Josie Mathews, 36, from Leigh-on-Sea in Essex, is 20 weeks pregnant with twins, and her mother, Anne Chapman
WHERE WE WENT
On a P&O cruise to the Norwegian fjords on the beautiful ship Oriana
CALM BEFORE THE STORM
I know my life is about to undergo a massive transformation, so I thought that before the chaos and sleep deprivation begins I’d treat myself and my lovely Mum to a holiday. I’ve already got a fair sized bump so I didn’t want to do anything too energetic, yet neither did I just want to lounge around all day. A cruise seemed like the perfect choice under the circumstances, and besides, I’ve always wanted to see the Norwegian fjords.
This was my first cruise so I didn’t really know what to expect. As our taxi pulled into the port of Southampton, from where we would set sail that afternoon, we immediately spotted our ship, the Oriana. Tall and elegant, it’s described in the brochure as a mid-sized ship, but it looked pretty huge to me. Checking in was quick and efficient and before we knew it, we were on board, marveling at the stunning art deco-style interior, strolling along the promenade and admiring the various decks.
After a buffet lunch al fresco, we were informed that our cabin was ready, so we scurried down to the 5th floor where Angie, our charming cabin steward for the week, warmly greeted us. Our cabin was small but perfectly formed, with all mod cons, including flat screen TV and tea and coffee making facilities. With so much to see and do, we were not planning to spend an awful lot of time in our cabin, other than to sleep, and the beds were wonderfully comfortable.
LIFE AT SEA
Even before we set sail for our overnight journey across the North Sea to Norway our love affair with the Oriana began. Whether basking in the sunshine on a lounger or soaking up the scenery in the Crows Nest, we quickly slipped in to super-relaxed mode. It’s a state that was further enhanced by our visit to the Oasis Spa, where I indulged in what is undoubtedly the best foot massage and pedicure I’ve ever had. The on-board entertainment was also second to none, with a fine cast of comedians, singers, impersonators and dancers winning over the audience every night. However, with my burgeoning bump, food was pretty high on the agenda, and once again the Oriana didn’t disappointment. Bountiful buffet breakfasts followed by waiter-service lunch and dinner (always utterly delicious) ensured that I never struggled with eating for three. Indeed, with afternoon tea thrown in for good measure, I was probably eating for half a dozen!
PORTS OF CALL
A cruise is a brilliant way to get a real feel for a country in a limited time, and we took the decision to pre-book excursions to maximise each stop off. Our first port of call was the beautiful city of Bergen, known as the gateway to the fjords, where we enjoyed a gentle walking tour that started at the colourful old wharf with its higgledy-piggledy 14th century wooden warehouses and finished atop the mountain of Fløyen, having ascended in a funicular. The following day and we were in the tiny village of Flåm, in the heart of fjord country where we took an incredible train journey (said to be one of the steepest in the world), past snow-capped peaks and gushing waterfalls, giving a real sense of the dramatic landscape. Next was Olden, a pretty little town with a backdrop so spectacular it took our breath away. We’d opted for a cruise on the Oldevatnet lake, and I’m so glad we did. It really was the highlight of our trip with crystal clear blue waters, lush, green landscape, snow-dusted mountains and the glistening sheen of nearby glaciers. Our final stop was Stavanger, an ancient, bustling city now known as the oil capital of Norway, and whose narrow, cobbled streets we wandered with our knowledgeable guide.
P&O Cruises offers 7-night Fjords Islands cruises starting from £629 per person. The price includes an inside cabin, all meals and entertainment, departing from and returning to Southampton. For more information, visit www.pocruises.co.uk or call 0843 373 0111