Cruise crew couldn’t do enough

Crown Princess Lido deck

A couple of days ago, I posted a blog that was the first part of a story about a cruise aboard Crown Princess to the Norwegian Fjords thanks to a grant received from the UK’s MS Society back in 2013. It was a much-needed holiday courtesy of the society’s short breaks fund. I promised more details, so here goes.

Owing to my limited mobility, for any trip outside our state room, the fancy name for a cabin, it was necessary to use my wheelchair. Not that Lisa had to push the chair inside the main dining room where we dined every evening.

As soon as we arrived, a restaurant staff member took over and wheeled me to our table. Then once I had transferred to a restaurant seat, at my choice, the wheelchair was safely stored on one side.

Lisa and I with table mates Glen and Lyn plus waiter Allen and assistant waiter Zoran

Lisa and I with table mates Glen and Lyn plus waiter Allen and assistant waiter Zoran.

Eating presents a challenge all the time because MS affects my left side, meaning I need to use a fork in my right hand. I am unable to use a knife and fork in the usual way. Lisa is used to cutting up my meat for me, so thought nothing of beginning to do so when our main courses arrived. Instantly, our assistant waiter Zoran appeared and asked if anything was wrong. We laughed and said no, explaining what was going on. Whereupon, the young man said he would do that for me.

Thanking him, we thought no more about it until the next night. Once again, Lisa started to cut my meat when our server said “No, that is my job” and took over. After that, any solid meat was served to me pre-cut. Absolutely perfect. And, after each delicious meal, my wheelchair reappeared and I was wheeled out of the restaurant before my beloved was allowed to take over.

Our first shore excursion caused a problem in that one of my chair’s front wheels was severely damaged as we got off the ship. Still, we managed to enjoy the excursion around Lysefjord on board a boat. On returning to the ship, thanks to the help of a crew member, we sought assistance through the customer service desk. After a bit of a wait, a couple of engineers arrived and took the chair away – only to return about 20 minutes later having replaced both front wheels and apologised that the replacements were blue not black. They worked, that was all that mattered. They could have been pink for all I cared.

It was a murky day for our dog sled ride.

It was a murky day for our dog sled ride.

Another shore excursion was a dog sleigh ride, not that there was snow on the ground as it was July. Instead, these ‘sleds’ were on wheels but we got the idea. We got our first views of reindeer and also passed a warning sign about polar bears.

On board Crown Princess there was plenty to do with a variety of activities and venues to enjoy with the help of various members of the entertainment team. One of the most notable was ‘CJ the DJ’, really Chris Walker a likeable Aussie larger than life guy. Entertainment was in his blood and still is, although he left Princess last year when he married. (And Chris, if you are reading this, have a great birthday tomorrow.)

CJ interviews me after I sang in the karaoke final.

CJ interviews me after I sang in the karaoke final.

It was CJ’s never-say-die attitude that came to our rescue at North Cape, the most northern point on the European mainland. Somehow, one of my wheelchair’s solid tyres came off. I was helped indoors while Lisa and another passenger tried to force the tyre back on. Then CJ appeared, realised that he needed some sort of lever. Not being able to find one, he borrowed a knife from the café, fixed the tyre back onto the wheel and returned the knife to the tray from which he borrowed it.

Overall, a fantastic cruise and a superb holiday that whetted my appetite for further cruises.

A ‘short break’ cruise to Norway thanks to MS Society

Lisa and I, pictured during our cruise on Crown Princess.

Lisa and I, pictured during our cruise on Crown Princess.

It seems a long time ago now but in spring of 2013 I had not had a holiday for a number of years and, living on disability benefits, we could not afford much – so our regional MS Society staff member recommended that I apply to the society for a grant from its short breaks scheme. Our application was supported by my MS Nurse and within 10 days the grant was agreed.

Lisa wanted to introduce me to cruising and so we booked a two-week holiday aboard Crown Princess. The cruise included the Norwegian Fjords, the Arctic Circle and North Cape – the most northern point on mainland Europe.

It provided the break I desperately needed, a break also for Lisa, my wife and carer, who still pushed my wheelchair but was happy not to cook, clean etc for the two weeks.

On return to the UK, where we then lived, Lisa wrote the following about some of what we had enjoyed:

Visiting the Norwegian Fjords

There are few things more majestic than a scenic ride into the Norwegian Fjords by boat. First, you pass through little villages, then as the fjords begin to tower above you on either side you see the splendour of what you are there for. This spectacle rises so dramatically out of the water and walls you in with their beauty.

As you pass further into these giant natural formations, you come upon water falls flowing into the water and creating pools of foam. Still further into the fjord as the walls at your sides become closer you will not feel that they are closing in on you. You will be in awe with nature. In these waters, you may encounter seals along with goats on the shore. No matter how bad the weather, you feel like you are a part of nature for this portion of your life.

First-of-many-fallsPictured, left, is Lysefjord! On a cliff six hundred metres above you there are hundreds of people looking down on you. Some will climb up this rock named Preikestolen or Pulpit Rock as it is called. As you go further along, there is another formation which appears to be a boulder in between two cliffs. This boulder, named Kjeragbolten – Kjerag for short, rises one thousand metres above the water. There are many adventurers who jump onto this boulder between cliffs. An adventure not to be missed.

Another not to be missed sight is Geirangerfjord (pictured below). There are two very important ways to see this fjord. First is by boat or ship, second is a tour up the eagle road with its eleven hairpin turns. Try to do both if you have time. Coming along the fjord, as the water narrows, you will pass quaint villages and little hamlets with many brick red homes. You will wonder why you don’t live in one of these homes with so much inside-geirangerfjordbeauty surrounding you.

You will pass by several waterfalls, one being known as ‘the bridal veil’ and one of the other important ones of note is ‘seven sisters’. Both of these falls are quite picture worthy. As a matter of fact, this fjord is so picturesque that it is now a Unesco world heritage site. If you are more into the adventurous feeling this fjord can give you, then make sure you kayak on Geirangerfjord.

After you come back out of Geiranger and its beauty, make sure you hop on a bus going up the eagle road. There are many photo spots of the fjord below as you climb by coach.

  • There is much more to tell about this trip, such as an on-board repair to a damaged wheelchair, a dog sleigh journey, reindeer, a week without the sun setting and marvellous attention from staff in restaurants and bars as well as the entertainment team. Watch for another instalment.