Alaska vs Norway cruise: what’s different and similar about each

In:
24 May 2023

A cruise ship visit to Alaska and Norway is an ideal way to get a taste of what each of these beautiful parts of the world has to offer, but how do they compare to each other?

Alaska vs Norway cruise

I recently took my first cruise to Norway and very quickly the comparisons to Alaska emerged.  Given both are cold weather cruising destinations, the parallels are obvious.  

However, the more I dug into my Norway cruise, the sooner I saw that while they both are located in the upper latitudes of the globe, they are not as similar a cruising destination as you might expect.

An Alaska cruise and a Norway cruise should be right at the top of your must-do list because of how beautiful these parts of the world are, but they aren't exactly the same.  I found far more differences between the two regions than I anticipated before I ever cruised there.

Skywalk

Between my Alaska cruises and my Norway cruise, there are a few important considerations if you are interested in picking either locale for a cruise ship vacation.

Ideally, you'll book a cruise to both Alaska and Norway so that you can enjoy both for what they excel at, but if you're in the market for only one cruise, here's what you should know.

Getting there

Serenade of the Seas in Seattle

Until transporters from Star Trek are invented, getting to Norway or Alaska for your cruise may sway your decision considerably.

As an American, getting to Alaska for a cruise will always be easier and cheaper than Europe for a Norway cruise.

Flights to Seattle are plentiful across the United States, and while airfare prices are generally higher than ever, a domestic flight to Seattle will always cost less than a flight to the United Kingdom.

Southampton

Even if you consider an Alaska cruise that begins in Vancouver, it will probably be cheaper than getting to Europe.

Of course, if you live in Europe (or closer to Europe than North America), then a Norway cruise could be quite affordable in terms of flying to where the ship departs from.

Airfare in Europe tends to be quite cheap, especially if you can take one of the various low-cost European carriers, such as EasyJet, Ryanair, Wizz Air, or Norwegian.

Anthem of the Seas docked in Southampton

Similar to price, flights will be shorter depending on which embarkation port you live closer to. 

Many savvy travelers will save their credit card points for a European vacation to help take the sting out of airfare.  In fact, investing in a business class flight could also make sense with credit card points.

An Alaska cruise will take me about 5-6 hours to fly to, whereas a flight to London will come in at 8 or 9 hours from Florida.  If you live in the Northeast United States, flight times between New York and Seattle and New York and London aren't that far different.

Seattle aerial view

Ultimately, unless you can drive to Seattle or Southampton, you're probably going to need to fly and it will be a multi-hour ordeal that adds a hefty cost too.

Advantage: Tie

Scenery

Glacier in Alaska

On the surface, Alaska and Norway seem to have similar topography and scenery, but I found that not necessarily to be the case.

Fjords can certainly look similar to a glacier inlet that you'd find in Alaska, but I found when you're not in a fjord, Norway isn't as majestic looking as Alaska.

No matter where you are in Alaska, you're going to be nearly surrounded by tall peaks and an open landscape. I was blown away by the beauty of Alaska from my first visit, and the scale of the mountains and countryside around you cannot be properly conveyed until you see it.

Juneau aerial view

In Norway, cities like Haugesund or Bergen don't have those views or towering vistas.  

While the fjords of Gerainger and Olden did resemble the sort of vistas you'd find in Alaska, it was fleeting once your ship left.

Geiranger

That isn't to say Norway isn't beautiful or scenic, because the country is quite lovely and it's quite unspoiled in many areas. In fact, the Scandinavian architecture makes up for what is otherwise quite bland building style of Alaska.

One might even argue the beauty of the fjords while you're in them makes up for whatever mountainous scenery Alaska has elsewhere. Certainly the sail-in for the fjord evoked very similar views that you'd find in a glacier sail-in. 

Glacier seen from cruise ship

The difference for me was the impressive and soaring land around you in Alaska really stood out, and I wasn't quite as struck by the immense elevation of Norway compared to Alaska.

Advantage: Alaska

Culture

Bergen, Norway

Where Norway really shines is the rich culture and history of the country.

You'll find small towns and big cities in Norway to visit during your cruise, and there are thousands of years of history you can explore along the way.

Norway's Viking legacy brings all sorts of opportunities to learn and explore, and it's something that extends even to today. Continuing forward to the last couple hundred of years, you'll find art, history, and a culinary tradition that has made Europe appealing for so long as a destination.

