In June 2018 I took a cruise around the Norwegian Fjords with my lovely Mum. In this post, I’ll share with you the things I wish I knew before my first cruise to Norway. Including:
When to cruise to Norway
What to pack on a Norwegian Fjords cruise
What to do onboard
What to do in: Bergen, Olden, Stavanger and Aldalsnes.
When is the best time to cruise the Norwegian Fjords?
The Norwegian Fjords cruising season runs from May until September. The only cruise line that offers Norwegian Fjords cruises all year round is Hurtigruten. Peak time tends to be in July and August with this itinerary being particularly popular with families.
In the UK children are off school from mid-July until early September so if you can avoid travelling at this time I would, not only will it be busier but it’ll be significantly more expensive!
When is The Best Time to Cruise to Norway? – Season Price Guide
Norwegian Fjords tip #1
- I would recommend cruising at the beginning or end of the summer season. You’ll get the best deals at this time and the ships won’t be too busy. May-June or September would be be my recommendation. You still have a good chance of some sunshine but more on that later in the post…
Norwegian Fjords tip #2
Be aware that if you travel in the summer, it will be light a lot of the time. Sleeping is never a problem for me, but it is a bit confusing when you have been out for dinner, watched the show, come out and it is still daylight! – Gaynor Le Teace (my mum)
It’s true! In some parts of Norway they even have a ‘midnight sun’. Cruise ship cabins usually have pretty thick curtains so I don’t have any trouble sleeping but if you are somebody who cannot tolerate even the smallest amount of light in the room when you sleep then you might want to consider an inside cabin.
What is the weather like on a Norwegian Fjords cruise?
The weather in Norway is unpredictable and very often wet. The weather in Summer SHOULD be dry and can even be pretty warm. We cruised in June and it rained every single day… However, I have a few friends who cruised two weeks earlier had glorious sunshine every day and temperatures reached 30c! (90f). I would not base your decision on when to go around the weather. It’s extremely unpredictable!
The weather means that you need to remember to bring the following things…
What to bring
Norwegian Fjords tip #3
- Take sensible shoes, a waterproof jacket, jeans, jumpers (sweaters). As I mentioned above we had rain every single day. Annoyingly the UK was experiencing a heat wave at the time! A waterproof jacket/a coat is without a doubt the most important thing you should pack. I wore my red coat every single day.
Norwegian Fjords tip #4
- Make sure you pack some dresses/shorts! This one might seem a bit silly given what I said above but the weather can reach 30c (90f). It can also vary a lot between ports so just because you have one rainy day doesn’t mean it will rain for the entire cruise.
Norwegian Fjords tip #5
Pack some small binoculars – I forgot mine. Obviously didn’t pay enough attention to the holiday packing spreadsheet in my excitement! – Gaynor Le Teace (my mum)
The views are INCREDIBLE as you sail around the Norwegian Fjords. I don’t really use binoculars but mum likes to so if you’d like to spy on people as you go by it can be worth packing binoculars. A good camera with a zoom can also work the same way.
Norwegian Fjords tip #6
- Bring the best camera you have! (Or at least your phone). All of my photos were taken on my iPhone because quite frankly I have no idea how to use a decent DSLR camera. You’ll want to take SO many photos. Look at this!! It’s INCREDIBLE.
Norwegian Fjords tip #7
- Bring your phone and use it. I usually say you should keep your phone in airplane mode when you are at sea. However, when cruising around the Norwegian Fjords you’re often close enough to land to be able to pick up 4G from land. If you are in doubt about how your phone will work at sea I have another post about that here: How do mobile phones work at sea?(If you’re American a mobile phone = a cell phone). I know we don’t go on cruises to spend all of our time on our phone but being able to send messages/emails/photos to friends and family back home is always a bonus.Mum mostly used it to send photos of me to my dad…
What to do onboard
These tips are general to the whole of Norway. There are more specific tips about the ports that we visited at the end of this post.
Norwegian Fjords tip #8
Book a balcony cabin!
- This one might sound strange coming from me because I’m usually such an advocate for inside cabins but… book a balcony cabin if you can. I am usually a massive fan of inside cabins but I do believe you’d miss out if you had an inside cabin for a Norwegian Fjords cruise. There are amazing views almost all the time and it would be a shame to miss even a second! If you do book an inside cabin make sure you don’t spend too much time in your room. Inside cabins can be a great place to wash and sleep but aren’t really the best place to spend your days.If you fancy finding out a little more about inside cabins check out this post: Are inside cabins claustrophobic?
