Skjolden is the most inland cruise port in Norway. It is 130 miles inland from the sea. It is a very small village at the end of the Sognefjord. This is the longest inland navigable fjord in Europe. It is quite weird getting your head around the fact that you are sailing so far inland on a massive cruise ship in a huge wide fjord.
The ship is dwarfed in the massive fjord as you sail into Skolden. On each side are huge mountains. In fact, the highest peaks in Norway are in this area. Once you reach the end of the Fjord in Skolden, it is very quiet and peaceful.
Skjolden makes much less effort and is much less commercial than Geiranger towards cruise ships passengers.
This means that it feels, and is, much more idyllic and even more unspoilt as a destination. There is less of a flurry of activity and almost no stores with people trying to sell tours and extract money. In fact it is almost like the ship has arrived unexpectedly at the village.
There is a relatively new dock, opened in 2010, for one ship. There is a small cruise building which has a small store selling merchandise and gifts, an area with free coffee and free internet access. Soon loads of the ship crew were encamped with laptops catching up on email and using Skype to chat to home.
The village has a population of only around 250 people.
Along the route into the village from the ship are new holiday lets over the water’s edge.
In the village is a large community centre called the Fjordstuva Centre) with a climbing wall, swimming pool, gift shop and cafe area with very fast internet access that costs 10NOK (about £1/ $1.50).
A short walk from there is a beach area, although the water is very cold as it is fed nearby by very fast flowing rivers created by melting snow from the mountains.
The village is not only much less geared and focused on serving cruise ships, but also less so for tourists generally compared to Geiranger. I assume due to its more remote location. There is a small hotel, guest houses but much less capacity.
There is a new pier structure that juts into the sea that you can walk out onto to get better views and fish. It can be retracted when ships are not in to keep the natural feel of the Fjord.
What are the must things do with your limited time in Skjolden?
The most popular outing seems to be the 1 mile walk from the village up to a viewing area 395 feet up to this viewing point. A stunning view can be had from here across the village and out into the Fjord. It is not that well sign posted but just follow your fellow passengers as it is very popular.
Walking and bike rides.
Bikes can be hired from the hotel, and along with walking, is a popular activity with Norwegian visitors. There is a road running around the side of the Fjords that makes for a great ride or walk. Cars go along here to go through the long tunnels to get across the countryside. There is one in the area that is almost 15 miles long. I assume it was easier to build massive tunnels than trying to find a way to build roads over these massive mountains.
You can also travel from here to the Jostedalbreen Glacier (the largest one in Europe) which covers half of the Jotunheim National Park.
This is probably the most popular trip for those looking to book a trip. There is a visitor centre and you can go on guided tours. Around 30000 people visit it every year.
Some people like to visit this small church, which is about 20 miles away. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980. Stave Churches date from 10th Century, and this one dates back to around 1130.
Overall Skjolden is a beautiful and clam place. It’s main attraction being just that. At 130 miles from the sea it is remarkable to journey there by ship. Hopefully, it will manage to stay as clam and unspoilt.
This evening at 10:15pm was the ice sculpture and chocolate buffet held in the Garden Room.
This is a room named after a popluar room on the original Queen Elizabeth.
The room is supposed to be inspired by “Kew Gardens” and the metal and glass conservatory there. It is really a large seating area covered by a glass roof….
It is, though, very popular and people seem to love sitting on there for a drink or afternoon tea. Personally, I find it a bit unwelcoming, but a cleaver way to use what is effectively a thoroughfare from the outdoor poor and the Lido.
The Chocolate Buffet and Ice Scuplting was amazing and excellent.
It is a huge draw and many people attended it. They have them on many cruises once.
The buffet has a few massive ice sculptures that the Chefs in the Kitchen have created with many hours of work. At this buffet they had embraced the destination and they had a Nordic theme like a massive Viking Sailing Ship, Reindeer, and Trolls.
There were then 3 massive tables crammed full of chocolate based treats made by the kitchen. These included chocolates, cakes, various deserts and liquid chocolate drinks (like dark chocolate with Grand Marnier).
It is very popular with long lines of people shovelling down quantities of chocolate as much as they are taking video and photos of this great visual and taste experience. It is well worth making it a must do if one is on your cruise. It must take the chefs ages and ages to prepare, and the fact that they go to so much effort is impressive in itself.
There was no extra charge for this event.
Viking Boat Ice Sculpture: Queen Elizabeth
Viking Boat Ice Sculpture: Queen Elizabeth
Watch the Video I made of Skjolden, including sailing in and the town
A comedian called John Evans was on. He is a cruse ship regular. It seems there is very much a cruise ship circuit that a group of entertainers ply. He is one of them and he works so well as he understands the audience and what they do and observe while cruising, and so his jokes resonate and hit the spot. Great fun.