Norway Cruise Itinerary- Ports of Call on a 7 Day Norway Fjords Cruise

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Norway had long been a dream destination of mine and for years I yearned to experience the wild, dramatic landscape of the fjords and discover the lifestyle of small Nordic cities and villages.

Eidfjord, a beautiful port of call on our Norway cruise itinerary.

As a coastal nation with over 1,100 fjords, Norway is well-suited to exploration by boat. I easily pictured myself sailing down Norway’s long, deep fjords, gazing up at the towering walls of rock while daydreaming about living in a tiny waterfront village. 

Green boat backed by mountains in Hardangerfjord, Norway.
Colourful village nestled in a valley in Sognefjord, Norway.

As an independent traveller, cruises usually aren’t my first choice when it comes to seeing a country, but there was no denying that a Norway cruise would have plenty to offer, especially when it came to scenery and ease of travel.

Houses along the shore of Hardangerfjord, Norway.
Morning light on the mountains along Hardangerfjord.

With that in mind, I didn’t hesitate to say yes when Holland America Line invited me and my mom on a 7 day Norway fjords cruise on board Rotterdam. 

Holland America Line's Rotterdam ship docked in Oslo, the first port of call on our Norway cruise itinerary.
Rotterdam docked in Oslo
View of Eidfjord and the outdoor pool on the Rotterdam ship.
Docked in Eidfjord

Before I share our Norway cruise itinerary with a description of the cruise ports in Norway we visited, here’s a quick overview of what you can expect during a cruise of Norway’s fjords.

Tree-covered mountains in Hardangerfjord seen while cruising Norway.

Cruising Norway- What to Expect on a Norway Fjords Cruise

There’s plenty to enjoy on a Norway cruise from the spectacular fjords, delightful ports of call, and a variety of shore excursions for all types of travellers.

Mountain-framed harbour in Flam, a popular port of call on Norway fjord cruises.

The best part of cruising in Norway is definitely the scenery whether it be the mountain-framed fjords, sparkling bays, verdant forests, lofty waterfalls, or colourful coastal towns. Cruise ships sail along the coastline, so there are interesting views to look at almost the entire journey, instead of a horizon of endless water.

View from the back of a ship while sailing down Hardangerfjord on a Norway cruise.
Cruise ship sailing down Hardangerfjord.

Since Norway has a rather small population for a country its size, and the fjords are quite isolated, the ports of call on a Norwegian fjord cruise are small cities, towns, and villages. Days in port can be spent walking around town or venturing into the surrounding area on a guided excursion. 

Mountains overlooking the harbour in Flam, one of the must-visit cruise ports in Norway.

As is typical for cruises, only one day is spent in each port of call. In our experience cruising Norway with Holland America Line, the time in port ranged from 7-12 hours, with two days of 8.5 hours. 

Boats docked at the harbour in Kristiansand.

The time in port is enough for most people, especially in the fjord villages if you don’t go on an excursion. My mom and I did a guided excursion in every port of call and still had time to walk around the towns on our own for a few hours. While the time in port and excursions didn’t feel rushed (for the most part), I still would have liked to spend another day in some places. 

Colourful buildings and boats near the fish market in Kristiansand.
Fountain at the seafront promenade in Kristiansand.

As for shore excursions on a Norway cruise, you can expect options that appeal to a range of interests and activity levels. Our Holland America Norway cruise offered leisurely sightseeing tours by bus, boat, train, and seaplane, but for more active travellers there were walking tours, bike tours, easy hikes, kayaking, river rafting, and ziplining. In each port there were multiple excursions that interested me, hence why I wanted two days in some places! 

Voringsfossen (Voring Falls) near Eidfjord.

The final thing you can expect on a Norway cruise is that there are people of all ages, from senior citizens to kids and everything in between. While sailing with Holland America Line, my mom and I discovered that cruising was a great choice for multigenerational travel because there were plenty of things we could enjoy together, but we could also do different activities onboard and ashore relating to our interests, easily meeting up afterwards.

Mother and daughter selfie at Voringsfossen.

Norway Cruise Itinerary- Ports of Call on our Norway Cruise

The ship departed from Amsterdam for our 7 day Norway cruise with Holland America Line. We had one day at sea, then visited four ports of call in Norway, and had another sea day to return to Amsterdam.

Catamaran sailing by islands in Hardangerfjord.

