I’m going to the Land of the Midnight Sun in June! I hadn’t really planned a cruise to Norway & the Arctic, but an opportunity arose with Princess Cruises, and before I knew it, I was booked on a 14-night cruise that visits 8 ports in Norway, leaving from & returning to Southampton, England. The very cool thing about this itinerary is that I will be sailing during the Summer Solstice, and three of the Norwegian ports are located in the Arctic Circle. I’ve sailed to Norway before, but all 8 of these ports are new to me. Back in 2015 I visited the Norwegian ports of Stavanger & Oslo with Disney Cruise Line. I’ve never sailed from Southampton either, so this entire itinerary is brand-new for me! I had always thought that I’d see Antarctica before the Arctic, but you won’t hear me complaining.
These are the excursions that I plan to do. There are many others available. Princess Cruises rate their shore excursions as: “Easy”, “Moderate” or “Strenuous” activity. When you log in to your Princess Cruises online account, and go to “Booked Guests”, then to “Access Cruise Personalizer” you can see all of the shore excursions that are available for you to reserve ahead of time. I would recommend reserving your shore excursions as soon as you can, to avoid the disappointment of the excursions selling out.
PLEASE NOTE: MISSING DATES BELOW ARE “DAYS AT SEA” AND DO NOT OFFER SHORE EXCURSIONS!
Monday – June 19, 2023 Arrive 10:00AM – Depart 7:00PM
The Best Of Hardangerfjord 10:30AM-6:00PM Tour #: BGO-120 (Moderate Activity)
Your tour begins as you board your motorcoach for an hour-long scenic drive to Hardangerfjord with picture-perfect views of the dramatic landscape of Norway’s ‘orchard fjord.’ First, you’ll drive through the center of the city, past many of Bergen’s most popular attractions, including the Bergenhus Fortress. Constructed in the 13th century, the fortress is one of the oldest and best-preserved castles in Norway.
Then, as you make your way through to the countryside, your guide will point out many highlights you won’t want to miss. En route to Hardangerfjord, travel by the storybook villages of Ytre Arna and Indre Arna, set amid miles of farms and orchards blooming with apples, pears, plums, and cherries.
As you approach Hardangerfjord, you’ll be struck by the lush greenery of this beautiful fjord and the grand mountain plateau of Hardangervidda, the largest in Europe, which lies off in the distance. Hardangervidda is protected as part of Hardangervidda National Park and is the site one of Norway’s largest glaciers, Folgefonna.
Continuing on to Hatvik on the Norwegian Sea, board the ferry to Venjaneset then drive to the idyllic, old, wooden Holdhus Church. Now weathered and worn, the current church is a wonderful example of the simple parish churches that were built in the 18th century. However, as you walk around, you can still see segments of the medieval post and beam timbers used in its original construction during the 14th century.
Your next stop is the village of Oystese, where you’ll enjoy a hearty Norwegian buffet lunch and panoramic views of the magnificent mountains, craggy coastline and spectacular landscape.
On your return trip back to your ship, make a brief photo stop at the most visited waterfall in Norway. Steinsdalsfossen rises 164 feet and during the snow melts in May and June, the water crashes onto the boulders below. During your photo stop, you can follow the path around to the back of the waterfall for a unique behind-the-scenes look.
Bring Norwegian Kroner or credit cards for additional purchases. Wear comfortable walking shoes and clothing suited to the day’s conditions. Bring a hat and a sweater or light jacket. Lunch will be in either Norheimsund or Oystese
Tuesday – June 20, 2023 Arrive 9:00AM – Depart 7:00PM
Easy Atlantic Ocean Road 9:30AM-1:30PM Tour #: MOL-205 (Easy Activity)
What you will visit:
The Atlantic Ocean Road
Settle in for a thrilling ride along the Atlantic Ocean Road, opened in 1989, a five-mile (8-kilometer) engineering marvel that zigzags across bridges and causeways, with incomparable views along every twist and turn. Known as “The Road in the Ocean,” the Atlantic Ocean Road crosses multiple bridges, traversing the islands in the sea on a scenic journey that’s considered one of the prettiest road trips in the world.