Totem Poles and Clan House

Alaska has a long-standing Native American culture that is fascinating to explore, but that's about where Alaska's cultural appeal ends. The Alaska cruise ports tend to be centered around cheesy tourist spots or shopping. 

I didn't find Alaskan cultural appeal to be nearly as strong as Norway.  It's cities are small, and the entire state is sparsely populated.  Don't expect to find high-end restaurants, evocative museums, or a cosmopolitan feel.

Viking Boat

This may be one of the appeals of Alaska, that it relies so heavily on its natural beauty as a reason to cruise there, whereas Norway has its natural wonders, along with population centers you can explore in-depth.

Advantage: Norway

Wildlife

Bear in Alaska

This is probably the most simple comparison of the list, because Norway has little to no wildlife you'd be excited to see.

Alaska is known for the amazing animals you can see there: whales, bears, moose, eagles, seals.  There's more than that, but a major highlight of any Alaska cruise are the wildlife spotting opportunities.

Whale watching in Juneau

Alaska is home to more bears than any other state. There are an estimated 100,000 bald eagles in the world, with around 30,000 calling Alaska home.  The salmon runs are known around the world for how impressive they are.

Norway, however, doesn't have these sort of animal spotting opportunities. The most exotic animals you'll see on a Norway cruise are sheep and goats. 

Advantage: Alaska

Cost

Radiance of the Seas in Alaska

Neither Alaska nor Norway cruises are going to be the cheapest cruise you can find, but both have shoulder seasons when you can find a deal.

The Alaska cruise season runs from May through September, with the months of June through August representing the peak of the season and the highest prices too.

Ovation of the Seas in Hubbard glacier

If you take an Alaska cruise in May or September, you can find bargain basement prices for a cruise, especially the sailings from Vancouver.

Read moreThe Best Time to Cruise Alaska Month by Month

Anthem of the Seas in Geiranger

Likewise, Norway's cruise season also runs from May through September and it's shoulder season will have better prices if you can sail then.

Both Alaska and Norway aren't cheap once you get there.

Matt in Gerainger

Food prices especially are much higher than most travelers might expect. Norway is notorious for expensive food, while an Alaska shore excursion is going to be much more expensive than a Caribbean tour.

Advantage: Tie

Which should you choose: Alaska or Norway cruise?

Woman wearing jacket in Alaska

You should really experience both an Alaska cruise and a Norway cruise because while they both have colder temperatures than the Caribbean or Mediterranean, the each are different enough to warrant separate trips.

Of course, it's not as simple as that for everyone to make happen, given the time and costs associated with both cruises.

In reflecting on my Alaska and Norway cruises, I found the natural beauty and wildlife superior in Alaska, while preferring the cities and history that Norway has to offer.

View of Bergen in Norway

I found myself more impressed with Alaska's looks, but enamored with the old world appeal of Norway (and Europe, in general).

You won't find a shortage of natural beauty in either cruise, and more than likely a hefty price tag to get to either.  But I can all but promise you the journey will be worth it when you get to experience it all yourself.

7 mistakes & 3 things I did right on my Royal Caribbean Norwegian fjords cruise

In:
23 May 2023

I had a great first European cruise that took me to the Norway, and much of the week-long cruise exceeded my expectations.

Anthem of the Seas in Geiranger

But like all things, hindsight is always 20/20, and if I were to do it all over again, I would have made a few changes to what I did on my first Royal Caribbean cruise to Norway.

With any cruise I take, I like to reflect on the decisions I made for how I could improve the experience going forward.  I certainly hope this is not my last cruise to Norway, so the next time I head there, I can apply these lessons.

Matt in Gerainger

Some of these mistakes and good choices are also more universal to other types of cruises, whether in Europe or the Caribbean.  So there may be opportunities for everyone to have a better future cruise experience.

The mistakes

Booked The Key

Anthem of the Seas in Southampton

If you've read this site for any length of time, you know I'm not a fan of Royal Caribbean's VIP program, known as The Key.

In short, I think the benefits sound better than they actually are, and you're better off saving your money. 

However, I feel it important to re-visit certain programs, like The Key, because lots of things change with Royal Caribbean. Plus, I thought perhaps it might be a better purchase in Europe than the Caribbean.

Suffice to say, I came away with the exact same conclusion as before because the program is heavily front-loaded, meaning the bulk of the benefits are for the first day of the cruise.  Plus, the benefits that work for the rest of the cruise left me disappointed.