Norwegian Fjords tip #9
- Make sure you book whatever tours you’d like to do as early as possible. We booked ours onboard and a lot of them were already sold out which limited our options. Ideally, you should book the tours before you travel. It’s usually possible to do this on the website of most cruise lines. If not try and book the tours on the first day to avoid disappointment!I am below looking very pleased with myself at the Briksdal glacier in Olden.
Norwegian Fjords tip #10
- Be aware that a lot of things are closed on Sundays! If you are docking on a Sunday don’t assume that shops will be open. It’s always best to do your research and check before you cruise.
Norwegian Fjords tip #11
- Look out for weird things in the souvenir shops… I managed to find a whale sausage!
Norwegian Fjords tip #12
Always get up early to see the sail in to port, the views are incredible. (Even if you have to wear the aforementioned jeans, jacket, jumper, hat etc. – Gaynor Le Teace (my mum)
Norwegian Fjords tip #13
- Bring your quilt onto the balcony! (Duvet). I’m not kidding. If you can also make yourself a cup of tea that’ll make it even better! I mostly had to do this because I hadn’t planned for such cold weather so didn’t bring the right clothes. Hopefully by reading this post you won’t make the same mistake that I did! (I thought June would be okay!)
Norwegian Fjords tip #14
Unless there is somewhere you particularly wish to visit, look at at the weather forecast before booking excursions.
It is rathera waste of money to book an expensive trip up a mountain or to see the Troll Wall when everything is shrouded in fog, and you can’t see anything anyway! When we got to the top of the funicular railway in Bergen this is the view that we were greeted with…
This is what it was meant to look like!
In the next section of this post, we talk about the ports of Bergen, Olden, Stavanger and Andalsnes.
Bergen cruise port tips
Norwegian Fjords tip #15
- Take the funicular railway! The number one attraction in Bergen appears to be the funicular railway. It is a gentle stroll to the bottom of the railway, and easy to pay by credit card – no kroner needed. Approx £9.75 for two adults one way. Once at the top it is a lovely walk back down the hill on a tarmacked road, through the wooded hillside. No need to pay for an excursion!. We found out from a fellow passenger later that there is actually a lake ten minutes from top of the hill, may be worth a look if its a sunny day.
Norwegian Fjords tip #16
- If you do take the funicular railway go later in the day. We went in the morning and couldn’t see a thing because of the fog! We could have been anywhere. If you are physically able to,make sure you walk back down. The path is a winding road and you’ll see some amazing sights along the way! It was really cool for us to be able to get below the clouds and see the ships.
Norwegian Fjords tip #17
- Look out for the trees that have their own jumpers! I’m not kidding.
Norwegian Fjords tip #18
- Be aware that you may sail away from Bergen quite early. I’m not too sure why they do this but a sail away of 3 pm can be quite standard. It’s probably just because this is the last port on the itinerary for cruise lines like P&O and Princess. The cruise line will let you know what time the ship is set to sail.
Stavanger Cruise Tips
Norwegian Fjords tip #19
- Visit the old town. It is easy to wander around is and genuinely just a lovely place! There will be a lot of tourists here. I wonder what it would be like to live in one of these houses with thousands of tourists wandering up and down your street. No wonder they all have net curtains.
Norwegian Fjords tip #20
- Visit the petroleum museum. Okay, this one is a little weird. I had no idea that there was a petroleum museum in Stavanger but SO many people have asked me if I went. They all seem to love it! It has a 4.5/5 star rating on trip advisor so must be something special…
Norwegian Fjords tip #21
- Be careful when walking around the roads. Even in the newer part of town, the roads can be a little difficult. If you are in a wheelchair it may be a good idea to stick to the main streets and not venture up and down all of the little cobbled streets that I found myself wandering around.
Norwegian Fjords tip #22
- Check out the other ships. There are usually multiple cruise ships docked in Stavanger at the same time. Make sure you get out and have a peek at the other ships! This is always one of my favourite things to do in a port. We were docked beside the MSC Orchestra and the Viking Sun. (Bit ironic since it rained every day on this cruise).
