Cruise Trade News editor Gary Peters travels to the Norwegian fjords with Princess Cruises on a very special honeymoon cruise.
I’m travelling on some of the narrowest roads in Norway, trying not to look over the side as the road disappears and nothing but mountain terrain appears beneath me.
I cannot decide if I should be happy or somewhat concerned that the coach driver navigating these perilous paths seems completely unmoved by the treachery that could befall us; our tour guide reassures me and others in the vehicle that this is certainly not his first time doing so.
Doing my best to forget about my fear of heights, I summon the courage to peer outside and I am greeted by one of the most magical views in my life – snow-topped mountains in Skjolden.
Honeymoon bliss with Princess Cruises
This excursion – aptly named Sognefjell Mountain Scenery – is the second port of call on the seven-night Norwegian fjords itinerary on Sky Princess and takes us from one mind-blowing photo opportunity to another.
It is for moments such as this that I have for many years had the fjords on my must-see list.
Knowing how intimate and spectacular fjord itineraries can be, I decide some months ago that the only option is to jump on board and go via a ship.
Oh, and I should mention that this voyage also happens to be my honeymoon.
Since tying the knot in late 2021, my wife and I have debated where we wanted to spend those blissful post-wedding moments. Like me, she has long desired to see Norway and the majesty of its fjords and landscapes.
Putting two and two together, I smugly declare to her that the way to do it is on a cruise. Cue some nervous glances in my direction – I suddenly remember she is a new-to-cruise passenger.
Nonetheless, I persist and once she sees the itinerary and excursions on offer – not to mention the amenities and style of Sky Princess – she is hooked.
Princess Cruises: Medallion tech in action
The magic begins not when we step on board in Southampton, but in the months leading up to embarkation.
The MedallionClass app – part of Princess’ much-discussed Medallion experience – is not only useful for adding pre-departure necessities such as passport information and health questionnaires, but also builds the anticipation with a voyage countdown clock, interactive ship maps and entertainment schedules.
When it does finally come to embarkation day, we are greeted by the grand Piazza, which beats to the drum of excited cruisers sipping on signature cocktails and tucking into some of the finest pizza at sea in Alfredo’s Pizzeria.
After a customary dash around the ship, we decide to put the Medallion tech to the test, firstly by entering our balcony stateroom, which is spacious, complemented with a fresh, down-to-earth vibe.
I am amazed at the intelligence of a system that allows me to step out of the elevator and into a stateroom without any interaction on my part.
The technology is also seamless and easy to use when ordering drinks (delivered to wherever guests are on board) and making dining reservations through the Dine My Way option.
Exploring Sky Princess
The MedallionClass experience is everywhere on the 3,660-guest Sky Princess. Built in 2019, the vessel is part of Princess’ Royal class and has the size and amenities to be classed as a big-ship experience.
However, it also retains an intimate and homely feel – ideal for those guests who want plenty to do without the fear of missing out.
There is a range of complimentary dining – from the World Fresh Marketplace buffet, main dining rooms, Slice – perfect for an on-the-go snack – and Salty Dog Grill, which proves very popular while we’re on board.
These all hit the sweet spot, but where Sky Princess really shines is with its speciality dining.
Crown Grill, with its premium aged beef and fresh seafood items, is a stunning place to dine, and we also try Sabatini’s – no doubt the best pasta I have ever eaten.
Even with the ease of drink and food on demand through the Medallion app, the bars are always alive on Sky Princess. A favourite spot for many is Take Five, which has live jazz in the evenings, and Vines, specialising in varieties of wine from across the globe.
The Princess Theatre plays host to two key productions while we’re sailing – Rock Opera, and 5 Skies. The former, which debuted on Sky Princess in 2019, is a showstopper, fusing the heavy riffs of rock music with avant garde fashion.
Meanwhile, 5 Skies, described by Princess Cruises as “one of our most technologically advanced production shows yet”, takes place in a virtual reality game and features some brilliant visuals.
Waking up to the fjords
Speaking of visuals. Rewinding back to day three of the cruise, I wake to the eye-popping sights of fjords, perched just beyond my reach, in Bergen.
Our first port of call sees us take an organised excursion to the many waterfalls in the area, including one at which we can walk directly underneath.
Next is the aforementioned stop in Skjolden and the Sognefjord, where my wife delights in walking perilously close to the mountain edge, as the frozen snow crackles beneath her foot – thankfully we both have our hiking boots.
As the cruise reaches its halfway point, we arrive in Olden to see the imposing Nordfjorden. This time we take a short boat-ride along the Lovatnet Lake, gliding effortlessly across the still water to a restaurant for traditional Norwegian waffles and coffee.
As we sadly come to the end of the itinerary, we fit in a final day of exploration in Stavanger along the Lysefjord, which is home to Pulpit Rock, one of the most famous mountain hikes in Norway.
Our view is from below, and although my wife is clearly desperate to put on her hiking boots again, thinking back to my earlier experience on the roads in Skjolden leads me to believe that being at sea level might be for the best.
Key selling tips for Princess Cruises
- Sky Princess has plenty of on-board amenities, but never feels overwhelming. Mention this when talking to clients who want big-ship experiences without the crowds
- Princess’ Medallion technology is constantly evolving and makes the entire cruise process, from embarkation to life on board, far easier for every guest
- Princess has elevated its on-board entertainment in recent years and productions across the fleet are reaching new levels