Travel Diary: My First-Time Cruise Experience - Norway and Denmark

I'm not sure I even know where to start with this trip. I had never even considered a cruise in previous years, but the more I heard about them from friends and family, the more I felt I could absolutely give cruising a go. A full week of waking up in a different part of the world each day,  nautical puns, unlimited quality food and drink at your disposable and plenty to do in and around the ship...what's not to love? Here's a look at our first time experiencing a cruise... 

Day 1: A Day at Sea 

For our one week Scandinavian cruise, we travelled with Princess Cruises and our ship, The Sky Princess, had plenty to keep us occupied during a day at sea en-route to our first stop in Norway. The ship had multiple pools (including those for adults only), shops, a spa and salon, a casino, multiple bars, a theatre, a gelato bar, as well as pool-side entertainment. Not forgetting the tennis courts, basketball court, mini golf, gym and running track.

In the evening, there are variety shows, themed events, live performances, quiz nights, karaoke - and regular outdoor cinema which you can watch under the sun or stars. Or watch from the hot tub, if you like. There's even a cigar and whisky lounge if that's your thing. Or, for those of you looking for some peace and quiet, there were also areas on-board that are 'chill-out zones', or you can appreciate the latest films and TV from the comfort of your cabin. So it's safe to say we didn't feel too put out being at sea for the first day of our trip.

Worst case, you can always check out one of the multiple restaurants and eateries dotted around the ship. I expected the food to be pretty good on a cruise, though I was not prepared for the actual level of quality. Some of the food I had on the ship was up there with the best I'd ever eaten. Food options range from your usual comfort foods and vast buffets to five star dining experiences curated by Michelin star chefs. Better yet, you could set yourself by the pool and use their onboard app to order most of their food options directly to your sun-bed or cabin.

I also got my nails did to kill an hour. A real hardship.

Day 2: Kristiansand, Norway 

Waking up in a new country is a true highlight of cruising. Stevie and I enjoyed a delicious hand-delivered breakfast on our balcony before getting ready to soak up the delights of Norway. The ship docked bright and early, staying put for the majority of the day, so we had plenty of time to get ready and make our way off the ship. The good thing about this is that, depending on your itinerary, you won't feel rushed and provided your back at the given time, you'll be just fine. Some stops also continue in to the evening so you can make a proper day (and night) of it. If you'd prefer to stay onboard, however, it can actually be quite nice to stay on and savour a quiet ship to yourself. 

I was keen to get exploring Kristiansand. Known for its traditional wooden houses, neo-Gothic historical buildings, Kristiansand in southern Norway is a picturesque little stop off. If you get the chance to visit for yourself, I'd recommend the Kristiansand Zoo and Amusement Park, the Sørlandets Museum (which displays Norwegian art from 1800 to modern day), as well as the 17th-century Christiansholm Fortress rotunda and Fiskebrygga quay.

The day we visited Kristiansand, just so happened to be a national bank holiday in Norway, so it did mean quite a bit of it was closed. However, we still managed to take in the sights and enjoy the pretty scenery it had to offer. 

Day 3: Copenhagen and Tivoli Gardens, Denmark

Perhaps my favourite day of the entire trip was spent revisiting in Copenhagen. Myself and Stevie visited Copenhagen in the Autumn a few years ago and I was really looking forward to seeing the city again during the spring time, with the sun shining. The world famous Tivoli Gardens is an absolute must-see when visiting Copenhagen, and with the theming changing with the seasons there's never a bad time to see it. Tivoli Gardens at Halloween is really something special if you ever get to go at that time of year, though.
We spent the day revisiting some of our favourite spots, including colourful Nyhaven and Strøget before grabbing lunch at the Tivoli Food Hall and having a treat at Cakenhagen - an incredible danish bakery which I cannot recommend enough.

Related: My Instagram Reel from Tivoli Food Hall and a Day at Tivoli Gardens

Day 4: Dinner at The Catch By Rudi 

This very special dining experience was so good it's taking the spot for the entire day. The package we had meant that all of our food and drink was included for the duration of our stay, although there are a number of speciality dishes or experiences on the menu you can revel in for an additional fee. 

The Catch by Rudi is a signature seafood restaurant, part of a joint partnership with Culinary Icon Chef Rudi Sodamin. It requires a reservation, books up quickly and is an extra $39 per guest - all well worth it to experience one of the best three course meals I've ever eaten. 

For our first course, I loved every single bite of my seafood tower (dismantled so you can see the contents of each ramakin) which consisted of marinated layers of poke tuna, salmon and the most delicious crabmeat salad with avocado, wasabi and sesame seeds. Stevie, not the biggest lover of seafood, opted for the duck pate - which looks like a little dessert but is in fact very savoury. 

For the main, it seemed only right that we bask in a lobster each (Stevie's with a side of juicy fillet steak and steamed veg) and me with a whole lobster, served with mesclun greens, radishes, mango, arugula (rocket to you and me), and a lemon vinaigrette. Before this dinner, the best lobster I had ever encountered was in Maine - but this has secured the top spot...for now. To finish, I had the incredible crepes with a citrus syrup and vanilla ice cream, whilst Stevie cleansed his pallet with the strawberry pavlova (with Earl Grey creme Chantilly, strawberry consomme and basil).  

