DAY 1: DOVER
We set our course northbound from Dover towards the famous fjords of Norway on board MS Maud. Get ready to witness some of the most “exceptional natural beauty” in the world according to UNESCO. As the Norwegian spring encompasses many seasons, your suitcase will be filled with clothes for all weather.
Once on board the ship, you’ll pick up your complimentary expedition jacket, settle into your cabin, explore the ship and attend a mandatory safety drill. As we wave a fond farewell to the white cliffs of Dover and head across the North Sea, head out on deck and watch the fishing boats and seagulls.
Take some time to get acquainted with the ship, elegantly designed using natural Scandinavian materials. Locate our three restaurants and the Explorer Lounge and Bar. Head to Deck 5 to discover the Science Center and get familiar with Deck 9 where you’ll find the Observation Deck, gym, sauna and hot tubs. We have a feeling you’ll be spending a lot of time up here. Over the next days, you’ll travel deep into the fjords of western Norway and discover archetypal fjordal landscapes that stretch for 500 kilometre from Stavanger to Kristiansund. This area is also known as Fjord Norway.
DAY 2: AT SEA
Northbound to the fjords of Norway
We enjoy a day at sea as we head north to Norway. Now you’ve settled in, you’ll have plenty of time to relax on board today. Take in the fresh spring air out on the Observation Deck or from the hot tubs, settle down with a good book in the lounge, or grab a tasty snack from Fredheim restaurant. If you’re feeling energetic, you can make full use of the gym or take a few laps on deck.
You will meet your wonderful Expedition Team, who will join you on the exciting adventures ahead. Their enthusiasm is infectious! This friendly team has been picked for their extensive knowledge of Norway or their expertise in a particular subject, which they will share with you in their series of daily onboard lectures. As we sail towards the fjords, the first topic they cover may well be the geology of the fjordal landscapes you’ll be seeing and how these incredible mountains, fjords and plains were formed.
We also support a number of Citizen Science projects that you can join. These projects include Happywhale where your photographs help identify and track whales across the planet. Or the Globe observer project which combines your observations of clouds and sky conditions from below with data collected by satellites. Not only will you be supporting the scientific community, you’ll also be getting a better understanding of the world around you.
DAY 3: ROSENDAL/SUNNDAL, HARDANGERFJORD
Your first fjord in spring bloom
The expedition lecture series continues, perhaps with a talk on glaciers or Norway’s climate, providing some background on the geology of the area you’re about to see. Just before lunch, the peaks of tall mountains will appear on the horizon. Between these peaks lie Norway’s world-famous fjords.
One such fjord is Hardangerfjord. The climate here is mild and in spring, the hillsides are blanketed in white blossoms of the prettiest apple orchards in Norway. The region is understandably famous for its apple products, from jams and juice to its award-winning cider, which one wine critic described as “Nordic champagne”.
Today, we will explore either villages of Sunndal or Rosendal, depending on local conditions. From Sunndal, located close to the Bondhus Glacier, you can explore the area on a scenic hike or go kayaking with the Expedition Team as optional excursions. With only 800 inhabitants, Rosendal is a small, charming village. The biggest attraction is the 16th century Baronial manor, famous for its beautiful rose garden and landscaped grounds. Why not also stop in at one of the small cafés in the village and sample the delicious local produce.
DAY 4: SKJOLDEN, SOGNEFJORD
Idyllic fjord villages and stave churches
As your breakfast is served, you can see the mountains of Sognefjord pass by. Friluftsliv is a very Norwegian life philosophy that combines a deep respect for nature with a love of life outdoors. As you sail deeper into fjord territory, you will begin to understand just why friluftsliv is so integral to Norwegian culture. In today’s Expedition Team talk, they may share the secrets of Norwegians’ happy disposition and connection with nature with you.
Sognefjord is the longest and deepest of the Norwegian fjords, stretching over 200 kilometres inland from Bergen. It has many fjord tributaries, some of which themselves require a full day to explore. As we sail deeper into the fjord, head out on deck to get a sense of the scale of the fjordal landscape around you. You’ll see isolated farms perched precariously on steep, snow-capped mountains, seemingly cut off from everything. As the warmth of spring thaws the snow, the ice melts into trickles of water that soon turn to cascading waterfalls crashing down the jagged rocks into the fjords, delighting the senses.
