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Norway/Arctic Circle Cruise. Midway update

1/2 way update:
The scenery is spectacular all along the coast! I had high expectations but these have been exceeded. A cruise seems like an ideal way to view coastal scenery and watch how the topography changes as one travels north. One trade off is minimal contacts with Norwegians themselves, but oh, the coastal scenery.

My favorite port stop so far has been the Lofoten Islands. We had the most interaction with locals here and the scenery is quite dramatic. Between the jagged mountains, sunshine, and white sand beaches one could easily picture themself in Hawaii. Well, there are a few palm trees missing from the picture here north of the Arctic Circle….

Shore excursions have been mixed from “I learned a lot “ to “why did I waste my money on that”. My favorites have been a walk to a lighthouse in Haugesund and touring the Lofoten Islands. Most disappointing was the folk museum in Trondheim, primarily because of lack of time at the venue.

I feel like port stops are a bit of a teaser since I find I would love to spend more time. I do feel like I am getting a brief introduction to Norway that I will want to follow up more on later.

The weather has been sunny and warm each day and I am quite thankful. I hope it keeps up through our next two port stops , Tromso and the North Cape.

Original post
I’m very much looking forward to the next two weeks exploring the Norwegian coast line. I’ll report back here periodically on the trip. There has been a great deal of “anti-cruise” discussion on the forum with concerns about the impact on communities, the environment, and non-cruise passengers wanting fewer tourists around. I acknowledge that those concerns are out there and are real. I am hoping to avoid those types of discussions on this thread. I just want to share my journey and what I learn along the way.

I’m a firm believer that there are multiple ways to travel and it is ok if we don’t all make the same choices. My choice was made when a location I been interested in for a long time (Norway) became available at a very reasonable price if I went on the cruise. I’ve added up my anticipated expenses for this 18 day trip and I don’t think that it could be done in a more economical way, particularly with a country that tends to be on the more expensive side. Food, lodging, entertainment, shore excursions, and transport (excluding airfare) work out to an average of $139 a day .

So, today I fly to Heathrow, spend tomorrow night at an airport hotel, and then transfer by National Express to Southampton to board my cruise. Then it’s off to Norway…….

Posted by
3350 posts

We loved Norway Carol and I think cruising is a great way to see the country. Enjoy your cruise and please come back to tell us about it. Are you on Hurtigruten?

Posted by
184 posts

Carol,

Thank you for this post. A trip to Norway is on my list. I was interested to see that a cruise may be as economical or more economical than independent travel. I look forward to reading more about your journey.

Happy and safe travels.

Traveler Girl

Posted by
6669 posts

Good for you, hope you have a wonderful time. Hurtigruten runs ships up and down the Norwegian coast but I didn't think they went to Southampton, my guess is you're on a different line. I'd love to do a trip like yours and I can't believe it's so inexpensive. Please let us know how it's going, but don't waste too much time posting when you could be enjoying the long days and beautiful scenery!

Posted by
14241 posts

I am looking forward to hearing about your cruise! Norway had never really been on my radar BUT with my upcoming trip to Orkney and Shetland there is a strong tie between the 2 areas which has piqued my interest. I am reading The Shetland Bus which was a covert operation in WWII using Norwegian fishermen and their fishing boats to go back and forth between the 2 areas carrying covert operators, supplies etc and bring back refugees.

Travel well!!

(PS - The coconut cake from Floret in SEA-TAC is awesome if you need a load of sweet before you get on the plane, lol!)

Posted by
597 posts

Friends of mine are doing the same this week heading as far as Tromso. Norway is a country to see from the water! For anyone not wanting to go by ‘cruise ship’, the Hurtigruten ferry is another option. As I said on another thread Norway seems to be having its moment this summer; some may be ready for the cooler temperatures there:) Enjoy!

Posted by
674 posts

We don't do cruises often, but there are a few places we have/hope to, and the Norwegian coast line would be one of them. This year we will experience Norway by car, but we hope cruising the coast will be in our future when we no longer want to rent a car. Safe and fun travels to you!

Posted by
7612 posts

Carol, bon voyage!

Will you be heading to Geiranger, at the tip of the Geirangerfjord? We just added it to our agenda for the trip in September. I’d be very interested to know what activities, and where, and for how long, you might do off-ship in the Geiranger area.

Do you have on-shore activities already planned for the two weeks, or will any be planned closer to when you dock that day?

