I’ve never been fond of the check out from a cruise ship balcony. Hunting at the ocean all working day is, well, monotonous. I usually believe I’m likely to enjoy it and will invest time on it but, other than for dawn and sunset, it’s unexciting.

Norway is an exception. The Scandinavian country, which marketplaces alone as “the most lovely cruise place in the planet,” is among the the most scenic areas I’ve at any time observed, edging out French Polynesia and Alaska.

I was mesmerized. Majestic fiords, Arctic tundra, small farms clinging to the side of mountains and waterfalls dropping hundreds of ft down rocky cliffs slid by the ship on a seemingly limitless loop.

And always, incredible clouds drifted across the sky — some puffy and white, some dark, some infused with shiny patches wherever the solar shone via, sparkling on the sea.

I was on a 12-day cruise with buddies, discovering Norway’s famous peaks and fiords aboard Regent Seven Seas Explorer. My team of six was between the 850,000 cruisers who frequented Norway in 2019 as tourism booms there.

Travellers delight in a panoramic view of the Norwegian coast while they drink in a lounge aboard Regent Seven Seas Explorer.

(Rosemary McClure)

Why the rise in reputation? Thank Elsa, Anna and all matters “Frozen.” The Disney film is credited with almost doubling tourism in Norway since the very first movie was introduced in 2013. Now “Frozen 2″ and “Frozen the Broadway Musical” assure continuing development, according to Take a look at Norway, the country’s tourism agency.

But Norway is a lot more than a celluloid fable. It is a state that does character on a grand scale: The scenery is so wild and awe-inspiring that visitors often are overwhelmed. At the very least, that was the consensus of my fellow cruisers when we toured Geirangerfjord, a single of the country’s most beautiful fiords. It’s a UNESCO Earth Heritage Website, a deep-sea inlet that reaches nine miles into the heart of the state.

“I’m at a loss for text,” said Joel Brown of Aspen, Colo. “I reside in the mountains, but this is so considerably much more remarkable.”

We experienced docked in Geirangerfjord at 7 a.m. and jumped on a bus for a working day of touring that took us higher into the mountains on a slim street entire of hairpin turns. The several overlooks gave us the likelihood to just take a nearer appear at the fiord considerably beneath. At Flydal Gorge, we could see our ship in the length, now lowered to the dimensions of a toy boat.

Some travellers selected to continue to be aboard, touring by ship only. Potentially they ended up worried of the winding street I’m guaranteed they did not regret their option due to the fact they could see awesome things from the ship. But it could not match our inland tour, which helped us sample the state and its people.
We passed waterside villages that lie in fairy-tale-like configurations, hiked trails beneath a never ever-setting midnight sunlight and tasted goat cheese from farms that have been in family members for generations. And high over the fiord, we climbed the Geiranger Skywalk to the 5,000-foot summit of Mt. Dalsnibba, where by we located a panoramic watch of the mountains.


Modest farmhouses dot the hillside earlier mentioned a Norwegian fiord.

(Rosemary McClure)

Fiords — steep-sided inlets fashioned when glaciers retreat — can be found in Alaska and Washington condition, but are not frequent in the contiguous United States. I’ve witnessed them in both equally sites and in New Zealand and thought they have been gorgeous. But something is distinct about Norway’s fiords, where by historical farmhouses and villages give a feeling of continuity, isolation and serenity.

Additional than 1,100 dot its 36,122-mile shoreline (California’s coastline is 840 miles), a single of the longest in the earth. Fiords are the nation’s main attract 100 cruise ships frequented them previous summer months on far more than 400 voyages.

I was worried that Norway’s escalating recognition would lead to a cruise-ship logjam in some of its tiny ports. Our ship docked near the Disney Magic in Copenhagen at the starting of our cruise, and I heard a rousing loudspeaker announcement: “Now let us get the celebration going by acquiring exciting with Donald Duck and the beautiful Minnie Mouse.”

We sailed away and did not face the vessel once more. We noticed number of other cruise ships for the duration of the vacation.


Numerous Scandinavian cruises stop by Copenhagen, a fairly metropolis comprehensive of cobblestone streets, palaces, museums, gardens and classic ships.

(Rosemary McClure)

Nevertheless, Norwegians are involved that ships are acquiring more substantial and their figures are multiplying.

“When quite a few ships and people get there at the same time, it results in congestion, pollution and rigidity in a lot of community communities alongside the coastline,” point out financial development company

Innovation Norway wrote in a report that concluded that cruise tourists shell out significantly less revenue regionally than other forms of vacationers.
But looking at the fiords by cruise ship or ferryboat is the ideal way to get an introduction to the country’s landscapes. The busiest instances, of course, are July and early August.

My cruise frequented virtually a dozen Norwegian gems — both communities and fiords — and ended in Oslo. The weather was suitable, the seas typically quiet, the ship plush.

Some of the country’s major places were being on the itinerary:

Bergen, crafted on mountainsides overlooking the sea, is a UNESCO Globe Heritage Town. Whilst it’s Norway’s 2nd-most significant metropolis — only Oslo is larger— it has smaller-town appeal and is regarded for its outdoor fish industry and Bryggen waterfront properties, which day to 1070.


Waterfront properties in Bergen, Norway, are crooked thanks to generations of use, fires and reconstruction atop previously buildings.

(Rosemary McClure)

Flam, a single of the country’s busiest summertime locations, provides a 12-mile mountain railway journey that usually takes travellers by means of the stunning landscapes of the innermost part of the Aurlandsfjord, an arm of the Sognefjord.

Harstad, the gateway to Norway’s Lofoten Islands, is the cultural funds of the north. Website visitors often use it as a hub for island hopping by ferry.

Oslo is a single of Europe’s fastest-developing places. It has an city vibe, planet-course architecture and cutting-edge meals, fashion and artwork. It also is home to the Nobel Peace Center.

Copenhagen was a spotlight way too. I arrived a few of times early to get a closer look at this town of 17th and 18th century buildings, attractive parks and ancient winding streets. Procuring was wonderful, and I picked up some issues for the cruise.

But charges below, as everywhere you go else in Scandinavia, have been large. I struggled to come across a hotel home for a lot less than $500 a night.


At Flydal Gorge, high previously mentioned Geirangerfjord, cruise ship passengers generally can see their personal ship in the length.

(Rosemary McClure)

Yet another downside of the excursion: I wasn’t in Denmark or in any Norwegian metropolis extensive plenty of to join with its inhabitants. I experienced to count on tour guides for exposure to the region’s lifestyle and men and women.

That’s not practically as superior as expending a 7 days or a lot more in a community or small community, but they give you a sample. And potentially you are going to love the space so considerably you’ll select a land-primarily based trip following time.

I learned a large amount from a lady in Alesund, a port city on the west coast of Norway at the entrance to the Geirangerfjord.

The sun was shining as the manual spoke, but she needed us to consider ahead. “By the close of this month we’ll wake up 1 day and the hills will be protected in snow,” she explained. “By the finish of Oct, we might have snow down to sea level.”

She motioned to the sunny scene encompassing us. “It might be enjoyable now, but you’re just blessed. What we really don’t get in Norway is sunshine,” she stated.

“That’s why we vacation as prolonged as feasible every calendar year in Spain. Now which is a sunny location.”

And so is Norway— if you get fortunate,

We experienced sunshine pretty much every day of our 12-day voyage. It was a wonderful time to have a balcony room — and really worth just about every further penny.

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