I could spend this entire article writing about my experience with The Key, but I'll sum it up as follows: many benefits you can achieve on your own without paying for The Key every day of your cruise (i.e. anyone can get early check-in if they plan ahead, you can book a Chops Grille lunch on embarkation day on your own, WiFi packages are cheaper on their own, etc) and the exclusive reserved times at popular attractions are always at inopportune times (either dinner time or too early in the morning).

The only reason I'd recommend The Key is if your cruise had a tender port, in which case being able to get priority for tenders could be really helpful.  On this cruise, we docked at each of our ports.

Not booking the electric car tour

Electric car in Geiranger

I had a great time in Geiranger and found the scenery stunning.  In fact, it was the first port that I was really impressed with the landscape to the point I thought, "this is something I've never seen before".  

I booked a boat tour of the fjord, but I really wish I had booked one of the electric cars instead.

In Geiranger, you can rent a two-person tiny electric car that has a GPS system built in that offers tours of the surrounding area.  They look funny, but it's a super easy way to get around Geiranger.

There's two reasons why I was better off doing something on land, like a car rental.

Norway flag

First, your ship sails into the Geirangerfjord all morning and you don't get to the town of Geiranger until around noon. So as long as you can wake up and look outside before lunch, you'll see the same scenes the boat tours offer.  

The highlight of the fjord is the Seven Sisters waterfall, but it's so close to the town that you can sleep in and still catch it as your ship passes by the waterfall in the final hour of the sail-in.

Seven Sisters

Even if you do sleep through the entire sail-in and miss the fjord and waterfall, you can see it on the way out after your ship departs Geiranger!

The other reason I wish I had booked the electric car tour is the photo opportunities.

Depending on which length you book, you can drive up the mountain to Flydalsjuvet or Ørnesvingen view points.  These are the photos everyone wants on their Norway cruise.

Geiranger

To be clear, you could rent one of these vehicles on the spot without a reservation, which is what I ended up doing later in the day, but the problem is everyone wants to rent one in the morning and the lines can be long.

When I stumbled upon the rental, it was too late and there were two lines: one for people with reservations and one for people without.  I gave up on the line in the morning because people with reservations got priority.

I came back later in the day (around 4pm) and managed to get 1-hour rental, but I wish I could have done the extended tour to see more.

Booking Olden hike through the cruise line

Matt at Briksdal glacier

I'm not a hiker, but I really enjoyed taking a hike to Briksdalsbreen glacier because it was challenging without being too advanced for a novice.

However, I really could have done this tour on my own without a formal tour.

Being my first Norway cruise and European cruise, I was a bit apprehensive about what to expect on my tours, and I relied heavily on Royal Caribbean's shore excursions.  I think a lot of cruisers feel this way when they aren't totally sure about what to do.

Briksdal glacier park

I'm fine skipping tours in cities when I know I can easily get around on my own, such as my day in Bergen.  But I wasn't totally confident in getting around Olden on my own, and booking a Royal Caribbean tour is easy.  

The glacier is located in a national park, and it's perhaps a half hour drive from where cruise ships dock in Olden.

Briksdal glacier park

Being such a popular activity and within close proximity to the port, there were a lot of transportation options to get there.  

While booking my excursion to Briksdalsbreen was quite easy with Royal Caribbean, I could have probably saved money by booking an independent tour to get me to and from the park.  

Not doing the sky walk excursion

Skywalk

The one time I had serious FOMO (fear of missing out) in terms of things to do on my Norwegian fjords cruise was when I saw photos from the people that did the Loen Skylift.

As I said, I really enjoyed my hike to the Briksdal glacier, but I think I would have rather done the Loen Skylift.

The Loen Skylift is located only 6 kilometers from the Port of Olden and takes you from the fjord to the top of Mt. Hoven (1011 meters) in only five minutes. 

Sky walk

At the top, there are amazing views of Mt. Skåla and Lake Lovatnet in the east, Jostedalsbreen Glacier and Olden in the south, and the Nordfjord in the west.

I could have seen the glacier, plus a lot more.

Relied on local food for lunch

French fries

I love being able to explore the places I visit on a cruise, especially the local cuisine.

In fact, whenever possible, I'll eat a meal in the place I'm visiting over back on my ship.  While the food is included back on my Royal Caribbean cruise ship, I like to immerse myself in the local culture if possible,

In the towns of Olden and Geiranger, the food choices were quite limited and I regret planning my lunches there.

