Wake up surrounded by breath-taking fjords, ornate houses and endless flora and fauna on a Norwegian cruise. There are more than 1,000 fjords in Norway, 10 of which are frequented regularly by cruise lines such as Hurtigruten, Princess Cruises, Holland America Line and Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines.
The word ‘fjord’ derives from an ancient Viking term related to the phrase for “where you travel across.” The fjords were created by massive glaciation that went below sea level. Over a period of 2.5million years, the U-shaped valleys were carved out of the ground during a succession of glacial cycles.
Known as “the king of the fjords”, Sognefjord is the longest of the Norwegian fjords stretching more than 200 kilometres and measuring 1,308 metres at its deepest point. The Sognefjord is also among the widest fjords and has numerous far narrower side arms.
Listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO, Geirangerfjord is often said to be the most breath-taking of the fjords. There are three particularly well known waterfalls in Geirangerfjord; De syv søstrene (The Seven Sisters), Friaren (The Suitor) and Brudesløret (The Bridal Veil).
Also on the UNESCO world heritage list, Nærøyfjord has several elements in common with the Geirangerfjord. Surrounded by steep mountainsides and flowing waterfalls, Nærøyfjord is much narrower than its sources, only about 250 metres in some places. Traditional farms and other dwellings can be spotted in hillsides along the fjord.
You’re sure to have worked up an appetite after a morning of adventure. Norwegian cuisine utilises the freshest ingredients from sweet treats like wild berries, waffles and brown cheese to savoury reindeer, moose and lamb dishes. Catching and preparing fish has always been a big part of Norwegian culture, fresh king crab, salmon and the famous Atlantic “skrei” cod are especially popular.
Located in the far north are more than 250,000 reindeer. Reindeer meat is lean and delicious and can be found in many restaurants in a variety of forms; sausages, meatballs and more. Visiting Elverum? You’ll find Norway’s most famous moose restaurant, Elgstua Guest House. Elgstua have been serving delicious homemade food since 1959. Dishes include elggryte (moose stew) and flesk og dupe (fried bacon and potatoes). Norwegian lamb is especially tender and juicy as most of the animal’s graze in outlying pastures. Fårikål is a traditional lamb dish with cabbage and whole black pepper cooked for several hours and served with potatoes.
On a Hurtigruten Norwegian cruise you’ll have the opportunity to take part in local food tasting sessions. Try fresh shrimps in the Lyngenfjord in spring, cloudberries in autumn or freshly cooked fishcakes in winter. Want to raise a toast to a fantastic holiday? Over 3,000 years ago, Norwegians began brewing beer. Today that tradition lives on with lagers and innovative craft brews. Try Pilsner, a pale golden lager with a distinctive hoppy flavour, bayer, a dark malt lager with a sweet flavour or strong lagers such as juleøl and bokko.
If beer isn’t your thing, why not try cider? In Norway, apple cider can be served hot or cold. Its golden hue varies from light to dark depending on the preparation process and ingredients. In the 13th century, English monks introduced the locals to apples and now the Hardangerfjord region is home to 40 percent of the country’s fruit trees.
Vikingfjord is a very well-known brand of Norwegian vodka. It is distilled using water from the Jostedalsbreen glacier and is a bestseller in Norway. You can now purchase it in stores around the world but if you’re looking for things to do in Norway during your cruise, why not take part in a vodka tasting session?
One of the biggest attractions of Norway is the northern lights. Northern Norway is amongst the most comfortable and interesting places to see them and there are many tours available headed by knowledgeable locals.
The lights, also known as aurora borealis, appear in the sky when atoms and molecules in the upper atmosphere are hit by high energy electrons. They appear in a belt or an oval approximately 100 kilometres and when solar activity increases, the northern lights can be seen further south in Norway. They are most visible during spring (March/April) and autumn (September/October), though you will see them in November, December, January and February as well.
In winter, the average temperature in Norway is -44.2° Fahrenheit, which means it is very important to dress appropriately when heading out on a northern lights hunt. To keep warm at night we recommend three layers – a base layer of thin wool or synthetics to insulate, a mid layer of fleece or thicker wool and an outer layer of breathable, windproof and waterproof fabric. It’s also worth packing water, a hot drink, food and snacks, a ground pad, a headlamp or torch and a power bank or extra batteries.
The best way to photograph the northern lights is with a smartphone or camera on a tripod. If using a smartphone ensure it is set to no flash, manual focus and a shutter speed of 2 – 15 seconds. If using a camera, we suggest a wide angle lens, manual focus, aperture between f/1.4 and f/4 and a shutter speed from 2 seconds.
Late June to early August is when summer peaks, with temperatures reaching 30°c. You’ll experience more nights of midnight sun in the summer the further north you go. Like a prolonged sunset and sunrise all at one, this natural phenomena colours heaven and earth in a reddish yellow light.