Our guide to cruising the Norwegian Fjords

Cunard's guide to cruising the stunning and ethereal Norwegian Fjords.

Norway is a Scandinavian jewel of breathtaking natural beauty. With its glittering fjords, snow-capped mountains and mesmerizing northern lights, the enchanting land of the midnight sun is a majestic paradise waiting to be discovered.

Here we explore the unique sights and experiences you can expect to enjoy on a cruise to Norway, and how to get the most from your voyage to this fairytale destination.

Why choose Norway for a cruise?

Norway is undeniably one of the most naturally beautiful and exciting destinations in the world. From deep glistening fjords and crystal waterfalls to captivating glaciers and snow-dusted mountains, a voyage through Norway’s spellbinding fjords unlocks unrivaled views of natural beauty, and land seemingly untouched by time.

A cruise in Norway gives guests the opportunity for some once-in-a-lifetime wildlife encounters, thanks to the ecological systems of the North Atlantic ocean and the dense, icy forests on land.

For example, the harbor seal can be spotted along the entire coast of Norway, along with the ringed seal and even sperm whales and orcas. On land, there are also many unique species to keep watch for, including the arctic fox, moose, reindeer and the much-loved polar bear, whereas the sky holds a treat for birdwatchers in the form of the white-tailed sea eagle and other birds of prey.

Norwegian cruise history

Norway’s coastline comprises three seas; the North Sea, Norwegian Sea and the Barents Sea, off Norway’s northern coast.

Until the 20th century, the sparsely populated Norwegian Sea coasts meant shipping was largely focused on fishing and occasional coastal transport. The Norwegian Coastal Express was formed in the late 19th century, focusing on transporting passengers along local routes. Cruising was introduced in 1966 when the Norwegian Cruise Line began. Before long, many other ships, including several from the Cunard fleet, became regular visitors to local waters.

At Cunard, we have had a long love affair with Norway, and it has a solid reputation as one of the best regions in the world to encounter by cruise. Queen Victoria and Queen Mary 2 regularly make the journey to this enchanting destination, so that guests can discover its natural beauty for themselves.

Norwegian cruise routes

Cruising Norway unlocks the opportunity to immerse yourself in quaint villages and vibrant cities bursting with culture. Popular ports to visit on a Norway cruise include Oslo, the bustling cosmopolitan capital, with its much-loved artistic heritage, culture and appreciation of green spaces and relaxation spots. Experience the pin-drop silence at the heart of the fjords with a visit to Geiranger through to the iconic wharf in Bergen and the picture-perfect setting of towering mountains and lush meadows in Flaam.

Cunard routes include the Grand Norwegian 21-night explorer - sailing roundtrip transatlantic from New York to take in Bergen, Olden, Flaam, and Stavanger - and the ever-popular 7-night fjords cruise, stopping off at Alesund, Nordfjord, Olden, Innvikfjorden, Bergen, and Stavanger, before returning to the starting point in Southampton.

Norwegian cruise ports

Norway cruises with Cunard combine a mix of natural landscapes and cultural heritage, so you can experience everything this captivating destination has to offer.


This Art Nouveau gem features dreamy turrets and ornate carvings of dragons and mythical figures among it's buildings, while distant snow-capped peaks loom in the background.

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The small village of Gerainger is one of the most visited places in the fjordlands. Beyond the alluring locale of the lower glacial slopes, there’s much to discover, especially if you like waterfalls.

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Nearly 250 miles inside the Arctic Circle, clues to your location are everywhere. The bars are fully stocked with Arctic Beer, the Arctic Cathedral resembles a geometric glacier, and the cable cars that climb Mount Storsteinen offer unmatchable views.

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Giant waterfalls cascade the mountains, mineral-rich Lake Lovatn glints with a milky turquoise sheen and the Kjenndalen Glacier reveals a green-tinged glow. This Nordfjord village is a must-see.

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Your fascinating ‘Gateway to the Fjords’ is Norway’s second-largest city, Bergen. Its maritime trade and oil industry remain vital to the economy and it’s a thriving epicenter of culture and history.

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This one is for the true train lovers. From tiny Flaam there is a renowned and captivating 13-mile stretch of railway that slowly winds and climbs alongside the grand glacial splendor of Sognefjord.

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Norwegian cruise highlights

Norway is an enchanting treasure waiting to be discovered, and every cruise to this idyllic destination will be filled with unforgettable sights and memories. However, there are several must-dos that you simply won’t want to miss.

Norway cruise sights

Norway’s diverse natural landscapes are a sight to behold and are sure to earn a firm place in your heart.

Aurlandsfjord: Ensure you have your cameras at the ready to witness the jaw-dropping sight of Aurlandsfjord, one of the most picturesque fjords in the world. Enveloped by high mountains and lush greenery, this fjord is part of the World Heritage area surrounding the Nærøyfjord.

Flaam: This charming Norwegian village is a must-visit destination on your voyage. Nestled among piercing blue fjords and rugged mountains, its postcard-perfect scenery will have you captivated. Book a ride on the historic Flaam railway to enjoy up-close views of tumbling waterfalls and sweeping mountains.

