An eight hour plane ride and a 20 degree drop in temperature was what kicked off the beginning of my summer. After a frenzied week of packing, my parents and I left on June 17th on a 7:00 pm flight for London, England. We arrived at Gatwick Airport around 10am and immediately set off for a tour in London, visiting the local cathedrals, Stonehenge, and the notorious crown jewels (I underestimated how many diamond encrusted crowns one country could own). After two nights in London, we left in the morning for our ship, The Jewel of the Seas of Royal Caribbean International, which departed for Norway that evening.
â–º QUARTER FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
Now, I knew very little about Norway. The extent of my knowledge of Norway was limited to its cold weather and awe-inspiring fjords. Arriving in Bergen, my family and I left the ship to explore the town on foot, rather than taking a city tour. The town was larger than I had expected with a classic infrastructure, but with its own charm. We learned one key lesson about Norway- spend your money wisely. Just three pastries and two cups of coffee cost my family over $60. Our next port of call was Flam, Norway, where we took a seven hour bus tour up and through the fjords (literally, the tunnels actually run through the fjords) to see the misty, green valleys that are unique to the area. The last stop on our Norwegian itinerary was a port in Geiranger, a small town surrounded by high snow-capped peaks, where we took a bus tour into the mountains. If heights aren’t your thing, I would stay away from bus tours here because the two-way streets barely accommodate the size of one bus, let alone two who have to pass on a hair pin turn down the mountain.
From Norway, our ship made its way to the Faroe Islands and the Shetlands. Both had old architecture and streets sloping up the towns, giving my legs a good work out. In the Shetlands, we chose to wander the city and browse the local shops, especially the candy stores. In the Faroe Islands, my family and I took a tour through the fjords, littered with buttercup blossoms and herds of fuzzy sheep, before stopping to experience a delicious lunch of pancakes and homemade jam.
Giving my poor, tired feet a break, I was awarded a day at sea before the Jewel of the Seas docked in Iceland. The crew of this ship was welcoming and the staff in the teen lounge made my vacation unforgettable and never once a bore. I would suggest the Royal Caribbean cruise line to any avid traveler.
Arriving in Iceland, I was immediately treated to green fields covered by beautiful purple flowers rather than sheets of ice. Our tour took us through the city, then on to the ecological and historical landmarks culminating at the tour’s prize- Dettifoss falls. Many people might recognize this giant waterfall from the most recent Alien prequel, Prometheus, but we were able to see it in its natural, alien-free form. This is a stop I would suggest for anyone who appreciates natural wonders; the falls were unbelievable in person.
At the end of our vacation, our cruise ship took us back to our port where we endured another taxi-ride to the airport before boarding the flight back home. In a nutshell, it was an unforgettable cruise to scenery I had never experienced. If you haven’t yet, take a cruise on Royal Caribbean and definitely a cruise to Norway and Iceland- it’s worth the expenses and $60 pastries.
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