Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Maidstone, Kent, UK
Concierge Level: 7
Cruising the Norwegian fjords without Disney! COMPLETED
Cruising the Norwegian fjords without Disney! Pre-trip report part one: how a seven night cruise ends up costing about £300... Dates:
Sunday 29 April – Sunday 6 May Adventurers:
Me, Cheryl (39) and DH Mark (46) Destinations:
Stavanger, Flaam, Olden and Bergen Resorts: P&O Azura Celebration: a cheap getaway to the fjords of Norway Some of you may already know about the wonders of Tesco and our free holidays, thanks to them. For those who don’t, here it is in a nutshell... Tesco pretty much own the world over here... seriously. They take something crazy like one in every £10 spent in this country. They are huge and have fingers in just about anything you can think of... not only standard food and drink at the supermarkets, but clothing, banking, telephone services, gas, furniture, electrical goods, the list goes on. The beauty of all of that is that you can spend a lot of money with Tesco very easily, especially if, like us, you have a Tesco credit card, then you can even earn with every pound you spend. That means the rewards add up quickly... Most people spend their rewards tokens on their shopping in store, but there’s a huge amount of different ways to spend the tokens. I worked out a long time ago that spending them on holidays was a better use of them, as Tesco use a system where they either multiply each voucher by three or four – it does change, and sadly did recently from a multiple of four to three. You can save them up for two years, as that’s how long the vouchers last for, and by the time it came for me to change them up, we’d saved something like £1,650 worth. The next issue was how to spend them.... at first about a decade ago, we’d used them with a company called Cresta/Bridge on city breaks and we enjoyed a number of those with them, before they pulled out of the Tesco scheme. We then spent our next set of vouchers with Virgin Holidays, going to Hong Kong in 2008 and our ill-fated Egypt trip in early 2011. Sadly, they changed the way they deal with the vouchers. On our last trip, they would allow up to £750 per person on a holiday that had to be a minimum of seven nights. That meant Egypt only cost us a few hundred points, well that’s if you don’t count the hundreds it ended up costing us to get home... Then that figure went down to £525 per person, but still for a seven night stay. Not good... this was not going to be a free trip or even a cheap trip, so my attention turned elsewhere. Now cruises... there was no limit on the amount you could spend per person with your vouchers, meaning that if you had enough tokens, you could get yourself a free vacation. Ok, this sounds like a good deal to me.. There were, I think, three different cruise lines you could go with, and I had a look at all of them. I didn’t want the cruise we went with to be too pricey or too long, as we had a lot of other plans for 2012. Eventually, I narrowed it down to P&O Cruises, and having learnt that Mark had never been to the Canary Islands, which really surprised me, we decided on that, as it would be over the Easter break, meaning that we wouldn’t have to take too much time off work. We knew that we’d be using our vouchers from August/September 2011, so we headed off on our mammoth tour of Disneyland, Seattle, Vancouver, America’s national parks, and the Disney cruise through Alaska. We knew what our plans were, but the vacation we were about to take would change all of those plans... It was on probably day three of our seven-night cruise on the Disney Wonder, as we headed up Tracy Arm Fjord that Mark looked at me and said “could we cruise the Norwegian fjords instead with our Tesco Clubcard vouchers?” Ok, that was one I wasn’t expecting, but I could see where he was coming from, as we were seeing some amazing sights that day. We also both had fond memories of the short evening fjords cruise that we’d taken from Oslo back in 2005, so we knew that the scenery would be just as stunning. Bearing in mind that we were nowhere near land, and I’d heard how poor the Internet service was, we didn’t bother with it during the whole of our cruise, so there was no way we could check the prices of the Norwegian fjords cruises until we got home. When I did, I realised that it was do-able. The price came in at around £2,000, and with the vouchers we got in the fall of 2011, we had about £1,730 to use towards that. Ok, that works for me! I cashed up our vouchers into vouchers for P&O and, as soon as those came through, I got on the phone to P&O to get everything booked. We’d talked about which cruise to take, and although there was one in mid May that was cheaper, we figured that taking that and then taking another week off for Wendy’s visit at the end of May literally about 10 days after we came back from the cruise, perhaps wouldn’t go down that well at our respective work places... Instead, we settled on the first cruise of the season, which departs on 29 April on the Azura. That one worked, as although it arrived back on a Sunday, the next day would be a national holiday, giving us another day to recover and sort things out before we returned to work. The itinerary looked like this: Sunday 29 April Leave Southampton Monday 30 April At sea Tuesday 1 May Stavanger Wednesday 2 May Flaam Thursday 3 May Olden Friday 4 May Bergen Saturday 5 May At sea Sunday 6 May Arrive back at Southampton Now I look at that, I think what a tiring itinerary that sounds, with all four ports of call one day after the other. My goodness, I think we’re going to need those two days at sea to get ready for all the stops we’re going to make – and then to recover from them! Next: these decks are confusing...
Last edited by chezp; 04-29-2012 at 12:58 AM..