Posted by
5114 posts

Carol, have a great cruise. I'm looking forward to your reports. May I ask which line you are cruising on?

Posted by
6682 posts

Carol,

Just enjoy it. I totally agree that cruising is the most economical way to see the Norwegian Coast. But to get it for $139/day (under £120) including shore excursions (at the prices the American lines charge for excursions) is a sensational deal.

Hurtigruten do very occasionally sail out of Dover or the Pool of London (sometimes other ports like Falmouth) with ships returning from the Antarctic season to the Norwegian summer.

It'll be interesting to hear the difference between an American cruise line in Norway vs my experiences of a UK line and of Hurtigruten.

Posted by
54 posts

Carol-can't wait to hear about your trip! I've been eyeing up a cruise around Norway, Iceland and some of the more remote British islands for a while. I figured that it would be an easy way to get between some of these areas.
Bon voyage!

Posted by
3258 posts

Best Wishes Carol!

It sounds like you got a great deal...I'll be anxious for updates.

Safe travels!

Posted by
464 posts

Have a fabulous time! My husband and I went on a nine night cruise from Dover, UK to Norway in June. You will see some of the most amazing scenery. I figured it was the least expensive way for us to go to Norway and wanted to do it before Norway bans some cruise ships from some ports.

Posted by
86 posts

Have a wonderful time. We just returned from a cruise to the Hebrides, Faroes, Shetland and Norway. It was fabulous. The scenery in Norway is stunning.

Posted by
11368 posts

We are not “cruisers” but loved our Hurtigruten trip from Bergen to Kirkenes, fabulous. Not a “cruise ship” rather an expeditionary ship experience, fabulous! Enjoy! We loved our trip to Norway then went on to Sweden and Voprnhsgen.

Posted by
46 posts

Carol,
Please do report back on your trip!
Happy travels.

Posted by
3985 posts

We and 4 other couples are booked on a Holland America 14 night cruise up the coast of Norway next May. We leave and return to Rotterdam. I’m excited for you and hope you do a trip report on the different ports. We don’t plan on taking any excursions but will do our own thing.

Posted by
7009 posts

Ha ha ha, Joe! Carol, enjoy cruising with the Vikings!

Seriously, I hope you have a wonderful time and I can't wait to hear about it! It sounds incredible!

Posted by
7446 posts

Joe32F, now we know how Carol secured such a great price!

Seriously, Carol, I hope you have a great time! Glad to hear details from a variety of travel styles from our forum.

Posted by
8615 posts

Update #1:
My flight to London went well. Lots of empty seats and well behaved children. The only bump in the road was when I was waking up at my airport hotel the next morning and managed to fall out of bed (I can’t believe I did this) and gave myself a black eye. I’ve been working on trying to come up with a more exciting explanation for the curious…..

National Express bus to Southampton and then cab to ship. I will say that National Express from Heathrow is about 1/3 of the cost of a cruise line transfer and very easy to do.

I spent the first day of the cruise, which was a sea day, working on getting over jet lag and was ready to go at out first port of call, Haugesund. I signed up for a shore excursion entitled “lighthouse walk” that brought us to the trailhead for the Ryvarden Lighthouse which was a pleasant approximate 3 mile round trip over rocky outcrops filled with heather and the occasional sheep. The views were lovely and the weather perfect. At the lighthouse we were treated to a talk about the history of the light and a snack of waffles. A person with transport could easily do this walk on their own. It has a few steep stretches, but it should be doable for most people. Many families were also taking this walk as a day out.

I am enjoying watching the Norwegian coast line as we are sailing along.

One plus are destination and enrichment lectures on board. The destination lectures give background on the upcoming port stops and the enrichment series focuses on history. We had a presentation about the U boat war as we crossed the North Sea.

Posted by
7009 posts

Oh no, Carol, sorry about the black eye! Ouch! But I guess it could have been worse. Hopefully it's not too painful.

Thanks for the report so far - it sounds wonderful! And hallelujah for the empty seats and well-behaved children! You lucked out! 😀

Posted by
1970 posts

Thanks for the update.

Sorry about the fall out of bed and the black eye but you were fortunate that all you got was a black eye. Falls are a terrible thing especially for older people.

You have been.a big help to me.

I hope you will keep us all updated about your trip. I will be following your trip.

Posted by
4174 posts

"I’ve been working on trying to come up with a more exciting explanation for the curious….."

