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Jack E Dawson

Norway Fjords Cruse

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My wife and I are considering the late summer Norway Fjord Cruise on the QM2 and would appreciate any advice from those who have taken this voyage

Are the towns of Alesund, Flaam, Bergen and Stavanger interesting stops?

Is there enough time at these ports to enjoy the local culture?

Are there still formal nights onboard the QM2?

Is there enough daytime sailing to enjoy the beauty of the fjords?

Are there any unique aspects to this cruise that need to be considered?

 

Our one previous cruise was a trans-Atlantic on the QM2 last May that was nothing short of amazing.

 

Thanks

Harold

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It is only Flam that is a true fjord port of call, and it is stunningly beautiful. The other 3 towns you mention are all certainly worth a visit, and Alesund is all very scenic.

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There's a lot to do in Bergen in particular. There's the Floibanan funicular railway up Mt Floyen where there is spectacular views. There's Bryggen which is a UNESCO world heritage site. You can get on the tourist road train round Bergen if you don't feel like walking. There's also a famous fish market which is worth a walk round. If the shuttle bus drops you off in the town centre, ask the driver for directions to Bryggen which is also near to the other toursit spots I mentioned.

 

The Flamsbana railway in Flam (to Myrdal at the top) is definitely worth going on for the views and for the stop halfway to see a gushing waterfall close up.

 

We've been to Stavanger a few times and never liked it. We found it rather boring, although I've read the Petroleum Museum is supposed to be interesting if that's your thing.

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I love Norway and can't recommend a cruise there too highly, having done 4 on the QM2 over the last 10 years.

 

I've visited Alesund twice, Flam 3 times and Bergen and Stavanger on each trip ( all the voyages seem to stop at the latter two). Each time, my partner and I have found something slightly different to do. We hardly ever do organised excursions, preferring to do things at our own pace. Last year in Stavanger we took a cruise with the Nordfjord line up the Lysefjord to Pulpit Rock, which is one of the highlights in the area. The cruise departed from the opposite side of the harbour from where QM2 had docked, at a better time for us (i.e. late morning) and was cheaper than the QM2 excursion.

 

In Flam we always explore the area on foot: there is a hike up to a waterfall (Brekkefossen), which also gives great views down the valley to the harbour side and the ship. Captain Wells took time out from his duties to enjoy the views when we were there last year. (He's very fit and did the ascent in a fraction of the time we managed it!). There is also the scenic train which Ray66 mentioned: you can buy tickets for this online and do it independently of Cunard. However, if considering this, you need to be aware that sometimes Flam is described as a tender port, so it may not be a good idea to book the first train of the day (though the train departs pretty close to the harbour front), since Cunard gives priority in the tenders to passengers on their organised tours.

 

In Alesund there are good walks to various viewpoints providing great views of where the ship will be docked. The city was rebuilt in the Art Noveau style after a catastrophic fire with the assistance of Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, who regularly spent his holidays there so the architecture has a different feel to Bergen and Stavanger.

 

Everything mentioned by Ray66 about what you can do in Bergen would more than fill a day. On the Bryggen, there is a fantastic shop called Juhls Silver Gallery where I always manage to spend some Kroner! (You can reclaim some tax when Norwegian customs officials board the ship at its last port of call - given that Norway is so expensive, getting a bit of Scandi VAT back, is very welcome!)

 

If you had the option to do an itinerary which called at two of Flam, Olden and Geiranger you would get more of an opportunity to experience sailing through and spending time in the fjords, however, I am sure that you would have an equally wonderful time visiting pretty much any destination in Norway. You should, though, plan for the possibility of rain, sunshine, wind, cool temperatures and heat as the weather in Norway, even at the height of summer is unpredictable and can be a little unkind (as Safarigal's blog has mentioned).

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It was definitely wet, windy and very COLD this week, for those of us on QM2, but nevertheless a fabulous time as always.

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What a shame about the weather but it's good to hear that you had a fabulous time.

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It was definitely wet, windy and very COLD this week, for those of us on QM2, but nevertheless a fabulous time as always.

 

On my cruise in June/July 2016 we were experiencing temperatures of 5-8 degrees C, and constant rain.

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It was definitely wet, windy and very COLD this week, for those of us on QM2, but nevertheless a fabulous time as always.

 

It certainly was, but we had a really lovely time - our first Cunard cruise but not our last, we are now ruined for any other cruise line. Already, we are looking at the same cruise next year - after all, we have not been to Alesund as we were unable to get in there last week, and we did a full day trip in Flaam so didn't get a chance to spend time in Flaam itself.

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You might find safarigal's current blog useful, although they will have much more daylight on a June cruise than later in the summer.

 

https://whereissafarigal.wordpress.com

 

Thanks for posting the link, Hattie.