Norwegian Fjords tip #23
- Wander around the lake at Stravanger park. There is a lovely little park not too far from the cruise port. It is easy to walk there and wandering around the lake is very pleasant. Even in the rain, it was lovely. The park is right beside a cathedral.
Olden Cruise Tips
Norwegian Fjords tip #24
- Have your photo taken with a troll. Go on, you know you want too!
Norwegian Fjords tip #25
- Visit the Briksdal glacier. I would 100% recommend doing this. The glacier is SO COOL (mind the pun) and there are lots of lovely paths to walk around near it. There is even a couple of toilets here which I really appreciated. It takes around 45 minutes to get here from the cruise ship but you’ll get to see some amazing views on the way.
Norwegian Fjords tip #26
- Skip the Loen Skylift. We took the Loen Skylift and I honestly wouldn’t recommend it. The price of this is around £50 per person! (I know Norway is expensive but that is mad). The skylift only goes up and down every 30 minutes and 35 people fit in one skylift meaning you can’t really see anything on the way up or down. I really hate to be negative and tell people not to do things but I honestly just thought this was a waste of money. The views are really good but I don’t think £50 worth of good. Maybe it would have been better if it wasn’t so blooming cold!!
Norwegian Fjords tip #27
- Take as many photos of the ship as you can! There is NO better backdrop than that of the Norwegian Fjords. Even in bad weather, the ships look amazing. I honestly think the clouds and fog add a little something which makes it seem mysterious?!
Norwegian Fjords tip #28
- Do NOT miss the sail away! As we departed Olden a small cafe on the ship blasted out ‘I am sailing’ by Rod Stewart followed by ‘Time tooo…. say… goooddbyyyyyeee’ by Katherine Jenkins. Don’t pretend you didn’t just sing that in your head. I did!
Andalsnes Cruise Tips:
Norwegian Fjords tip #29
- Take a gamble on the troll wall? I’m not TOO sure if this really counts as a tip but I would say think twice about booking a trip to the bottom of troll wall. If the weather is bad you won’t see a thing. I hadn’t ever looked up the troll wall before so I had no idea what I was meant to be seeing.
Norwegian Fjords tip #30
- Head UP the troll wall. I made some friends on this cruise and they told me that they had been UP the troll wall and had amazing views from up there. If I went again I would pick a tour that took you to the top of the wall whereas ours just took us to the bottom where we stared up at the clouds.
Other bonus tips!
Norwegian Fjords tip #31
Put a currency converter on your phone for Norwegian Kroner. Its pretty expensive, and you don’t want to get a nasty shock when you open your credit card bill! Do you really need a wooden troll or reindeer sausages? I think not… – Gaynor Le Teace (my mum)
Norwegian Fjords tip #32
- Eat as much food as you can on the ship so that you don’t have to eat in port… Norway is really expensive and I have no interest in paying for food when I have an unlimited supply on the ship! Make sure you eat a big breakfast and you’ll be fine for a while. If you have kids though it may be worth bringing some snacks.
My cruise onboard Britannia
This was my first P&O cruise and I was REALLY impressed with the food and service onboard. If you are cruising onboard Britannia make sure you check out this post. Britannia is an amazing ship but she is HUGE and it can be difficult to make the most of your time onboard.
I also filmed a tour video when I was onboard and will be posting daily vlogs in each port.
Are you taking a cruise around the Norwegian Fjords? (Or would you like to?)
If you have any questions please leave a comment or join our Facebook group (Cruising Isn’t Just For Old People). We have 1600+ members all of whom would love to answer your questions and see your photos/hear your stories!
Packing for a Norwegian Summer Cruise
That's why it is important to pack lots of shorts, vests, and waterproof clothing items to stay comfortable throughout your trips. You might need some long-sleeved tees for outdoor excursions, but make sure you have enough short-sleeved t-shirts for casual wear.
As April turns to May, snow melts and Norway's fjords become very colourful, with wildflowers in bloom and blossom on trees. May is also when most accommodation is open – so most fjord tours will start from now. Late June to mid August is the busy time of year in fjordland, with the weather at its mildest.
Not only is the country's western coastline full of scenic and, in summer, green and lush forested fjords but it's also known for its quaint, colorfully painted coastal houses. The sailing route along the coast and into the fjords is one of the prettiest in the world -- a great reason to take a Norwegian Fjords cruise.