What you will see along the way:
Gaze out the window at the fishing communities close to the Atlantic Ocean, as well as windswept islands, sparkling bays, moorland and patchwork landscapes that offer a unique juxtaposition of modern engineering and wild nature. This is truly where the ocean begins, and you’ll take in wonderful sights of tiny islands, salty fishing towns and the marine life that thrive in these waters. Look to the skies for glimpses of sea eagles and other birdlife swooping down to the frigid waters looking for lunch.
Photograph expansive views approximately 1,200 feet above the cityscape of Molde. Focus your lens on the beauty of the fjord and the 222 snowy peaks of Romsdal Mountains.
Bud, a charming fishing village since the 16th century, faces the open ocean with brightly colored houses, and fishing boats line the waterways. Snap photos of the Bjørnsund Islands and lighthouse, the natural coastal beauty and, in the center of Bud, a bird mountain, home to a colony of black-legged kittiwakes.
Inside church visit(s) may not be possible if religious services are being held. Wear comfortable walking shoes.
Wednesday – June 21, 2023 Arrive 9:00AM – Depart 5:00PM
Best Of Trondheim 9:30AM-4:30PM Tour #: TRD-120 (Moderate Activity)
Travelling through this pretty Scandinavian city, prepare to be enthralled by the classic wooden 19th century townhouses, en route to your first thrilling stop of the day.
Your guide will narrate your journey as you cruise through the countryside and the Trondheim fjord, on to Orkanger village, which sits at the estuary of the River Orkla, and is known for its excellent salmon fishing.
You arrive the Løkken copper mines where you will receive a short orientation, and be provided with a hard-hat and for your half-mile walk through the mine. You will navigate gravel paths, steps and wooden walkways as you absorb the atmosphere in the mine, which was in operation from 1654 to 1987. Today the caverns are quiet and the rocky surfaces drip with moisture, while a faint odor of sulphur lingers in the air.
After you resurface, you will board your vintage car on the narrow-gauge Thamshavn Railway, a museum-railway that attracts tourists from all over the world. Sit back and enjoy the ride on wooden-benched train cars, which date back to the turn of the century. This railroad was originally constructed to transport ore from the Løkken copper mines. During World War II, several attempts were made to sabotage the line, destroying the trains, and today you will see many memorials along the tracks that commemorate the past.
After this fun 35-minute journey, you will head to Orkanger to enjoy a delicious meal at the traditional Bårdshaug Mansion, before heading back to Trondheim, making a photo stop at Nidaros Cathedral. Building of this cathedral begun in 1070, and finished in the 12th century. It’s the largest Gothic-style cathedral in Scandinavia, and is built on the grave of Saint Olav, who introduced Christianity to Norway.
Once you have taken plenty of pictures, you will then board the bus for the return journey back to the ship through this pretty town.
The drive from Trondheim to Løkken is approximately 1.75 hours, and the return from Orkanger is 1.15 hours.
Honningsvag (for North Cape), Norway
Friday – June 23, 2023 Arrive 10:00AM – Depart 7:00PM
Stappen Island Bird Safari 10:30AM-2:00PM Tour #: HVG-280 (Moderate Activity)
Indulge your inner naturalist with this breathtaking half-day, moderately active, guided bird-watching excursion that begins at your pier in Honningsvag. Here you will board your motorcoach and set forth on a brief drive across the stunningly beautiful Norwegian landscape.
Follow Skipsfjord before climbing to the plateau on Magerøya Island. Have your cameras at the ready as you traverse this treeless landscape, for you may have the opportunity to view some of the 4,000 to 5,000 reindeer that graze here. The reindeer are domesticated and belong to the Sami people, a minority group living primarily in the county of Finnimark. Ten percent of the Sami people still live a nomadic life by following their deer to the coast in the spring and returning to the interior in the autumn.