Occasionally, we pass idyllic fjord villages nestled along the fertile plains. One of these is Skjolden, home to 200 residents and our base for today. The highlight here is a trip to nearby Urnes Stave Church. Urnes is the oldest stave church in Norway, built in the 12th century, and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. An outstanding example of traditional Scandinavian wooden architecture, it brings together Celtic art, Viking traditions and Romanesque style. Marvel at the church’s exquisite interior carvings, notable for both their artistic and historical significance.
Nature and outdoor lovers will have the chance to join optional excursions that explore Lustrafjord, such as fantastic mountain hikes with the Expedition Team or a thrilling kayaking trip.
DAY 5: NærøYFJORD, SOGNEFJORD
Approaching the Arctic Circle
As you sleep soundly after an invigorating day of activities, we sail through the night to the southern side of Sognefjord. Open your curtains in the morning and you’ll be greeted by the stunning scenery of one of the most beautiful fjords in the world. Welcome to Nærøyfjord!
Along with Geirangerfjord, Nærøyfjord is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, selected for being “among the most scenically outstanding lan.dscapes in the world” and “exceptional in scale and grandeur” which are UNESCO’s words, not ours! Nærøyfjord is singled out for its dramatic contrasts; the narrowest fjord in the world – 250 metres at its narrowest – bookmarked by towering vertical mountain walls as high as 1,700 metres. It’s also the deepest fjord in the world.
After breakfast, we set sail, gliding through scenic fjords until we arrive in Fjærlandsfjord, where we have a full day of activities planned. The onboard lecture today may cover the subject of shipbuilding, one of Norway’s most important industries. As you marvel at the scale and reach of the country’s fjords, it will come as no surprise that the fjords became Norway’s most efficient transport network.
The Supphelle Glacier awaits us for a guided tour where you’ll learn all about Norway’s glaciers and glacial landscapes. What better way to do this than in the presence of these incredible landforms! We will also visit the beautiful little glacier village of Fjærland, where the Sognefjord meets Jostedalsbreen Glacier. This quirky village, home to only 300 residents, has been named the Norwegian Book Town for its 10 second-hand bookshops. These shops are housed in a variety of abandoned buildings, from ferry waiting rooms and stables to local banks and a post office. On the banks of this pretty village, if weather permits, you’ll have the chance to kayak in incredible nature with the Expedition Team on an optional excursion.
As you enjoy a delicious meal back on board the ship, you can continue to admire the views as we exit the fjord and rejoin the coastal waters. During the night, we sail north, sheltered by the coastline. Get a good night’s sleep as tomorrow we visit Geirangerfjord, another UNESCO-listed treat, and as far north as we will travel.
DAY 6: GEIRANGERFJORD
Seven wonderful waterfalls
After breakfast, we sail into the fjord system leading to Geirangerfjord in the Sunnmøre region of western Norway. The deep emerald green colour of the fjord itself and the fairytale landscape has led to Geirangerfjord often being referred to as the ‘jewel in the crown’ of the Norwegian fjords.
Springtime is arguably the best season to see Geirangerfjord: there are fewer visitors; the weather will be milder; the sun may glisten on the fjord and warm your face; and the snow will have started to melt into mesmerising waterfalls. Looming above you, undaunted by the sun, will be majestic snow-capped mountain tops.
Wrap up and get out on deck today as you won’t want to miss a thing. We’ll be sailing past Geirangerfjord’s famous waterfalls: the most well-known being Brudesløret – the Bridal Veil. You will most definitely notice De syv søstrene, the Seven Sisters, one of the most photographed waterfalls in Geirangerfjord. They comprise seven waterfalls that thunder down the mountainside right next to an abandoned farm, the contrast merely emphasising the power of nature. Frieren, the Suitor, lies across the fjord from the Seven Sisters. The way the water diverts into two streams as it tumbles down the rock walls makes the entire waterfall resemble a bottle.
We will choose a totally secluded spot in the fjord itself to drop anchor, one that affords us the most spectacular views. Tender boats will take you ashore to further explore the special nature of the fjords and its many small communities. We have handpicked some fantastic optional activities for you to enjoy in Geirangerfjord. Among them is the chance to kayak on the fjord, as long as the weather is favourable to do so.
Inspired by the outstanding natural beauty you’ve seen today, when we head back on board, you may wish to express this creatively in an art and craft workshop or perhaps hear from the Expedition Team how nature has inspired Norwegian art and culture. Once the sun has set and the shadows of the mountains stretch toward us, we will raise anchor and sail towards our next port of call, Nordfjord.
