To some people the Norwegian Fjords appeal for the scenery, the peace and tranquility, and to others the Norwegian Fjords is somewhere they don’t fancy going to as is boring, not enough to do or is cold. I have now been on two Norwegian Fjord cruises and love the scenery, never found them boring and also have been able to be out on deck sitting in the sun (even on my last one in May)
I often get asked what to do in each port of call so here is my guide to the ports I have been to – this is an independent guide as I don’t normally take the organised shore excursions.
Flam: If you are the only ship in that day you will be alongside the quay, otherwise you will be on a tender. Flam is a small village and the main highlight of this village is the Flam railway which takes you up through the mountain to Myrdal. The train station is 100 yards from the quay and as we were the only ship in we took the risk and waited until we docked on the day to get our train tickets – we were able to get on the 07:20 train and the tickets cost £40 per person. I would recommend checking the cruise timetables and seeing how many other ships are in that day as it does get booked up and if this would be a highlight of your trip then to pre-book the train before going. The train will have a 5 minute stop on the way down by the waterfall and there is also a small surprise entertainment for the train passengers. In the town itself there is a couple of souvenir shops, a cafe, the railway museum which is free and a pub.
Skjolden: This is a tiny village with one cafe/pub, a souvenir shop and a library. However there is fantastic views to be had in this fjord, you can walk into the little village and will take about 15 minutes casually strolling. You can also hire bikes and some people went out on a RIB and taken round the fjord.
Alesund: Lovely town where you are able to walk off the ship and walk to either the Art Nouveau City centre or if feeling energetic you can climb Mount Aklsa (418 steps to the top) When you disembark the ship there will be the hop on hop off buses waiting and to do this was 200 NKR each, there was also a trolley train which cost 150 NKR – both would take you to the top of Mount Aksla without climbing the steps. We chose to do the train and after going to the Mount it then took us all round the Art Nouveau city centre and the trip took just over an hour. There is also an Aquarium in Alesund and the hop on bus will stop here.
Olden: I have called into this port twice – the first time we did a shore excursion to the Briksdal Glacier (one of the main things to do in Olden) and you can either choose to walk up the whole route or go up in the troll cars and walk the last 10 minutes – we chose to to do the troll cars. On the second time we decided to get on the Trolley train outside where the ship berths and this then took us on an hour tour round the small town and round to the lake where we could stop for photos. There are a few shops within the town and opposite the port, and again you can hire bikes or there is some hiking routes you can go on.
Geiranger: This is a stunning scenic port where tenders will be required. On the quayside there is about 3 souvenir shops and that’s it. I took the tour up to Mount Dalsnibba whilst I was here and there was lot of hairpin turns so don’t book this tour if that is something you won’t like. On top of Mount Dalsnibba the weather had changed from 17 degrees at the bottom to be -4 degrees at the top so wrap up warm for this trip. There is also many walking trails so if you are into hiking then this is a great place to walk.
Bergen: Is easy to walk from the ship into town. We made sure we were some of the first off so we could get to the funicular railway before the tour group did. The views at the top are stunning if on a clear day and then is walking trails at the top if you want to go off walking. The town centre is about a 15 minute walk and if you go along the harbour you will pass the Bryggen (wooden buildings), the fish market and then into the town centre.
Stavanger: The town is normally a 10-15 minute walk from the ship (depending on which berth you are in) One of the main highlights apparently is the Lysefjord pulpit rock which is an excursion which takes you out on another boat for about 3 hours and takes you to the pulpit rock – I have never done this so can’t comment on this excursion. I normally walk off the ship and into the town through the streets (bit like the lanes in Brighton) For the men there is the petroleum museum you can visit.
Obviously when we go off independently we do run the risk of missing out if the attraction is too busy or being late back and missing the ship. My advice is if there is something you specifically want to do and will ruin your trip if you miss out, then book the excursion – we now use a couple of companies which are cheaper than the ships prices but will still guarantee you won’t miss the ship. Just give me a call on 0800 408 6086 and we can get you booked on them
Have you called into these ports and got anything to add to the above? Do you normally book the shore excursions or like me are you happy with a map and go off to explore on your own?