You can’t wait to go to Norway and not see the fjords, right? Very much so, but not every Norwegian fjords cruise is the same. There are tons of options depending on your budget, travel style, priorities and preferences. Here is our ultimate guide to choosing the best one!
Important: Have in mind that any prices listed in this article are subject to change, so double check to make sure that the information provided here is still correct. We do our best to update it, but sometimes we could be late!
Know What To Expect
Cruising Northern Europe usually involves big cities like Oslo or St. Petersburg or heading over to Alaska to see the glaciers. Norway’s claim to cruising fame are the fjords. That is not to say you can’t see glaciers and even some polar bears up North. In general, though, Norwegian fjords cruises are about:
- The beautiful scenery
- The tiny villages, the cliffs, and the dramatic waterfalls
- Moving from city to city and exploring world-class museums, galleries, and foodie-favourite spots (ranging from fancy restaurants to small family-owned bakeries)
Norwegian Fjords Cruise Lines
The main Norwegian fjords cruise line is Hurtigruten.
They have daily departures and plenty of options to choose from. The atmosphere on board tends to be very relaxed and fun. These ships serve almost as ferries for locals to get from one place to another. They are a great place to get a taste of typical Norwegian way of life.
Dinners take place in a single restaurant and there is rarely entertainment, except for the occasional band. Hurtigruten is a nice mix of affordable and exciting but don’t expect cruise luxury from them.
Major cruise lines and most expedition lines also visit Norway. The Norwegian Cruise Line is a particularly “surprising” exception here, as is Disney.
Royal Carribean and the Holland America Line, on the other hand, offer plenty of itineraries that include Norway.
Norwegian Fjords Cruises Homeports
Oslo is the obvious point of departure for most Norwegian cruises. Other popular home ports outside of Norway are Hamburg, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Southampton, and Dover. Arctic cruises usually depart from Svalbard.
For longer cruises that include the Baltics and Russia, the departure port might be St. Petersburg, a port in the Baltics, or even Iceland.
Typical Norwegian Fjords Cruises
If the fjords are your main priority, longer Norway or others cruises don’t make much sense. A standard cruise of the fjords lasts between one and two weeks. You would be surprised at how many of these ships go very high up north, even reaching the Arctic.
The large cities on the itineraries are Oslo and Bergen, and there are also tinier scenic ports included.
The ‘cruise/ferry’ experience that Hurtigruten provide goes up and down the coastline with daily departures from most major ports.
There are also shorter cruises from Bergen (a city rightly called ‘the gateway to the fjords’). There are various round-trip options that bring you to the fjord and back for less than a day (and for much cheaper than an actual cruise would cost).
Shorter half-say cruises are also available, including the three-hour Bergen to Mostraumen tour.
Which brings me to:
Seeing The Fjords When You Have Little Time
Not all fjords cruises take a week. Some, as you already saw, could give you a taste of Norway’s most famous natural wonder for less than half a day.
The Bergen-Mostraumen cruise leaves at 10 AM and arrives at Mostraumen by 2 PM for a late lunch. It shows you the inner fjords that are close enough to Bergen for a 3-hour tour to be able to cover them.
The boat is comfortable, although definitely nothing fancy. It travels quite quick but it does slow down when you get to the fjord. Bear that in mind for your photo opportunities.
Once the speed drops, you know it’s time to whip out that camera!
You can book the Bergen-Mostraumen tour online at visitBergen but you would have to do it at least two days early. It costs 650 NOK or around 58 Euro for adults. If you get the Bergen card there is a 20% discount.
Make sure you would be using the card for other places of interest too, though, or else buying it would not be worth it.
There are also smaller boats around the port that offer fjords cruises. While I can’t recommend a nice one among them (you always risk falling into a tourist trap), there are surely a lot of good options among them.
The Hardangerfjord full-day round trip journey is another option for you.
It takes you to the inner reaches of the queen of Norway’s fjords. It includes a three-hour stop at Eidfjord. They have a tour on offer but frankly allowing yourself to get (just a little bit) lost in the tiny village is so much better.
You could take the troll train if you get tired of walking or grab a bite of delicious authentic Norwegian food (with a view!).
The adult ticket for this one 790 NOK (about 84 euro) and there are senior and student discounts. Children under 4 travel for free. Sadly, you can’t book online but the tourist office at Bergen has decent opening times and it is a place you would want to drop by anyway.
Hurtigruten Norwegian Fjords Cruises: How To Do Them Right
Hurtigruten can take most of the credit for Norway’s modernisation and that is not an overstatement. Hurtigruten was founded back in the 19th century as a passenger line of the coastline.
It allowed for a normal post service to exist, for travel that seemed impossibly long-distance before, and for all sorts of goods to reach the villages quickly and efficiently.
Today, you would still see the ship dropping the mail and passengers boarding it to visit family higher up the coastline. The Hurtigruten is a quintessentially Norwegian experience. And yes, it is also a Norwegian Fjords Cruise.
The ships depart from Bergen (at the bottom) and reach Kirkenes (at the very top) in seven days. The round-trip journey takes 12 days and there are daily departures, which means you will be crossing a lot of other Hurtigruten ships. There is a total of 34 stops along the way.
At some ports, you get hours, at others, it’s just 20 minutes to deliver the mail and pick up any new passengers.
You have various tour and activity options along the way. I would definitely recommend kayaking, as it gives you yet another cool perspective of the fjords. Of course, if sitting on the deck, silently admiring the scenery is more your thing, you will get plenty of time to do that.
Booking the Norwegian fjords cruise is fairly easy and straight-forward. Tickets will set you back around 1,200 Euro, and they include room and board. You would, of course, have to cover your own travel insurance.
Make sure to mention that you are going on a cruise before buying the insurance for your trip. It could mean that you need a different package. Obviously, I hope you never have to use it but better safe than stuck on a ship in a foreign country without valid insurance.
More Cruise Options For Seeing The Fjords
Longer, multiple country cruises are a terrific opportunity to see as much as you can in the limited amount of days off you can afford. Cruise Critic has a great comparison tool that you can use to explore Norwegian Fjords Cruises.
The Viking Sky and Costa two-week cruises around the Baltic sea are a lot of fun and you can often get a pretty awesome deal for them as well.
Viking Sky is a particularly great choice if you are looking for comfort and entertainment but not the full-blown luxury.
They are affordable but they include quite a lot. You get free high-speed internet on board, at least one excursion at every port, dining in any restaurant on board plus complimentary wine, beer, and soft drinks (the premium wines and the hard liquor are not included).
The downside is that their optional excursions run at the same time as the ones included in your fare. That means you would have to choose between the two.
Tips For Cruising The Fjords
Whether you are doing a quick trip to Norway with a couple of hours set aside for the fjords, or you are taking a multiple week and multiple country cruise, here are some tips for your Norwegian fjords cruise:
First off, budget beforehand and stick to it. Norway is pricey and it is very easy to overspend. While cruising is not always the most budget-friendly travel option, you can get a pretty good deal for it.
Just make sure you adjust your other expenses accordingly. If you don’t have unlimited resources, you would have to choose your priorities well.
Look for outdoor activities like kayaking but bring weather-appropriate clothing. Sudden rain is very common, even in summer.
Set your alarm and get up early to see the view. Not only is the light most photo-friendly in the early morning, but the ships tend to pass the best spots around that time. As tempting as it is to get some extra sleep (you are on vacation, right?), you won’t be sorry for waking up early.
Do you have any Norwegian fjords cruise tips of your own? If so, leave them in the comments below.