Norwegian Fjords Cruise: Tips, Review & Port Guides

A pound for a pee? They must be bloody joking!

The restaurant at the summit of Alesund’s Aksla Hill echoed with the woman’s estuary tones. She removed her sunglasses and took another look at the offending sign, to check if that would make a difference to the price. It didn’t.

And here’s the thing. Norway can be an achingly expensive country to visit. That said, Norway is an astonishingly beautiful country that should be on everyone’s travel bucket list.

Taking a Norwegian Fjords cruise insulates you from these prices and is a more affordable way of seeing the country. Moreover, a cruise allows you to visit diverse towns and cities in a short space of time, and to cruise along some of Norway’s most scenic fjords.

My cruise to Norway on P&O Britannia ranks amongst one of my most memorable travel experiences.

But how should you plan a cruise in Norway? And what can you expect from a cruise to Norway on P&O Britannia?

To help you plan your cruise, here are my essential tips for cruising Norway’s fjords, what to expect at the ports of call and a review of my cruise as a solo traveller.

swimming pool deck on hmv Britannia sailing though norway fjords

My Top Norwegian Fjords Cruise Tips

The main Norway cruise season runs from May to September.
In the winter months, Hurtigruten offers cruises along Norway’s fjords. Other operators offer a handful of cruises to Norway in the winter to catch the elusive Northern Lights. But the days are short in Northern Europe at this time of the year and the coastal waters can be rough.
As it is impossible to predict the weather in Norway, this should not determine which month you travel. Norway can be very wet and I have friends who have done a fjords cruise and it poured with rain every day.
My experience was very different. When I visited Norway, the country was three weeks into a heatwave with the mercury nudging 30 degrees. The weather is so unpredictable!
The peak time for cruising in Norway tends to coincide with school holidays in July and August when it will be more expensive, and ships will be busier with vacationing families. Therefore, if you are not confined to the school holidays, I suggest that the best time to go to the Norwegian fjords is either May or September. I went at the end of May which was just about perfect.

aerial view of the town of bergen with a cruise ship in harbour
Bergen. One of the stops on a Norwegian fjords cruise.

There is considerable variety in itinerary lengths, ports of call and types of ship.
The duration of Norwegian fjords cruises generally ranges from seven to 14 days. Those heading further north into Arctic Norway can last for up to three weeks.
Like any cruise, you need to think about the ports of call. Many itineraries include other Northern European cities or Baltic states. Whilst it is a great opportunity to check out places like Rotterdam and Warnemunde, the flip side is that there are fewer Norwegian ports on the itinerary.
Unlike other cruises, the scenery as you sail from one port of call to the next is an important consideration. To identify these scenic sails along the fjords, examine the itinerary closely and take a look at a map.

norway fjord with mountains reflected in water and blue sky

There is a spectrum of ships that sail in Norway, accommodating all budgets, from mainstream behemoths to smaller ships offering a boutique experience (and that can slip into the smaller fjords). Just pick the one that is the right fit for you.

I cruised to Norway from Southampton with P&O Cruises on HMV  Britannia. Sailing with P&O is neither a splurge nor a budget cruise, but is a touch of affordable luxury travel. The itinerary included four ports of call – Stavanger, Flam, Alesund and Bergen – and a few scenic sails over one week.  


Given the unpredictability of the weather, pack for all seasons by bringing layers. Pack for the worst weather but hope for the best.

For exploring the ports of call, wear T-shirts, jeans, jumpers, and a waterproof jacket. And ditch the stilettos for sensible walking shoes or trainers. But based on my experience, in the spirit of optimism, also pack a few summer dresses and a pair of shorts.

And don’t forget your glad rags for the formal evenings on board!

Do pack the best camera that you have. Norway’s fjords and the ports of call scream out for the finest camera lens that money will buy. 

A small pair of binoculars will also come in handy. The views as you sail along the Norwegian fjords are sensational, and a set of bins will allow you to pick out details from afar.  

cruise packing checklist cold climate

My top tip for cruising the Norwegian fjords is to book a balcony cabin. It is worth every last penny.
Unlike some cruises, a large part of the appeal of a cruise along the fjords of Norway is the scenery as you sail by. And where better to take in the view than on your private balcony, perhaps with a G&T in hand?

the balcony of a cruise ship cabin looking out to a norway fjord
Balcony cabin on P&O Britannia sailing through Norway’s fjords

However, if you like a 100% dark room to sleep in, you may wish to reconsider.