 

We disembarked yesterday, and despite missing a port due to the weather, it really was a great trip, and I recommend it to all :)

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Thanks for posting the link, Hattie.

 

We disembarked yesterday, and despite missing a port due to the weather, it really was a great trip, and I recommend it to all :)

Thank you very much for blogging, it was great to follow your trip and it's good to hear that the weather didn't dampen your spirits.

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It certainly was, but we had a really lovely time - our first Cunard cruise but not our last, we are now ruined for any other cruise line. Already, we are looking at the same cruise next year - after all, we have not been to Alesund as we were unable to get in there last week, and we did a full day trip in Flaam so didn't get a chance to spend time in Flaam itself.
That's very good to hear, we've had a few poor reviews recently so it's nice to hear something positive.

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That's very good to hear, we've had a few poor reviews recently so it's nice to hear something positive.

 

Just to add to that positive note, we were also on this cruise and also had a great time despite the weather.

 

Also, apart from the enjoyable cruise and the ship itself, unlike some recent posters we both felt that the food served in Britannia was the best we've ever had in eight Cunard voyages - and considerably better than during our circumnavigation of New Zealand in February. It's subjective of course, but that feeling was shared by everyone at our table, both lunch and dinner. Fish in particular has come in for criticism at times, but I had it four or five times over the course of the week (including haddock for breakfast) and found it to be wonderful every time. Perhaps we're not very fussy, but we were very pleased with every meal.

 

We also made a few observations regarding the new dress code, but I'll put those in a separate post on the dress code thread.

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I am just back from the Fjords- as mentioned afore- it was wet, windy, very cold- and just wonderful! Thanks to this wonderful ship- Queen Mary2. I missed out Cruise Critic Meeting in the Commodore Club due to me sleeping in- London seems to have exhausted me. I was sorry of not beeing able to meet the fellow cruises we chatted so nicely.

 

Even though Allesund was canceld due to the high winds- a day on Board the Mary makes more than up for it. Flam and the sailing through the Fjord was just breathtakeing- even more so as how gracefull the BIG Queen Mary moved trough these sometimes narrow passages! Wonderful experience.

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Ah yes- I agree, the food in the Britannia was really the best ever. On the other hand the Verandah experience was the worst I have ever had on any Cunarder!

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Ah yes- I agree, the food in the Britannia was really the best ever. On the other hand the Verandah experience was the worst I have ever had on any Cunarder!

Interesting to read you say the Verandah wasn’t good. My husband went alone, using the Diamond voucher, as I was so full after the special meal Osman arranged for my birthday. He said it was extremely disappointing, bordering on unpleasant, and wished we’d gone for one of the KC speciality meals instead, as we normally do.

 

A mistake we shan’t make again.

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Flam is amazing, and was one of the highlights of our Norwegian cruise. But if you are considering a cruise for this summer, please check to see if train tickets are still available since they do sometimes sell out.

The Flam railway is a five minute walk from where you dock or tender, so this can easily be undertaken as an independent excursion. We booked our tickets online at the Norwegian Railways site at https://www.nsb.no/en/?gclid=CMuvnubiitMCFYoy0wodZb8BnQ .

 

If that site is showing that everything is booked, other cruise critic posters have mentioned trying http://booking.visitflam.com/en/to-do/a1488268/the-flåm-railway/showdetails , and other posters have stated that this site has access to different tickets and sometimes has availability even when the Norwegian railway site lists no availability. Also, people have reported on the forums that when the train was initially sold out, they kept checking and eventually tickets opened up due to cancellations. Another option is to check with your cruise line – it will be more expensive to purchase this excursion through the cruise line but worth it if you cannot purchase the tickets independently.

 

A quick online search seemed to recommend that you should sit on the right side of the train on the Flam to Myrdal journey. The view on that side was quite lovely, but might also be on the other side.

 

In Flam, we had a lovely afternoon visiting a goat farm, exploring the beautiful town of Undredal (the inspiration for the movie Frozen), and then eating local cheeses (including brown caramel goat cheese) and a delicious lunch that was organized by Flam Guide Service ( http://www.fjordsafari.com ). Fjord Safari's booth is located about a minute away from the Flam railway platform, so you will have no problem finding your tour. You can combine this tour with a hike and boat ride along the fjords if your group is all physically fit. It was a very pleasant and enjoyable excursion, which I would highly recommend. We traveled in May, before the goats move to their summer farms so this excursion had to be individually arranged. Flam Guide service stayed in contact with us and gave us updates as they worked to book this reservation, and they also helpfully provided car seats for our children. Our tour guide was highly knowlegdable and helpful and this tour was one of the highlights of our cruise.

