The Norwegian city of Bergen is surrounded by seven hills and seven fjords. One of the peaks is Floyen, where the reward at the top – after a funicular ride and a two-hour trek through swirling mists and woodland – was blue skies and breathtaking views of the valley below. It’s a softer version of the Scottish Highlands, a gentler Lake District. Afterwards, my two children (aged six and nine) and I gobbled up griddled king prawns, crab legs and lobster at the famous outdoor fish market by the harbour. It was a typically fun-filled day trip during our week-long Norse Legends cruise on Holland America’s newly launched 2,650-passenger ms Koningsdam.
The children also went wild for kayaking at Alesund, a once thriving fishing station with Art Nouveau architecture, where we saw puffins and jellyfish; and the Seven Sisters waterfalls at UNESCO World Heritage site Geirangerfjord.
The onboard Club HAL (for ages three to 17) was a winner too, especially the pyjama and pillow-fight party, relay races and ball games (so refreshing not to see their faces stuck behind a computer screen), while tricky teens learnt how to pop and lock at high-energy hip hop lessons.
Music was a key influence on renowned interior designer Adam D Tihany’s look for the ship (each deck is named after a composer), which includes a Music Walk with three live music stages (the best is the Queen’s Lounge where B B King’s eight-piece All-Stars band play Memphis-style tunes) and the World Stage, which hosts concerts, theatre productions and screenings, such as BBC Earth programmes, which were set to live music played by the ship’s resident musicians. Our favourites from the seven main restaurants were the Culinary Arts Centre for farm-to-table food (roasted heritage carrot soup and herb-crusted beef bavette with dehydrated garden vegetables, wild mushroom puree, shallot marmalade and marrow sauce) and pan-Asian hot spot Tamarind.
And at Blend (the only purpose-built wine blending venue at sea), I learnt how to make my own concoction of red wine using bottles from Chateau Ste Michelle, Washington State’s oldest and most acclaimed winery. Ultimately, this trip is great for multi-generational gangs: not only did the children get to play with their peers from other countries (guests were mainly from America, Belgium and Holland) but we managed to pack seeing so much into a few short days.