Sailing on VISTAMAR
Wednesday 13th July 2011
This afternoon we will board the good ship VISTAMAR for a 2 night cruise to Cuxhaven, Germany. A Google translation of my ticket shows I am going to be “Dancing and Feasting between the mountains and Cuxhaven”. Hmm, hope I have the energy for all that…
From Mount Floyen we saw her coming through the last fjord towards Bergen at 11.06 a.m. and it was reassuring to know she was on her way; we later watched her berthing in the harbour at 12.40 p.m.
My ship is coming in
Vistamar manoeuvring alongside
and noticed the banner tied on the Sun Deck railings announcing she was with Plein Cap Croisieres of France. The French passengers disembarked into coaches and that was the end of that charter.
Alongside as Plein Cap Croisieres
By the time we three arrived back at the gangway at 2.00 p.m. the banner had been removed and the ship had now reverted to its owners - plantours & Partner - and it would be mostly German passengers – and us (two English and 1 American).
Along the quayside near the Fish Market
Local rubbish bin advertisement
The Purser was on the quayside and made us very welcome and said we could board straightaway.
Alongside then as plantours & Partner
The luggage was taken up the gangway for us, although one piece started to be taken towards an empty coach until spotted by its worried owner (not me) and brought back to go on board instead! I think the crewman imagined we were late in disembarking and had to be taken off by coach somewhere with our luggage. At last we were on board and in the Reception area which was full of sunshine and light from the 4-deck-high little circular atrium.
VISTAMAR’s keel was laid in 1988 at Union Naval de Levante, Valencia, Spain, and the ship completed in 1989 and registered to Mar Lines Universal Shipping, Panama. Her tonnage is 7,498 to carry 330 passengers at a possible maximum speed of 16.5 knots, sailing mostly in the Mediterranean. The Spanish owners and designers’ style seems to be reflected in the look of the ship which is quite angular, but pleasing to my eye at least.
Various charters over the years have sent her to South America, as well as to the eastern and western Mediterranean. She is now chartered annually by plantours & Partner (yes, with a lower-case p for the name) but we saw her finish her latest charter to Plein Cap Croisieres of France today, and revert back to plantours & Partner of Bremen. I like the idea that the ship has always kept the same name.
Vistamar deck and cabin plan
The ship has six decks, with cabins on the lower five, mostly in the forward half of the ship, with the public rooms in the rear half. There are two inside single cabins available, and four outside single cabins, three of which we had booked. There are various other grade cabins, including ten balcony suites and an owner’s suite, all shown on the Deck and Cabin Plan.
Top of the Atrium
My cabin was spacious and simply furnished and the bathroom was fine, with ample towels and toiletries, so I was happy with my home for the next two nights.
Cabin 301, port side mid ships
In my bathroom
With no-one else on board we were able to explore, take some interior photographs, register credit cards,
Veranda Club looking aft
Musiksalon Bar, looking forward
Musiksalon port side, looking aft
and finally give in to the temptation to start the ‘dancing and feasting’ right away. The ship is registered in Venice, Italy, and the Lido Bar with its Venetian gondola scene looking out on to the swimming pool seemed the ideal place to relax in the hot Bergen sunshine, under the almost-cloudless blue sky.
Lido Bar and Pool
Lido Bar tiling
Our Daily Programme (in German) in the cabins told us that at 2.30 p.m. we would all be welcomed in the Musiksalon with ‘fizz and nibbles’, so we went inside and joined many others being greeted by the friendly staff. The room is the full width of the ship, with tall windows covered inside by long golden-coloured curtains and faux palm trees placed at regular intervals. The seating was comfortable and solid-looking, set around a small raised stage at one end of the room. At the forward end of the Musiksalon was a semi-circular bar with tall chairs beside it. There seemed to be enough varied seating for all the passengers.
After enjoying the glass of fizz, we noticed that our Programme informed us that afternoon tea was available from 3.30 to 4.15 p.m. so after a rapid session of unpacking, we were back in the Musiksalon for the next entertainment – more feasting (wonderful pastries and cakes) and this time with rum-te-tum music from a 4 piece band on the little stage. The room was full, tea or coffee was enjoyed by all and I felt this was probably going to be the hub for a good time on board this almost unknown little ship. Indeed, I hadn’t heard of her before October 2010.
We were due to sail at 5.00 p.m. but as all the 200 passengers were on board and the ship was ready, we actually left the quayside and sailed at 4.35 p.m. and became part of the busy ship activity in Bergen harbour.
Top deck walkway around the Veranda Club
Forward Sun Deck
The Hurtigruten ship TROLLFJORD had arrived earlier and we could see her. The cruise ferry BERGENSFJORD was also to be seen, plus the cruise ships from earlier in the day, and local harbour vessels.
2 turquoise funnels
We’d hardly settled down after departure than it was time to prepare for 7.30 p.m. Welcome Cocktails in the Musiksalon introduced by the Cruise Director, followed by dinner in the Restaurant Andalucia at 7.45 p.m. at our set table.
This included free red or white wine, but bottled water and non-alcoholic drinks had to be paid for. At 10 p.m. there was a Welcome Show (in the Musiksalon of course) with music and singing that had my feet tapping and one particular singer/entertainer called Anton from the Tyrol, who seemed particularly popular. When the show ended the band continued to play for dancing. The translation of Dancing and Feasting for the title of the little cruise began to seem particularly accurate and I thought it was all very jolly.
At 10.30 p.m. there was the chance to photograph a Dessert Buffet and then consume it, which we couldn’t face, but I believe lots of passengers did. There was also an entertainer in the Veranda Club. We three decided to retire for the night to our respective cabins to build up our strength for the next day’s programme at sea.
Goodbye Bergen from Vistamar
Ships seen: Costa Luminosa, Costa Pacifica, MSC Poesia, Amadea, Albatros, the Bergen cross-harbour ferry, Bourbon Monsoon, White Lady, Normand Ranger, Trollfjord, Bergensfjord, Snarveien, Far Scorpion,
To be continued…