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Tour of Scandinavia

We've never done a Rick Steves tour, but we have done a long Viking River tour and we have traveled widely either as a couple or with small groups to some exotic parts of the world (sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, India). We're quite interested in the Best of Scandinavia tour but we need some advice.

First, we're in our golden years, late 60s early 70s but reasonably fit for our ages. So an age-related question. Will we be the oldest in the group? Put another way, could someone describe the demographics of the group we might encounter on this particular tour?

Second, for those segments listed as strenuous, Stockholm's Old City, for example, how strenuous is this? Will we be required to hie our luggage around in the streets or up and down stairs?

Third, a big draw to us is touring fjords. Can someone comment on this aspect of this particular tour.

Fourth, there is some concern about the berth without windows on the overnight ferry to Oslo and the shared bathroom facilities at the B&B. Could someone comment in this also?

In reading the one active forum concerning this tour, much is made about how expensive Scandinavia is. We expect this, and this aspect is not a major concern to us.

Thanks for any and all advice.

Posted by
6872 posts

We toured Scandinavia and St. Petersburg a year ago on a cruise ship. It's hard to say what the demographics on one of Rick's tours would be, but I would expect you'll feel right at home with those on the tour. Millennials generally go for less expensive trips.
You shouldn't be concerned about the physical aspects of touring this region as it's pretty flat country.

We took the Norway in a Nutshell tour where we rode the train from Oslo for 4 1/2 hours and got on a mountain train for an hour before getting on a fast ferry through the fjords that ended up in Bergen (about sundown.) The mountain train ride down into the fjords was prettier than the rest of the fjords we saw.

I wouldn't have any problem with an inside room on the ferry, as they're more like cruise ships. And I wouldn't have any issue with a shared bath at a B&B, as we've not always had private facilities over the years.

Everyone's right about Scandinavia (every country) being deathly expensive. 2 burgers/fries/Cokes at TGI Fridays are $60. They have 7-11's on every corner and a Coke or medium coffee will set you back $4. It's one place best traveled to by organized tour or cruise ship. But we loved every city we visited.

Posted by
16883 posts

Hi, Stephen. Your age range is quite typical on Rick Steves Tours in general and perhaps even more common for the Scandinavia destination.

The "strenuous" walking day (day 2) in Stockholm is not a luggage transfer day. It most likely means spending a lot of the day on your feet, both walking and standing on cobblestones while listening to tour guides.

When you depart the city on day 3, you might have to bring your luggage over a few blocks, if the bus can't park right at the hotel. Since the physical demands do specify it, don't discount the possibility of handling your bags on hotel stairs. Assume that there won't be elevators or porters. That's why we recommend packing light!

I have personally slept very well in interior cabins on overnight ferries (4 or 5 times). Once, I was sleeping so well, I almost didn't get off the ship in time. These cabins do have private bathrooms.

In Aeroskobing, the group is split between two locations, one being a charming, traditional B&B that has 8 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms to be shared by the guests - your friendly, fellow tour members. The other location has en-suite bathrooms. I can't promise how your guide will assign the rooms, but you should address any concerns to her on the first night of the tour.

Posted by
2 posts

Laura:

Thanks for your extremely helpful reply. Precisely the information I was looking for. I see nothing here that would dissuade us from taking this tour. Any comment on the fjord portion of the tour?

Posted by
16883 posts

Although you just have one day for passing through the Sognefjord, it should be a spectacular one, designed to show you the best section of this popular (and relatively accessible) fjord. You might wonder whether it would be more scenic to take a boat all the way to Bergen, but the section where the fjord widens is the less impressive part of it. The inland route to Bergen by our tour bus (or the same route used by trains) is known in its own right for mountain scenery. (FYI, one tour this year had to switch up the plan due to road closures, so in that case, they did take a longer ferry ride to Bergen.)

If you have more time in Norway after the tour, you could possible fly from Bergen to a more northern town, then train back to Oslo. Or consider cruising on the Hurtigruten boats, but they can be expensive and not all ports of call will have easy land connections.

Posted by
710 posts

I agree completely with Laura's comments on the inside cabin on the ferry and the shared bathroom in Aeroskobing. I'm a little claustrophobic but the inside cabin was fine. Also stayed at the B&B in Aeroskobing and bathroom sharing was a non-issue. The B&B is very nice and the hostess is a gem. You are in for a wonderful trip.

Posted by
308 posts

I took the RS Scandinavia tour in May this year and I can also agree that the shared bathroom situation at the B&B on Aero Island was basically a non-issue. We all tried to be very respectful about it, though. Nobody took long showers and many people showered the night before. There was always a bathroom open when I needed one.

However, several of us were interested in how the group was split out. Another tour member staying with us noticed that the younger half of the group ended up at the B&B. Maybe we were the people who did not specifically request to stay at the other place, I can't say for sure. I can say that it was a very lovely place to stay and definitely was part of the fun adventure. Aero Island was my favorite part of the tour.

As far as the overnight ferry to Oslo and not having a window, that was also a non-issue for me. Before the tour, my husband and I took an overnight ferry from Tallinn, Estonia to Stockholm and splurged on a cabin with a window. It was kind of nice to have a window, but the window was pretty small (like an airplane window) and we ended up spending most of our time outside on the deck anyway for the great views. We did the same as we sailed into Oslo. We got an amazing night of sleep without a window since it was actually dark!

Posted by
308 posts

I can also answer your question regarding age. My husband and I (in our early 40s) were among the younger people there with the exception of a newlywed couple. You will probably feel at ease with regards to age. More importantly, you will be in the company of like-minded travelers with very positive attitudes!

It is a very well planned tour that is definitely worth your time.

Posted by
971 posts

Regarding the windowless cabins on the Copenhagen-Oslo ferry, the scenic part of the trip is at the very beginning, when you sail through Øresund and pass Helsingør and Kronborg Castle (on your left) and then again in the end when you sail trough the Oslo fjord.
The middle part of the trip (late evening and night), were you would tend to stay in your cabin, is mostly open ocean. Just get up early in the morning to see the Oslo Fjord. Mind you the Oslo Fjord is nice, but it has nothing against the Western Fjords of Norway :-)

Regarding costs, Norway is truly expensive, but Sweden and Denmark is no more expensive than cities like London or New York.

Posted by
16 posts

1) People were between 40’s and late 70’s on our trip.
2) I thought the walking tour around Copenhagen was the most strenuous of the trip. You can always opt out of the walk at any point.
3) I was worried about this too before the trip, but I thought I had more than enough of mountain and fjord scenery when we arrived in Bergen. One of our tour members took the Norway in a Nutshell tour on this own after the trip for even more scenery.
4) Berth without windows not a big deal. The B & B was awesome, especially Suzanna! A highlight of the trip. Bathroom not a problem.