Anthem of the Seas in Geiranger

If you're visiting a city, there's lots of choices, but some ports are quite small towns and don't have a ton of variety.

Of the food available in both Geiranger and Olden, it was primarily pizza, burgers, and pastries.  There's nothing wrong with those foods, but it's too similar to what I can get back on the ship.

Norway pastries

In Olden, I found a cafe serving pomme frites, which I thought would be the same kind of Belgian fries I love eating at home. However, these were just microwaved french fries.

The next time I visit these towns, I'll plan to return to the ship for my meals.

Thinking I needed any cash

Norwegian Kroner

If you read my pre-cruise post about what I think I need to do on my European cruise to properly plan, I thought I needed to convert my U.S. dollars to local currency.  Not only was I wrong, but there's absolutely no need for any cash in Norway.

Every single vendor takes credit cards, and cash is almost non-existent.

Many Royal Caribbean Blog readers warned me that changing currency was a waste, so I didn't do it and I'm glad I didn't because I would have come home with foreign currency at a loss from the service fees associated with them.

Bergen, Norway

Whether I was in England or Norway, there was no need for cash. Street vendors, gas stations, and restaurants all took credit cards.

Just make sure your credit card has zero foreign transaction fees.

Picking this particular itinerary

Sky walk view of Anthem of the Seas

Don't get me wrong, I had a great cruise and visited some amazing places.  But in the grand scheme of Norway cruises, I think there are superior itineraries out there.

If you're looking through itineraries, I would point you towards one that visits places such as Flam or Stavanger instead of Haugesund or even Bergen.

Aerial view of Anthem in Bergen

My issue with Bergen was we were there from 7:30am to 2pm.  I hate these morning-only visits because so much is closed in the city before 9am, which means a lot of wasted time. Plus, the best (and warmest) weather arrives in the afternoon when it is time to leave.

Similar to how you can't see all of Alaska in one cruise, I suspect Norway may require at least two cruises to see it all.  But I also found in my planning some of the most notable spots were in ports we didn't visit.

Map

Given the timing, this was the only itinerary I could pick that worked with my travel times.  And as I said, I really enjoyed this cruise and the places I visited.

But if I had the choice, I'd definitely consider other Norwegian fjord itineraries to be able to visit ports further north.

Things I did right

Booking a balcony cabin

Balcony in Norway

It seems like the eternal debate of Interior vs Balcony staterooms won't be settled anytime soon, but I think spending extra for a balcony cabin on my Norwegian fjords cruise was worth the extra cost.

Since I was solo on this cruise, I would have usually skipped a balcony room and gone for an inside room because it wouldn't be necessary in terms of space.  However, being able to see the beautiful scenery from the comfort of my room was such a nice treat.

Given that the high temperatures each day was barely in the 50 degree range, many times I enjoyed sitting on my couch inside my room with a view outside via the glass balcony door.

Seven Sisters waterfall

When something caught my attention, or I simply wanted to peek outside, it was so convenient to go out and get a view from my balcony.

On the Geirangerfjord sail-in, I started out on the pool deck to see everything, but it was quite cold so I went back to my cabin.  Here, I could still get great views from inside my room. Plus, when we came to Seven Sisters waterfall, the ship spun around to ensure everyone got a view.

There's no doubt I could have saved some money by booking an interior cabin, but it also helped I was sailing in the shoulder season and the cost to upgrade wasn't much more to get a balcony.

Haugesund fjord tour

Åkrafjord

Our first port stop was in Haugesund, and I thought I made a mistake booking a fjord tour that was about 2 hours away by bus from the ship.  It turned out to be a great choice.

I booked the Åkrafjord and Langfoss waterfall excursion through Royal Caribbean, and it took us to Åkrafjord by boat.  With the sun shining, it was absolutely stunning to see.

The boat took us slowly around the fjord and right up to Langfoss waterfall.  We got so close the captain actually extended a bucket to get water from the waterfall for everyone to drink.

Åkrafjord

It was a picture perfect day, and that could have been enough for a great tour but then we had lunch.

I have to admit, I've found every single shore excursion lunch to be pretty terrible.  Usually it's disappointing, mass produced food that leaves you hungry until you get back to the ship.

On this tour, however, the food was really good.

Lunch near Åkrafjord

We had lunch at a farm that was right at the shores of the fjord, and the family that owned this farm for centuries prepared all sorts of locally sourced food that was excellent.