Sognefjord: The astonishing sight of plunging fjords and mighty peaks in Norway’s longest fjord, Sognefjord, is sure to be a lasting memory of your cruise. Don’t miss the opportunity to sail the same waters where Vikings once voyaged before exploring the abundant natural wonders awaiting you ashore.

Cultural highlights

From Vikings to folklore, Norway is brimming with cultural highlights which celebrate its unique heritage.

Norsk Folkemuseum, Oslo: Founded in 1894, this is the country’s oldest and largest folk museum, and features a walk-through village depicting Norwegian life from 1500 to the present day.

Viking Ship Museum, Oslo: A must for anyone interested in Norway’s Viking history, this museum is home to three genuine Viking ships, estimated to be built between 800 and 900. Learn how each ship was discovered and preserved, and view the artifacts that were recovered from within.

Norwegian cruise food highlights

Traditional Norwegian cuisine draws on the natural landscape and ocean, with locally-harvested seasonal ingredients inspiring classic Norwegian delicacies. Lamb is widely celebrated and you’ll find this versatile meat prepared in a multitude of ways throughout the country, from cutlets and mutton cured in sea salt to racks of lamb that are steamed or smoked over birch branches.

Game is also popular and often served in restaurants. Moose, reindeer, and smoked, cured or dried grouse, are among the most common varieties of game you’ll encounter on menus in Norway.

The country is also known for its array of cheeses, of which Brunost, a Norwegian-made brown cheese, is a must-try.

In addition to the local delicacies, you’ll be able to sample at each port of call, you’ll also have the opportunity to savor a wealth of dining options on board your ship, including gastropub fare at The Golden Lion, fine dining in your stateroom’s main restaurant, buffet-style dining at The Lido or Kings Court, and traditional afternoon tea.

Norway shore experiences

While you’re always free to explore each port of call independently with Cunard, we offer a range of exciting day trips and shore experiences to enrich your Norway cruise.

Explore by foot, cable car or mountain train, enjoy guided tours of cultural hotspots, or take a refreshing stroll around the local sights, followed by a traditional meal. For our full range of experiences, log in to My Cunard once you have booked your cruise, and take your pick, up to 365 days before you sail.

Norway festivals and events

When it comes to Norwegian culture, festivals of food, music and film play a pivotal role. The summer months in Norway often play host to a selection of music festivals, celebrating popular and niche genres. From jazz, blues and contemporary through to experimental, Norway’s festivals are a staple for music lovers.

Film buffs can enjoy Tromsø’s international film festival held in January, and the Film fra Sør (Films from the South) festival in Oslo showcases titles from Africa, Asia and South America.

Norwegian cruises to see the Northern Lights

Witnessing the world-famous Northern Lights is a truly magical experience. Reminiscent of a scene from a sci-fi film, the mesmerizing green hues of the aurora borealis lighting up the night sky are a spectacular sight to behold.

Norwegian cruises throughout the year

The Norway cruise season typically runs from June through to August, which is the peak season. Cunard typically offers voyages between July and November.

While Northern Lights sightings are near impossible to predict, they are more likely on clear nights between October and March.

Weather in Norway

Due to the moderate waters of the Gulf Stream, Norway boasts a much milder climate than other destinations at the same latitude, such as Alaska and Greenland. Even so, Norway’s climate can vary significantly between different parts of the country, with regional differences commonplace.

Norwegian cruise packing essentials

It’s wise to bring a waterproof jacket with you year-round in case of unexpected showers, together with warm fleeces and plenty of clothing that you can layer up if you’re sailing during the cooler spring, autumn and winter months. You’ll also need to wrap up for hikes, shore experiences and when spending time on deck, so thick socks and comfortable walking boots, together with a hat, gloves and scarf are essential. We also recommend a windbreaker to protect against the wind and chill.

Swimsuits and flip flops are another essential to pack if you plan on using the spa or taking a dip in the pools on board. Some comfortable activewear is recommended if you want to make use of the gym or join an exercise class, while a camera and binoculars are perfect for capturing those unmissable nature and wildlife sightings.

When it comes to eveningwear on board, many of our guests embrace the chance to switch to smart attire by night. Pack a dress shirt and trousers or a cocktail dress, as though you were going to the theater or a nice restaurant on shore. If you prefer to keep things more casual, you’ll find several venues where less formal attire is welcomed.

On Gala Evenings, of which there’s at least one per seven-night voyage, we’ll invite you to put on your best black tie for an evening of celebration. This is your chance to let your personality shine in dinner jackets and ballgowns. Check My Cunard before you sail for details of themes, and look at our complete packing guide for more inspiration for day and night attire.

Norwegian cruise reading list

There’s nothing quite like the simple pleasure of curling up on deck, breathing in the crisp Nordic air, and losing yourself in a good book. Where better to enjoy a captivating Norwegian novel than in the country itself?

From historic novels and thrillers to travel memoirs and Nordic Noir, there is a host of Norwegian literature ready and waiting for you to enjoy. Growth of the Soil by Knut Hamson, Dina’s Book by Herbjørg Wassmo, and The Bridge Builders by Jan Guillou are three books you may wish to enjoy during your Norway cruise.

Norwegian cruise FAQs