For British holidaymakers, cruising is fast become a favourite and most convenient way of seeing the countries of Europe. It was once the preserve of well-heeled aristocrats, but now cruising is as commonplace as jetting off to the Costa Brava, and it has many advantages over the more traditional type of holiday. Cruise ships from several different lines now leave various ports around the UK on a regular basis, carrying passengers to the Baltic, Mediterranean, Alaska, South America, Antarctica and loads of other destinations. Norway is a particular favourite with Brits, and with last minute cruises available throughout the year it’s a magical place to visit from the all-inclusive comfort of a cruise ship.
The Norwegian coastline is one of the most spectacular in the world, and this is certainly the best way to experience it. Littered with over 60,000 small islands, the waters here are ideal for a pleasant cruise through the calm, sheltered waters to watch a variety of wildlife in their unpolluted natural habitat. Two of Norway’s magnificent fjords, the Naerofjord and the Geirangerfjord, were recently rated by UNESCO as the best cared-for on the planet.
Cruise liners call at thirty different ports on the Norwegian coast throughout the year, and there are many innovative itineraries on offer to passengers, from invigorating outdoor sports to cultural tours of the coastal towns and villages like the delightful timbered town of Lofoten. Spitsbergen and the North Cape have some of the most awesome fjords in the country and are the most popular cruising waters.
Cruising doesn’t involve just sitting about on a floating hotel and being taken around various sights on the coastline, unless of course that’s what you want, which is perfectly fine. There are plenty of on-board entertainments and facilities for all age groups, including multiplex cinemas, restaurants, bars, gyms, video gaming halls and dance halls, along with much else besides. But also on offer is a great selection of off-board activities and these are a great way of seeing a country once the ship is in port. In the case of Norway, you can join walking excursions into the surrounding mountains, go camping and fishing, play golf or even join a polar expedition, so there’s no end to the possibilities..
If you’re more into history and culture then Norway has these in spades. Apart from the cultural heritage of the coastal regions, where small fishing villages have remained largely unchanged since Viking days, in the larger town and in the big cities there are numerous great museums, art galleries and festivals to explore and enjoy. The crew will have all the information you need about all aspects of your destination, so you’ll not miss out on any opportunities to get the most out of your cruise holiday.
It’s also worth mentioning that Norway is a ‘safe’ cruise destination, economically stable (so you can book in advance without worrying too much) and with a long tradition of welcoming visitors from around the world. The Norwegians are especially hospitable to visitors from the UK – perhaps trying to make up for the days when they used to visit us in long ships rather than cruise ships.
David Elliott is a freelance writer who loves to travel, especially in Europe and Turkey. He’s spent most of his adult life in a state of restless excitement but recently decided to settle in North London. He gets away whenever he can to immerse himself in foreign cultures and lap up the history of great cities.
(Image by anjči)