See Norway's fjords and more than a thousand miles of stunning coastline from the comfort of a cruise ship.
Cruise ships offer a unique way of seeing the best of the Norwegian coastline, some of the country's biggest cities, small coastal communities and the world-famous fjords, all without needing to worry about accommodation, food or transport.
Many passengers were inspired the Disney film Frozen, so much so that the company even run its own Frozen-themed Norwegian cruise!
Some of the world's biggest cruise ships call at Norwegian ports from time to time. Whenever a large ship is in dock, locals tend to come out to greet the ship. When the Adventure of the Seas called at Trondheim, guests were greeted with cannon fire.
The distinctive Hurtigruten ships are a true icon of Norwegian travel.
There's even a Hurtigruten museum on the Vesterålen islands! For more than 100 years, the fleet of ships have worked the coastline of Norway providing a valuable cargo delivery and passenger ferry service.
These days, the vessels serve a dual-purpose as cruise ships that offer a 12-day roundtrip voyage from Bergen to Kirkenes and back. Many passengers combine the trip with a couple of days sightseeing in Bergen or a trip on the world-famous Bergen railway to Oslo.
The experience is not like a traditional cruise. There is no formal dress for meals, and both breakfast and lunch are served buffet-style. There is no live entertainment per se, the coastal scenery is the principal attraction. Having said that, many optional excursions are offered, along with occasional talks about Norwegian society and culture.
Combine a visit to some of Norway's best coastal towns with a cruise in the Nordic and Baltic countries, the UK, and even the Mediterranean.
For example, the 21-night Baltic Jewels & Norwegian Fjords cruise begins and ends in Amsterdam, and calls at Bergen, Ålesund, the Hardangerfjord and the Geirangerfjord along with stops in Russia, Estonia, Sweden, Denmark and Germany.
Viking Ocean Cruises
Founded by a Norwegian in 1997, the company unsurprisingly offers a range of Nordic and Baltic cruises that incorporate several ports of call in Norway. Although a relative newcomer to the ocean cruise market, Viking has been carrying passengers on river cruises for many years.
Norwegian Cruise Line
Cruise Scandinavia, Russia & the Baltic like never before on board the newest ships in the NCL fleet, the Norwegian Getaway and the Norwegian Breakaway. NCL now offer an all-inclusive package on most of their cruises, so you'll know what you'll be paying up front.
Ships to/from Denmark and Germany
While not fully-fledged cruise ships, the regular ships that shuttle between Denmark and Germany are an interesting alternative to a cruise for those travelling overland from Europe.
Stena Line‘s Stena Saga sails between Fredrikshavn at the northern tip of Denmark and Oslo every day and is popular among locals for a weekend break.
Color Line run a similar service between Oslo and Kiel in northern Germany. Both lines offer return packages with accommodation and meals thrown in. The company also runs a service from Hirtshals in Denmark to Larvik and Kristiansand in Norway.
Popular ports of call
Oslo: Most ships stop here for several hours at a minimum to allow passengers to see the best of the Norwegian capital.
Kristiansand: Southern Norway's biggest city and a hit in the summer with domestic tourists. The city's beaches are a popular draw.
Stavanger: Norway's oil capital is also the gateway to the Lysefjord and the famous Preikestolen cliff.
Bergen: A picturesque and historic city on the west coast. Many of Bergen's attractions are within walking distance of the port, including the Bryggen heritage site.
Ålesund: Norway's most unique town thanks to its distinctive architecture and waterside location.
Geirangerfjord: A draw for visitors from all around the world, cruise ships sail here daily throughout the summer and stop at Geiranger or Hellesylt at either end of the fjord.
Flåm: Passengers here are treated to (usually) a sight of the famous Nærøyfjord and a trip on the beautiful Flåm railway.
Trondheim: Central Norway's historic city is perfect for a walking tour to take in the old town and Nidaros Cathedral.
Lofoten: An experience you'll never forget. The dramatic granite mountains of the Lofoten archipelago rise from the sea like a giant stone wall.
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