All aboardBergen – gateway to the fjords
It’s only fitting that your Norwegian coastal experience begins in Bergen, Norway’s cultural and artistic hotspot. Your ship, MS Trollfjord, will be waiting for you at the pier, and will depart by mid-afternoon. Once we’ve welcomed you aboard and you’ve settled into your cabin or suite, you’ll meet your Coastal Experience Team. You’ll get to know each member of the team well as they give lectures and organise onboard activities for you throughout your voyage.
Grab yourself a drink in the ship’s two-storey panorama lounge and meet your fellow guests. As the ship sails from Bergen and into Hjeltefjord, your scenic adventure along Norway’s coast is underway.
Perfect panoramasMolde – the City of Roses
Molde is the capital and commercial center of Romsdalen, which sits on the southern coast of the Romsdal Peninsula. We’ve stopped at this port many times on our Coastal Express route, but this time we’ll be making a much longer stop. You’ll have all the time you need to enjoy the town.
Your Coastal Experience Team will organize a number of optional activities to enhance your Molde experience. Accessible nearby on an optional excursion is the Atlantic Road, an icon of the Norwegian coast that often features in Hollywood movies.
To get the best panoramic views of the area, join us on a hike to Varden viewpoint, following the trail from the town center. Once you’re there, gaze down at the town from a height of 1319 feet above sea level and admire the 222 snowy peaks viewable across Moldefjord.
If you prefer to stay closer to the ground, pop into the Romsdal Museum, one of Norway’s largest folk museums. It’s only ten minutes from the town center.
An ancient fishing town
An ancient fishing townRørvik
The Vikna archipelago is a chain of around 6,000 islands, islets, and skerries. The largest of the chain, Inner-Vikna, is our next stop. We aim to dock at the port town of Rørvik around mid-morning and stay there for most of the day.
The town and its surrounding areas have a long history, with burial mounds that date back to ancient times. Rørvik’s museums document the area’s maritime, particularly the Norwegian Coastal Museum.
Similarly, at the SalmoNor visitor’s center, you can take a tour of a modern salmon farm and find out more about the Norwegian aquaculture industry that supplies the world with tasty Nordic salmon.
Another major export is cod, and the town even has an annual Cod Festival in March. Cod is especially common in the waters of the archipelago during winter. Why not indulge in some fresh cod cakes?
Village life and fjord nature
Village life and fjord natureLødingen
Lødingen is a village and administrative center on the southwestern shore of Hinnøya, with a population of under 2,000. Our ships used to visit this port on one of our earlier coastal routes. Returning here is a kind of like a homecoming for us.
We’ll dock at around midday, using Lødingen as a base for a few hours to explore more of Hinnøya island, Norway’s largest island south of Svalbard. Wander the streets near the port and admire the traditional red fishing huts, or rorbuer, that line the shore. As you walk, you’ll likely notice the calm atmosphere of village life.
The highlight of this visit is definitely the breathtaking fjords and mountains that have made the Norwegian coast so famous. Gullesfjord branches off of Andfjord and cuts into the north side of Hinnøya, bordered by pristine mountain ranges. The area is popular among campers, who stay on the campsite or in cabins and fish for cod in the fjord during winter.
From Lødingen, you can join a handful of optional excursions, including a fishing trip with a local, an immersive Sámi experience to learn more about their culture and history, or a visit to Dampskipsbrygga, Lødingen’s former wharf.
The city of Northern Lights
The city of Northern LightsAlta
Alta is one of the bigger coastal towns we visit, with a population of over 10,000 people. A particularly famous part of the town is Alta River, one of Norway’s best salmon rivers. Large salmon are regularly caught here, with some even weighing up to 53 lbs. You won’t regret trying fresh grilled salmon in one of the local restaurants.
At 70 degrees north, this town is still far above the Arctic Circle. The area is known for particularly good northern lights visibility, so keep your camera ready. If the skies are clear and the conditions are right, you should be able to snap some amazing shots of the lights dancing above.
You can learn more about this incredible natural light show on a guided tour of the town. The Northern Lights Cathedral even has an exhibition showing how Alta became the epicenter of ground-breaking research of the aurora borealis between the 19th and 20th centuries.
Increased snowfall in the winter allows for some truly authentic Arctic excursions, like dog-sledding. The snow and climate of Alta also creates the perfect conditions to build and maintain the Igloo Hotel, located on the banks of river Alta.
You can tour the world’s northernmost ice hotel, built out of snow and ice every winter and carved with different artistic themes by local sculptors. Head to the hotel’s ice bar, decorated with handcrafted ice sculptures. Order a drink in an ice glass—no ice cubes needed.