In most fjords, you go into, and out, the same way. So side of the ship doesn't matter. You will see one side going in, and the other coming out. Of course, that only applies if the ship locks you in your cabin, and aren't roaming all over the ship.
In Norway we use the currency "kroner". Bills and coins are less and less used here, but it is still a good idea to have some cash on you. Debit or credit cards are accepted more or less everywhere. The "kroner" is subdivided into 100 "øre", similarly to American pennies or British pence.
The fjords are very calm, but any open sea can be rough. Our worst crossing was Oslo to Southampton a few years ago when it was a 5-6m swell and very high winds across the bow, but the ship hardly moved.
Yes - you can view the Northern Lights on one of our Norwegian cruises, however we can't guarantee their appearance! The aurora borealis is near impossible to predict, but sightings are more likely on clear nights between October and March, and odds increase the further north you travel.
The transition from spring to summer brings consistently milder temperatures and low humidity for exploring any of the Norwegian fjords. In the southern fjords, like the Sognefjord, temperatures typically linger in the high 60s during the day, dropping to the low-50s Fahrenheit at night.
- Navigate the fjords. Cruising through the deep-blue waters of Norway's UNESCO-protected fjords is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. ...
- Go glacial. ...
- Walk in the footsteps of Vikings. ...
- Bask in the midnight sun. ...
- Visit charming seaside cities. ...
- Tuck into the regional cuisine. ...
- Relax on board.
Geirangerfjord is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and arguably the most famous fjord on the planet. Known for its deep blue waters, towering mountain peaks and abundant waterfalls, Geirangerfjord is the place to go for striking scenery.
The best way to visit the Norwegian fjords is by joining a fjord cruise package based on eco-friendly travel by local transport. The trips include all transport & hotels en route, amazing fjord cruises and spectacular train rides such as the Flam Railway & the Bergen Line.
Normally the inner fjords are calm, but weather is unpredictable any time of year so it is really hard to predict. Rainy days are also common.
Fresh air. For me, this is the big reason to get a balcony cabin. At any time of the day — or night — you can slide open your balcony door and breathe in the fresh ocean air. You'll also be able to hear the sounds of the waves as they crash against the bow of your ship.
If you don't have a stomach of steel, the cruise ship cabins to avoid are the ones located in parts of the ship that could make you queasy, at the front or back. A deluxe suite at the front of the ship might come with lots of perks, but you won't be able to enjoy them with your head in the toilet.
The best deck on a cruise ship to avoid seasickness is the lowest passenger deck. This is because the top of a ship sways from side to side much more than the bottom. To avoid motion sickness, choose a cabin close to the waterline.
Drink prices in Norway
Coffee or tea costs 25-30 NOK/ 3-4 EUR. Cappuccino or late costs around 50 NOK / 5 EUR. Beer prices at a café usually start around 70- 90 NOK/ 7-9 EUR.
In Norway, tipping is not cumpolsory. It is however usual for Norwegians to leave a tip in restaurants and bars if they are happy about the service. A 10-20% tip is expected if the customer is satisfied. For Norwegians it's uncommon to tip taxi-drivers or cleaning staff at hotels.
|Water (12 oz small bottle)||26.89kr|
|Milk (regular), (1 gallon)||73.33kr|
|Loaf of Fresh White Bread (1 lb)||25.56kr|
June, July and August are the best months to go to Norway for warmer temperatures and longer days. The warmest month in Norway is July, when there's the fabled midnight sun – ideal for hiking, cycling, kayaking and berry picking.
Southern coastal areas of Norway's fjords usually have the highest temperatures. For instance, Flåm, a village along the Sognefjord, sees average highs in 60° F (lows of 44°) in May. The fjords situated north of the Arctic Circle, however, are a bit more fickle.
Dress in layers with warm clothing inside and windproof and waterproof outer layer. A light scarf, light head cover and light gloves can be useful if you want spend time outdoor. Hello Hamged, Whatever the season, the Norwegian weather is liable to change from day to day.
Wear layers of thermal underwear and wool sweaters, thermal leggings and snow pants, really warm socks, good shoes, windproof jacket, a hat, warm gloves, and also hand warmers.
April is a good month to explore Norway by foot, train, rental car, coastal steamer, and/or fjord cruise with more route options and fewer closures following the winter season.