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Cruising the Norwegian Fjords: Cruise Review

by Sabine Rautenberg, PassPorter Message Board Guide (Moderator)
Last modified 04-12-2012 > Articles > Disney Cruise Line > Making Magic  

With the Disney Fantasy joining Disney's fleet of cruise ships this year, Disney Cruise Line now has two large ships that cater to the Bahamian and Caribbean markets.

That leaves the Disney Magic and the Disney Wonder to venture into more exotic waters. One of the new destinations that Disney Cruise Line has added in recent years is Alaska. This is hardly surprising, as Alaska cruises enjoy great popularity. Also, in 2010, the Disney Magic sailed in the Baltic Sea, offering a very limited number of 12-night cruises with ports of call such as Copenhagen, Oslo, and Stockholm. With this in mind, one could wonder if sooner or later, Disney Cruise Line might try to combine those two experiences into a brand new itinerary. How’s that possible, you ask? Simple, take the fjords that cruisers love to see in Alaska and mix them with the location of the Baltic cruises, i.e. Scandinavia. What you get is a cruise along the Norwegian fjords! I’d say that’s reason enough to take a closer look.

Cruises that sail along the Norwegian coastline are rather popular among European cruisers. The classic way to see the fjords is aboard a Hurtigruten ship. While these ships have served as packet ships (or mailboats) for almost 120 years, they've always been passenger liners as well. They service 35 ports between Bergen in the south of Norway, and Kirkenes in the north, right by the Russian border. While stops at the smaller ports only last long enough to deliver mail and have people embark and disembark, the ships do linger long enough in major ports to allow for port excursions. A Hurtigruten ship departs from Bergen daily, and passengers can chose where they embark and disembark. Foreign visitors usually opt for a 7-night cruise from Bergen to Kirkenes or a 12-night roundtrip. As far as cruise ship convenience is concerned, it is fair to say that Hurtigruten ships are lacking in that area. In all honesty, they feel more like ferries than actual cruise ships. For those travelers who seek a true cruise ship atmosphere, cruise lines like Royal Caribbean or Norwegian Cruise Line are a better choice. Naturally, sailings aren’t as frequent as with the Hurtigruten ships, but they're tailored exclusively to cruisers’ needs.

That’s where Disney ships would fit in. As demand for Disney’s itineraries in Alaska is high, there’s no doubt that either of the older Disney ships would be suitable for a Norwegian fjords cruise, as it’s a destination very similar to the part of Alaska that Disney Cruise Line sails to. So, what ports of call would be interesting for a Disney Norwegian fjords cruise? First, Oslo seems like a good place to start from. As it is Norway's capitol, international travelers can reach it easily by plane. Also, it’s worth an extra day or two to explore the city, either before or after the cruise.

One of the first actual ports of call would have to be Bergen. Located in the southwestern part of the country, this picturesque town nestled in between seven mountains is Norway’s second largest city. Especially the oldest part of Bergen, called Bryggen, enchants visitors with its narrow cobblestone streets and Hanseatic flair.

North Cape photo
North Cape

The North Cape, the northernmost point of Europe - photo by Disneybine

Arguably one of the most beautiful of its kind, Geirangerfjord is another must on any itinerary. Cruise ships can sail through this 12.4 mi./20 km-long fjord all the way to the small fishing village of Geiranger at the end.

Way up north, the North Cape, or Nordkapp, as the Norwegians say, awaits. At latitude 71°10’21”N, it’s the northernmost point of continental Europe. Ok, so technically, Knivskjelodden is the actual northernmost point, but since that place can only be reached by those willing to hike another 11 mi./18 km from North Cape, it’s close enough. In fact, it is closer to the North Pole than to Oslo and farther north than most of Alaska. After crossing the Arctic Circle, you’d still have to drive at least another 9 hours to get there. Cruise ships dock at the quaint village of Honningsvag (population: 2,500) to allow for port excursions to the North Cape, which is only a short 30-minute drive away.

Along the way, Stavanger, Alesund and Tromso are possible ports of call. These three coastal towns are all unique in their own way. Located in the south, Stavanger is a popular summer destination for Norwegians. In Alesund, near the Geirangerfjord, you'll find Art Nouveau architecture aplenty. Lastly, Tromso has Norway’s northernmost university and a distinctly lively and modern feel.

While there is no evidence at this point that Disney Cruise Line is planning to sail the Norwegian fjords, it is definitely a possibility should one of the older ships continue to return to Europe. Just like Alaska, the Norwegian fjords are only accessible to cruise ships during the summer. Depending on how many ports of call itineraries would include, Norwegian fjords cruises could be anywhere from 7 to 12 nights long. Lastly, it's a safe bet that should Disney decide to go this way, we can expect a hefty price tag to come with it.

Hurtigruten Ship photo
Hurtigruten Ship

The Hurtigruten ship Richard With cruising along the Norwegian fjords - photo by Disneybine

About the Author:
Sabine Rautenberg is a PassPorter Message Board Guide (moderator). She lives in Germany with her husband and their beagle, Bailey.

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Reader Comments:

Well, I for one would appreciate the idea of traveling 1 hour by car to the starting point of a Disney adventure, and not have to fly for 14 hours smiley for :)
I think this is a grand idea, being a Norwegian and not being biased towards the fjords. I can only say it is a spectacular experience, no matter if you live close tho this piece of nature, and no matter how many times you will see them, the Fjords are breathtaking. The northern part of Norway in particular is something to behold in the midnight sun!
There is something to be treasured the first time you look up at a 2000 meters (6500 feet) high range of mountains, rising straight out of the sea!
But all praise set aside, some of the fjords do get crowded in the summer season, a place like Geiranger, that only have 250 people living there, gets crowded when 3-4 cruise ships arrives the same day unloading 2000 passengers each...
We have short summers, and I believe what most people complain about is the weather. Strong winds and rain are more common than calm, warm an sunny.
Some of us natives do prefer to do this trip on the Hurtigruten you mention in your article, but in late fall towards winter, or spring, it is not warm the weather is ruff, but it is the best time to experience the nature. Warm clothes and a cup of cocoa on deck... magical! And what better way to do this than in company with Mickey and friends!
And kudos to Sabine Rautenberg for writing this article, you hit it on the nail, well written and some good research done there!
For those of you that would like to see what it actually looks like cruising this wonderful country, our national broadcaster did a 6 day 24 hour a day ! TV show of the trip. Yup, you read right 134 hours of continuous TV !
It is free for all to enjoy on the web here: ( I cannot post URL yet....)
but if you do the tripple W thingy and then
Or do a search on for Hurtigruten you will find it.

     Bolebrothers on April 13, 2012 @ 2:50 am
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Updated 04-12-2012 - Article #796 

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