Hello everyone

I’m back and I have to say that the day after we returned we wondered if we’d ever been away as we threw ourselves into unpacking the suitcases plus the unpacked boxes we’d left and by the end of the day, we were exhausted!  But hey, after another day both the suitcases and all the moving boxes were empty and we are completely unpacked. That’s actually amazing as on the 31st August we’d moved only 15 days before and we’d spent 8 of those 15 days in Norway! There are issues like the plumbing and electrics to fix but really, as one of our visitors said, we look as though we’ve lived in the flat for years!  Big tip: it helps if you haven’t got much stuff and have decluttered beforehand and you continue to declutter!

I will do a post (?the next one) on the move and the new flat, and I will show you that we do have ornaments and a certain amount of possessions (!) but this post is about the cruise.

We went with Saga. Most Brits will know this company and perhaps think it just caters for the older customer. Well, yes, but don’t all cruise lines? The reason we returned to Saga is that we remembered its high standards and wondered if they still kept to those lofty heights. And people, they did. Saga has very high standards of customer care – and no they are not paying me to say this.  But it starts from being collected from your door and that’s no matter where you live. You have to pay extra if you live more than 250 miles from the port, but everyone we spoke to said the drive to the ship from anywhere in the UK is what sells it to them.

Here’s the ship.

Note that this is proper ship and not a block of flats. Re: the lack of balconies (there were a few). I’m not the least bit interested in having a balcony as if you want some fresh air just get out of the cabin and go on deck! But very sadly this lovely ship is being retired next year and two brand new all-balcony ships are coming in to replace her.  All well and good, ships do get old and have to retire but the thing is the size; the Sapphire carries around 700 passengers, which is great, the new ships carry 999, which looks as though they’re keeping it at under 1000.  But not sure about this increase as, like other passengers who always travel with Saga, we love the experience of sailing in smaller ships. We’ll see.

And btw, we usually sail in steerage (the lowest deck) as we don’t think a cabin is all that important but the cabin we had on only a slightly higher deck (6) was about the size of our new flat’s sitting room! The pic below was taken with me standing in the middle of the room!

Turning round from the middle of the cabin you’d see arm chairs and a table by the window.  Someone with a balcony (deck 10) said that the balcony made their cabin quite small.  So I think we did quite well lower down as it was great to have this sense of space and also, you know what they say: the more you pay, the more you sway. Absolutely don’t go top deck if you’re crossing the Bay of Biscay! And btw, the bathroom had a bath.  So altogether, 10 out of 10 for the cabin.

This is a dress you’ve seen before. I wore it for the first night on board ship.

Note the blue nail polish on my big toe that matches the dress. In fact, I had 3 different colours on my toes.  Dress and bag charity shopped, of course.

Our first port of call was at Haugesund, which was not somewhere I’d been before but it was OK.  We had a great guide for our tour of the sights and the views.

I wore my black skinny jeans here.  The temperature in Haugesund was mild but a fleecy top was needed at this height.  As per usual I did not pack the right clothes!  The thing is I’d packed a week before the move and the move was 6 days before our cruise, and all the time the weather forecasts were for rain plus cool to cold weather. I packed 3 jumpers, a cagoule plus a rain hat and Mr F had his long fleece-lined raincoat (all unworn) and we both brought umbrellas. In fact I was so worried about the flimsy mac I’d packed that I went out and got a long mac for myself.  And then on the first day of the cruise the weather forecasts changed (too late for me to repack) and from about the 2nd day onwards we had really hot weather for Norway.  And did I have anything for hot weather in my suitcase? No I did not! But I’m not complaining as the weather made Norway look its absolute best – we were so lucky as rain is the default weather for this country!

That night was formal night and here I am in my favourite cruise frock, bought in 2012 from a charity shop for I think £15. It has a Monsoon label and is made from that lovely devore velvet.

Cheers! Fortunately they had a good zero-alcohol lager, which is my go-to drink as it’s not sweet. Haven’t drunk alcohol for over 20 years now and I have forgotten what alcohol does – it is not something I’m bothered with.

