Startling landscapes of crystal waters, silent fjords and skies sparkling with the Aurora Borealis are the likely reasons why Scandinavian cruises have grown in popularity as a form of summer vacation. In a region where some of its most important – and fascinating cities – are sea side, cruising is actually one of the best ways of immersing yourself in the distinctive charm of these Scandinavian countries.
If this sounds more than appealing, make the most of long hours of daylight during the summer months by venturing through the Baltic or Norwegian Seas as you encounter the stunning cities and landscapes of northern Europe.
How to select an itinerary for Scandinavian cruises
Before even considering your route, it’s best to decide how much time you have available, as itineraries vary depending on the length of your trip. Choosing which sea you would like to explore will also directly impact which specific areas and countries of Scandinavia you can expect to visit.
Scandinavian cruises in the Baltic Sea
Cruise itineraries that sail through the Baltic Sea will guarantee a visit to the historic and colorful shores of Scandinavia’s landmark cities. Expect to dock at Oslo, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Helsinki, Tallinn or even St Petersburg. Here, soaring spires, excellent museums and medieval streets make these types of itineraries for those looking to spend as much time on land as off.
Scandinavian cruises in the Norwegian Sea
If ancient cities that burn with a frenetic, modern energy don’t sound like your ideal itinerary for a cruise in Scandinavia, consider voyaging through the Norwegian fjords. You’ll find that small hamlets with even smaller harbors will be your only encounter with land.
The slender nature of these picturesque channels make it difficult for large cruise ships to sail much further, so excursions into the stunning waters of some of the Norwegian fjord greats, such as the world’s narrowest, Nærøyfjord, are only possible by smaller boat.
Cruises that visit the far north of Norway even offer chances to gaze at the awe-inspiring spectacle of the northern lights. Itineraries may include a visit to the country’s northernmost city, Honningsvag, where its location on the doorstep of the North Cape makes it a prime spot for watching the night sky. Take into account that you’re more likely to spy the glorious colours of the Aurora Borealis during winter.
- To spend longer at sea, find a cruise that departs from the UK or Germany.
- Check how much time you’ll be spending on land versus time in the sea; this can completely alter your experience of the cruise.
Which type of cruise ship should you select?
The size of ship that you choose for your Scandinavian cruise is very much linked with the itinerary you will take. On the one hand, smaller vessels can sail closer to the coastline and explore off-the-beaten track destinations, such as Visby on the Swedish island of Gotland and Helsingborg in southern Sweden.
On the other hand, larger cruise ships will stick to the well-trodden route and dock at a selection of Scandinavia’s grand and historic cities.
When choosing your cruise ship itinerary in Scandinavia, consider the standard of luxury you expect on board too. Liners with more plush services include multiple restaurants, cafes and bars as well as spas, casinos and sports facilities. On-board entertainment may also be available.
What to bring with on your Scandinavian cruise
To ensure that your cruise in Scandinavia is as memorable as the landscapes are jaw-dropping, make sure:
- You have confirmed the countries you will be visiting with your credit or debit card company to prevent issues withdrawing money.
- Be aware that not all Scandinavian nations use the Euro, so you will be required to exchange your home currency for the local currency.
- Weather between countries can change dramatically, particularly as you get further north. Hot, sunny weather during the day can rapidly transform into chilly evenings, so always remember extra layers, including a waterproof and gloves.
- Remember to bring footwear appropriate for exploring the harbour cities that you visit. Formal outfits and shoes are perfect for dinners on board but can quickly become uncomfortable when sightseeing.