Looking for a rec of a cruise line for our first time in Norway. I’d love to find a line/itinerary that does long port stays as well as scenic cruises of the fjords. We’re very experienced travelers and definitely not cruise people but are looking for something that would provide a good overview for a more in depth driving trip at a later date. I’ve done some preliminary looking at Cruise Critic but am quickly overwhelmed. Help please!
Try Azamara. They are one of few lines that include country-intensives, which would be, I think, your best bet. They often do port calls in smaller towns because their ships are small and they have greater access to small ports. This results in fewer tendering days and saves waiting in line for tenders, using up your valuable port time.. Viking is also reliable, but a bit smaller, more posh, and more expensive. I hear good things about Hurtigruten, which is Norwegian owned and operated, but have never taken them. They are, however, more of a ferry company that also does week long trips. They might be good for a hop on - hop off experience, too.
There are boats regularly leaving Oslo that just visit Norway, not a part of an international line. I think the typical major line includes itineraries with more than one country.
Personally rented a car and drove the fjord area. The views of the fjords from the land are better than on the water, and the car ferries will get you on the water for that perspective also. I printed out the cruise schedules and was able to shift my itinerary to avoid cruise crowds. Some of the ships are enormous and the little towns get swamped with people. Cabin rentals on the fjords are not expensive. It's a cheaper way to go if that kind of trip is more appealing. I admit a bias against the cruise ships, whenever I see them sailing by I am thrilled that I am not on board.
Note that there are many land tours that combine train and bus travel with some time sailing on the fjords, a couple hours on different fjords. There are pleasure boat trips on the fjords, and many car ferries that run all day crossing and going down fjords, for on-the-water experiences.
Here's a fun looking day trip, or one way trip. https://www.geirangerfjord.no/fjord-cruise-alesund-geiranger?utm_source=visitnorway.com&utm_medium=listing&utm_content=booking-link
You didn’t mention expense or budget. The smaller the cruise line, the more likely the cost will go up. Royal Caribbean has an “Artic Circle” itinerary that departs Amsterdam and focuses on Norwegian ports . It might be worth looking at that itinerary to see if it is a match with your interests.
Have you looked into Hurtigruten's Norwegian Coastal Express cruises?
Thank you everyone for the info! I did a lot of googling based on your replies and ironically Royal Caribbean has a very good itinerary that checks off a lot of the boxes. It’s on one of their older, smaller ships and the shore times are very long - long enough to avoid the stupid canned shore excursions that I despise. As I said I’m not a cruise person so I’m viewing the ship as our floating hotel and nothing more; the other cruise we did a few years back was to Croatia, Greece and turkey. We viewed the cruise in a similar way and it proved to be a great decider for places we visited later.
We are not cruisers and thus chose Hurtigruten, The Norwegian Coastal Steamer. We loved it! Mostly Northern European passengers, great food, scenery is the entertainment. See Norway with a Norwegian company.
We researched cruises of Norway and found that Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line both have cruises that go all the way to the North Cape of Norway. Celebrity has cruises that basically don't go beyond about half way to the NC.
We did a great cruise with Royal Caribbean in June 2019 that stopped in 6 Norwegian ports, including the North Cape. The cruise started in Copenhagen and we did two days in Stockholm prior to the cruise.
Azamara is expensive, every time I check with them compared to Celebrity, Royal or NCL they are way more expensive. The Hurtigruten cruises are expensive as well, even if you don't get a balcony but an ocean view cabin. Also, drinks are expensive. Further, only about 3 or 4 ports are excursions offered that are worthwhile. Most of the stops are very short, not enough to even get off the ship.
Azamara can be more expensive, but they also have periodic sales which reduce the costs significantly. If you're interested, get on their email list. They just advertised a 'second passenger sails 50% off' deal.
We didn’t think we were cruise people either but we did enjoy two Viking Ocean cruises to Norway - Into the Midnight Sun and In Search of the Northern Lights. On the Midnight Sun itinerary we particularly liked the crab safari and deep sea fishing. On the Northern Lights our favorites were dogsledding, meeting the Sami people, and reindeer sledding. Both cruises sail beyond the Arctic Circle. Beautiful country.
OP please share your feedback once you take your cruise! We booked Amsterdam to Bergen on Vikings Fjords & Shores cruise (we have never taken a cruise before at all, but this seemed like a good primer for the region) and we'll tack on a few more days in Bergen for local and regional trips as well. Hoping we made a good choice!
Enjoy your trip!