Day 5: Oslo, Norway

Next on our ship's itinerary was Oslo, Norway. As the capital, it's known as a vibrant, bustling yet incredibly clean epicentre of Norwegian culture. This stunning city offers beautiful national parks, historical buildings, trendy bars & restaurants and some incredible museums celebrating Norway's rich origins. 

Our first stop of the day was the Norsk Folkemuseum (The Norwegian Museum of Cultural History), a large open-air museum which transforms you back in time with more than 150 buildings, relocated from towns and rural districts. One of which is an incredible 13th century Gol stave church (one of Norway's few remaining) which is a real sight for sore eyes. The church has been dendrochronologically dated back to 1157 to 1216, and gets its iconic black appearance from being slathered in tar to protect the wood. This visit definitely earned me some additional goth points.  

Day 6: Back at sea

After a busy few days, I don't feel bad admitting that Day 6 was a very lazy day spent by the pool, having food delivered to us and doing very little indeed. We enjoyed a movie under the stars from the hot tub, complimentary cocktails and one final fancy dinner before setting sail to the homeland. It was an incredible week of exploration, resting, eating and a total bubble from reality. 

I will never get over those beautiful sunsets each night. Truly one of my highlights of the whole trip was sipping drinks from the infinity pool as the sun went down.

To finish up this post I thought I'd share some of the questions that come up during and after my cruise…

Some common questions I had  from my first time on a cruise

Do you get seasick on a cruise?

If you're someone who does not usually do so well on boats, you may be pleased to know that cruises are a very different experience and seasickness is very unlikely. There will be times when you can feel a sort of shift or slight tipping but it's hardly noticeable and you quickly adapt. At times when the sea is a bit choppier you may see the waves picking up, but unless you get particularly unlucky with the weather, it's nothing like being on a small boat or yacht. The ship also goes fastest and does the bulk of its travelling at night when you're asleep so, hopefully, you shouldn't notice it at all. 

What's security like on a cruise? 

Checking-in and boarding the ship was unlike anything I've ever experienced when travelling. It was painless and super efficient. I was genuinely surprised at just how easy it was and how smooth they make the entire process. Upon arrival, you're given a tag to put on your luggage, before putting it in a bay for collection and security scanning. 

Next, you go through a small security section where they check your passport and do your standard security searches (just like at the airport sans the queues). And that's it, you're on-board! It almost feels like you've missed something. Upon checking-in you're also given your electronic fob which will serve as your ID and payment method for the duration of your time on-board. The crew then take your suitcases directly to your room so you can just explore. 

Do you feel claustrophobic on a cruise?

I understand that the thought of five thousand people on one ship might make you think it could be claustrophobic, but the sheer size of it makes up for that, and then some. The ship is so big - it's quite easy to get lost - so I personally never felt that it seemed too crowded. Also, with so many people coming and going at their own schedules and routines that it spaces everybody out quite nicely. 

As someone who struggles with being around a lot of people for an extended period of time, I actually never felt too overwhelmed. For when I did want some quiet time, however, I just took my time getting ready in the cabin.

Naturally, your usual meal times might make the buffet or the bar by the pool a little busier but you get used to these. Also, there's so many spots and places to eat that you can avoid people if you wish to. Remember to pre-book your restaurants and plan your day if you prefer a bit of peace.

What do you do on the days at sea on a cruise?

A lot of people asked me if it gets boring on-board the ship on those days when you are at sea. I imagine this could vary on the cruise line you choose as there's different entertainment and facilities on each ship. You'd be pretty hard pushed to be bored from experience - so my answer is "absolutely not". Particular from what I've seen from the likes of Virgin Voyages and Disney Cruise Line. And there's so much for all ages too, despite the common misconception that cruises only cater for older generations. There is so much to do onboard that you. 

There's more than plenty to do on-board for those days at sea regardless of your age or persuasion. Whilst not all cruises are family friendly, our ship also offered activities for kids during the day, and there was plenty going on round the pool for them if they wanted to par take. 

Would you go on another cruise? 

Having now experienced a cruise for myself, I would definitely go on another. It is a very bizarre experience in that you are in a complete bubble for the entire time. The service and food, you have absolutely everything at your deposable anytime of the day or night. After a full week of having your every need taken care of with fine dining, relaxation, exploring and sampling the delights of Denmark & Norway, I would fully recommend cruising. 

That said, there are plenty of other places I'd love to visit first that cruising that couldn't accommodate so it'll be a while before I take another. Though Stevie and I have discussed a Disney cruise on more than one occasion as we feel that would be an entirely new experience all together. 

Well, that's it for another travel diary. I hope my first timers guide to cruising was useful to you, whether you're looking to book one yourself or have one coming up. You can also visit my Instagram to see my Reels from the trip, including this one about a day at sea on the Sky Princess. As always, I love reading your comments so please do leave me lots of lovely ones below. If you have any questions, I'd be more than happy to help! 

Until next time travellers, 


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