To give you an idea of some places you can visit on a Norwegian fjord cruise, here’s a look at our Norway cruise itinerary. Since the highlight of cruising Norway was the scenic destinations we visited, I’m mainly going to share some information about the cruise ports in Norway and the shore excursions we did there. I’ve also included some comments about life on board the ship during days at sea.

Red buildings reflecting in the water at Flam.

Day 1: Amsterdam

We boarded the ship around 11:30 am on the departure day of our cruise to Norway. The ship didn’t set sail until 5:00 pm, so there was some time to disembark and briefly explore the beautiful city of Amsterdam (the port was close to Central Station).

I decided to visit the Royal Palace of Amsterdam, but you could also do one of the canal cruises that start in front of Central Station or just walk around and admire the architecture. I wouldn’t venture too far though in case the trams are delayed and you have to walk back (happened to me). Remember, you must be on the ship 30 minutes before the departure time.

Canal and boat in front of buildings in Amsterdam.

Once back on board, we headed out to an observation deck to watch the scenery as we sailed out of Amsterdam. The mood was celebratory out on deck and at the poolside sail away party as everyone was excited to cruise to Norway!

Lido pool on Rotterdam ship.

Day 2:  At Sea- Cruising to Norway

Day two of our Norway cruise itinerary was a full day at sea. Since we were cruising out in the North Sea, there wasn’t any scenery to look at so there was plenty of time to explore the ship, participate in activities, indulge at the restaurants, and watch some shows.

Main dining room on Rotterdam ship.
Main Dining Room
Chocolate drizzled profiteroles.
Profiteroles served at Rudi’s Sel De Mer

Onboard Activities, Entertainment, and Restaurants

The Rotterdam had plenty of things to do while at sea so we were never bored. There was a fitness centre, outdoor sports courts, a spa, two pools (an indoor one with a retractable roof and an outdoor one for adults only), a casino, a library, trivia events, multimedia shows and presentations at the World Stage, poolside evening movies complete with popcorn, three venues along the Music Walk for live music and dancing, and much more.

Flower arranging demonstration on the cruise ship.
Flower arranging demonstration
Billboard Onboard music venue on the Rotterdam ship.
Billboard Onboard, part of the Music Walk
Sport court on the deck of the Rotterdam ship.

We attended several shows at the World Stage while on board Rotterdam. There were informative talks and videos about Scandinavian culture, the history of Holland America Line, and a behind the scenes look at what it takes to operate a cruise ship (my mom highly recommends this “City on the Sea” presentation). In the evenings the theatre hosted music and dance shows. We really enjoyed the dance productions and how the choreography was enhanced by imagery on the panoramic, two-story screen. 

Dancer in a red dress leaping during a performance.
Dancer arching back and holding her red dress as it blows behind her in the wind.

There also was a lot of delicious food on Rotterdam, especially at the specialty restaurants (extra charge) and main dining room (included). We ate at all the restaurants and never had a bad meal. Our favourites were the Italian cuisine at Canaletto and the French dishes at Rudi’s Sel De Mer. My mom and I both also enjoyed Afternoon Tea in the main dining room on sea days and eating gelato by the Lido Pool.

Cheese souffle with a side salad.
Cheese souffle served at Rudi’s Sel De Mer
Tray of treats at afternoon tea.
Afternoon Tea

Day 3: Oslo and Oslofjord

The first port of call on our Norway fjord cruise was Oslo, the dynamic, easy-going capital city of Norway. 

I’ll start by saying that one day is not enough to experience all that Oslo has to offer, even though it’s a relatively small city. There are so many museums, public artworks, interesting pieces of modern and historic architecture, and nearby forests to enjoy. 

Scuba diver sculpture at Oslo’s harbour.

In the morning we walked from the port through the lovely Aker Brygge neighbourhood to Akershus Fortress, enjoying views of Oslofjord along the way. After our self-guided tour of the fortress and its grounds, we went on a bike tour of the city.

Sailing ships and an outdoor cafe at Oslo’s harbour.

Akershus Fortress

Akershus Fortress is a medieval fortified castle that strategically overlooks Oslo’s harbour. Its primary function was to defend Oslo from attacks, which it did several times, but it also served as a prison and royal residence. The complex is still used for military and government functions while being open as a museum.

Akershus Fortress in Oslo.

During our walk around the fortress grounds, we saw defensive walls and gates, cannons, courtyards, and views of the sea.

I really enjoyed touring the inside of the castle and seeing the dungeon, royal mausoleum, church, chambers, and halls. The tapestries and wooden furniture decorating the rooms were gorgeous!