One of the advantages of cruising in Norway in summer is the long days. But the flip side is that the sun may be streaming through your window in the wee small hours.

Having said that, early morning light does wake me up but this was not a problem in my balcony cabin on this cruise. I guess that the cabins on P&O Britannia have excellent blackout blinds.

A final cautionary note: not all cruise cabins are equal. Therefore if you don’t want to end up under the promenade deck or next to the laundry, research your cruise cabin before you book.

5. CONSIDER HOW YOU WILL ExplorE the ports of call

Exploring the ports of call on this Norwegian fjords cruise was a piece of cake. For each stop on the itinerary, the ship docked in the centre of town and the main sights were easily walkable.

cruise ship berthed at flam norway
P&O’s Britannia parked up at Flam, Norway

However, if you want to explore further afield and you feel that may not be able to do this under your own steam, take a look at the shore excursions on offer. If you have your heart set on a particular day trip, book this early to avoid disappointment.

Another option is to book a shore excursion with an independent operator.

But before you book an excursion, check the weather forecast for your desired destination. Norway can be very wet. If there is a risk that the longed-for fabulous view is cloaked in mist and rain, will it be really with the effort and expense?  

6. Cut costs by eating onboard the ship

Make no mistake. Scandinavia can be ludicrously expensive. For this reason alone, visiting Norway on a cruise makes perfect sense as this insulates you from these high costs.

Therefore fill your face with the food on board, which you have already paid for. Set yourself up for the day with a big breakfast and bring a few snacks to keep you going.  

Norway Fjords Cruise Itinerary & Ports of Call


At 8 pm on a balmy Sunday night,  Britannia let go of her mooring lines and we were underway.

Passing Fawley oil refinery, silhouetted against the setting sun, the ship continued along the Solent following the eastern coastline of the Isle of Wight. It then took a sharp turn at Portsmouth to enter the Dover Strait.

Gin & tonic on the balcony, moonlight on the water.  


The rig-dodging day.

P&O Britannia continued along the North Sea, edging towards Norway. Hardy Brits on board settled themselves by the pool, slathering suncream to the accompaniment of blasts of the ship’s foghorn. The maximum temperature on deck was a damp 13 degrees.


Lovely Stavanger was the first port of call.

The fortunes of this pretty harbour town on Norway’s southwest coast have centred on fish canning and, more recently, the discovery of oil off its shores. With its exquisite wooden buildings, cobbled lanes and rich maritime heritage there is plenty to occupy even the most restless soul.

cat sitting on cobblestones in street with wooden buildings in stavanger
group of people having a coffee outside brightly coloured buildings in skagen stavanger

P&O Britannia parked up right in the centre of town, alongside Gamle (Old) Stavanger. As the main sights are close to each other, Stavanger is very walkable.

  • Visit the Norwegian Canning Museum for some fishy tales
  • For all things nautical, visit the Stavanger Maritime Museum
  • Wander around Gamle (Old) Stavanger
  • Hunt for Antony Gormley statues
  • Visit the cathedral (Domkirke)
  • Visit Skagen’s cafes housed in psychedelic buildings
  • Check out Stavanger’s street art
  • Visit the Norwegian Petroleum Museum (Norsk Oljemuseum)
  • The funicular station is at Vetrlidsalmenning 23 A, right in the centre of town.


The approach to Flam was sensational, sailing along the Sognefjorden, one of Norway’s most stunning fjords. You will have to be up and about shortly after 5 am to capture this view!

a fjord in norway with mountains reflected in water

Tucked between two mountains at the head of Aurlandsfjorden, Flam (Flåm to be correct) is a community of around 400 souls, less than 10% of the total occupancy of the ship.  Although the hamlet is a good base for hiking and has a visit-worthy 17th-century church, its main tourist draw is the Flam Railway.

flam railway
Flam Railway

The cruise ship berthed slap bang in the middle of Flam. It made the hamlet look like a model village. The railway station is around a 5-minute walk from the ship.

  • Board the Flam railway for the ride of your life
  • Take a hike on one of the many walking trails around Flam
  • Increase your adrenaline levels by riding a RIB
  • Rent a talking car (yes … really)


Alesund, a fishing town and port on Norway’s west coast, is architectural heaven.

stone pier leading to wooden houses in alesund norway

A devastating town fire in 1904 resulted in a hectic reconstruction project, replacing the charred wooden buildings with those built in an Art Nouveau style with a local folkloric twist. The result is a collection of stone and brick buildings with a myriad of turrets, spires and medieval ornamentation, including intertwined animal and human faces, dragons and elaborate flowers.

pastel colored buildings reflected in water in Alesund-Norway

Once again, the Britannia berthed right in the thick of things.