The highlight of Stavanger is Pulpit Rock, and because we were traveling with a 2 and 6 year old we were unable to try this climb. There's quite a bit of discussion of this on the Baltic forum, but not every sailing is in Stavanger long enough for Pulpit Rock (the easiest way to check is to see if your cruise offers an excursion there). If not, check the Baltic forum and they'll be able to advise you if the transportation to Pulpit rock works in your favor so you'll have enough time to reach Pulpit Rock, hike and return. The actual climb itself is not rate too difficult, but I don't know anything about your level of physical fitness. If you are unable to visit Pulpit Rock, I wouldn't list Stavanger as one of my favorite destinations (it has a nice old town to walk around, but wasn't a highlight of our cruise).

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We're on the 6 Aug. QV cruise. What time did you arrive in Flam and what time was "All-on board"?

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Posted (edited)
We're on the 6 Aug. QV cruise. What time did you arrive in Flam and what time was "All-on board"?

 

For QM2's recent June 21 call at Flam, our arrival time was listed as 8:00am and our "All Aboard" time was listed as 5:00pm in the daily programme. I don't recall what time the captain actually gave the announcement that we were cleared to disembark, but I don't think it was any later than 8:00am.

 

We were on the early (9:45am) "Norway in a Nutshell" excursion and I noticed there was also a later (10:30am) departure for that excursion. Since the duration of that excursion was 6.5 hours, that meant the later excursion was due to arrive back at the ship at 5:00pm. In the event, I think that later excursion may have run just a bit late as some tour buses were pulling up to the pier and passengers were still reboarding a few minutes after 5:00pm.

Edited by bluemarble

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My friends did Flam Railway Tour- loved it. They booked the rain ride right there and then in Flam, for fraction of the price Cunards Excursion would have cost. All early trains were fully booked. So they took the one after 1pm- turned out it was just right- and plenty of time to get back on board!

 

If you plan to book the Flam Railway - i would recommend to do it in advance- so you can get an early train!

 

 

 

To all cruises I missed- i was really sorry to have missed the get together!

 

Michael

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We were on the 10.30 Norway in a Nutshell excursion in Flam on 21st June and yes, arrived back to the ship very close to sailing time. It was a very enjoyable day, although long. However, if we were to go to Flam again, we would probably stay around Flam as it is a pretty place with plenty of nice walking in the area.

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Thank you all for the excellent detailed information. This is exactly the advice we were looking for. Hattie, thanks for the link to Safarigal's blog. Safarigal, your blog is most interesting and so well written. I followed the blog while you were still on the trip and couldn't wait for each day's posting. Your writing style is so good I went on and read all of your journey's.

We have narrowed our cruise choices down to either the Fjord cruise with a B2B E-W TA (a total of 14 consecutive nights on the QM2) or the Southampton to Dubai (via Spain, Greece and Israel) 19 night cruise. The two are pretty close in price. We are planning this for 2020.

 

Again, thanks all.

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Thank you all for the excellent detailed information. This is exactly the advice we were looking for. Hattie, thanks for the link to Safarigal's blog. Safarigal, your blog is most interesting and so well written. I followed the blog while you were still on the trip and couldn't wait for each day's posting. Your writing style is so good I went on and read all of your journey's.

We have narrowed our cruise choices down to either the Fjord cruise with a B2B E-W TA (a total of 14 consecutive nights on the QM2) or the Southampton to Dubai (via Spain, Greece and Israel) 19 night cruise. The two are pretty close in price. We are planning this for 2020.

 

Again, thanks all.

 

Thank you for your kind words :)

 

Both itineraries sound great - I always love a crossing - westbound used to be my favorite, but having just disembarked from an eastbound one I am totally in favor of that too. Fjords + Crossing sounds like a good plan. Mind you, Southampton to Dubai also sounds great, and you could stay at the QE2 hotel in Dubai at the end to relax before you fly home. Good luck choosing :)

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Norway is an interesting place, nevertheless you should be aware that with Cunard you will stay in the south.

Northern Norway (or Nordnorge, as it's called) begins only north of Trondheim or even north of Bodø.

 

That said: Southern Norway has its charms and Bergen and Ålesund are certainly charming towns. Flåm is more of a railway station plus café and museum than town and Stavanger is the hub of Norway's oil industry. The QM2 never fails and traveling up the Aurlandsfjord tho Flåm should be on every tourists bucket list.

 

Nevertheless, there are some downsides, particularly in terms of local culture: Yes you will get an impression, but to get close to Norwegian culture an ocean liner is probably not the ideal vessel. Flåm has about 450 inhabitants, so there will be four times as many tourists as locals.

 

If Norwegian Culture is really the thing you're looking for, a trip on the Hurtigruten will serve you better. The Hurtigruten mail ships travel from Bergen to Kirkenes and they are at the very core of Norwegian identity. Also, they are subsidized by the Norwegian government.Yes, they are less luxurious than an of the Cunard vessels, they do not do any entertainment programme and it's better not to think about Norwegian prices for booze. But they go to remote places where no cruise ship will ever go and they are still used for point-to-point journeys. The ships run on a daily schedule, so it's possible to do stopovers at places like Ålesund or Trondheim.