We had salmon, goat cheese, breads, stews, and lots of other great eats. The matriarch of the family explained where each came from, and I was impressed.  

Lunch near Åkrafjord

I then took my food to a table on the porch outside with a view of the fjord and I wish I could have brought back some food with me.

Bought European sim card

Street in London

Being the geek that I am, I wanted to stay in contact even when not on a cruise ship, so I bought a sim card for my phone to use and it proved to be extremely helpful during my trip.

I purchased a e-sim from Orange Travel, which is a sim card provide that covers Europe. It worked in England, Norway, Finland, and many more countries too.

Because it was an e-sim, there was no physical card to use. Just pay for it, scan a QR code, and your phone is ready to go.  It comes with a local phone number and plenty of data to use.

England train

The reason why this sim card was so helpful was when you were in port, you had great coverage to manage your day. Whether it was plugging in directions via Google Maps, messaging friends, or checking social media during some downtime, it was worth every penny.

Unlike Alaska, Norway has incredible cell coverage and it worked really well almost everywhere I went.  There was even cell coverage in the fjords!

Your thoughts

Anthem of the Seas in Gerainger

What do you think about the mistakes and successes from my first Norwegian fjords cruise? If you have cruised to or visited Norway, what mistakes do you feel you made? Any questions for those taking or considering a Norway cruise? Hearing feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!

Norway cruise: Fjord and glacier viewings in Geiranger and Olden

In:
18 May 2023

Taking a Norway cruise means taking in the natural wonders that surround you, and you can experience both fjords and glaciers.

Norway: Fjord vs Glacier

When I booked my first cruise to Norway, I knew my top priority was seeing fjords, glaciers, and the beautiful aspects of nature that come with that, including waterfalls, mountains, and even some ice.

When you visit some of the smaller towns, such as Geiranger and Olden, there really isn't much else to do other than explore nature.  There are a few shops and even fewer restaurants, but these aren't cities.  They are outposts that these days serve as a hub for tourist activity in the area.

Anthem of the Seas in Olden

On my Royal Caribbean cruise to Norway, we stopped at both Geiranger and Olden, and that gave me a chance to experience the very best of Norway's alluring scenery.

Geirangerfjord

Geirangerfjord

Perhaps one of the most well-known (at least visually) fjords in Norway is in Geiranger.

The Geirangerfjord is a 20km-long UNESCO-listed fjord, with the town of Geiranger nestled at the end of it.

Sailing into Geirangerfjord

Your cruise ship sails into the fjord, similar to how an Alaska cruise might sail to see a glacier in Alaska. The start of the sailing takes place in the early morning hours, and culminates with seeing the Seven Sisters waterfall before reaching town.

Anthem of the Seas in Geiranger

The Seven Sisters waterfall is a series of waterfalls that start at a height of 410 meters and includes a freefall of up to 250 meters.

Seven Sisters waterfall

On our visit, there were only 5 waterfalls visible, but it's still incredible.

Seven Sisters waterfall

You'll get a chance to also see the fjord as your ship departs, but usually the ships take a different course than on the way in, so the best viewing is in the morning.

The sail in is quite close to the cliffs that make up the fjord, so it makes for easy viewing of the mountains and natural formations. 

Geiranger fjord
Geiranger fjord

Unlike Alaska, there are small villages and towns along the way.  There's even cellular phone coverage nearly the entire transit!

Once you get to Geiranger, there are a few ways to take in more views of the fjord.

Geiranger

The iconic photo everyone wants is from Flydalsjuvet, which is a few miles above the village. It's a walkable distance, but as you might imagine, up hill.

You could also rent small electric cars that can set two people for about $95 for an hour. 

Electric car in Geiranger

I rented one to be able to get up to Flydalsjuvet after a day of walking.

There's also Dalsnibba viewpoint, which is even further up.  Many tour buses go here, or you could get an extended rental for your car to make it up to the 1,500 meter high vantage point.

Once you reach the top, you'll have an incredible view.  The photos look amazing, but to see it in person is something completely different. It's stunning, and I wish I could pull up a comfortable chair to sit there for a while.

If you go early in the season like I did, you might even find snow!

Snow!

While Flydalsjuvet gives you an overview of the fjord, you'll want to see more of the waterfalls and the walls of the fjord up close.

A Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) boat offers a fast way to see it all, both in speed and duration.