Table and paintings in a large room inside Akershus Fortress.

Oslo Bike Tour

A bike tour of Oslo was a great introduction to the city and allowed us to see many of its highlights in about three hours.

Cycling from the bike shop, our guide led our small group to some of Oslo’s most notable monuments, buildings, parks, and neighbourhoods. At each stop, our guide shared some interesting history, stories, and facts then gave us time to walk around and take pictures. 

A fountain, flowers, and trees at Frogner Park.

Our favourite stop on the bike tour was Frogner Park where there is an impressive installation of sculptures by Gustav Vigeland. With over 200 sculptures, we of course couldn’t see them all, but we did have time to admire two of the most famous ones- the Monolith and The Angry Boy. This park is definitely worth a second visit one day.

Monolith at Vigeland Sculpture Park.

Book this same tour: Oslo Highlights Bike Tour

Oslofjord Scenic Cruising

In the evening our ship sailed down Oslofjord towards the next day’s destination. Oslofjord didn’t have steep sides like the other Norwegian fjords we cruised down, but it was still nice to sit on our balcony, sheltered from the rain, and watch the scenery go by. Keep watch for Oscarsborg Fortress on one of the islands.

Oscarsborg Fortress in Oslofjord.

Day 4: Kristiansand

The second destination on our Norway cruise was Kristiansand, an attractive seaside city on Norway’s southern coast.

Homes along the waterfront in Kristiansand.
Lighthouse below a rocky cliff near Kristiansand.

The fifth-largest city in Norway, Kristiansand has a walkable Old Town (Posebyn), seafront promenade, urban beaches, colourful fish market (Fiskebrygga), and nature parks just minutes from the city centre. I felt an interesting vibe here- laid-back, yet lively with people enjoying life’s simple pleasures. 

Red and yellow buildings and a canal at the fish market in Kristiansand.

Kristiansand’s Old Town and harbour area were nice to stroll around after our morning excursion to ride the Setesdal Vintage Railway.

Red building on the waterfront in Kristiansand.

Setesdal Vintage Railway

The Setesdal Vintage Railway (Setesdalsbanen) is a historic narrow-gauge railway that opened in the late 19th century for travel through the Setesdal Valley. It closed down in 1962, but 8 km of tracks were preserved for use as a railway museum. 

Setesdal Vintage Railway going around a bend beside a red building.

During our short ride from Grovane to Røyknes, the restored steam engine chugged along the Otra River, pulling the vintage train cars over bridges, through a tunnel, and beside a mountain. The countryside we passed through was beautiful with lakes, forests, and a waterfall. I especially liked seeing the old log chute-turned-hiking trail along the river.

Brown house in the forest overlooking a lake.

Read more: Setesdal Vintage Railway- Riding Norway’s First Preserved Railroad

Exploring Kristiansand

Kristiansand’s Old Town and many of its tourist attractions are very close to the cruise terminal so the area is easy to explore on foot.

The Old Town is known for its large collection of white wooden houses, some of which have been turned into small shops. The bustling central square is a popular place for people to gather at restaurants, by the fountain, and in the park. The square has some statues, art installations, and pretty architecture including City Hall and the neo-Gothic Kristiansand Cathedral. The cathedral is worth a quick visit to see the wooden ceiling and organ loft.

Buildings around the central square in Kristiansand’s Old Town.
Kristiansand Cathedral overlooking the central square.

Next up we went to the harbour and walked along the seafront to Christiansholm Fortress. It was small and not really what I picture when I think of a fortress, but it was a nice place to sit and enjoy views of the harbour.

Christiansholm Fortress on the seafront promenade.
Woman sitting on a bench beside a canon looking out on the harbour.

On our way back to the ship we walked along the quay by the fish market. It was such an attractive and vibrant area with restaurants, ice cream shops, and a canal. A beautiful spot to enjoy a sunny day!

Boats and colourful buildings at the quay by the fish market in Kristiansand.

Day 5: Eidfjord and Hardangerfjord

Note: Eidfjord wasn’t originally on our Norway cruise itinerary and was added more than two months before departure to replace Stavanger, for an unknown reason. While I was initially very disappointed I wouldn’t get to visit Stavanger and do the Pulpit Rock hike, Eidfjord turned out to be a wonderful replacement. 