How about, "You should've seen the other guy..."

Thanks for the update. Looking forward to more if you have time.

Posted by
486 posts

Yes…you may say cruise….and yours sounds fabulous! Sorry about your fall tho!? We also cruise…avoid mega ships. And prefer lines that provide lectures, history and info of port areas. Cruising gets you places that land tours just can’t do and in a timely way. Just seems this is a wonderful way to explore the fiords and coast of Norway! You inspire us all…happy travels!

Posted by
2495 posts

Hi,

We are just back from our cruise to the Arctic and Norwegian fjords with NatGeo/Lindblad so I will be interested in reading about your experience and your cruise. I will be doing a report on our cruise experience in a week or so. Right now I am trying to get my head on straight as I am jet lagged and sleep deprived.

Posted by
1970 posts

Have not heard of Hurtigruten until this post. I went to the site and was very pleasantly surprised at how reasonably priced some of the cruises up / down the Norwegian coast are.

And better yet, some are no single supplement. Thank you Hurtigruten.

As someone who travels alone, I appreciate no single supplement or studio rooms for the solo passenger.

Equally I greatly appreciate hotels that offer small rooms for the solo traveler.

Posted by
8615 posts

@Bostonphil. I am currently on Princess. I could not find the price point I needed with Hurtigruten although they are definitely well regarded. There is a search engine, cruiseplum.com, that has a special feature for solo travelers. You can put in filters such as destination, length of cruise or cruise line, and it will show you the solo supplement deals. If you click on “best deals” you will find cruises with supplements that are between 0-20%.

Posted by
486 posts

Carol…I just checked on Princess itinerary for Norway and Scandinavia. Some really good itineraries. Reasonable pricing. We like Princess. Medium sized ships. Enjoy the gorgeous looking views!

Posted by
8615 posts

Update #2
Two fabulous port stops at Andalsnes and Trondheim. Sea day tomorrow.

What has been working great: Stunning Scenery, low over-all cost, not packing unpacking all the time, mostly congenial travel companions. (There have been a few exceptions)
What is missing: Interactions with locals and time at locations that seems longer than a sound bite. I miss the professionalism of Rick Steves guides on shore excursions. They have set the bar high for me on what a quality guide is.

I knew there would be some trade offs with cruising and I am satisfied that I am getting pretty much what I expected. It is overall a very positive experience, but it does leave me feeling like I have unfinished business in Norway.

At Andalsnes I took the gondola up the mountain where there were hiking trails and amazing scenery galore. At Trondheim I visited the Open Air Folk Museum and the Cathedral. Our visit coincided with St Olav days so there was a great deal of community activities happening and quite a crowd.

Posted by
6682 posts

Interesting to see that Andalsnes has a cable car now, new since I was last there, pre Covid. Last time I was there on a cruise I took an excursion to Rodven Stave Church- a rare example of me taking a Cruise Ship excursion.

By the way the stave Church is a prime example of Rome 2 Rio bad advice- R2R says the Church is a 24 minute walk from the closest bus stop- it is, except the stop is the opposite side of the fjord!

Posted by
1970 posts

checked out cruiseplum

I sail Norwegian and I believe that Princess is considered. a step or two up. I have sailed Norwegian seven times and now have built up rewards. Since i only can afford. a few more cruises money wise and believe that I am running out of time age wise, I think that I will stay with Norwegian.

Cruises are a tease. You are seeing some places that you wish you could spend more time in and you can. It is called going back to that place.

You can always go back to anywhere that you are seeing on a cruise. You got. a taste of it, a sample. Now go back for the whole meal another time.

I have been looking at Norway / Iceland cruises. Actually I was booked on one for 2022 but Norwegian could not get the new ship built in time (supply chain issues) and I opted to do a second Alaska cruise. It was ok but I wish that I had chosen to do another European one.

Posted by
486 posts

How are you by now Carol? I am considering a Princess 14 day Norway cruise and wonder if you felt like you entered and experienced the fiords? That’s what interests me most! Also some northern lights would be appreciated. This would be a later Sept cruise nxt year. Colder and darker I am sure! Just so skies are clear then. I sure enjoyed your post. Norway sounds beautiful!

Posted by
486 posts

Just seeing heavy rains and damaging flooding! Carol your weather sounds even more perfect! Sure hope things don’t become worse for them with more rain predicted!?