RIB boat tour of Geiranger fjord

A bit more than an hour long, you'll put on a windproof suit and straddle your seat as you are taken into the fjord to get up close to the Seven Sisters water fall.

Seven Sisters waterfall

Along the way, you'll get the perfect viewing point to on the water.

Fjord

Royal Caribbean sells RIB boat tours, but if you search for the Geiranger RIB boat tours, it's going to be the same company that offers it and might be cheaper!

Anthem of the Seas in Geiranger

Seeing the fjord from above and at the water line really gives a sense of the scale and beauty that Geirangerfjord is known for. It's a must-see on any Norway cruise.

Briksdalsbreen

Briksdal glacier

When your cruise ship visits Olden, you can take in a glacier at Briksdalsbreen.

One arm of the Jostedalsbreen glacier is viewable at Briksdalsbreen. Unlike some of the glaciers in Alaska, it's difficult to see much of the glacier due to how much it has retreated.

Before you make it to the national park to see the glacier, you'll drive through Norway's Nordfjord. 

Fjord

The combination of the lakes and peaks that surround the glacier while you're in the park are incredible.

The glacier descends from a height of 1,200 meters into a scenic valley, where you'll also find waterfalls along the way.

Briksdal glacier park
Waterfall in Norway

To get as close as you can go to the glacier, you'll need to hike 3km.  It takes about 45 minutes to walk/hike to the glacier, and some parts of the trail are quite steep.

Briksdal glacier park

I am not a hiker, but I was able to make it.  The paths are well defined, and the steep parts have rails and rock steps to assist.  You certainly don't have to be a hiker to make it there.

Briksdal glacier park
Matt at Briksdal glacier

Alternatively, there are "troll cars" that have a fee, but can take you about 90% of the way there.  

Once you make it to the glacier, you're greeted with a beautiful pond, with the glacier above it.

Briksdal glacier
Briksdal glacier

I found a large rock to sit on and took some time to enjoy the views.

The walk back down is quicker, and I found taking the troll car path was more direct and less steep.

Glacier vs Fjord: Which did I like better?

Matt in Geiranger

I'm grateful to have been able to see both natural wonders while in Norway, and with the added bonus of precipitation-free weather.

The view from Flydalsjuvet  of Geirangerfjord was incredible, and I think if I could magically transport myself to one spot in Norway, it would be there. 

Being that high up with the sweeping views below is surreal. I can only imagine how much better the view would be if it was a sunny day.

Briksdal glacier

I enjoyed my hike to Briksdal, but the glaciers in Alaska are certainly larger. This may be partly due to how much Briksdalsbreen has retreated in recent years.

Lake in Norway

If your Norway cruise brings you to Geiranger and Olden, be sure to prioritize seeing both the glacier and fjord because how lovely they are to see in person.  Photos and video just don't do it justice.

Norway cruise: Taking a boat to visit an amazing fjord and waterfall in Haugesund

In:
16 May 2023

If there's one aspect of a Norway cruise that draws almost everyone, it's the opportunity to see the fjords.

Visiting Haugesund and the fjord

Norway is well-known for these amazing natural wonders, and it's certainly why I wanted to take a cruise to this part of the world to be able to see the fjords up-close.

Similar in the breathtaking nature of an Alaska cruise, fjords offer scenic views that surround you, and it's the kind of experience that photos simply don't do it justice.

Åkrafjord

The first stop on my Anthem of the Seas cruise brought me to Haugesund, Norway, and it was my first chance to see a fjord.  

Royal Caribbean offers a boat tour, in which you sail through the Åkrafjord and right up to Langfoss waterfall.

Langfoss Waterfall

Langfoss waterfall

The ride to Åkrafjord is about 90 minutes by coach bus, but the drive is worth it when you emerge from the final tunnel with Langfoss waterfall in view.

Langfoss is a massive waterfall that is almost 2,000 feet tall.  It splashes right into Åkrafjord, and it's quite impressive.

Langfoss waterfall

Visiting Norway in May meant the winter snow was melting in full force, and that meant the water pressure was at its height.  Certainly no trickle of water here.  In fact, if you got close enough, you'd feel the mist of the water.

The nice thing about Langfoss is it's right against the road that brings you into the area, so it's an easy walk to see all angles of the lower section of the waterfall.

We'd see more of the waterfall later in the tour.

Åkrafjord

Åkrafjord

The best way to see the fjord and waterfall is by boat, which gives you the perfect perspective to see the entirety of the area along with the waterfall.

