Cruise assessment: Exploring the colourful cities of Northern Europe

Cruise assessment: Exploring the colourful cities of Northern Europe

Nyhavn, Copenhagen. Credit: Creator: scanrail through Getty Images

Explore Northern Europe’s coolest cities on a journey full of artwork, structure, heritage and music at sea and ashore.

I’m having an actual pinch-me second. The room is packed, a rock band is taking part in reside on stage and beer and wine is flowing. But dangle on a minute – I’m cruising with Holland America Line, a model that has a repute (within the UK no less than) for being quite old style.

Yet right here’s the band, trying the half with their lengthy hair, shades and ripped denims, getting the traces latest ship, Rotterdam, rocking each night time with a repertoire masking all the things from Bryan Adams and Bon Jovi to Janis Joplin and the Rolling Stones.

Welcome to the Music Walk, the place you’ll be able to actually stroll from one musical style to a different. There’s Billboard Onboard, a piano bar devoted to chart-toppers throughout the a long time, with KG and Melissa on the keys and Leonard Cohen, Billy Joel and Queen requirements to sing alongside to. And simply alongside the hall, BB King’s Blues Band is firing on all cylinders, with disco and soul on the playlist as nicely.

Billboard Onboard

There’s nothing old style right here – and that’s simply the Music Walk. Rotterdam’s partitions are adorned with eye-catching artwork works – I’ve noticed footage of pop heroes produced from scrunched up cassette tapes (bear in mind them?) and Beethoven depicted utilizing porcelain shards, whereas the stairwells are lined with quirky sculptures. There’s one produced from bent vinyl records, one other is a disassembled cello.

In the theatre, floor-to-ceiling LED screens are used to nice impact by cruise and journey director Karlijn, whose talks on Nordic pioneers, nice innovations and a behind-the-scenes ship tour are interspersed with recordings of interviewees, and enhanced with maps and footage. To say it’s extra fascinating than professor so-and-so lecturing from a podium is an understatement.

Rotterdam is the seventh Holland America ship to be named after town the place the road was based precisely 150 years ago-an anniversary celebrated earlier this 12 months throughout a themed transatlantic crossing.

Holland America Rotterdam VII

I’ve managed to affix the previous couple of days of the voyage to observe a particular ceremony within the firm’s authentic HQ at Hotel New York within the Dutch metropolis of Rotterdam, attended by Princess Margriet of the Netherlands, and am now on a brief cruise visiting Oslo in Norway, Copenhagen in Denmark and – fittingly- returning to Amsterdam.

Sailing with me are virtually 2,600 different passengers, practically 1,100 of them Americans who’ve stayed on after the transatlantic, and greater than 900 Dutch nationals – together with fairly a couple of first-timers and households getting their sea legs on this fast Nordic spin.

While most of my fellow visitors go for slow-paced sightseeing excursions, I favor one thing extra energetic, which is how I discover myself pedalling up a steep incline, muscle groups screaming, in the direction of Oslo’s Royal Palace, then dodging out and in of the crowds in Vigeland, a sculpture park like none you’ve ever seen, within the firm of biking guides Josh and Patrick.

Amalienborg Palace is the official residence of the Danish royal household.

In Copenhagen, I take a shuttle bus from the port to The Little Mermaid statue (so small she’s straightforward to overlook!) and stroll alongside the seafront into town, the place canal cruises, designer outlets and the Tivoli Gardens theme park await. It’s a protracted stroll however I really feel very virtuous, having indulged within the ships Pinnacle steakhouse and Tamarind Asian restaurant.

The meals on a Northern Europe cruise

Those are my favorite eating places on Rotterdam, however there are many different locations to eat, together with a Dutch cafe that serves yummy bacon and apple pancakes; Sel de Mer, which specialises in fish; and the principle eating room, which has a vibrant, trendy really feel cut up over two decks, with a design that’s impressed by both the within of a harp or of a whale – take your choose.

Main Dining Room

Tables down beneath are for walk-ins, with the higher degree for individuals who favor fastened seating. This is likely one of the final nods to cruising traditions that Holland America retains to cater for its older clientele. However, the place as soon as most would have gone for fastened, on Rotterdam it seemed to be the opposite approach round.

Formal nights additionally linger, however are actually referred to as ‘dressy’, which sounds much less prescriptive, that means that those that need to glam up have an excuse for donning fits and sparkles whereas others can go together with one thing extra relaxed. That’s undoubtedly me, although I’m leaving the ripped denims to the rock band – for now anyway!

Best issues to do in Oslo, Norway

The capital of Norway hardly ever ranks in Scandinavia’s high cities, but it surely has its share of must-see points of interest.

Oslo City Hall

Oslo City Hall. Credit: through Getty Images

Find out the place the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded then stroll lower than O minutes to the medieval Akershus Fortress. which homes a museum devoted to Norwegian resistance fighters within the Second World War.


Vigeland. Credit: through Getty Images

A free-to-enter park created by artist Gustay Vigeland with greater than 200 sculptures, some in granite, some in bronze, however all depicting bare males, ladies and kids. At the centre, a large monolith has 121 intertwined human figures reaching as much as the heavens

Kon-Tiki and Fram Museums


Set on the Bygdoy Peninsula (take a ship from close to the cruise dock or town’s hop-on, hop-off bus, these museums pay tribute to Norwegian explorers Thor Heyerdahl and Roold Amundsen. Nearby, an open-air people museum homes buildings from Norways previous.

Things to do in Copenhagen, Denmark

Named the World Capital of Architecture 2023, the capital of Denmark has loads to discover on shore.

The Little Mermaid Statue

The Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen. Credit:

Copenhagen’s crowd-pulling landmark – she of Hans Christian Andersen fame – sits on a rock by the Langelinie Park, an space that comes alive with festivals in spring when the cherry blossom is in full bloom.


Nyhavn, Copenhagen. Credit: Alexandra Mitache through Unsplash

This picturesque a part of city is full of vibrant gabled homes, wall-to-wall eating places and other people. It’s the departure level for canal cruise boats that go near The Little Mermaid statue, earlier than navigating the beautiful waterways within the outdated a part of town.

Tivoli Gardens

Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen. Credit: through Getty Images

Visit one of many world’s oldest amusement parks, the place thrill-seekers can have a go on rollercoasters and daring rides. If that’s a bit an excessive amount of pleasure, take a stroll by way of town’s landmark buildings as an alternative, together with a shocking waterside opera home with an enormous cantilevered roof, which hosts an annual cliff-diving contest.

Book your Northern Europe cruise

A seven-day Scandinavian fjords and capitals cruise round-trip from Rotterdam onboard Holland America Line’s newest ship, Rotterdam, departing May 4, 2024, prices from £1,429 per particular person together with chosen drinks, ideas, Wi-Fi, one free dinner in a speciality restaurant and $100 shore tour credit score. Find out extra at hollandamericaline.com

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November 20, 2023 at 12:54PM

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