If you’re planning a Norwegian Fjords cruise, it’s worth doing your research and getting some tips before you go. I share my 40 best tips for a Norwegian Fjords cruise based on my experience and the mistakes I made!
Booking Tips for a Norwegian Fjords Cruise
Tip 1: Avoid a Norwegian Fjords cruise in April!
We cruised in April on one of the first cruises of the season because we had heard that it was a great time to see spectacular waterfalls BUT many of the port excursions and attractions do not open until May.
We only found this out after we’d booked and started to plan our excursions and found that some things were closed for maintenance or didn’t open on a daily basis until May.
Tip 2: Book a balcony cabin
Booking a balcony is so worth it. A Norwegian Fjords cruise is as much about the journey as the ports of call. As the cruise sails in and out of the fjords, you can make the most of the views at the beginning or end of the day with a balcony cabin.
You may not want to go up to the open decks to check what the weather is like so it’s much easier to get an idea of how to dress for the day by simply stepping out on to your balcony.
Tip 3: Book a mid-ship cabin if you get seasick
Once you reach the fjords the water is calm but the journey through the North Sea can get a bit choppy. For the best value, choose a cabin just outside of the pricey mid-ship section, where you can still benefit from minimal movement of the ship.
Packing Tips for a Norwegian Fjords Cruise
Tip 4: Pack layers
The weather in the Norwegian Fjords can change throughout the day so it’s best to pack clothes you can layer up when it’s cold and peel off if it get’s hot.
Think about packing plenty of t-shirts, jumpers and possibly thermals, depending on the time of year or how far north your cruise is heading.
Tip 5: Take a waterproof coat
Even during the summer months it can rain in the fjords so a waterproof coat is essential. If you want to keep the bulk of your luggage down, pack a lightweight coat that you can fit in a backpack.
Tip 6: Pack a hat and gloves
Even in the sunshine, the wind can be chilly so a hat is a good option to pack.
Gloves are particularly useful if you plan to spend some time outside on deck or on your balcony in the mornings and late afternoon. I discovered this when I forgot them at 5am in the morning whilst cruising through Songnefjord.
Tip 7: Take binoculars
The scenic cruising through the fjords allows for plenty of time to watch the world go by. Pack some binoculars to get a closer look at points of interest.
Even before you get to the fjords there are wind farms and oil rigs that you pass by in the North Sea.
Tip 8: Take a camera
I’d recommend taking the best camera you have, whether that’s a fancy one or just your phone. There are so many picturesque places you will visit and you’ll want to capture those memories.
Tip 9: Take a credit card with no foreign exchange charges
Post-pandemic, most places in Norway assume you will be paying by card so it’s the easiest way to pay for things whilst ashore.
Choose a credit card that doesn’t charge fees for foreign purchases and using the ATMs. I’d recommend the Halifax Clarity Card because that’s what we use. You can also get cards that can be preloaded with money before your cruise that work in the same way.
Tip 10: Get a small amount of Norwegian Kroner
Norway doesn’t accept Euros or US Dollars so make sure you take Norwegian Kroner with you for small purchases and tipping.
Tipping is not big in Norway but a 5 to 10% tip is welcomed for good service.
Tip 11: Consider taking walking shoes
It’s likely that whatever you choose to do in the ports of call, there will be an element of walking. Many excursions involve walking or hiking so make sure you pack some comfortable shoes or walking boots for uneven terrains.
Tip 12: Pack sunglasses
Despite the weather not being as hot as a Caribbean cruise, it can still be very sunny. Pack some sunglasses so you don’t spend the whole time squinting at the scenery.
Tip 13: Don’t forget sunscreen
As with the sunglasses, you may think sun cream is not necessary. You can still get sun burnt during the summer months on a Norwegian Fjords cruise.
Tip 14: Don’t forget your swimming costume – really!
What could be nicer than sitting in a hot tub and admiring the views? There were plenty of people taking advantage of the empty hot tubs on our cruise.
If your cruise ship has an indoor pool, there’s no reason why you can’t have a swim. Those with outside pools crank the heating up so people can still enjoy swimming, whatever temperature it is outside.
Be warned, getting out afterwards can be chilly!
Tip 15: Pack sea sickness tablets
As previously mentioned, cruising through the North Sea on the way to and from Norway can get a bit rough so pack some sea sickness tablets just in case. I would recommend getting some Dramamine.
Both our crossings were relatively calm and we didn’t feel unwell but you never know what it’s going to be like.
