At this point, just general information such as must-see ports (considering we will likely be going in July or August), shore excursions to do on our own vs. through the cruise line, ideal length of trip, pros and cons of various cruise lines (oh, how we'd love to do QE2 again... but there might be other lovely ships that are more economical) and if other pax frown upon having a child on board (he'll be 11).
As you can tell, I am at the very beginning of the research phase.
Lisa - the "ideal" month for such a cruise is June, to encompass midsummer's night eve (I believe around June 24th or so).
There are basically two itineraries - only the fjords and fjords/North Cape. Speaking for myself, the ports that I recommend (not necessarily in order) are Bergen, Geiranger (most of the photos you'll see of the fjords taken from on high are from Mt. Dalsnibba overlooking Geiranger and the Geirangerfjord), Flaam, Trondheim, Tromso, Honningsvaag which is the port for North Cape. I'm rather confident that you and your family would find the motorcoach ride from Honningsvaag to North Cape to be most interesting - tundra-like terrain and herds of reindeer scattered about. The narrative from your tour guide adds to the enjoyment. Tromso is Norway's largest city north of the Arctic Circle and filled with many interesting museums and a prestigious university - its medical school did pioneering studies on the phenomenon of depression in darkness. Trondheim, Norway's third largest city, is home to the Ringve Museum housing wonderful musical instruments from around the world. Bergen, second largest city in Norway, is a beautiful medieval city rich in history from the Hansa League days. I love simply to walk around the center of town surrounding the port area.
All of my cruises to this part of the world have been on Crystal - and the enjoyment was made even greater because many of the Officers are Norwegian. Wending in and out of the fjords, they have a narrator giving the history of the area - and they usually just happen to find Edvard Grieg's music to pipe through the P.A. system during the narrative. Then there are festivities on deck (weather permitting) as we cruise off of North Cape at midnight - it's quite a party.
None of the traditional cruise lines frown upon having well-behaved children on board - I'm sure your son will be fascinated by the sights. HAL, for one, offers this itinerary.
We'll have to check next year's cruising and school schedules to see if a late June cruise is possible. I would love to do a North Cape cruise -- and I may even be able to convince my parents to come along as I know it is also a dream of my Dad's. And they love HAL. (They were on Maasdam in the mid-'90s in the Caribbean.) If not, cruising through the fjords only also sounds lovely.
As you know, I love scenic cruising, so this is perfect. Geiranger will be a must for us. And I was not familiar with the Ringve Museum -- our son will love that as he enjoys music.
Thank you again for the superb information. I strongly suspect we'll be traveling to Norway next summer...
You made a very wise choice. It is, indeed, a wonderful itinerary. I envy you! It's very interesting, too, to see the change in vegetation as you head farther north - from the lush green of the fjords and surrounding mountains, to the very barren tundra-like landscape when you travel from Honningsvaag to North Cape. Be sure to watch the IMAX-type movie presentation at the Visitor Center.
Oh, and if you like the Norwegian sweaters and woolens, I found the best prices in Bergen. They become more expensive as you go farther North.
We are now with six for the cruise, friends and relatives booked the cruise too.
I told them we gone a make a cruise and the asked can we join.....
I am realy looking forward to this cruise.
We made a meeting with our Norwegian friends on the sea between Trondheim and the Pool circle. I think I must asked the Captian for the position of the ship.
Did you booked the excursion by the cruisecompany or by yourself.?
I can't get in the online booking of Hollandamerica.
Thanks again for the info.
If, by "Pool Circle", you mean the Arctic Circle, there is actually a marker that you will pass on the starboard (right) side of the ship.
I booked my tours through the cruise line (Crystal Cruises), although now I usually just walk around Bergen. The ship docks in the city and it is an easy walk from the ship into town.
Even if you like to book independently in most ports, I do advise you to book through the cruise line from Honningsvaag to North Cape. It is about a 45-60 minute drive in each direction, depending upon traffic and weather conditions. It is usually cold and quite windy there, so be prepared! If you have a good guide, he/she will explain the yearly migration of reindeer up there, also talk about the Laplanders (Sami).
I had no trouble getting to Holland America's shore excursion site for your cruise.
Yes, I definitely recommend that you travel to North Cape using Holland America's tour.
Vik and Hellesylt are actually only service calls for overland travel to Flaam (Vik) and Geiranger (Hellesylt). The most popular tour in both places is to travel by the special train arranged by the cruise line. If there is more than one ship in the fjord on the same day, it is not unusual for groups from several ships to be on the train. I've always preferred to stay on the ship, but I understand the the train rides are very, very scenic. Hopefully, though, you will have enough time to go to the top of Mount Dalsnibba overlooking Geiranger and the Geirangerfjord - that is the beautiful view that you see in almost all brochures for fjord cruises. Mount Dalsnibba is one of the tours offered when you go only to Geiranger. Oftentimes, there is snow at the summit.
You are going to need transportation to see all the sights in Trondheim and Tromso - perhaps your Norwegian friends can offer advice on that, otherwise, I suggest you book through Holland America there.
Bergen and Stavanger can easily be seen by walking - and there is a funicular in Bergen that will give you wonderful panoramas of the city and countryside if it is a clear day.
I've not been to Skagen, so I cannot offer advice there.
Mary Ann, Thank you so much for the information on the Fiords. We are also booked on the Westedam trip. We only booked one tour ahead of time...I was wondering about the other ports, and you've answered the majority of my quiestions. Thanks again
We just booked a cruise for July 16, 2005...
On the Celebrity Constellation...
14 nights out of Dover...to...
Belfast , Northern Ireland
Back to Dover...
We're looking at doing a five or so night precruise SOMEWHERE in Europe because our AA Frequent Flyer deal lets us do that...Trying to decide between Madrid, Zurich, Brussels, Frankfurt, Paris, Helsinki and Rome (those are all of the choices AA allows us under the new rules)...Then we'll fly into London the night before to make it a three week trip!!!