Perhaps it was Slartibartfast in "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" (the one who designed the coastline of Norway.) Or perhaps even longer ago it was watching Oliver Postgate's "Noggin the Nog" on a black and white television. Melded with curiosity over what it was like to travel on ships like the "Titanic". Anyhow my hankering to see Norwegian fjords by sea was satisfied by a cruise Virginia and I took on P&O's "Artemis" in May 2007.
We chose the "Artemis" because it was child-free rather than my weakness for David Rudkin's "Artemis 81". There seemed to be some suitable cultural events on board. The promotion DVD looked good. The website offered webcams of where the ship was. And if we booked in the next five minutes we got a good discount! The upfront cost of doing a cruise is high but it can work out to be value for money. Food onboard is included, as are the entertainments.
In the run-up to the cruise we discovered how many people we knew had been on cruises. Very hard nowadays to do something no-one has done before. Some people swore by Fred Olsen (my parents coincidentally did a similar cruise to us in the same week, but on Fred Olsen.) One cruise isn't enough to judge between Fred Olsen, P&O, and other cruise lines. They all try to get you hooked on cruising (there was a busy office on the ship for booking future cruises.) Some people we met cruised several times each year.
We had a smooth drive down to Southampton on May 18th, arriving well before booking in time at 2pm. From then on it was almost just put your feet up, we found cruising a very easy and effortless experience. Boarding the ship was like boarding an airplane, there were security checks, but much nicer and politer. They had started boarding well before 2pm so we didn't have needed to dilly dally at the Winchester service station (where an influx of school groups shattered the calm.) It was only at Southampton that we had to show our passports, not when we got off at various Norwegian ports of call.
We carried our hand luggage up to our cabin (the lifts were very slow, a problemette which became a problem later on.) The cabin was smaller than I expected from the website, but serviceable. It was at this stage that I realised I had left the battery charger for my camera behind. Did get alkaline batteries later from a shop onboard, but didn't manage to snap the gentlemen's jazz group who serenaded us off from the quayside. Managed to ring my sister from the boat to ask her to unplug the charger at home.