This is “Day 4” of the posts of the a day by day reporting of a typical 7 Night Norwegian Fjords Cruise, based on my trip on Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth. The trip cruised through the North Sea and visited Bergen, Geiranger, Skjolden and Stavanger. In this series I look at Cunard, Queen Elizabeth ship, and tips and advice on each of the stops.
Without any doubt. Geiranger is one of the most incredibly beautiful places that I have ever been.
Staggeringly picturesque and remarkable. It is a place that many will recognise as an image used often to promote the Norwegian Fjords.
The tiny village of Geiranger has a regular population year round of only 300. But 60000 cruise passengers alone visit each summer off around 160 cruise ships. In addition a ferry service run by Fjord1 arrives and leaves all day offloading buses and cars. There are a few small hotels, holiday let apartments and camping grounds neatly hugging along the shore of the by the fjord.
Geiranger is at the very end of the Geirangerfjord, which is a branch of the Storfjord that heads out to sea.
The fjord is between sheer black mountains that rise majestically above the still smooth waters. It is one of the narrowest navigable fjords at parts, where it can be as little as 500 metres at parts, and close to the town it is 0ver 200 metres deep. The water is a dark green colour due to the depths of the fjord.
Cascading down the sheer mountains are many waterfalls.
There are a few main ones, but every summer there are smaller ones caused by snow melting up the top of the mountains.
Arriving by cruise ship, or ferry, is really hard to describe in words.
It is just so incredibly beautiful. As you glide slowly through the Fjord waters it is still and quiet, and on both sides sheer mountains.
Dotted very high up some of the mountain sides are, quite bizarrely, farmhouse and farms.
These farms have been abandoned since the 1950s and 1960s die to risk of rock falls, but the owners still trim the lawns and maintain the houses. There are very long, very steep and very winding paths up from the base of the Fjord up to them. It seems crazy that at one time this was the only viable way to earn a living was by farming on a cliff. A strange existence and life it must have been.
The day we were in Geiranger there was also the Royal Caribbean “Brilliance of the Seas” and and small Costa ship called “Costa Voyager”. These ships have to weigh anchor in the bay and passengers have to tender in.
In the village is a large tourist office, souvenir and gift ships, various tours offices, ferry dock, a few small hotels, tourists apartment blocks and large camping grounds. There are also some cafes selling delicious waffles and a chocolate shop with treats they make there on the premises. A huge gushing waterfall thunders through the village and into the Fjord.
What are THE must do things to do in Geiranger with your limit time there?
I believe that the RIB Speedboat trip (RIB = Rigid Inflatable Boat) is an absolute must do activity.
These rigid inflatable boats whisk you into the Fjord, and right up to the base of the splendid waterfalls. Unlike some RIB trips, this is not a thrill ride but a practical and fast way to get you to see the stunning scenes.
It costs around 495NOK (£49/ $60) per person. You are all given a waterproof padded all-in-one suit to put on and glasses. There are around 12 – 14 people plus the guide/ driver. They go every hour from 9am until 5pm (http://www.fjordguiding.com).
I was not sure about it, but it was an absolute highlight. You get to travel quite a long way into the Fjord, and you stop often to take photos and ask questions from the guide. They are very passionate and share facts and anecdotes and stories about the Fjord, farms and anything else you may want to know about the area.
Again, it is hard to express in words just how stunning this trip is and how good a way it is to see Geirangerfjord, including a close up view of the most famous of their waterfalls called “Seven Sisters”.
You can usually book it through the cruise line, but also as an independent traveller. The cruise lines are likely to be assigned the first of the boats of the day, but both of the day and also by pre-booking you should easily get a trip that works with the times you are in port. The trip is about an hour, including getting dressed and undressed in the suit. It is much cheaper doing it yourself than through the Cruise Line.
What else should you see?
Cruise lines will encourage you to book trips in advance and through them, but there are cheaper and more flexible ways to see Geiranger. This is something I would recommend. There are very many options once you get on land, and they seemed to have good availability. The large and helpful tourist office are also selling tours.
Hop-on Hop-Off Bus
The best option before or after the RIB is to get a ticket for the hop-on hop-off bus, which departs from near the tourist office. I know I usually do recommend this, but this is perfect for Geiranger. It will take you to all of the key areas to get the amazing views and the fabulous pictures you need to have. It costs 180 NOK ( about £15 / $20) and takes about an hour, including stops at the best viewing areas. You can also book online at http://www.geirangerfjord.no.
The bus will take you to:
Flydalsjuvet Canyon – for one the the most famous and iconic views of Geiranger.
Eagles Bend Viewpoint
Hiking Routes if you have time.
They leave at least every hour.
Cycle Down the Hill! From Sky to Fjord
If you don’t fancy a bus, there is a fun option were they take you up the steep hill to the starting point at Djupvasshytta Mountain Lodge (1030 metres), and you cycle back down the 17km route. Stopping along the way to take pictures. It take about 1,5 to 2 hours, and is not very strenuous as you are heading downhill. You can book them at the base of the hill, and it is well signposted, or via http://www.geiranger-adventure.com/
This is the most famous mountain in the area, and many tours to and from it are run. It is 1500 metres above sea level. If cloudy you may not get to see a lot of the Fjords as you will be above the clouds. The roads up and down are very winding and open and you need a head for heights and some nerves for the ride in the bus as it winds up and down the mountain. You need to allow 2 or so hours.
There are many of these in the village, not a surprise based on the huge volume of tourists. The best, and largest, are right on the dock where the tenders arrive. Things are expensive, but there is a large cross section of Norway branded items and clothes, Trolls, paperweights and the like. They are the same items you will see though in all the ports.
Watch the Video I made of Geiranger, Sailing in and the Waterfalls on the RIB Safari, and then sailing out
Queens Grill Restaurant: A restaurant with Views! The Queens Grill (and Princess Grill too) restaurant is up on Deck 11. They have floor to ceiling windows – and so great unobstructed views. Take a look at the view we had from our table, for example, at lunchtime wheel we were here in Geiranger
View from our Table in Queens Grill Restaurant while docked in Geiranger
Afternoon Tea You can have afternoon tea from 3:30 to 4pm in the large Queens Room or if you are in Queens or Princess Grill you can have it in the Queens Grill Room on Deck 11. The spread is amazing. You have a wide selection of teas, sandwiches, scones and cakes. They are all served at your table. It is a must do!
Cakes at Afternoon Tea in Queens Grill Lounge on Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth
Our Evening on the Ship
This evening we went to the show “Sing”. But we got s bit bored and left. The singers did not seem to gel that well as a team. It was a medley of songs from shows and the past decades. It felt dated.
So off to the Casino. Machines and Blackjack. The great thing about playing Blackjack on the ship is that you don’t feel intimated as everyone are amateur players who play it for fun.
I grew up in Zimbabwe, but I have been based in London since 1987. My travel life spans more than three decades and that includes more than 95 cruises. In 2005, I launched Tips for Travellers to make it easy and fun for people to discover, plan and enjoy incredible cruise vacations. And the rest, as they say, is history. I have the largest cruise vlogger channel currently on YouTube, with more than 3 million video views per month.