Also, they do some really badass fjord sailing, like getting up the Trollfjord. Just because they can. (The Trollfjord is about three inches wider than the average Hurtigruten ship.)

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Just back from Q Elizabeth to Norway. Great trip. However we did go up to some northern ports: Bodo and Narvik and I'm not sure it was worth the detour. Yes it was north of the arctic circle and so in the land of the midnight sun. However there wasn't any sun, midnight or daytime. The two ports were not that interesting although Narvik does have a fantastic war museum. By contrast the fjords in the sunshine were sensational. I agree you don't get to know the Norwegians much but I guess that applies to most cruises. Maybe Hurtigruten is better from that point of view. However they did a tour from Bergen to a farm where there was a chance to learn a bit about the country by chatting to the farmer

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We don't really expect to do anything on a cruise other than enjoy the ship and see the scenery. When we travel, we do it on our own and stay in the smallest places possible. For example, before the cruise we are spending a week in rural Yorkshire. Last year we cruised over on the QM2, than spent our vacation in a small Cotswalds Village, a resort in the Midlands, a tiny village in Wales and in Devonshire farm country. The year before was a village in Scotland, old Edinburgh (couldn't miss the tattoo) and a stone farmhouse in Ireland.

 

We seldom do the ship's tour unless we're on Regent where they are included. On our upcoming QV Norway cruise the only tour we booked was Norway in a Nutshell because it's an all-day deal and we would not venture that far on our own. What if the bus breaks down? Or the railroad is blocked by a rock slide (as happened to us in Alaska)? Also the tour seemed surprisingly reasonably priced considering it includes two railroads, lunch and a bus trip.

 

If you want to know how overpriced the ship's tours are, note that the Flam Railway for two hours is $135. And all you get is a reserved car after you walk yourself to the station. On the other hand, buying the ticked directly is only about $98. And if you're 67 or older, half that.

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The lunch you get on the Norway in a Nutshell is really excellent and very well organised. Our day in Flam was the only really nice day we had weather-wise, which was a bonus, and the excursion is a good way to see a little bit more of Norway.

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Hi- we did a land trip (trains, busses, and cars) to Norway last August and visited several of the towns you are discussing. We loved Norway's natural splendor so much that we are going to return to Norway on a Cunard voyage in Aug 2019.- Flåm is lovely. We did the beautiful Flåm train and we also took a wonderful hairpin-turns bus ride up to the Stegastein Viewpoint. Both were stunning.

- In Bergen, I loved riding the funicular.

- Stavanger is more tricky- it has a neat old town to walk around in, BUT we highly recommend getting on a boat tour and sailing down on the beautiful Lysefjord... most of the boats sail right under Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock)... it was a great excursion.

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Just back from Q Elizabeth to Norway. Great trip. However we did go up to some northern ports: Bodo and Narvik and I'm not sure it was worth the detour. Yes it was north of the arctic circle and so in the land of the midnight sun. However there wasn't any sun, midnight or daytime. The two ports were not that interesting although Narvik does have a fantastic war museum.

 

... (quote)

 

Many years ago we had a cruise on P&O's Canberra that included a view of the polar ice cap and a day in Narvik. They chartered a train from Narvik to take us into Sweden where he had an excellent buffet lunch at a remote hotel that had a stunning view from the dining room. I don't know if Cunard offers the same or similar tour, but if they did I would love to do it again.

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We took our trip on the QE2 in 1993 and must say next to transiting the Panama Canal the Norway Fjord sailing was very special. To make it a real holiday we returned to NYC via TA.

 

It was one of the most interesting and Photographed holidays we ever took. It was in the month of July in 93.

 

First time venturing in that area was a true adventure.

 

We enjoyed our Ports of Call and the touring within them. To mention a few:

Bergen, Stavange, Hammerfest, Trondheim, Geiranger and to the top North Cape which was the topper of the cruise.

 

Sorry that some of these are not mentioned within the QM2 trips.

 

We very much enjoyed walking the streets of Bergen and visiting the shops and photographing the town itself.

 

Our all day ship excursion out of Geiranger was interesting and enjoying a lunch of Poached Salmon with Dill Sauce, Boiled Potatoes and Carrots while dining next to a Waterfall with exquisite mountain top scenery.

 

North Cape (close to the Arctic Circle) being taken to the Observation Point exactly at Midnight to view the never setting Sun re-rising into the sky.

 

And of course sailing out of Geriranger and passing the Seven Sister Waterfall.

 

A vacation never to forget.

 

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