You will journey onward to the quaint village of Gjesvær, one of three fishing villages on the island. Located on the west side of Magerøya, 120 people live here all year round in the shelter of the beautiful Stappen Islands that rise out of the ocean.
In the village you will board a boat and enjoy a refreshing cruise to the islands for a thrilling hour and a half of bird-watching. Make sure to bring binoculars and keep a keen eye out as these islands are home to millions of seabirds that come to this coast to breed! Among them are over 800.000 puffins, a large colony of sea eagles, cormorants, razorbills, guillemots, black-legged Kittiwakes, European shag and northern gannets.
Enjoy the sea breeze as you take in the beauty of the islands and their spectacular array of winged wildlife.
Following your exhilarating excursion you will re-board your motorcoach for a relaxing return trip to your pier and your Princess ship in the harbor.
Dress appropriately; wear non-slip, low-heeled shoes, and either wear or bring a waterproof jacket. Bring along binoculars to enhance your bird-watching experience.
The birdlife is under protection; the boat’s skipper may only approach at a certain distance.
Weather in the area changes frequently and you may encounter poor visibility.
Saturday – June 24, 2023 Arrive 8:00AM – Depart 4:00PM
Polar Museum & Husky Wilderness Camp 8:30AM-12:00PM Tour #: TOS-210
Your excursion begins with a scenic drive across Tromsø to the beautiful Kvaløya Island also known as Whale Island. Dotted with fjords that scroll inbetween the mountains, Kvaløya Island is the home of the Husky Camp, a training site and kennel for Alaskan Huskies that compete in the annual Finnmarksløpet dog sled race.
Your guide will lead you through the camp and introduce you to many of their dogs and puppies who run in the Finnmarksløpet, the world’s most northernmost and Europe’s longest sled dog race. Unique for its extreme weather conditions, low temperatures, frozen landscape of lakes and rivers, tundra and endless mountain, the Finnmarksløpet race is one of the toughest on the planet. The race begins every year on the first weekend of March and crosses the Finnmarksvidda where the temperature may drop below -49 degrees F. In the course of four to five days the musher and the dogs are expected to cover over 600 miles.
Then, you’ll return to Tromsø for a visit to the Polar Museum. Residing inside a historic warehouse built in 1830, the museum is devoted to the numerous exploits of the great Norwegian explorers and hunters of the Arctic’s polar regions. Exhibits, vintage equipment and artifacts including skis, tents, scientific instruments and weapons are also on display.
Your excursion ends with a scenic trip back to the pier.
Wear comfortable walking shoes and clothing suited to the day’s conditions.
Lofoten Islands (Gravdal), Norway
Sunday – June 25, 2023 Arrive 8:00AM – Depart 6:00PM
Svolvaer, Henningsvær, Ice Bar & Gallery 8:30AM-1:00PM Tour #:GRI-315 (Moderate Activity)
Your tour begins as you board your motorcoach for a scenic drive down “King Olav’s Road,” named for the route over which the holy remains of King Olav were carried. You’ll travel past the dramatic jagged peaks of the Lofoten mountain range to Henningsvær, Lofoten’s largest and most active fishing village. Situated at the bottom of Mount Vågakaillen, Henningsvær consists of a group of islets spread out at random in the azure blue waters of Vestfjord. Beautiful homes, weathered with age, a picturesque harbor with brightly painted tugboats, and the mountain jutting out behind this charming town are definitely worth capturing on film.
In Henningsvær you will also find Gallery Lofoten’s House. The gallery’s first floor is divided into two sections – one exhibiting watercolours by Lars Lerin and one exhibiting pictures and ceramic works by Her Majesty Queen Sonja.
