We Are Excited To Visit The Nordic Countries In Summer
When we cruised to Cuba for Christmas with Oceania Cruises, we were excited when we booked onboard for a cruise to visit the Nordic Countries in summer. But our trip got us so many more exciting destinations.
For years we wanted to cruise around the fjords of Norway. The Oceania Marina cruise we booked left from Oslo, cruised along the fjords and then finished in London (actually Southhampton). But we got so excited when we found we could change Oceania cruise ships in London on the same day. And this amazing cruise through the Nordic Countries aboard the Oceania Nautica took us to the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland. As an added bonus, we also got some great stops in the UK in Scotland and Ireland.
We will cross the Arctic Circle line multiple times on this cruise. When we crossed the equator by cruise ship between the Maldives and Seychelles in the Indian Ocean, we experienced an interesting ceremony. We wonder what the ceremony is for the Arctic Circle. And how many times we may actually have to do it!
The 32 day cruise to the Nordic Countries in summer covered off so many things on our travel wish list. We know that cruising will only give us a taste test. And may tempt us to do a return visit to many spots for longer stays.
Starting In Oslo
We visited Oslo in Norway when we cruised the Baltic countries into Russia. It was a busy day in Oslo as we used the public trams to hop from sight to sight. The stunning Vigeland Statue Garden kept us entranced for hours. When we land on this return visit, it will be great to have a basic understanding of the city.
From Oslo we head to Denmark’s northernmost town, Skagen. We enjoyed our last visit to Skagen as we explored the town centre. And put our feet at the point where the Baltic meets the North Sea.
From there we head to the fjords of Norway as our first stop to explore the Nordic Countries in summer.
Exploring The Norway Fjords
On our cruise through the Norway fjords, we have cruise port stops in Bergen, Haugesund, Flam, Geiranger, Hellesylt, Alesund, Kristiansun, Bodo and Harstad. We will have a mix of day trips when we cruise the fjords. In some ports we will just wander the towns. And maybe pick up a local tour. But in some ports we pre-booked a wide range of excursions.
In Haugesund we will cruise up the fjords on a small boat to see the local landscape and waterfalls and then take a bus trip back along the shore. Our excursion in Flam takes us on a stunning train adventure through the narrow, steep valley for a stop at the Vatnahalsen Mountain Hotel. In Geiranger, we board a small R.I.B. (inflated) boat to explore the Geirangerfjord and see the Seven Sisters Waterfalls and the Bridal Veil Waterfall at very close range.
This will just be the start of the fjords and waterfalls we will see on our tour of the Nordic Countries in summer.
A Short Stop At The Southhampton Port
The first 12 days of our cruising trip finishes up in Southhampton Port outside of London. Oceania Marina docks early in the morning at one part of the port. And we board the Oceania Nautica later in the day at another area in the Southhampton Port.
We changed cabins before when we did a 51 day back-to-back cruising trip from Athens to Cape Town. We didn’t need to re-pack fully. Staff helped us move our stuff on luggage racks. But this time we will need to pack fully for the change.
We looked at things to do from Southhampton like xx and ss. But we are not sure we will have time before the second cruise ship departs.
Exploring The Nordic Countries In Summer – Faroe Islands, Iceland And Greenland
The next stop on our exploration of the Nordic Countries in summer was Torshavn in the Faroe Islands. These small islands are become much more popular as cruise port stops. So we are glad we are visiting early. Our excursion will take us along the small roads to Saksun & Kollafjordur. Along the way we will see delightful vistas and historic landmarks.
From the Faroe Islands, we head to Iceland for the first stops on this cruise. A day trip in Akureyri will take us along the coastline of Eyjarfjordur. This is Iceland’s longest fjord. We will stop to visit the Godafoss waterfall (meaning “Waterfall of the Gods”), volcanic craters at Skutustadir and gurgling sulfur cauldrons at Namaskard. What an amazing introduction to Iceland that will be.
On our stop in Isafordur, Iceland we will board a small boat to travel along the Jökulfirdir Fjord. Our stop will be at the abandoned village of Hesteyri.
From Iceland we continue north to Greenland for stops in Paamiut and Qaqortoq. These are small remote towns. In Paamiut we will do our own walking tour of the town to see the lifestyles and customs of the village. On our second stop, we will take a small boat for a tour of the Hvalsey Church Ruin clinging to the shoreline.
After Greenland, we head back to Iceland for an overnight stay in Reykjavik. Our friends Susan and Steve have teased us with pics of Reykjavik and Iceland. So we were excited to have two days to explore. Although there were lots of tour options for both days in port, we decided that we will explore Reykjavik on our own the first day. We know there is lots to see and do. On the second day, we could not pass up on the opportunity to travel around the Golden Circle. This tour will let us see the great sights – the Gullfoss waterfall, Geysir hot springs and Thingvellir National Park. This will be a long 8.5 hour tour day. And I am sure it will just tease us to want more.
We are excited that we planned so much to see and do in the Nordic Countries in summer.
Great Stops In Scotland and Ireland
We have never been to Scotland, so we were excited to be able to get a small taste test with stops in Edinburgh and Kirkwall. We did not book a group excursion in Edinburgh but plan to just wander on our own to see the town centre and Edinburgh Castle. In Kirkwall, we booked an excursion to see the heartland in the Orkney Islands. This is another World Heritage Site for us to explore.