Here’s our approach to Bergen, our second port of call, which is such an interesting place to visit. What I love about these Scandinavian countries is the colour of their housing stock – the yellows, ochres and blues are so cheerful!

I wore this top a couple of times (a recent buy at £5).

The coffee on this deck was good.

I didn’t take any pix at Flam, which was our 3rd port of call, as the day was so hot I could barely function – everyone kept saying we’d come to Flam on one of the 3 days of hot weather they get annually!

The place on the cruise I love most is Skjolden, which is right at the innermost point of the longest fjord, the Sognefjorden.  There’s nothing there, no infrastructure to speak of, just a tiny picturesque village.

This is the view from the community centre where we had a coffee, and I bought a hat. It’s a bright orange hand-knitted beanie made from locally spun alpaca, which is wool from an animal like a llama, but not.  So I have taken home a little memory of this beautiful spot and you’ll see it in another post.. We were only there for a few hours and then we cruised back through the fjords.

This is what I came for.


And more beauty.

Along the way we’d see houses on the shoreline which quite obviously you could only reach by boat.

Our next port of call was Stavanger which is a vibrant little town with lots of little shops that resemble a small upmarket Ikea. We always go to these and buy at least one thing – again for the memory of the trip and because they are not tourist shops.

On our last formal night I wore this charity shop dress bought two years ago.

It’s a (UK) size 16 but very accommodating as the material is stretchy so it fits me when I’m my normal size 12 and expands as the cruise goes on. I put on 4 pounds with this cruise.

I can just see my gut beginning to billow out! Imo, the food on Saga is the best. But phew I couldn’t eat like that for long – it’s too much – and have already lost 2 of those 4 pounds eating normal food!

Despite doing a lot of this I was pleased to be sailing home. The North Sea, btw, was very benign this time, and that was both ways – it was flat as a pancake.

Yes, here’s the port of Dover – it was great to get back.

It’s good to go away but it’s good to be home.

And that’s all for now.  Next post will be on moving news, the look of the flat and why I declutter.

With love, Penny, the Frugalfashionshopper



27 thoughts on “I’m back and here’s some cruise highlights!

  • 4th September 2019 at 10:31 am

    Welcome back! Glad you had a great cruise after the upheaval of moving. I think Sapphire is a lovely ship and I hope to go on her again before she goes out of service. I think the main problem is meeting the engine emissions requirements but it does seem a shame. She may well be bought to sail in areas of the world where these are not so strict – that seems both a good and a bad outcome.
    We went on the inaugural cruise of the Spirit of Discovery in July. It was a super trip around the British Isles although the ship took a bit of getting used to. The advantage of all balcony cabins is that there is a lot of public space and height in the centre of the ship. So you get a proper theatre with raked seating, a double height dining room and a sweeping staircase in the atrium. The ship was not full as there were still some minor works going on and there were several senior staff on board.
    The decor is very contemporary, a bit dark in some areas for my taste, & I found the public areas too cold with many seats too deep for my comfort. Although our cabin (standard and a bit small due to huge bed) was near the top – don’t remember booking that! – the new propulsion system is so quiet and smooth that the old adage hardly applies. In calm seas it was hard to believe we were moving at all. Wine was included and next year other drinks will be included too.
    I think some of the very elderly passengers may not be back because of the amount of walking needed was too much for them. There are 5 dining choices, 3 of which need booking, but no extra cost. I’m not a ‘foodie’ so the main dining room OK for me.
    I’m sure we will be back. We do like Fred Olsen but the ships are getting a bit tatty, especially the cabins. We had our first – and I hope last- experience of norovirus on one of their ships last year and although we didn’t get it it really affected the atmosphere during our return from Canada. I did get a nasty cold virus which didn’t help but you can catch that anywhere.
    On the clothing front I bought 3 dresses on e-bay last month and also a pair of new sandals which were very reduced and very comfortable. Trying to spend much less this month!