Eidfjord was our favourite of the cruise ports in Norway we visited. This tiny village at the end of Eid Fjord, an inner arm of the Hardangerfjord, is backed by mountains and a short drive away from three of Norway’s impressive natural wonders- Vøringsfossen (Vøring Falls), the Måbødalen Valley, and Hardangervidda (Hardanger Plateau). 

Mountains surrounding the town of Eidfjord.

The natural scenery around Eidfjord and along Hardangerfjord is gorgeous and just what I expected Norway to look like. We saw a lot of the landscape during our morning bus tour that took us to Vøringsfossen in the Måbødalen Valley, the Sysen Dam, and Hardangervidda.

Rolling hills seen while walking across the Sysen Dam.
Sysen Dam

After our tour, we walked around the village and visited the Old Eidfjord Church and its graveyard, some shops, and the bakery for some delicious treats. On a future visit, I’d love to hike the Haereid mountain plateau to see the Iron and Viking Age burial mounds.

Houses along the river in Eidfjord.

Eidfjord Bus Tour- Vøringsfossen, Sysen Dam, Hardangervidda

A bus tour is a hassle-free way to see and learn about the landscape and attractions in the greater Eidfjord area. During the scenic drive from Eidfjord to Hardangervidda our guide shared plenty of interesting information about the local culture, geology, flora, and fauna.

Hills seen from the Sysen Dam.
View from the Sysen Dam

The first stop on our tour was Vøringsfossen, a tiered waterfall that cascades 182 m/597 ft into the Måbødalen Valley, 145 m/475 ft of which is a direct plunge. The waterfall itself is stunning, but the valley below really makes it a spectacular setting that should not be missed.

Voringsfossen and the Mabodalen Valley.

There are several viewpoints along a rocky, uneven trail, plus a step bridge from which you can admire the falls from different angles. The tour only gave us 35 minutes at the waterfall, which was nowhere near enough time to walk the trails and visit all the viewpoints. 

Voringsfossen waterfall tumbling into the Mabodalen Valley.

Next up we visited the Sysen Dam. It was more interesting and scenic than I expected because it was an embankment dam made with only gravel and stones (no concrete) and offered views of the surrounding hills and Hardangerjøkulen, mainland Norway’s sixth largest glacier. We spent 30 minutes here, which was plenty of time to walk along the top of the dam.

Sysen Dam.
Glacier overlooking the Sysen Dam.

From the dam, we drove along National Road 7 across the Hardanger Plateau, the largest eroded plain in Europe. Reaching an elevation of about 1140 m/3740 ft, we got to see Hardangervidda’s characteristic rocky, treeless landscape.

Road, lake, and barren landscape in Hardangervidda.

Hardangervidda experiences an alpine climate year-round so there are several species of arctic plants and animals here that are usually found further north. I was hoping to see some wild reindeer, since the plateau is home to a herd of about 8,000, but had no such luck.

I also would have liked to make some photo stops on the plateau, but the only place the bus stopped was at Halne Mountain Lodge where we were served heart-shaped Norwegian waffles. 

Accommodation buildings at Halne Mountain Lodge.
Halne Mountain Lodge

Eidfjord Old Church

The Eidfjord Old Church was built out of stone around 1309 with seating for only 100 people. It is now only used for special occasions, but visitors can peek inside to see how it looked in the 18th century. 

Eidfjord Old Church.

The small, pretty graveyard outside has some simple headstones from the 1800s.

Graveyard in Eidfjord surrounded by mountains.

Hardangerfjord Scenic Cruising

The so-called “Queen of Fjords”, Hardangerfjord is the second longest fjord in Norway, measuring 179 km from the Atlantic Ocean. 

View of Hardangerfjord during a Norway cruise.

As our ship glided down Hardangerfjord, we were in awe of the gorgeous scenery framing us. We saw countless waterfalls tumbling down the mountains, orchards nestled along the fertile shoreline, colourful small villages, and scenic arms branching off from the main fjord. We even passed by some fish farms.

Orchard along Hardangerfjord.
Farm high up on the hills in Hardangerfjord.
Farm fields and mountains seen while cruising Hardangerfjord.

Perhaps the most interesting moment was when our ship sailed under the Hardanger Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in Norway. The bridge has a maximum deck height of 55 m/180 ft, so there wasn’t much clearance when our ship went under it!

Hardanger Bridge spanning Hardangerfjord.
People watching from the deck of a cruise ship as it goes under Hardanger Bridge.