We boarded a small ferry that took us on a grand circle tour of the fjord, bringing us right up to the sides of the mountain that form the fjord.

Åkrafjord

In case you're wondering, a fjord is defined as a long, narrow inlet with steep sides or cliffs, created by a glacier.

We slowly made our way around Åkrafjord, with ample time to see it all.

The highlight is when the ferry approaches Langfoss, and the ferry actually comes right up to the waterfall.  

Åkrafjord with Langfoss waterfall
Åkrafjord with Langfoss waterfall

At this point, you have the best view possible of the waterfall without actually getting wet.

Åkrafjord with Langfoss waterfall
Åkrafjord with Langfoss waterfall

The captain even extended a bucket into the falls to get water from it for everyone to sample.

Åkrafjord

Once again, it's hard to convey in photos just how majestic the entire fjord looked.  Given how cooperative the weather was, we had a picture perfect day enjoying time in the fjord.

Lunch at the fjord

Lunch near Åkrafjord

What's better than seeing a fjord? How about eating local food with the fjord in view!

Located steps from where we boarded the ferry and within full view of Langfoss is a small family-owned farm that opens its doors for meals.

We were greeted by the matriarch of the family, who set up a smorgasbord of local food. 

Lunch near Åkrafjord

Goat cheese, cured meats, potatoes, salmon, and fresh baked bread were set up for our enjoyment.

We also had samples of brunost, which is a Norwegian brown cheese.

All the food was sourced from providers in the area, no more than 50 km or so away, with the exception of fruit they bought that came from Spain.

Lunch near Åkrafjord

I took my food out to the porch, and enjoyed my meal with Langfoss and the Åkrafjord in sight.  I wish I could have my lunch every day with a view like tis!

Booking the Åkrafjord and Langfoss Waterfall tour

Norwegian fjord

I booked the Åkrafjord and Langfoss Waterfall shore excursion through Royal Caribbean on the cruise planner website.

The cost was $299.00 per person, and included a roundtrip bus ride, guided narration, and the lunch.

The tour lasted 7 hours, and we made one additional stop at a monument the honors Norway's first king, Harald Fairhair.

Viking monument

While the time required to commute back and forth to the fjord is not short, it's well worth the trip given how beautiful the views were of the area. Add onto that the lunch that was provided, and I was quite satisfied with the cost and duration of the trip.

Norway has many appealing traits, but certainly the fjords have to be at the top of anyone's list for a Norwegian cruise.  As such, it's quite important to prioritize a fjord visit, and I started off my Norway cruise with a wonderful shore excursion.

About Haugesund

Haugesund

Haugesund is a vibrant and historic town dating back to Viking times. This is where, a thousand years ago, King Harald Fairhair united Norway into a single kingdom. It was from this area that the Viking Kings ruled Norway for more than 500 years.

The region has laid claim to the title of Norway's Birthplace - the Homeland of the Viking Kings.

The cruise port in Haugesund is located on the small island of Risøy that is attached to the mainland and downtown Haugesund by the Risoy Bridge.

Haugesund

The city center is a comfortable 10-15 minute walk. Limited shuttle buses are also available for a charge of approximately 7 Euros.

Haraldsgata is the popular pedestrian street in Haugesund where you can find the main tourist information center and a variety of shops.

Royal Caribbean offering cruises from Oslo, Norway once again

In:
17 Sep 2013

Next year, Royal Caribbean will offer cruises out of the capital of Norway, Oslo, once again with 4 stops planned on Legend of the Seas.

Royal Caribbean CEO Adam Goldstein commented on why Royal Caribbean is returning, "Norway is a wonderful country and an amazing destination, as people from all over the world want to visit. We have offered cruises often to Oslo in the past, and look forward to being here again."

Goldstein also pointed out cruises out of Oslo have the ability to sail to other ports in Norway, Sweden, Estonia, St. Petersburg and so on. In addition, ord are very special.

Royal Caribbean cruises from Norway will also have stops in Stavanger, Geiranger and Aalesund. There will be a 14-night transatlantic cruise that ends up in the United States

Part of the reason why Royal Caribbean may be offering Northern European cruises once more is because of the Euro crisis in Southern Europe.  In addition, Norway's popularity among tourists is on the rise from 1.9 million in 2011 to 2.5 million last year. This year it is expected that there will be 3 million passengers, according Visit Norway.