The main sights are close to each other. Although Alesund is very walkable, there are lots of steep cobbled streets. Leave the stilettos in your suitcase.  

  • Take a walking tour to admire Alesund’s Art Nouveau masterpieces
  • Climb the 418 steps to the top of Aksla Hill for a panoramic view
  • Wonder at the wooden buildings of Molovegen


The final stop on this Norwegian fjords cruise was beautiful Bergen.

painted wooden buildings in street in bergen norway
Wooden buildings in Bryggen, Bergen

Formerly the capital of Norway, Bergen is beautifully situated on a promontory, surrounded by seven hills. The self-proclaimed Gateway to the Western Fjords is also an attractive and enjoyable city in its own right.

greenery reflected in deep blue water of lake
Lake at Skomakerdiket, Bergen

Yet again, the ship parked up close to the city’s main sights at the entrance to the harbour. Bergen is also very walkable. 

  • For panoramic views and nature trails, ride the Floibanen funicular to the summit of Mount Floyen
  • Explore picture-perfect historic Bryggen
  • Grab a seafood snack at the fish market
  • Check out the street art along Kong Oscars Gate
  • Learn more about Norway’s fight against leprosy at the Leprosy Museum
  • Discover the story behind the resistance in Bergen during World War II at the Bergenhus Festning Museum
  • For a spot of medieval splendour, visit Bergen City Museum at the Rosenkrantz Tower


Waving goodbye to Norway, the Britannia retraced her journey through the gas and oil fields of the North Sea into the busy Dover Strait, reaching the Solent waters in the early hours of Sunday morning. During the cruise, Britannia travelled a total distance of 2323 nautical miles.

My Experience Onboard P&O Britannia: Ship Review

p and o cruise ship docked in a port in norway

Barely three years old when I sailed on her, HMV Britannia had a fresh-out-of-the-box feel. P&O’s only British registered vessel, it has 1,376 staff for its 3,600 guests.

She is enormous. Spread over 15 passenger decks, it is 232 feet high, 330 meters long and weighs a whopping 144,000 tonnes. To put it into perspective, it is twice the size of the largest hotel in the world.

The central space is the starburst atrium, decked in gleaming Turkish porcelain, covering three floors. But as gorgeous as this space is, I found that it had a peculiar lack of atmosphere.

Starburst atrium on P&O Britannia on Norwegian Fjords cruise
Starburst atrium, P&O Britannia

There were a few design aspects that I found puzzling.

There are no publicly accessible stairs at mid-ship, creating pressure on lifts. Also, customer services and shore excursions are buried down on deck 5.  


I had a balcony cabin, which was decorated in tasteful moss-green, beige and brown tones. The large, comfortable bed had good-quality linen.

A large wall-mounted TV had a limited choice of channels but a decent, mostly free movie library.

There was a small fridge, a kettle and tea and coffee supplies, which were replenished each day. Three-pin (British) sockets were plentiful.

Cabin on P&O Britannia Norwegian Fjords Cruise
Balcony cabin, P&O Britannia

The small bathroom was well-designed, using the available space wisely. White Company toiletries were provided; shampoo, conditioner and body lotion in portable 100ml bottles, and shower gel in a fixed dispenser.

small bathroom on the cruise ship britannia

A major plus point is that there was a proper shower cubicle, not just a shower tray with a nasty nylon curtain. However, at busy times, water pressure was poor.

A hairdryer was available. The towels were pleasingly white and fluffy.

The balcony on P&O Britannia is compact, accommodating two reclining chairs placed at jaunty angles, and a small table.  


There are bars-a-plenty on P&O Britannia with 13 to choose from, each with its selling point.

The Glass House, matching food to wine; Brodies, modelled on a British boozer; The Blue Bar with its extensive martini list. Or my favourite, The Crow’s Nest, the ship’s signature gin bar offering 21 different varieties. Drink prices were reasonable.

The food in the main restaurants – Peninsular, Meridian, Oriental – was of good quality but could be on the tepid side. The food from the buffet service for lunch and dinner at the Horizon Restaurant was OK but unexceptional.

Breakfasts were very good, with an extensive choice from freshly made omelettes, the great British cooked breakfast, fruit, cereals, pastries, cold meats and cheeses and yoghurt. Afternoon tea at The Horizon was also very good. 