Tip 16: Take a eye mask if you like to sleep in the dark
The most popular time to take a Norwegian Fjords cruise is in the spring and summer but this means that there are longer hours of daylight. In the summer, you may experience the midnight sun, especially if cruising above the Arctic Circle.
Don’t be put off booking a balcony cabin, most cruise lines will have blackout curtains to minimise the light.
Pack a sleep mask so you can block out the light, even when it’s daylight late into the evening.
Port Tips for a Norwegian Fjords Cruise
Tip 17: Don’t plan to do lots of shopping in ports
There really isn’t much in the way of shopping in the small ports in the Norwegian Fjords besides your typical souvenirs. You will see lots of trolls in the gift shops!
Also, Norway is pretty expensive. If you do decide to go shopping, expect to part with plenty of money.
Tip 18: Norway is safe
Norway is a very safe country with a low crime rate so it’s perfectly safe to explore ports independently. Obviously, you want to take sensible precautions in keeping money and valuables safe but escorted tours are certainly not essential.
Tip 19: Book cruise excursions early for the Norwegian Fjords
This is a lesson we learnt after booking our cruise three months before the sail date.
Excursions do get booked up early for Norwegian Fjords cruises. Partly because there is little to do in some ports and because there are bucket list trips that people want to secure early e.g. visiting a glacier.
I’d advise that you to start looking at excursions as soon as you’ve booked the cruise to decide if there is anything you specifically want or need to do with the cruise line.
Tip 20: Check if you can book independent excursions to save money
If there is a trip you’d like to do or somewhere you want to visit, check if you can book directly with the company before opting for the cruise ship excursion.
As many of the cruise ports are safe and walkable, you may find it far cheaper to book excursions independently.
A key example of this is the funicular railway in Bergen. The cruise line offered an excursion that includes a short coach tour of Bergen and tickets for the funicular railway for around $100 per person. We booked tickets in advance for the funicular railway online directly with Fløibanen, which cost us only £12 per person return.
No transport was needed in Bergen as we could walk to the funicular from the cruise ship (15 minutes) and stop off at other interesting places whilst we were there, including the fish market and Bryggen.
Tip 21: Try local food in Norway
Although this is one of my tips for a Norwegian Fjords cruise, this applies to all cruises! It’s always worth trying local cuisine when visiting different ports.
Norway is known for it’s fresh fish and seafood, pastries and reindeer meat. As previously mentioned, Norway can be expensive so try some of the snacks or small plates.
Hotdog kiosks are very popular, as are pastries and waffles from cafes.
Tip 22: It’s much cheaper to drink on the cruise ship
Alcohol is very pricey in Norway with a pint of beer costing up to £15. It is the most expensive place in Europe for alcohol.
If you want a drink, have one, but it’s probably best for your wallet to just have one!
Tip 23: Things are closed on Sundays in Norway
The law in Norway prevents many places opening on Sundays so be prepared for this if you have a port day on a Sunday. Pre-plan an excursion or an activity that won’t be effected by the closure.
Tip 24: Look at self-guided tours
You can find hiking routes and self-guided walking tours that you can do completely free of charge.
Visit Sights is a free resource for tours you can do on your own, or you can plan your own route.
In Flam, you can even hire an electric car and take yourself off for a scenic drive – find out more details about these EcoCar self-drive tours in Flam.
Tip 25: A Norwegian Fjords cruise is an active holiday
In reality, a cruise can be as active or relaxing as you want it to be but a Norwegian Fjords cruise is a great option if you like being active.
- Try stand-up paddle boarding
- Take a rib boat ride
- Hire e-scooters
- Go dog-sledding
- Go zip wiring
Not all of these activities are available in every port but there’s always an option to do some kind of activity or exercise.
Tip 26: Plan to get off the ship in every port
Even if you have no plans or agenda, simply getting off the ship to stretch your legs is a must on a Norwegian Fjords cruise.
You never know what you may come across, whether it’s a nice little cafe or a waterfall.
We didn’t have any plans for our visit to the tiny village of Skjolden but spent a good part of the day walking and enjoying the scenery.
Tip 27: Make time to enjoy the views
In this day and age, we are all guilty sometimes of taking a photo and moving on but on a Norwegian Fjords cruise, make time to stop and enjoy.
Taking in the scenery and fresh air in Norway is never time wasted. Spend a moment to just enjoy the view in front of you.