    • 6th September 2019 at 8:17 am

      Thank you Lynda and yes, the Sapphire is going to be much missed, but all things change – I mean I regret the Ruby going but everything ages (and don’t I know it – more about that next post!). You’ve given an interesting review of the new Saga ship which we might go on, although we have some reservations, not least the increased cost.

      Now I wonder what Fred Olsen ship had the norovirus on it? Last year we experienced an outbreak and like you didn’t get it but it certainly does dampen down the atmosphere and make you feel a bit tense moving about the ship as ANY surface can retain the virus – yuk. I do feel that the higher standards of Saga which includes more staff helps to reduce the risk. I don’t like buffets and I remember on the Ruby you touched nothing – just pointed at the food! Those as they say, were the days!

      Re: clothes I’ve made a couple of purchases from charity shops which I’ll feature soon in a post on Second-hand September.

      Thanks again Lynda for your informative comment 🙂

      • 6th September 2019 at 10:59 am

        It was Black Watch. Like you I am concerned about buffets and use a paper napkin to hold serving spoons. I wish they would go back to everything being served – like you I remember the Ruby and the enclosed buffet where staff put the items on a plate for you.
        Saga is really putting all its eggs in two baskets with the new ships. I suppose they hope to pick up new business to compensate for passengers for whom it will be unsuitable and/or too expensive. I’ve noticed a few offers on price recently!

  • 4th September 2019 at 10:44 am

    Beautiful photographs. Thanks for letting me share a bit of your cruise !

    • 6th September 2019 at 8:19 am

      Thank you Holly – all photos taken by my phone!

  • 4th September 2019 at 1:04 pm

    Excited to see you back! Well done on the unpacking front — and well done in terms of your quarters on the ship! Looks very impressive. I wouldn’t be fussed about a balcony either, but a bath, now you’re talking! The scenery looks stunning and makes me want to go. I read an article that cruising is going to become even more popular over the next few years with people choosing not to fly.

    Your outfits were sublime, particularly the devore velvet and the stretchy accommodating dress! How useful to have a dress like that on a cruise!

    • 7th September 2019 at 7:04 am

      Thank you Gail! Actually I’m glad to be back and think that my cruising days are going to have to change a bit. I do like a cruise but think that the best experience was the first with the smallest ship, the Saga Ruby, which was retired a long time ago. Norway is my favourite destination as it is so beautiful and also you can wander the streets on your own. My next foray to Norway though will be by the Hurtigruten ferry in 2021. Now that will be an adventure. But where will I wear my cruise frocks? That’s the thing as I do love the dressing up – perhaps I’ll have to start dress-up parties??? The stretchy dress was such a good find!

  • 4th September 2019 at 1:19 pm

    Have to agree Saga are brilliant and no it wasn’t all old people, would definitely recommend

    • 6th September 2019 at 8:27 am

      Saga is the best cruise line ever and although I haven’t experienced every cruise line (just 4) I think Saga would compare very well with any. And there was a good mix of ages, I mean mainly older but certainly not all. Great atmosphere as well. Yes, like you, absolutely recommend +++

    • 7th September 2019 at 7:07 am

      Thank you Mireille and what a beautiful name you have! Norway is so beautiful and such a friendly country – I love it 🙂

      P.S. It does rain a lot – we were so lucky with the weather!

    • 7th September 2019 at 7:09 am

      All photos done on my iPhone – technology is amazing isn’t it. The camera on this phone is so neat and minimal yet it takes the best photos. Thank you – more about my new home in my next post 🙂

  • 4th September 2019 at 7:30 pm

    It looks like you had an amazing time on your cruise. I loved the photos of the fjord, we went to Geiranger last year on a trip and I just loved it. I’ve never heard of Saga ships but we are in Australia, so never seen them here. Looking forward to photos of your flat.

