Show sea days
Muse on voyages past as you sail in or out of Southampton, long a maritime center, its yards turning out warships for king and country from the Hundred Years War in the 14-15th centuries, to two world wars in the 20th. It was the departure point for the Mayflower in 1620, and for the ill-fated Titanic in 1912. The charms of London are not far away, but pray tarry in the south to explore other wonders, including Bath, with its natural hot springs and stunning architecture and the mysterious megaliths of Stonehenge, or venture all the way west to Lands End, and the wild moorlands and pirate haunts of Cornwall.
The village of Olden sits peacefully at the edge of the colossal Jostedal Glacier. This is Europe’s largest ice floe, covering 188 square miles, and 2000 feet at its thickest. But it’s not the only glacier in this park. If you are feeling energetic, consider a journey to the frozen cascade of the million-year-old Briksdal Glacier, hiking the last portion across a wooden bridge over a waterfall, through a bewitching mountain valley, right up to the glacier’s face. Alternatively, opt for a relaxing journey by boat on an emerald green lake framed by ancient mountains.
The scenery of the Lofoten archipelago is among the most dramatic in Norway, its spectacular glacial rock formations always visible, looming large behind beaches and green fields. Here, 200 km (124 miles) north of the Arctic Circle, the landscape is wild and life is simple, the coast ringed with fishing hamlets and picturesque cabins on stilts that have attracted artists for centuries. Birdlife is abundant, with large colonies of co-habiting species nesting on towering cliffs. Six miles offshore the continental shelf drops away to depths of 3,000 feet, and massive sperm whales can be spotted feeding in the deep, nutrient-rich waters.
Sometimes the biggest adventures come in small voyages. A narrow two-kilometer strip of the Raftsundet Strait just 3,724 feet wide, Trollfjord is a breathtaking passage through the best of the Arctic Circle.
Nestled between the Lofoten Islands and Vesteralen Archipelago, go where the bigger ships leave off to discover Norway’s towering Arctic fjords with Azamara. The site of the largest sea eagle population in the world, listen to the call of these majestic kings of flight while keeping your eyes peeled for puffins clinging to cliffs and the other seabirds that call these steep mountainsides home. In the water below, otters and seals play in surf teeming with fish and the occasional porpoise or whale.
Hidden away at the head of the Otofjord, Narvik is brimming with naval history and “no-you’re-not dreaming” natural wonder. Since the late 1800’s, Narvik’s ice-free port has been vital to shipping iron ore from neighboring Sweden. In fact, the Ofoten Railway was built specifically to bring it from the mines to the sea. Today, you can travel the railway as it hugs the mountainside, running along the spectacular Rombaksfjord. To see the fjord from a fresh perspective, take a boat tour back down the fjord to town.
Honningsvag, population 4000, is the last village before the North Cape. The Midnight Sun shines here unceasingly from mid-May to the end of July, during which time the hamlet’s numbers swell, as the Sami people and their reindeer herds settle on the outskirts of town. No one lives permanently at the North Cape itself, but many come to visit this majestic cliff, rising over 1000 feet above the sea, providing a lookout over a limitless panorama stretching silently to the North Pole. Ingeniously concealed inside the cliff is North Cape Hall, where you can ponder the vastness in comfort.
We’re taking you to the edge of the world. This mining town on the archipelago of Svalbard lies between Norway and the North Pole. It’s a place where reindeer roam free around town, where you can check the time on a 24-hour sundial (it’s easy to lose track of it in the “Land of the Midnight Sun”), and where the crack of calving glaciers breaks through the calm of the Arctic Tundra. In summer, birds flock to Longyearbyen in droves, and wildflowers blanket terrain that appears unforgiving, but is definitely worth exploring.
Explorers seeking the farthest reaches of human civilization will find what they’ve been searching for on our Ny Ålesund, Norway cruises. The gateway to the top of the world, Ny Ålesund served as the starting point for many historical attempts to reach the North Pole. Today, its awe-inspiring views and tight-knit community are a testament to the beauty of our planet and the people who call it home.
Far north of the Arctic Circle, Tromsø is surrounded by a dramatic landscape of snow-capped peaks, scattered islands, and fjords, a scene best observed by taking the cable car up Storsteinen Mountain. In town the striking Arctic Cathedral mirrors the setting in glass and concrete, its triangular façade representative of an iceberg pointing to the sky. This part of the country is home to the Sami, Norway’s indigenous people, with their own language, culture, and traditional pursuits of fishing, hunting, and reindeer herding. Stop in at the Wilderness Center to say hello to Tove and Tore, their children, and more than 100 Alaskan huskies.
A city founded over 1,000 years ago is certain to be rich in history and culture. Now the country’s third largest municipality, it’s been Norway’s capital city, a site of countless coronations, and an important pilgrimage for worshipers of the Christian faith. Today, Trondheim is a vibrant, youthful city that embraces the simplicity of Scandinavian life. But don’t let this laid back lifestyle fool you— there is so much to discover beneath Trondheim’s calm exterior.
Alesund’s architecture is known far and wide. Turrets, spires, and other whimsical Art Nouveau architectural touches give the town its distinctive character like something from a fairytale. The scenic spectacle of the Geirangerfjord, one of Norway’s best-known attractions, is just a stone’s throw from this quaint little town.
Your first glimpse of this quaint town will be of the old Hanseatic Wharf, lined with narrow peak-roofed buildings in various colors. Many old wooden houses survive here, making an exploration of the narrow lanes a worthwhile pursuit. A funicular will take you from the city center to the top of Mt. Floyen, for an expansive view of the city below, and the surrounding mountains and fjords. If you are feeling energetic you can walk back down, enjoying the clear air and delights of nature, all the way to the bustle of the fish market, with its large selection of the freshest of seafood.
Norway’s capital is an intriguing blend of historic and contemporary – its striking new Opera House playing counterpoint to the charming old Damstredet, a narrow, well-preserved street of brightly painted and carved wooden houses. Norwegians are justly proud of their maritime heritage, dating back to the 9th century, when Viking long ships with distinctive curved bows left colonies in their wake across northern Europe, and later sailed on to Greenland and America almost 500 years before Columbus. Some of these intriguing craft can be found amidst the parks of the Bygdøy Peninsula, along with other historic vessels, including Amundsen’s polar ship Fram, and Heyerdahl’s raft, Kon Tiki.