Our adventures continued with a 7-night sailing onboard Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas through the Norwegian Fjords. I’ll be honest…I saw the breathtaking beauty of the fjords on Bravo’s Below Deck Adventure series and immediately booked us on a cruise. The Norwegian Fjords weren’t ever on my bucket list of destinations to visit, but I can’t wait to show you why they should be on yours.
We sailed out of Southampton with a day at sea to bookend our early September itinerary. The four ports we visited were each beautiful and unique. We are an active couple in our late 50’s. We did quite a bit of research before cruising to find the perfect adventures in each port that would allow us to see and do as much as possible during our quick visits.
We decided to divide and conquer Stavanger. My husband really wanted to do the hike to the top of Pulpit Rock and I just wasn’t sure if I would be up for it. I am in my 50’s and in good shape. I walk on the treadmill on an incline almost every day. We read several different descriptions of the hike from a variety of resources. Some listed it as an easy gradual incline on a clear path and others rated it difficult or strenuous with proper hiking gear required. In the end, I decided that I would hold him back and not enjoy the climb, so he went without me. It was absolutely the right choice.
Because of the logistics involved in getting to the start of the trail to climb pulpit rock and the timing of the day, we opted to purchase the Pulpit Rock Adventure Hike Shore Excursion directly from Royal Caribbean. It included a guide and round-trip transfers, so he didn’t have to worry about the return bus schedule. The starting point for the hike is approximately 45 minutes away from the port. The hike itself took him approximately an hour and a half at a quick pace with occasional breaks. He spent about half an hour at the top with an hour walk down. He then had to wait awhile for the rest of the group to come down, so he visited the store and bought some snacks. They did have a restaurant and restrooms at the base of the trail.
He said it was definitely a strenuous hike and proper hiking boots would be strongly advised. You are constantly climbing over rocks and boulders. The next day his legs were pretty sore, but it was totally worth it for him, and he was glad that the weather cooperated and he got to do it.
So, while he was huffing and puffing and sweating his way up to the top of Pulpit Rock, I was sailing by on a beautiful, enclosed boat enjoying a 3 hour Lysefjord Cruise viewing waterfalls and eating waffles. We also booked this tour with Royal Caribbean. It was relaxing and beautiful and I enjoyed every minute.
After the cruise, I had some free time to wander around the port and do some shopping. I had read that there was a great Christmas shop near the port, and we collect a Christmas ornament from everywhere we visit, so I was excited to check it out. It was definitely overhyped and under delivered. Most of the ornaments were generic and made in China. There was a small outdoor market with 10-12 booths set up near the port selling things like animal pelts, antlers, and reindeer jerky. Authentic? Yes. Something I would purchase? Never. But my husband had to try the reindeer jerky and said it was pretty good. I was not interested in finding out what Rudolph tastes like. Lol!
Our weather was a little drizzly and foggy in the morning and just overcast in the afternoon. Tom was warm hiking and I was fine with a light windbreaker over a sweater while sailing and shopping.
This was one of my favorite days of our trip. We did some research ahead of time and decided that we wanted to spend the day zip lining with Olden Adventure. Unfortunately, because we were travelling late in the season, ziplining was not scheduled to operate on the day of our visit. I contacted the manager and he advised that if we had 15 people sign up, he would open the ziplines. I posted in a Facebook group for our ships sailing date and immediately got a little group of adventurers that were interested in participating. Yep, I manifested that! Lol
Olden Adventure operates a shuttle bus from the pier. It runs continuously to the Loen Skylift, which is only 10 minutes away from where the ships dock. The skylift to the top offers amazingly breathtaking views. We paid NOK 1791 for 2 including the shuttle, which is around $180 USD total. There was a giftshop at the bottom and the top and a restaurant/bar with breathtaking views. There are also hiking trails to explore.
Once at the top, we got our gear and headed over to the ziplines. We prepaid 1190 NOK for both of us, so around $120 USD. It was worth every penny, but I will let the video speak for itself. For more information or to make a booking, visit oldenadventure.com It was a great day and we had perfect weather.
This was also a great day exploring. We opted to skip the Royal Caribbean shore excursion offerings and instead rented a mini electric car for the day from emob Gerianger. We reserved it in advance and prepaid a two-hour rental with insurance for NOK 1995, which is around $200 USD. Emob Geiranger was located just a short walk from the pier. They were completely sold out of cars on the day of our visit. There were lots of disappointed people stopping to ask about rentals. The car came with a preprogrammed GPS system in the language of your choice, which pointed out the sights along the way. We were able to stop anytime we wanted to enjoy breathtaking views and beautiful waterfalls. The pictures don’t even begin to capture the beauty of Geiranger.
We had a short day in port and sailed past the Seven Sister’s Waterfalls on the way out. The captain did a 360 degree turn with the ship so we could enjoy all of the views. I felt bad for the people who had taken the popular Royal Caribbean shore excursion to the Seven Sister’s Waterfalls, as they could have spent the day exploring Geiranger instead.
We looked at all of the shore excursions offered by Royal Caribbean in Haugesund and none of them sounded very exciting. It was a beautiful day, so we decided to venture out on our own. Our adventure followed the hiking plan that I found here , including the stop at the cupcakehuset. We followed the Rv 47 road out but attempted to follow the bike path back. We got lost in a residential area, which just added to the adventure. Our weather was beautiful in Haugesund.
September was a beautiful time to travel to Norway. I strongly suggest that you add this destination to your travel bucket list. The Norwegian parliament has introduced new requirements stipulating that all cruise ships and ferries in World Heritage fjords must be emission free by 2026. Book a Norwegian Fjord cruise now while you can!