Day 6: Flåm and Sognefjord

The last port of call on our Norway fjords cruise was Flåm, located at the inner end of the Aurlandsfjord branch of Sognefjord. Flåm is a tiny village of only a couple hundred residents, but because it welcomes around 450,000 visitors per year, it felt a little “touristy” compared to the other cruise ports in Norway we visited.

Mountains surrounding the harbour in Flam.

Flåm and the surrounding area are known for its steep fjords and valleys, abundance of waterfalls, and green meadows dotting the countryside. There are plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities, sightseeing fjord cruises, and visits to scenic viewpoints, but the most popular excursion in Flåm is a ride on the Flåm Railway.

River and mountains in Flam.

The Flåm Railway excursion sells out quickly, so my mom and I chose two other enjoyable activities- I went kayaking in Nærøyfjord while she went on a bus and boat tour of Nærøydalen (Naeroy Valley) and Nærøyfjord. After my kayaking trip I wandered around the Fretheim Cultural Park.

Forested mountain with waterfalls in Nærøyfjord.

Kayaking Nærøyfjord

Flåm was the place on our Norway cruise itinerary I was most looking forward to visiting because I wanted to kayak in Nærøyfjord, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

As the narrowest arm of the Sognefjord, Nærøyfjord is only 250 m/820 ft wide in places. Its towering rock walls, tall waterfalls, and hanging valleys are exceptionally beautiful, making Nærøyfjord an outstanding landscape for kayaking.

Kayaking in Nærøyfjord.

Our tour group paddled about 12 km round trip, going from the village of Gudvangen to a little beach across the fjord from Tuftefossen waterfall. After a provided lunch on shore, we paddled back to Gudvangen.

Small village on the shoreline of Nærøyfjord with a towering mountain in the background.

I loved kayaking Nærøyfjord so much, even though the rudder on my kayak wasn’t set up properly and the local guides were a bit disorganized and didn’t add much to the experience. Regardless of some downsides, this was a thoroughly enjoyable excursion and I’m thankful for the perfect weather!

Selfie taken while kayaking in Nærøyfjord.

Bus and Boat Tour of Nærøyfjord and the Naeroy Valley

While I was kayaking down Nærøyfjord my mom went on a sightseeing cruise of Nærøyfjord then a bus tour of the Naeroy Valley.  

Departing from Flåm on the Vision of the Fjords, she sailed through Aurlandsfjord then down the entire 17 kilometres (10.5 miles) of Nærøyfjord. Over the course of two hours, the boat passed by fjord villages and steep mountains, even getting up close to a waterfall.

Sightseeing boat in Nærøyfjord.
Waterfall in Nærøyfjord.

After arriving at Gudvangen, the group transferred to a bus and then drove up Norway’s steepest road, the winding Stalheimskleiva, to the historic Stalheim hotel for tea and pastries. The hotel had a stunning view of the Naeroy Valley and after seeing her pictures, I was sad I missed it!

Naeroy Valley framed by steep mountains.

Fretheim Cultural Park

On the hill behind the Fretheim Hotel, directly in front of where the cruise ships dock, is the Fretheim Cultural Park. The park has 1.6 kilometres/1 mile of trails that lead to viewpoints and artworks. 

Mountain peak above the hillside Fretheim Cultural Park.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to walk the entire trail because of heavy rain, but I did enjoy the misty views of the harbour.

Cruise ship docked in Flam.

Sognefjord Scenic Cruising

Our 12 hour day in Flåm ended with an evening cruise along Sognefjord. Nicknamed the “King of the Fjords”, Sognefjord is the longest and deepest fjord in Norway, stretching 205 km/127 mi from the ocean and reaching a depth of 1308 m/4291 ft below sea level.

View from of the back of the ship while cruising down Sognefjord.

As we’d now come to expect from previous days cruising the Norwegian fjords, we saw tall cliffs and mountains, waterfalls, small towns, and several smaller fjords branching off from Sognefjord. The scenery, even under a gloomy sky, was a wonderful send-off from Norway.

Town on the shore of Sognefjord.
Mountains framing Sognefjord.

Day 7: At Sea- Cruising to Amsterdam

Our Holland America Norway cruise itinerary ended with a day at sea sailing back to Amsterdam. This last sea day gave us one final opportunity to enjoy the ship’s amenities, take part in some more activities, and try another specialty restaurant.