Tip 28: Check the roaming charges on your phone
Don’t expect to get much WiFi on the cruise ship, even if you’ve paid for it. Instead, take advantage of when the ship is in port. You can usually pick up 4G even if you’re sat on the ship whilst docked.
One of my key tips for a Norwegian Fjords cruise is to make sure you aren’t being charged roaming fees and your phone contract includes it whilst abroad.
3 Mobile is possibly the best option worldwide, as many cruise destinations, including Norway, are included.
Tip 29: Don’t expect big sail away parties on a Norwegian Fjords cruise
Noise restrictions on cruise ships mean that the sail away from most ports in the Norwegian Fjords will be a more subdued affair. This, at least, doesn’t distract from the beautiful views you can enjoy sailing out of the fjords.
But there is one exception…
Tip 30: Don’t miss the sail away from Olden
On leaving Olden you may be treated to a musical send-off from the Mølla Gjestehus bar and restaurant on the harbour.
It’s a lovely gesture with music, locals dancing on their decking and people waving fags.
Cruise Tips for a Norwegian Fjords Cruise
Tip 31: A Norwegian Fjords cruise is not just for old people
A cruise to the fjords is not something you should leave until you’re older. As mentioned in tip no. 25, this type of cruise is great for people who want to be active.
We were pleasantly surprised to see quite a few people in their twenties on this cruise, so don’t be put off in thinking you have to be a certain age to enjoy it.
The popularity of Disney’s Frozen has also made it an appealing option to families. During school holidays there is likely to be a younger crowd onboard.
Tip 32: Make the time to go to port talks
A Norwegian Fjords cruise has a definite focus on the destinations and so it’s worth attending the onboard port talks to learn about the places you’re visiting.
There are usually some little gems of information you can get from the destination expert to make the most of your time in port.
Sometimes the cruise line will make these port talks available on your in-cabin TV so you can still watch one if you miss it.
Tip 33: Get up early for the sail through the fjords
One of my best tips for a Norwegian Fjords cruise is to get up early and experience sailing through the fjords. You won’t regret it.
Having a balcony can make this a lot easier but for full panoramic views, the open decks are the best.
We cruised through the largest fjord in Norway early in the morning and I got up at 5am to take in the incredible scenery.
Tip 34: Find a spot at the front or back of the ship for the best views
The scenery in the Norwegian Fjords is all around you whilst cruising so the best viewpoints on the ship are forward or towards the aft so you can see either side.
Some cruise lines have viewing lounges at the front of the ship or you can choose a spot at the aft to enjoy the wake view.
Tip 35: Order room service breakfast
If you like the idea of a relaxing breakfast with views from your balcony, I’d highly recommend ordering your breakfast through room service.
There’s no need to battle the buffet and miss any of the scenery. You can simply take your time, have a leisurely breakfast and gaze out at the view.
Tip 36: Book dinner later
Because there is more daylight hours in spring and summer in Norway, it’s worth making the most of the scenic cruising late afternoon and early evening. Consider making dinner reservations later to ensure you don’t miss out.
Tip 37: Ask for a table next to a window
In onboard restaurants you can ask for a table next to a window to enjoy the views during dinner. It isn’t always possible but it’s definitely worth asking.
Princess Cruises offers Dine My Way which seats you based on your preferences so you can request a window view in your dining preferences.
Tips 38: Be prepared to spend the sea days indoors
The weather isn’t likely to be warm between the UK and Norway so it’s best to be prepared to stay inside the ship for the sea days.
Take a good look at the onboard programme and arrive to activities early to avoid overcrowding. There are likely to be plenty of trivia, games and talks onboard but if none of that appeals, considering bringing a book.
You could book a pass for the spa. I’d recommend making a reservation as soon as you get on the ship on embarkation day.
Tip 39: Keep warm on your balcony
You are likely to spend time on your balcony admiring the scenery on a Norwegian Fjords cruise so keep warm with a blanket or duvet.
Blankets are sometimes supplied for passengers on the open decks during cold cruises so you can borrow some of these to keep warm on the balcony.
Tip 40: Prepare to eat most of your meals on the ship
Eating out in Norway is worthwhile but make the most of the array of food on your cruise by having a good breakfast before heading into port. You can still try the local specialities but this will keep the cost down in port.
Best Tips for a Norwegian Fjords Cruise
I hope these tips for a Norwegian Fjords cruise have been useful. The best advice has come from our first-hand experience and making mistakes.