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Fjords in southern or northern Norway

We have been looking at cruising along the Norway coast for 12-14 days. Sailed several times before with Princess, Celebrity, Carnival, HAL, and Royal Car in different areas. But, have always loved the idea of seeing Norway.

However, does anyone have advice about cruising the fjords in Norway. It appears to be more fjord scenic cruising in southern Norway, (Eldfjord, Flam, Geiranger, Aselund) but I had been thinking it would be nice to sail further north and crossing the Arctic Circle to Honningsvad. But, for actual scenic fjords, is the southern half of Norway just a lot better.

Seems like a good amount of ocean sailing up and back, with maybe a port stop or two, like Gravdal or Tromso. But, looks like more open water sailing than the inland fjords in the south.

Also, a couple of lesser known cruise lines, like Cruise and Maritime Voyages or P&O Cruises (both British, I believe) have some interesting itineraries hitting a lot of the fjords.

So, your thoughts for maximizing fjords scenic cruising. Thank you very much. Ted

Posted by
1514 posts

Hey Ted,

Bergen is rightly called the gateway to the fjords. You can take tours north and south to explore the many islands and inlets that are features of the landscape.

We took a three-hour cruise from Bergen to Mostraumen on the Osterfjorden. Heading northeast from Bergen, the cruise takes you past tiny settlements perched strategically to capture the best vistas of the fjords.

Mountains rise majestically above the fast flowing waters and waterfalls seem to appear around every corner. I was surprised at the diversity of the terrain and how narrow the channels between islands are at points along the route.

The Geirangerfjord is the crown in the jewel among the iconic fjords.

The Geirangerfjord is equally beautiful as the other iconic fjords; Sognefjord and Hardangerfjord. The Geirangerfjord area is the smallest of the three and it is the fjord furthest away from Bergen and Oslo.

Posted by
1378 posts

Norway is very beautiful and has tons of fjords and sounds. The ones you are writing about are main and sub fjords in West Norway. Most scenic parts of fjords there you will find dozens to one hundred of miles inside the country, not at the coast - even this has also scenic parts, e.g. south of Ålesund.

Regular cruise ships do not drive into the following very scenic fjords:

  • Lysefjord (close to Stavanger), just boat tours and public transport ferries.
  • Naeroyfjord (close to Flam), just boat tours from / to Flam and an old car ferry
  • Trollfjord above Arctic circle (too narrow, only Hurtigruten ships drive into it and turn on plate)

Geirangerfjord is very scenic and cruise ships (oil-based) are allowed until 2025 to drive into. Ålesund is close to that, to scenic Hjørundfjord and to Nordfjord with scenic Innvikfjord.

Bergen is "only" close to Sognefjord and Hardangerfjord, not a real gate (just marketing). Do not get me wrong: very nice town and a lot of smaller fjords around which are not approached by cruise ships.

  • Eidford is part of Hardangerfjord, also scenic but not really narrow. Sørfjord is relatively narrow with Folgefonna glacier nearby but not approached by cruise ships.
  • Aurlandsfjord (Flam) is part of Sognefjord, also scenic but not really narrow.
  • Naeroyfjord is part of Sognefjord, very scenic but not directly approached.

A lot of scenic fjords / sounds above Arctic circle are not aproached by cruise ships (too big), e.g. Øksfjord (only Hurtigruten ships), Lyngenfjord and some others. All larger cruise ships also avoid very scenic Raftsund (Lofoten) because they are too high for Raftsund Bridge.

Honningsvåg is closest port to North Cape which makes sense to experience midnight sun.

For more details on specific cruises I recommend to look into cruise-specific forums.

I also suggest to manage own expectations when choosing a Hurtigruten passage which is not comparable to a cruise ship. Lots of differences to know - both a nice experience but matter of taste.

Hope that helps you little bit what to expect to see and not.

Posted by
5817 posts

Minor point, but I wouldn’t worry about P&O being “lesser known”. It’s a very reputable firm and has been sailing since the early 19th century!