Vision of the Seas schedule adjusted due to Norwegian strike

In:
31 May 2012

Due to a maritime pilot strike in Oslo, Norway, Royal Caribbean has been forced to adjust Vision of the Seas' itinerary slightly.

Vision of the Seas will call at Geiranger, Norway, today as planned, then spend Friday at sea and conclude its sailing in Gothenburg, Sweden, on Saturday.  Vision was originally scheduled to end its cruise in Oslo but passengers will instead transported by  bus to Oslo.

Brilliance of the Seas will call on Bergen, Norway, today as scheduled, spend Friday at sea and conclude its sailing in Amsterdam, Netherlands, on Saturday as scheduled.

The strike impacts cruise ships because pilots boats are not able to go out and meet ships, and thus ships that require a compulsory pilot to navigate within local waters cannot sail into the Norwegian ports.

Royal Caribbean ships will dock in Norway despite strike

In:
30 May 2012

Royal Caribbean has said that Vision of the Seas will dock in Bergen, Norway and Brilliance of the Seas will dock in Flam, Norway this morning as planned, despite a strike by pilot boat skippers in Oslo.

The strike is expected to spread across Norway by Thursday.

Royal Caribbean spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez issued a statement regarding the situation, "Both ships are expected to depart their ports of call today as scheduled. However, we are currently preparing contingency plans in the event the strike continues and either ship is unable to make their next scheduled port of calls in Norway."

The strike comes at the peak of the Norwegian fjord sailing season and threatens to disrupt the tourists coming to see them.

Vision of the Seas is scheduled to call to Geiranger, Norway, on Thursday, May 31, then spend Friday, June 1, at sea and conclude its sailing in Oslo, Norway, on Saturday, June 2.

Brilliance of the Seas is scheduled to call to Bergen, Norway, on Thursday, May 31, spend Friday, June 1, at sea and conclude its sailing in Amsterdam, Netherlands, on Saturday, June 2.

Royal Caribbean Nordic chooses new ad agency

In:
22 Aug 2011

After a thorough agency competition shifts, Royal Caribbean Nordic has chosen Saatchi & Saatchi Norway to be their new ad agency. The Oslo agency will use the Nordic network in the operational work of the various markets. Royal Caribbean has previously been with agencies Shnel & Melnychuck  and Bates.

"We look forward to continuing collaboration with Saatchi & Saatchi. They are in the process convinced that they are the right agency for us now. We have big ambitions, both in Norway and other Nordic countries. Saatchis combination of excellent local agencies and a highly dense network is what we've been looking for", says Head of Marketing at Nordic Ellen Stebekk.

Agency Director Jon Fredrik Sand Engen at Saatchi & Saatchi is more than satisfied.

"This is great fun and exciting. We have all been cruise enthusiasts in a few weeks, and we have already become very fond of Royal Caribbean and its people. Being a developing Royal Caribbean and this market forward is a dream job. In Oslo, we are also proud to be chosen as the main agency for the Nordic countries", he said.

Royal Caribbean is the market leader in Scandinavia, with a market share of about 45 percent and, according to the company, a position in Norway that is stronger than in Sweden, Denmark and Finland.

"Cruise holidays that the form is growing rapidly, but has a lot to go on to take out the potential in all the Nordic markets. In the future we will do more local and regional initiatives. Therefore, we have a good strategic and creative master agency with a strong network, we have found in the Saatchi & Saatchi Norway," says Stebekk.

Cruises record for Norwegians in the Mediterranean

In:
04 Jul 2011

Royal Caribbean General Manager of Nordic and Baltic region, Roar Meidal,  reports that 86 percent more Nordic tourists go on Mediterranean Sea cruises this year, of which 58 per cent more Norwegians

"We are very pleased that the Nordic people finally seem to realize the great benefits of the cruise has to offer as a holiday. We like to think that cruise offers the best of two worlds: on the one hand, an all-inclusive, relaxing holiday in the sun, on the other hand, a cultural experience with stops at ports such as Rome, Sicily, Athens, Santorini, Rhodes, Istanbul and Jerusalem," says Meidal.

Statistics show that Norwegian passengers account for the largest increase, by as much as 58 percent of the total increase.  Swedes are in second place with 23 percent increase, while both the Danes and the Finns can boast of a 10 percent increase. The preferred holiday is a 7-day cruise with some of Royal Caribbean's largest and most innovative ships, such as the Liberty of the Seas. 

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