I went to Norway last summer; I used only public transportation, including two overnight segments on Hurtigruten coastal ferries. Whether a cruise would be cheaper than a land-based trip depends to a large extent on:
- Whether you get a great deal on the cruise.
- Your standards for cruise cabins vs. hotel rooms.
- Whether you'd sign up for cruise excursions or take the do-it-yourself approach.
- Whether you'd be willing to drive during the trip and stay in less popular towns (and how many people would be sharing the car).
Non-fast-food restaurants in Norway are very expensive. I believe alcohol in restaurants is even more expensive, but I'm a non-drinker and cannot cite specific costs.
Food in supermarkets is not too out of line with what I pay at home. Cheese, smoked salmon, eggs, fruit were all reasonable. Taking full advantage of the good supermarket prices requires access to a refrigerator, which not all the least expensive hotels have.
Oslo hotels can be comparatively reasonable in the summer; I guess business travel drops at that time of year. In Bergen and the popular rural areas, especially places accessible via public transportation, too much demand is chasing too little supply. In the hotel part of the lodging market, budget options such as you'd find in most other countries (very small rooms, laminate furniture, no breakfast) seem not to exist. You're likely to be forced into at least a standard, business-class hotel. It's not easy to find a centrally located single room at less than $140 per night. You will of course pay more for something a little special, a place in Flam, etc.
It seems that travelers are resisting the hotel rates, resuIting in creation of some chains of hotels offering very little serice--no front desk, no cleaning service without paying fee, etc.
Breakfast is usually included in the room rate (not in the no-service hotels) and not something you can opt out of, which is one reason the floor for room rates is as high as it is. On the plus side, those breakfasts are usually large, and the quality of the components is relatively high.
Train fares can be rather high if you don't buy in advance or qualify for the senior discount. Buses, too, are not a trivial expense.