Lamb chops served on a plate.
Lamb chops served at Tamarind.
Rolling Stone Rock Room on the Rotterdam ship.
Rolling Stone Rock Room

Norway Cruise Review- Final Thoughts About Our Norway Fjords Cruise

We really enjoyed our cruise to Norway and thought it was not only a great introduction to the country, but a relaxing and budget-friendly way to visit Norway for the first time.

While cruising Norway we got to float down some of the most beautiful Norwegian fjords and their smaller arms. I loved the steep walls of rock framing the fjords and the towering waterfalls tumbling down. I’ve always been amazed at how glaciers can dramatically shape a landscape and the Norwegian fjords were a great reminder of the power of nature.

Waterfall and mountain along the shore of Hardangerfjord.

Just as delightful as the natural scenery were the ports of call on our Norway fjord cruise. I especially liked visiting the small fjord villages, but was also pleasantly surprised by Oslo. 

Statue of a boy riding a bear in Kristiansand.

One thing I noticed about the cruise ports in Norway we visited was that the port areas were not at all (or significantly less) touristy than the Caribbean cruise I went on. We just stepped off the ship and into a community that wasn’t putting on a show for tourists or trying hard to get their money. So refreshing!

Rotterdam cruise ship docked in Eidfjord.
Rotterdam docked in Eidfjord
Cruise ship docked in Eidfjord.
Our ship at the port in Eidfjord

The time we had in port was pretty good, as far as cruises go, and I think most people would be satisfied with it. However, as someone who wants to do all the things in all the places, I wish we had 10-12 hours at each stop.

Lighthouse on the rocky shore near Kristiansand.
Lighthouse seen while sailing away from Kristiansand

As for our Norway cruise itinerary, it included a mix of well-known/popular destinations and some places I was unfamiliar with and wouldn’t have thought to go if I was travelling independently. We liked everywhere we visited and would even go back to a few places. I would have loved to go further north and visit more destinations in Norway, so maybe next time we’ll choose a longer cruise.

House backed by mountains along Hardangerfjord.

On this Norway cruise with Holland America Line, there was a nice balance between the destination and ship amenities. On some cruises, the ship takes centre stage and the destinations feel like an afterthought. Not in this case- the focus was definitely on Norway, but the ship experience wasn’t overlooked. Rotterdam was an attractive, comfortable mid-sized ship that kept us entertained, but Holland America also made sure to include some presentations, live narration, movies, and menu items that highlight Norway and Scandinavian culture.

Outdoor pool on the Rotterdam ship.
Outdoor heated pool on the Rotterdam
Pinnacle Grill restaurant on the Rotterdam ship.
Pinnacle Grill

For me, the only thing that this specific cruise lacked was a proper hiking excursion. I would have loved to venture out on a day hike with a local guide to be more immersed in nature. At least there were several other active, outdoor adventure-type excursions to do in each port of call. 

Man in a yellow kayak paddling in Naeroyfjord.
Kayaking in Nærøyfjord

Overall, I’m very happy that I was able to enjoy a Norway cruise as someone who prefers independent travel. It was nice for once not to have to worry about how to get around, where to eat, where to stay etc. My mom has always loved cruising and this experience was no different. We definitely recommend a cruise if you want an easy, stress-free, and affordable way to see the Norwegian fjords.

Me taking a selfie on the ship in Eidfjord.
Morning in Eidfjord

Tips for Going on a Norway Cruise

Here are a few tips for making the most of a Norway fjords cruise:

Staterooms: We recommend getting a balcony room if your budget allows. I loved stepping out onto our balcony first thing in the morning to check out the scenery and have my room service breakfast. If I saw a nice view while we were getting ready in the morning or for dinner, I could quickly get outside to take pictures. A balcony room also gives you a place to relax outdoors away from the crowds. 

Port Services: Most destinations had visitor centres at or near the port area where you could pick up a map and get some information about things to see and do.

  • Some of the port areas also had places where you could rent a car.

Shore Excursions: If you’re interested in doing some of the cruise company’s shore excursions, we recommend booking them as soon as possible because they do sell out. In our experience, some excursions were sold out two months before sailing (the Flåm Railway being one). 

  • You don’t have to book a shore excursion from the ship (they can be pricey). As an alternative, you can reserve tours and activities with local guides and companies online here
  • If you prefer, you can also walk around the ports of call on your own or rent a car to explore further afield.
Balcony stateroom on Holland America Line’s Rotterdam ship.
Our stateroom

I was hosted by Holland America Line in order to bring you this story. As always, I speak only the truth and hosts have no editorial influence on articles.

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