Speciality dining was available on P&O Britannia for a supplement (e.g. Sindhu, Epicurean).

The Grab-and-Go fridge on the Lido deck is a welcome innovation.

The Britannia berthed during the Norwegian Fjords cruise


There is a busy main pool on the Lido deck (16) but quieter pools are also available. Pool towels were provided in the cabin. There were plenty of sunbeds dotted throughout the ship.

Disappointingly, as the Britannia does not have a promenade deck, you cannot walk or run a circuit of the ship. However, there is a well-equipped gym. There are golf nets on the Sports Deck (17).  


There was a full programme to suit all tastes. From live shows and recent films in the well-equipped main theatre to line dancing and magic workshops.  


This is where I feel Britannia fails. Although many of the staff were friendly and welcoming – my cabin steward was exceptional –  too many others were disinterested, bordering on surly. Don’t expect banter.

Gone are the days when cruising was the preserve of older people, squandering their children’s inheritance. On P&O Britannia, there was a much younger crowd with a significant number of multigenerational families.

The vast majority of those I spoke with were British and not what I call ‘serial cruisers’. For many, this was their first cruise.  

What Is it Like To Be a Solo Traveller on a Norway Fjords Cruise With P&O?

A cruise can be an excellent solo travel experience, especially if you are a first-time solo traveller.

Cruises are very social environments but there are also plenty of opportunities to be alone if that’s your preference.
P&O Britannia had lots of organised activities during the day – the cruise line’s sail-away parties are famous – and entertainment laid on at night. It’s entirely up to you if you want to participate.
Keeping safe whilst away is at the forefront of most travellers’ minds, especially solo travellers. All of the Norwegian ports of call felt safe, and the main sights were within easy walking distance of the ship.
A downside is that cruises for solo travellers can be expensive. The lack of single cruise cabins and single supplements approaching 100 per cent have penalised those travelling alone.

That said, this Norway Fjords cruise was good value.

red and ochre wooden houses at side of norwegian fjord

My Norwegian Fjords Cruise on P&O Britannia: The Good & the Bad

In 2018, I paid just over £1300 for sole occupation of a balcony cabin for this Norway’s fjords cruise on P&O Britannia. At around £180 per day, I consider this to be good value for a trip to Norway.

It was a fantastic itinerary. Each stop had something different to offer and sailing along the fjords was sensational. I should add that we were blessed with balmy weather which showed off Norway at its best.

A Norwegian Fjords cruise is also very easy.  As the ship berths in the centre of each of these towns and cities, there is no need for a transfer. Unless you wish to venture further afield, there is also no need to take an expensive shore excursion.

P&O Britannia was beautiful and felt fresh, although a few design aspects were occasionally frustrating. The cabin was well-designed and comfortable, although its balcony was compact.

Food was generally of good quality. Variability in the levels of customer service was disappointing.

Ready to cruise the fjords of Norway?

This was one of my favourite solo cruises and a cost-effective way of experiencing a notoriously expensive country.

If you have found this article helpful, take a deeper dive into the stops on this Norway Fjords cruise.

Happy sailing!

bridget coleman the flashpacker 2

About Bridget

Bridget Coleman has been a passionate traveller for more than 30 years. She has visited 70+ countries, most as a solo traveller.

Articles on this site reflect her first-hand experiences.

To get in touch, email her at or follow her on social media.

6 thoughts on “Norwegian Fjords Cruise: Tips, Review & Port Guides

    • Bridget says:

      Hi Kacie! It was one off those trips that far exceeded my expectations. I hope you manage to get there too.
      Have a good weekend!

  1. Kristin says:

    Thanks for this post! I’ve been thinking about doing a Norway cruise with my family but the Disney Cruise Line is so expensive. This might be a good option for us.

    • Bridget says:

      Hi Kristin. So glad it was of use. What really struck me was the number of multi-generational families on board. I got talking to a lady who worked in the kid’s club who told me that they had 600 young people to entertain overt the 7 days!

      Thanks for dropping by 🙂

  2. Julie Boyd says:

    I have not had a chance to visit Norway yet, and it is definitely on the top of my list. I have never been on a cruise, so I am nervous about wanting to explore more, but having to rush back to the ship. Did you find this was the case on your trip?

    • Bridget says:

      Hello Julie.

      I want to go back now! Perhaps in the winter (if I can cope with the lack of daylight!)

      Thanks for dropping by 🙂


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