Norway is an amazing country. Including the fjords it has over 15,000 miles of coastline. Nearly one third of the country is above the tree line and huge glaciers can be found as far south as central southern Norway. It’s two and a half times the size of the UK, but has a population of fewer than five million. You can quote many amazing facts and figures about the country, but it’s the jaw-dropping scenery which leaves everyone looking for words good enough to describe Norway’s natural wonders. And the further north you go, the better it gets. Photos don’t do the country justice – you have to come here yourself to believe it. Sailing from Liverpool we spend a couple of days getting used to life at sea and all the comforts of the Black Watch. Our first Norwegian port is the Art Nouveau town of Ålesund, spectacularly situated on a promontory, surrounded by sea, fjords and mountains. We then continue north, crossing over the Arctic Circle and entering the realm of the midnight sun.
Our first venture ashore in the Norwegian Arctic is Honningsvåg on the island of Magerøya, just short of North Cape. Here the landscape is truly wild and untamed and our hike across the hills is normally rewarded with sightings of reindeer.We spend two days in Svalbard, the collection of islands halfway between mainland Norway and the North Pole, calling into the ports of Pyramiden and Longyearbyen. Longyearbyen is the northernmost year-round settlement on earth, where all forms of life battle with the harsh environment. Pyramiden is a bleak and barren former Russian mining colony truly at the ends of the earth.
Heading south from here we again have a chance to view Norway’s spectacular coastline before arriving in Tromsø The city is traditionally seen as the gateway to the Arctic, the city from where many groundbreaking polar adventures have started. Our final port of call in Norway is Bodø. It’s one of those places of which you may never have heard, but once visited, will long to go back to. From the town access to pristine Arctic wilderness and stunning scenery is relatively easy. We then cross the North Sea to weigh anchor in Lerwick, the capital of the Shetland Islands, halfway to Norway from the UK in more ways than one. The islands are closer to Oslo than London and 30% of the population claim Norwegian heritage, mainly stemming from the 7 centuries when the Shetlands were ruled by Vikings. The local accent is a mixture of Scots & Norwegian. During the cruise we have several days at sea, some spent cruising the spectacular coastline, with views of mountains, remote islands, isolated communities and the seaward end of fjords. With our walks we aim to explore coastal Norway’s scenery. The walks are sometimes shorter than you might expect for a grade 4 holiday but the views we will be rewarded with are still breathtaking.
Norway does have a reputation for being expensive, but on a Ramblers Cruise & Walk holiday you benefit from excellent value and all the amazing scenery you would get on a land-based holiday. At the end of each day’s activities we return to the excellent food and comfort of Black Watch and sail on to another scenic destination.
Please note, ports of call may change between different departure dates. It is important to check the individual tour date proposed itinerary for details of your cruise.