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Newbie to Scandinavia Cruises

Where should I start looking for a cruise that would provide a good introduction to Scandinavia, particularly the West Coast of Norway fjords as well as towns and villages? The length of cruise could be either one or two weeks. Does any cruise "bundle" air fare from Chicago or other major eastern US cities, or from major cities in Germany (Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Bremenour visit will also include time in Germany, either before or after the cruise)? Is Hurtigruten the cruise line of choice or are there other smaller cruises I should consider? I do not have an unlimited budget so I would have to stay with a regularly scheduled itinerary. Any tips on getting started would be helpful.

Posted by
31303 posts

Jon, You might find it helpful to speak with a Travel Agent regarding cruises in that part of the world. They'll be able to provide lots of information on what's available. To save money on shore excursions, you might pack along a copy of the new Northern European Cruise Ports Guidebook. Here's a link: http://travelstore.ricksteves.com/catalog/index.cfm?fuseaction=product&theParentId=156&id=553 Many cruise lines offer flight & cruise bundles. Check the brochures or cruise line websites. Happy travels!

Posted by
3559 posts

I just Googled cruise scandinavia and got lots of results including this RS one: http://www.ricksteves.com/plan/destinations/scan/scancruise.htm. There were so many other results, it would be good for you to do the Googling yourself and then explore the variety of options. I'm not a cruise person but I found this on the Norway website I have in my favorites: Cruise Norway http://www.visitnorway.com/us/What-to-do/Tours-Safaris/Cruise-Norway/. In case you miss it, there is a list of the many cruise lines in the Plan and Book section: http://www.visitnorway.com/us/What-to-do/Tours-Safaris/Cruise-Norway/Plan-and-book-your-cruise-to-Norway/. I am tentatively planning a month in Scandinavia for next summer and thinking about some time on the water most likely by ferry, so thanks for reminding me to do more research on that.

Posted by
349 posts

I've never been on a cruise so only have second-hand recommendations. Try googling "vacations to go" - this is an organisation that apparently has the latest discounts and I think would also book flights (have a friend who has had good experiences with them). As I'm hoping to cruise in Alaska I signed up for their weekly email roundup some time ago and they seem to have a lot of information.

Posted by
2 posts

I would recommend you avoid Hurtigruten. See my review on Trip Advisor: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g190475-d4681026-Reviews-Hurtigruten-Tromso_Troms_Northern_Norway.html Maybe we got extremely unlucky and the other ships are nicer, but we certainly had a terrible experience. If you aim to be on a cruise for 1-2 weeks, opt for a real cruise with amenities and things to do instead of a passenger and cargo transport ship like Hurtigruten.

Posted by
32 posts

Hi Jon,
Daniel is quite correct, Hurtigruten is not a cruise line although our experience was very different to his description on tripadvisor. If you would like a higher level of luxury and on board entertainment etc then Hurtigruten is not for you. But if you would like the chance to have a closer look at some of the smaller towns and the Norwegian coast then Hurtigruten might suit. The shipping line has several boats with daily departures fron Bergen. If you think that you might be interested check out their website and/or ask your travel agent for a brochure and see if they offer the sort of trip you are looking for. We traveled on the Kong Harald and really enjoyed it as have others that I know who have travelled on that ship. I also know people who have travelled with the larger cruise lines and they have loved their trips too. You just need to know what it is that does it for you.

Posted by
696 posts

I did read a number of reviews of Hurtigruten, and wondered if I was reading about a "parallel universe" that exists on the sea voyage along the west coast of Norway--one marvelous, the other a nautical prison. We want to see the small towns along the coast, and the natural scenery of the fjords, but we don't want to pack sandwiches to eat for the 6 days of the voyage, sleep on deck chairs at night, and not take baths for the time we're on the ship. I've researched the Hurtigruten situation a bit more and found a south-bound trip in mid September 2014, the cost is US$1,400 for double occupancy (not cheap); I assumed this would include clean linens daily, the bed made, warm running water in a private bath, and a decent breakfast, lunch and dinner (and a restful sleep each night). We don't need a spa, comedy acts, a casino, 15 different bars, and duty-free shopping, but on the other hand we don't want to be "camping" for 6 days and eating vending-machine snacks either. What other options are there to see the west coast of Norway?

Posted by
32 posts

Jon,
You are correct the cost includes clean linens daily, the bed made, warm running water in a private bath, and a decent breakfast, lunch and dinner (and a restful sleep each night)if you book a cruise. You can if you wish go with a more do it yourself approach and book as a point to point passenger, but you won't have a cabin, or bathroom and eat in the cafe, perfect for short trips but not much of a vacation. I do agree though that it is expensive.

Posted by
11798 posts

Scandinavian cruises are normally a choice of two options, Baltic Capitals or the Norwegian west coast to the arctic circle. To do both, you might consider two cruises in the same vacation. Each cruise line offers air transport (and transport from the airport to the ship) for a price. IMO that's never a good choice, it's more expensive than you can find separately and it's better to arrive a couple of days before your cruise to ensure you make your ship and allow you to acclamate to the time change. We chose a twelve night Baltic Capital cruise that started in Copenhagen, primarily because we could get a direct flight from Dulles. I don't regret the choice, Copenhagen has more to see and do than other Baltic ports. If you're looking to include Germany, there is a port called Warnemunde (near Rostock on the sea, even though they call it Berlin). You could fly anywhere in Germany, then pick up a cruise there. Most cruises end where they start, some give you a choice to disembark at another port. Check out vacationstogo.com. It's an online travel agency that specializes in cruises. I have yet to find a better search engine for cruise choices. I've booked several cruises through them and never had a problem, so I'll stick with them for now.

Posted by
956 posts

Another resource is cruisecritic.com . This week is a good time to price next year's cruises.

Posted by
11798 posts

Cruisecritic.com is a good source. While many there have much different tastes than I do, I get a good idea what excursions are available at different ports, what to expect from a given ship, and a roll call section to talk to others who will be on my cruise. I use cruisecritic to help decide both itinerary and ship before I book.