The northernmost point
The northernmost pointHonningsvåg
Honningsvåg is the northernmost city on the mainland, and its landscape is distinctive, with barely any trees or bushes. This far north, winters are long and the snowfall is high, so prepare for fantastic winter scenery and activities.
Feel the snow crunching under your snowshoes as you hike across the plains. You could even try your hand at ice fishing, a beloved winter tradition in the far north. Taste the local delicacy, king crab, which is caught in the waters around Honningsvåg and served year-round. Admire local art in the Once Upon a Dream art gallery, and don’t miss the Honningsvåg Church. This is the oldest building in the area, dating back to 1885.
The highlight of any trip to Honningsvåg is a visit to the North Cape. This is one of the northernmost points of mainland Europe. Since we’re visiting in winter, we can go there by snowmobile. It’s an unmatched experience to standing near the northern edge of Norway and look out over the Barents Sea under the polar night sky. Add the northern lights to the sky above and the moment will be unforgettable.
The cape is marked with a famous globe monument, which demands a selfie or two… or five. When you’re ready, head inside North Cape Hall to warm up and learn about life in the High Arctic through a short film and a variety of exhibits.
Having reached the northernmost point of our voyage, we’ll turn around and begin going south as we sail away in the evening.
The gateway to the Arctic
The gateway to the ArcticTromsø
Today you’ll get the chance to see the Arctic Capital itself. Often called the “gateway to the Arctic”, Tromsø is Norway's northernmost university city, and the ideal place to enjoy some proper winter activities, like dog sledding and snowshoeing.
Sitting around 217 miles north of the Arctic Circle, Tromsø experiences Polar Night for just over a month in the winter, and will give you a great chance of seeing the Northern Lights.
This urban city is buzzing with life, with everything from trendy restaurants and cafés to boutique shops selling local crafts and produce, and even high fashion. MS Trollfjord will be in port here for 13 hours, giving you plenty of time to both join optional excursions and explore the city yourself.
Among the activities on offer is a guided tour of the Polar Museum which chronicles the city’s legacy of Arctic hunting and trade. For live animals, head to the Polaria centre, an aquarium home to a variety of Arctic marine species, including seals.
Across the water from Polaria, you’ll find the Arctic Cathedral, standing out in the cityscape due to its striking design and impressive stained-glass window. There may also be opportunity to visit some of Tromsø’s surrounding fjords and possibly the rugged island of Senja.
Lofoten islands and our historic birthplace
Lofoten islands and our historic birthplaceStokmarknes , Svolvær
Today, we explore Lofoten, a striking group of islands that rise out of the Norwegian Sea. As soon as you see the towering peaks around you with fishing villages clinging to their sides, you’ll understand why this island chain is so often praised as one of Norway’s most stunning locations.
We can’t visit the area without spending some time in Stokmarknes. This historic town is part of Vesterålen, an archipelago just northeast of Lofoten. For us, this place is particularly special. Shipping pioneer Richard With founded the Original Coastal Express here in 1893.
The Coastal Express soon became a lifeline for Norway’s remote coastal communities. Fittingly, our legacy has been immortalized in the place where it all began. Standing on the waterfront, you’ll find our 1956 ship MS Finnmarken, encased in a glass building like a ship in a bottle.
This is Hurtigrutemuseet, the museum that chronicles our history as Norway’s leading expedition cruise line. On a guided tour, explore the retired vessel and experience the atmosphere of a bygone era.
We’ll dock in the town of Svolvær in the afternoon. Located on the island of Austvågøya in the south of Lofoten, Svolvær is the biggest town of the archipelago, humming with shops, restaurants, galleries, and cafés. You can also admire views of the Svolvær Goat, a nearby mountain that resembles a goat and its horns.
A variety of optional excursions are available from Svolvær, including winter fishing, paddling along the coastline in a kayak, or embarking on a bus tour to learn more about Lofoten’s history.
Distinctive Nordic nature
Distinctive Nordic natureBrønnøysund – coastal charm right in the middle of Norway
Surrounded by islands and water, Brønnøysund sits on a narrow peninsula that juts out from the mainland. Around 5,000 people live in this small town, many in colorful houses against a backdrop of gentle slopes and dramatic mountain peaks.
Enjoy the bustling atmosphere of the harbor and stroll along Havnegata. Drop into one of the pubs for a snack, or treat yourself to a meal in a local restaurant. Wander the visitors’ marina, or visit an 1870 stone church built in neo-Gothic style.
As we sail, look out for the Vega archipelago, a cluster of some 6,500 islands, skerries, and islets. There’s a UNESCO World Heritage Centre on the island of Gardsøy which showcases how highly prized eider down is harvested from the local eider ducks by providing little huts for them to build their nests in.
