Boarding Oceania Insignia and Kristiansand, Norway

Body: am on Oceania Cruises' Insignia, a cruise of a lifetime on one of the top cruise lines!  Upon boarding this gorgeous vessel, I couldn’t help but notice this luxury cruise ship looked and felt like a beautiful country manor, with dark woods and rich colored fabrics adorning the décor.  For those not familiar with Oceania Cruises, they offer one of the best deals for a luxury cruise ship.  The fare includes your round-trip airfare, no-charge alternative dining and, frequently, an on board credit as well.  Insignia is a mid-sized cruise ship, about 700 passengers.  The service was warm and friendly from the first second we walked through the door.  After going on many cruises, the staff onboard might be the friendliest I have experienced.  They genuinely care about you and will help in any way they can.  I am in a Concierge class stateroom, which is a standard balcony, with many extra amenities added such as priority boarding, upgraded bathroom amenities, priority restaurant reservations at alternative dining venues and a bottle of champagne at embarkation, just to name a few. 

My first port on this 18-day cruise is Kristiansand, Norway.  This is a quaint southern Norwegian vacation town.  It has fantastic shopping streets, sidewalk cafés and a world-class zoo.  The town itself is quite small, so everything is accessible on foot.  I did some shopping to make up for a lack of clothing (since mine hadn't arrived yet) and toured the town. I enjoyed a wonderful lunch at a charming sidewalk café – an open-face salmon sandwich with egg and a piece of a Norwegian apple cake served in a hot skillet with bubbling caramel and spiced vanilla ice cream.  Norwegians speak almost perfect English throughout the country.  They are a warm and inviting people. Don’t be intimidated if you don’t speak the language or mispronounce words, they will appreciate you trying.  It is nothing short of a stunning place and one that should be on your must do list.