There were 3 great stops planned for Ireland. I visited Dublin and spent a week many years ago. It will be great to share some of the sights with David.
In Londonderry, we start with a drive down the Scenic Causeway Road to visit the Dunluce Castle. From there we will take the opportunity to see the geological curiosity that is the Giants Causeway. It will be fascinating to see the more than 40,000 black basalt columns formed by volcanic activity 50-60 million years ago. In Belfast, we are heading out of town to enjoy the beauty of the Ard’s Peninsula. There will be stops at Stormont Castle, Grey Abbey and at Donaghadee to look out at the Irish Sea.
It was great that our cruise to the Nordic Countries in summer gave us a brief taste test of the beauty of both Scotland and Ireland.
Finishing Up In London
The 32 day back-to-back cruise of the Nordic Countries in summer finishes back up in Southhampton. A quick trip from the docks will get us to London for a few days.
We love to use London as a gateway to Europe. On each visit, we plan just a few things to see and do. For our 3 night stay, we used IHG Rewards to book the Intercontinental Park Lane. This puts us close to the public transit system so we can easily explore.
There are a lot of things on our “maybe” list for London. But top of the list will be Afternoon Tea in London. We love to splurge on Afternoon Tea when we travel. And there could be no more iconic spot than the Ritz London.
It will be great to enjoy London for a few days before flying back to Toronto.
Challenges For Our Visit To The Nordic Countries In Summer
1) Summer Weather
We have debated visiting the Nordic Countries in summer or winter. The quieter winter season has an appeal. But living in Canada, we often do not want to travel to cold places. So we booked our visit to he Nordic Countries in summer. We understood that these are northern countries and will be colder than at home in the summer. But we got a bit of a surprise when we looked at historical weather and found that July and August may be the worst months for wet weather. Cold we could deal with. Cold and wet may be another manner.
2) Packing Challenges
We have been pondering our packing list for awhile. Through the trip we will travel through a wide range of temperatures. And we need both casual and more dressy clothes for the trip. We are glad we booked business class. The weight allowances may save us!
3) Grey Skies
Wet weather brings discomfort. But it also brings grey skies. When we cruised in the Baltic in September, we hit a period of rain and grey skies. It did not leave us with the beautiful images of the Scandinavian countries that we looked for. We hope not to leave the Nordic Countries in summer with that same grey memory.
One of the big downsides of travelling in the summer is the tourist crowds. We often avoid Europe in the summer fo this reason. But we will not be alone as we travel to the far north in the summer. David always checks the cruise ports to see how many other cruise ships are in. But that does not account for visitors who fly in. We probably won’t get our pictures of empty tourist spots on this trip.
5) Staying Connected
Internet on cruise ships is often a challenge. We expect that cruising through the Nordic countries may introduce additional connectivity issues. Our KnowRoaming international SIMs will be installed in our phones. And the coverage map shows we should get internet coverage through KnowRoaming in many of our port stops. It is a good thing there are many ways to stay connected when you cruise. Or I guess it is ok if we check out of social media for a few days!
6) Perpetual Light
The Nordic Countries as known as the “land of the Midnight Sun”. In July and August we are expecting about 17 hours of daylight by the time we reach Greenland. I am one of those people who need quiet and darkness to sleep. We sure hope the blackout curtains on our cruise ship hide all the light! But my great Bucky eye shades are in my carry on bag just in case.
7) Travelling For 40 Days
As we planned our travel for 2019, we made a conscious effort to shorten the length of our trips. We knew that long trips lost some of the “wow” factor by the end. This trip is 40 days in total with 32 days cruising. The cruise will be split across two very different Oceania cruise ships, so that will break up the cruising just a little. But the chance to enjoy this amazing itinerary could not be passed up! Even if it does take us away from the hot summer weather in Toronto that we wait for each year.
Enjoying Our Time On Board
Over the 32 days onboard, we will have 8 days at sea. While the port days are exciting opportunities to see new destinations, we also want to take advantage of our floating luxury resort. Some days at sea we enjoy lazy times with a book or catching up on blog work. But many days we love to take advantage of the broad range of education and entertainment offered onboard.
We did wine tasting when cruising on several different trips. The wine and pairings always ensured we learned just a little bit more each time. We also did a saki tasting that introduced this Japanese wine to us.
Culinary demonstrations are always a fun way to spend an hour. We are alway sure to be entertained as the chefs banter with each other while they share the dishes of Oceania – known for its “best cuisine at sea”.
Magic lessons, cruise port discussions, dancing lessons and even embroidery have kept us entertained on sea days. We know we will not be bored on our cruise to the Nordic Countries in summer.
Excited To Visit The Nordic Countries In Summer
The whole itinerary through the Nordic countries had been on our travel wish list for a long time. We were so glad we got it booked for this year. There are so many great stops along the Norway fjords and then up into Iceland and Greenland. It is great to get to the Faroe Islands before it becomes over-touristed. And we love that we get a taste test of both Scotland and Ireland.
We will visit the Nordic Countries in summer with the crowds and the weather less frigid. But we wonder if we will be teased to return in the colder months. I guess time will tell!
Follow our travels in real time on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. And when we get some downtime, the detailed blogs will be posted. If you have suggestions for things we should see and do on our trip, do reach out and let us know.
Have you visited the Nordic Countries in summer? What was your favourite spot?
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