On an island south of Brønnøysund, you’ll find Torghatten mountain, recognizable by a natural tunnel that runs through the center. According to local lore, the hole is the result of a troll who fired an arrow at a young woman who rejected his advances. As the Troll King threw his hat to protect her, the sun began to rise, turning the hat to stone with a hole in the middle from the arrow.
On an optional excursion, you can hike an hour up to the hole in the mountain. Peer through the tunnel and enjoy the view of the surrounding islands.
A picturesque town
A picturesque townÅlesund
After a hearty breakfast on the ship, we’ll dock mid-morning at Ålesund, a town that spreads out across a string of islands.
As we approach the shore, you might notice the distinctive architecture. Every detail of the buildings, from the bright colors to the rounded spires, were inspired by art nouveau style, which was popular in the early 1900s. Almost the entire town received a makeover in the style when it was rebuilt after a major fire in 1904.
As you leave the waterfront, you’ll enter a fairy-tale town, filled with narrow streets lined with unique houses. If you don’t fill up your camera’s memory card with this, snap some impressive photos of the archipelago from the nearby Mount Aksla viewpoint. The 418 steps leading there might look intimidating, but the views are well worth the effort.
You can also visit the Atlantic Sea Park, Norway’s first marine science center. This is one of Northern Europe’s largest saltwater aquariums, providing a home to seals, otters, and crabs, as well as many other kinds of marine life. You can even see Humboldt Penguins here, a species otherwise absent north of the equator.
Viking historyThe Hardangerfjord, Haugesund
Journeying south along Norway’s west coast, we sail past some of Norway’s most famous fjords—none more so than Hardangerfjord.
At 111 miles long, it is the second longest fjord in the country, and fifth longest in the world.
This stunning waterway is one of Norway’s finest. Mountain scenery is everywhere you look, with white peaks towering over the fjord and reflecting off the shimmering water below.
The region is famous for its apples, used in jams and juice to award-winning cider, which one food writer described as ‘Nordic champagne’.
Weather permitting, we may be able to dock at Rosendal or one of the other picturesque settlements that line the fjord’s shores. In the quaint village of Rosendal, the biggest attraction is the 16th-century Baronial manor, famous for its beautiful rose garden and landscaped grounds.
We reach Haugesund, the ‘Home of the Viking Kings’, in the afternoon. The nickname is inspired by sites such as St. Olav’s Church, built in 1250 by King Håkon Hå. We also have Haraldshaugen, a national monument reputed to be the first king’s burial site.
Why not step back in time to the Viking Age at Nordvegen Visiting Center, which features exhibitions presented by a fictional Harald Fairhair himself?
The city of lighthouses
The city of lighthousesKristiansand
Located on the southern tip of the country, Kristiansand is Norway’s fifth-largest city. We aim to be at port from morning to late afternoon, giving you plenty of time to explore.
As you walk around Kristiansand, you might notice that the city is built on a uniform grid plan, with several straight roads running from the harbor all the way through the city. These roads are lined with architecture from different eras – evidence of the extensive rebuilding the city underwent after major fires in the 18th and 19th centuries and an attack during World War II.
Kristiansand is on a mission to become the most sustainable port in Europe. Find out more about this admirable goal on an optional excursion that includes a visit to Odderøya Island. Here, you can see beautiful views of the ocean and city and visit 18th-century military barracks that have been transformed into creative artist studios running several sustainable initiatives.
Kristiansand’s 20th-century military past is the focus of an optional excursion to Batterie Vara. Originally built as a German fort in World War II, it features the world’s second-largest cannon ever mounted on land.
Another optional excursion takes you to the working Lindesnes Lighthouse, which marks Norway’s southernmost point. See the beacon that has been guiding seafarers to safety on dark nights since the early 20th century and learn about the site’s long history, which goes all the way back to 1656.
Back on the ship, we’ll end our cruise on a high note with a farewell dinner. Take this chance to swap stories and show photos to your fellow travelers one last time.
From the south to the north, and back down to the south, reflect on your journey as you watch our approach to our last port of call, Oslo, in the early morning. Say your goodbyes to the crew before you disembark.
You’ve sailed on The North Cape Express, exploring Norway’s coastal cities and villages all the way to the top of the European continent. During the journey, you’ll have experienced Norway’s varied climate, seen majestic mountains and fjords, and maybe gazed up in awe at the Northern Lights once or several times.
We hope you’ll cherish each of the memories of The North Cape Express that you’ll take home with you. Come sail with us again soon on another iconic voyage of our spectacular home: the Norwegian coast.