and interacts well with a group of alcohol-fuelled ladies who heckle him almost continuously. We have a great time.

We’ve really enjoyed this voyage, so it will be a shame to wake up in Southampton tomorrow. Fortunately we have a trip to New York booked for early October…

Please note that Journey Into Darkness does not select, endorse or control the advertisements shown above. See our Affiliate Disclosure page for more info.