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Cruise Norway & The North Cape

Guest Commentary by Mary Ann Rizzo

Cruising through a Norwegian Fjord

As a rule, most passengers begin cruising in the Caribbean and warm weather and sandy beaches are the order of the day—or week, as it were. Following the Caribbean, European cruises are the Number Two destination in popularity, outpacing even Alaska.

Mary Ann Rizzo literally grew up traveling by sea, from the "Queens" of Cunard as a child, to her favorite Crystal ships these days. Well-known on board ships and on the Internet, Mary Ann has graciously offered her observations and advice to cruise passengers who are booked on North Cape cruises.

First of all, bear in mind that the Gulf Stream, the warm water current, does run up along the Norwegian coast. So the temperatures through the fjords and even north of the Arctic Circle aren't necessarily as cold as one might imagine. EXCEPT for North Cape itself.

For most of your cruise, layered clothing similar to an Alaskan cruise will be fine. Raingear will be in order as well. It will, however, be rather chilly if you take any of the tours that go to higher altitudes (some of the mountain tops overlooking the fjords), so that a ski parka or similar will be handy. Depending on how much snowfall there has been this winter, you could encounter snow on the ground in higher altitudes only, not in Bergen or the towns and cities at sea level.

North Cape, however, will be cold and blustery and you will need to dress accordingly. Most probably, you will dock in Honningsvaag, and the motorcoach ride to North Cape is approximately one hour through tundra-like terrain. You could see some snow on the ground en route and will probably see reindeer. If it appeals to you, request your passport and bring it with you. For a nominal fee, you can have it stamped at North Cape (Nordkapp) in the visitor center. You normally spend a couple of hours at North Cape.

At "night"—and remember, you have 24-hours daylight north of the Arctic Circle—the ships usually cruise off the promontory at midnight. For those sailing on Crystal, normally it's a festive night with hot glogg served outdoors on the VERY COLD decks and a gala midnight buffet indoors with music. I'd guess other ships do the same.

On Midsummer's Night Eve, be sure to watch for the traditional bonfires along the way. I used to remember the explanation—which I no longer remember—but one area has bonfires with white smoke, another area with black smoke. There IS a significance... but my brain is drawing a complete blank.

From past experience, for the shoppers, I found that prices were better in Bergen and became more expensive as you headed farther north. Ships on a North Cape itinerary don't necessarily call at Oslo. It's quite easy to walk into town from the pier, and there are numerous shops along the way on your left (as you walk into Bergen). You can do your comparison shopping. Dales is indeed THE name in Norwegian sweaters. Sweaters can be both hand knit and machine knit. Be on the alert as well that lesser priced sweaters can be from Iceland and, sometimes, from the Shetland Islands. There's really nothing wrong with these knits, except that they're not "made in Norway" if that's what you're seeking.

You're in for a real treat—a North Cape cruise is an outstanding itinerary. Norway is very, very picturesque indeed. If you can get your hands on a video of the 1970's vintage movie "Song of Norway" (based on Edvard Grieg's operetta), you'll see some of the glorious scenery that you'll experience in the fjords.


A Cruise Diva shopping tip: Tulite is the national stone of Norway and is only mined in Lom. Look for jewelry incorporating this polished, mauve stone with its unusual veins—when set in silver, it is quite contemporary and stylish. 


Cruise Diva's FOCUS on Cool Cruise Destinations - What you need to know before you go-- tips for planning and packing.

Baltic Ports of Call - From the white cliffs of Dover to intriguing St. Petersburg, the centers of power, charm, history, and art in Northern Europe. 

Baltic Cruise Diary - Follow our progress from Dover to Stockholm.

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