    • 7th September 2019 at 7:17 am

      Thank you Janice. Norway is just my favourite country. My next trip there will be more adventurous as I aim to go up to the top of Norway via the ferry. I might also do a quick trip to Oslo next year for family reasons – I do have connections to this country through an aunt – more about that another time 🙂

      Saga is very well known in the UK for insurance for older people plus a magazine and its travel and holiday company which target the older age group and include hotel stays and river cruises as well as the ocean cruises. Its cruise standards are very high but I wonder if they’ll fill those cabins in their two new all-balcony ships as the prices have risen+++ You might see some ads for these ships in Australia yet!

  • 5th September 2019 at 12:14 am

    We just love a cruise…I always say it’s the best way to see many places, yet you only have to unpack once. And I rarely want a balcony because I like the darkness when I’m sleeping.
    I just love the formal dress you are wearing too Penny. You have such an eye for wonderful pieces!!

    • 7th September 2019 at 7:20 am

      Thank you Jodie. Funnily enough although I loved this cruise I do have some doubts about cruising – the size of the ships more than anything and Saga going large (!) is a shame, I think. So I’ll be trying the more adventurous route next time 🙂 But that will not be a ‘cruise’ as such – so where will I wear my cruise dresses? I’ll have to think about that 🙂

      Have a lovely weekend xxx

  • 5th September 2019 at 7:27 am

    Glad you enjoyed your cruise and had time to relax after the hustle and bustle of moving, You look lovely in your formal evening dresses. Shame this ship is to be retired and replaced with something larger. I must admit it is the size of most cruise ships and the amount of people on them that really has never appealed to me.
    Welcome home and enjoy settling in to your new home.

    • 7th September 2019 at 7:28 am

      I did enjoy the cruise, but I do have my doubts about cruising and the larger Saga ships coming in will make me think twice about going on such a cruise again. But where will I wear my cruise frocks???? And cruises are so relaxing to go on – I did recover my strength and my back improved only to go back to square one and get sore again once home while we finished the unpacking – all done now though and we have years (one hopes!) to enjoy the area which is vibrant and just exactly what we like.

      Thanks Jill have a lovely weekend 🙂

  • 5th September 2019 at 12:57 pm

    Breathtaking views! What a wonderful experience – and your outfits certainly look right at home. Jacqui Mummabstylish
    Would love you to join the #chicandstylish #linkup x

    • 7th September 2019 at 7:32 am

      There’s nothing like Norway and we were so lucky with the weather, Jacqui. I do love a cruise and love the dressing-up. However, I do question cruising the thing is I shall have to think about how and where I would wear my frocks if I gave up cruising – which actually I might do. We’ll see 🙂

  • 6th September 2019 at 6:53 am

    Lovely photos, love your stretchy dress, you always look fab. I’m excited about to going to Norway again after seeing your stunning photos, we went about 7 years ago, and have booked to go on P & O Ioana next year. Enjoy settling into your new home x

    • 7th September 2019 at 7:35 am

      I simply adore Norway and that was the 3rd time in 7 years! Next time we go to Norway will be slightly different as we plan to go on the Hurtigruten ferry in 2021 – now that will be an adventure!

      Thank you I am enjoying our new abode 🙂

  • 6th September 2019 at 11:23 pm

    The scenery looks so beautiful. Majestic. And, your evening attire? Superb.

    • 7th September 2019 at 7:38 am

      The scenery is amazing – there’s nothing like those fjords and the little houses clinging to the land at the edge of the shoreline with the stunning heights of the mountains behind them. To get up close you have to go by boat or a ship. And it’s amazing that these big ships can get so far inland – I love this cruise – 3rd time in 7 years! And we plan to go again in 2 years time but this time via the ferry!

  • 8th September 2019 at 8:24 am

    Welcome back Penny and thanks for the very interesting tour of your outfits, the ship, cabin and scenery. Love those toenails! Pleased to hear you’ve unpacked and are now settled in.

  • 9th September 2019 at 10:05 am

    Your trip looks great I recently watched the Cycling Tour of Norway on tv, what a beautiful country. I hate ships after years of travelling from Ireland to France so would never be tempted by a cruise. I’m pleased about the legislation on pollution and also those enormous liners being banned from Venice.

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