Tips for Planning a Norwegian Cruise: From Fjords to Northern Lights
Norway has one of the world’s longest and most complex coastlines. With winding twists and turns, it covers more than 63,000 miles and 7,000 islands. To fully take in everything this country has to offer, many of which are out-of-the-way and seen best from bodies of water, you may want to navigate the country by taking a Norwegian cruise.
Seasoned travelers know that cruising is a great way to enjoy full itineraries with plenty of sightseeing and activities. Norwegian cruises are unique in that instead of endless ocean views typical on cruises, passengers enjoy uninterrupted scenic views. We've highlighted the most popular itineraries and port cities that showcase the best of Norway all-year round
Top Norwegian Cruise Itineraries
Most Norwegian cruise lines sail Norway’s coastline into fjords—majestic waterways carved out by ice during the Scandinavian Ice age—and stop at multiple port cities that invite you to experience local culture.
- Coastal Voyages: Norway is expansive. If your must-sees include both the Norwegian fjords and the Arctic circle, you’ll want to book a longer cruise itinerary—preferably one that hugs the coastline and stops at favorite port cities for the full coastal journey experience. Recommended: The locally-based Hurtigruten cruise line offers a coastal voyage itinerary that starts in the southern fjords and crosses the Arctic Circle, all the way to the Lofoten Islands.
- Norwegian Fjords: Norway has more fjords than any other country or region, worldwide. These majestic geological phenomena are by far the most popular reason to book a Norwegian cruise. If you're looking for a shorter, week-long trip, a Norwegian fjord cruise in Norway’s central fjord region, located along and near its Western coast is a top choice.
- Arctic Circle: Although accessible year-round, many visitors book excursions to cross the Arctic Circle during dark winter months when the Northern Lights shine brightest.
Notable Norwegian Fjord Ports
An appealing aspect of Norwegian cruises can be merely floating past endless scenic natural beauty. But active passengers won’t be disappointed; most cruise lines include frequent port city excursions--offering bite-sized culturally immersive activities—you’ll have plenty of on-shore time. Here are three popular family-friendly port destinations:
- Bergen: This historic Viking settlement is the gateway to the Norwegian fjords. Explore Bryggen (the Wharf), a UNESCO World Heritage site; take the funicular railway to Mount Fløyen to view all of Bergen; and discover local eats and souvenirs at the fish market in the heart of the city.
- Oslo: Norway’s capital city is surrounded by densely wooded forests, but it doesn’t disappoint visitors wanting a vibrant urban experience. Top attractions include the Edvard Munch Museum, the Royal Palace, the Nobel Peace Center, and it’s most visited attraction—Hollmenkollen Ski Jump and Ski Museum for a panoramic city view from its tower.
- Flåm: A small eco-friendly village along the famous fjord region with a variety of outdoor activity options, Flåm is one of Norway’s most visited ports. For a more leisurely experience, its railway, Flåmsbana, will take you through yet another UNESCO World Heritage site, Nærøyfjord, including the world’s longest fjord, Sognefjord.
Norwegian Cruise Lines
Deciding on which cruise line to book with may take you some time. Consider our tips, How to Choose the Best Cruise Line. Top-rated Norwegian cruise lines include:
- Hurtigruten: A local favorite, this Norway-based cruise line offers the most extensive variety of port calls and year-round itinerary options.
- MSC Cruises: Included in their Northern European cruise collection, MSC Cruises combine the most popular Norwegian port stops with other nearby countries.
- Norwegian Cruise Lines: As the country’s namesake, this well-known cruise line offers several Norway-specific itinerary options.
- Disney Cruise Line: Recently upgraded, the Disney Magic cruise ship offers week-long vacation packages that sail to the “land that inspired the hit movie Frozen” from England. Learn more about why Disney Cruises aren’t just for kids.
When to Go
You’ll find all-year cruising options available, depending on your itinerary. Visit from mid-May to late-July to experience the true essence of The Land of the Midnight Sun—long days with peak 24-hour sunlight in mid-July. If you’re hoping to catch the Norwegian Northern Lights, you’ll want to book your cruise vacation during its darkest winter days, from November to February.
Prepare for Your Cruise
We’ve all been there; plans change, and emergencies happen. One of the smartest ways to prepare for your Norwegian cruise vacation is to invest in travel insurance. It’s important to understand why getting the right travel insurance is critical for cruise vacations. Many cruise lines offer only basic coverage options, so you may want to consider third-party travel insurance options, such as Generali Global Assistance, in order to find a plan that fits your needs best.