Your final destination is the Magic Ice Bar & Gallery in Svolvær, where everything – exhibits, the bar, glasses, tables, and sculptures – is crafted out of crystal clear ice. Seven artists from different parts of the world have created “art below zero,” which expresses the bond between man and nature. Before you enter, you’ll be dressed in a warm coat and offered refreshments. As you sip your drink from a glass made of ice, you’re free to examine the displays, dramatically lit and presented with sound, music and images that tell the story of the traditions and the life of the Lofoten fisherman.
You’ll return to Leknes via Vestvågøy Island, which offers outstanding views of the Lofoten mountain range.
In the Gallery Lofoten’s house, the ground floor is wheelchair accessible.
Tuesday – June 27, 2023 Arrive 8:00AM – Depart 6:00PM
The Best Of Romsdal & The Troll Path Tour #: AES-105 (Easy Activity)
Departing your ship, you’ll board your motorcoach at the pier and drive along the Storfjord past charming suburban houses with well-kept gardens and Stordal known for its furniture production on the way to Valldal. Nestled among the alpine mountains and steep, green hills, this lush valley is famous for its natural wonders and as well as its fertile ground perfect for growing cherries, apples, raspberries, and strawberries. The annual Strawberry Festival celebrating the ripe, juicy fruit is one of the major attractions here every July.
After a brief break, you’ll continue your scenic drive along the famed Trolls’ Path, or Trollstigen. This windy mountain road is narrow with many sharp bends, although it has been widened in recent years. Once you get to the top there is a viewing balcony a short walk away, overlooking the road with its bends and the beautiful Stigfossen waterfall.
Now would be the perfect time for a lunch break. You’ll enjoy a delicious traditional Norwegian country buffet, with your choice of local beer or mineral water.
Returning to your motorcoach, you’ll then travel to see the ‘Troll Wall’ or Trollveggen, as the locals say. It’s long been a prestigious goal for climbers and base jumpers alike. It’s the tallest vertical rock face in Europe, about 3600 ft from the base to the summit at its tallest. At its steepest, the summit overhangs the base by nearly 160 ft.
On the return journey, travel via Andalsnes and the Romsdalsfjord before ascending to the Orskog mountain plateau, a popular destination for alpine and cross-country skiers and the return to the ship via Borgundfjord.
Participation is limited. This tour may not be available subject to weather conditions.
Wednesday – June 28, 2023 Arrive 7:00AM – Depart 6:00PM
Lovatnet Lake & Kjenndalen Glacier Hike 8:45AM-1:15PM Tour #: OL1-210
Enjoy a truly unique half-day excursion through stunning countryside, starting with a drive along the Nordfjord, the sixth longest in Norway, before continuing up the Kjenndalen Valley, to the trailhead for Kjenndalen Glacier.
The glacier is situated in the Jostedalsbreen National Park, and is home to the largest ice sheet in mainland Europe. Stretching over 37 miles in length, it is divided into three major arms, and is over 1,312 feet deep at certain points. You will then enjoy a quick, easy hike through this wonderful landscape that leads to the face of the glacier, which you will notice is an intense blue-green color. Hiking boots and a rainproof jacket are recommended.
After hiking to the glacier, you will then stop for coffee or tea, accompanied by delicious pastries at the delightful Kjenndalen Mountain Lodge.
Afterwards, you and your party will head to the stunning Lake Lovatn, where you will board a small motor boat for a once-in-a-lifetime twelve mile cruise along the lake’s turquoise waters. You guide will explain to you how the lake’s waters have been colored by clays washed down from Kjenndalen Glacier.
After your cruise, you will head back to Olden through more stunning Norwegian countryside, a truly magnificent experience.
Wear comfortable, sturdy walking shoes or hiking boots and bring a warm sweater and waterproof jacket.
Southampton (London), England
Saturday – July 01, 2023 Arrive 7:00AM
I’ll be getting off of the ship today.
Doesn’t this sound like an exciting and adventurous vacation? If you would like to come along, just give me a shout, I can tell you all about this amazing itinerary, and get a cabin on hold for you!