DAY 7: LOEN – NORDJORD
The view from the top
In the morning we enter Nordfjord, the sixth longest fjord in Norway. This fjord was created by the Jostedalsbreen Glacier, one of the largest glaciers in Europe. Aside from breathtaking glaciers and fjords, you can discover mountains, fertile valleys and beautiful sandy beaches which offer year-round adventure like skiing, hiking, paragliding, glacier walks and even surfing!
Our chosen destination to explore the best of Nordfjord is Loen, at the base of the fjord and of Mount Hoven. We dock outside Loen itself, and use small boats to reach the small town. Loen’s Skylift cable car is one of the steepest in the world, climbing 1,100 metres at a gradient up to 60°. From the top of Mount Hoven, you’ll have spectacular views of the mountains, valleys and the fjord.
For optional excursions, if weather allows, you can join guided hikes along alpine trails. Down on Loen’s green banks, you can opt to see the fjord from a different perspective, out on the water aboard your own kayak. Another of Nordfjord’s popular attractions is the impressive Briksdalsbreen Glacier. This glistening, blue solid ice mass flows over the mountains and squeezes through the high peaks. The nearby Kleivafossen waterfall is also a popular attraction.
We set sail out the fjord as the sun sets in the west. We sail past the Hornelen sea cliff, the tallest in Europe. It will mark our farewell to the fjords in the north. Our next destination will be something completely different – an island chain off the coast of Norway – which offers a stark contrast to the glacial beauty of the fjords.
DAY 8: VæRLANDET
A patchwork of tiny islands
Today, we will explore the area around Værlandet, the westernmost islands of Norway, and the outlet of Sognefjord. These windswept islands face the North Sea and are exposed compared to the sheltered fjords we’ve left behind. Given the usual wind and waves here, our itinerary in these islands is subject to the elements, even in spring. The coastal islands are home to many animals, so be on the lookout for seals, otters, porpoises, eagles and deer. The day’s onboard lecture topic may also cover the plants and animals of the coast.
Værlandet itselt is a small island even by Norwegian standards and the island is rarely visited by cruise ships. At only 3.5 square miles, the 200-strong local community survive largely on fishing and a little tourism. The ship will try to anchor off one of the islands or to shelter in a small bay. Boats will take you to where we have the best possibilities to explore these tiny islands on optional excursions. This might include visiting the little chapel and local store on Stornese by bike, walking across moors to a lighthouse, visiting Pecten Maximus – a wooden weather shelter, or hiking to the statue of Berte and Hansine on Hilliers Island. You’ll also have the chance to kayak in turquoise waters between islets and fishing boats.
DAY 9: LYSEFJORD
On a high at Pulpit Rock
Your final day of exploration begins as we arrive at Mosterøy and Klosterøy in the morning, two of the myriad of islands that lie around the city of Stavanger. Mosterøy is a lovely island that is made up of a mixture of pastures for cattle, horticulture, and cute neighbourhoods all around. Klosterøy is less than a square mile in size but home to the historic Utstein Abbey and the 800-year-old Utstein Church. The stone church is a protected site and while it seats up to 300 people, it is only used for special occasions. You’ll explore the abbey, Norway’s best-preserved medieval monastery. It is still hired out as a venue for concerts, seminars, and conventions today. So much so that it is even noted as a well-known hosting ground for conferences on emergency medicine. There will also be an optional excursion or to go out on the water in kayaks near Mosterøy.
After lunch, we sail as deep as possible into imposing Lysefjord towards the iconic viewpoint at Preikestolen. Lysefjord is 40 kilometres long, up to 422 metres deep and boasts some of the most striking vertical cliffs of all the Norwegian fjords. Preikestolen, also known as Pulpit Rock, is perhaps the most famous tourist attraction in Norway and the popular subject of many social media posts. As we approach Preikestolen, we hope to be treated to a fine view of this incredible rock formation from below. We might also see the equally renown Kjæragbolten where a giant boulder seems precariously wedged in a mountain crevasse.
You’ll have an optional excursion to do the five-hour guided hike to the Preikestolen viewpoint 604 metres above Lysefjord. If you’ve remained on the ship, you can spend time out on deck drinking in the magnificent scenery, looking up at the majestic mountains towering above you. After a scenic cruise of the fjord and collecting our tired but exhilarated hikers, it’ll be time for us to set sail for Dover, sadly leaving the fjords, islands, and eventually the coast as a whole behind.
DAY 10: At Sea
Back to reality
Sadly, it’s our last day at sea and our adventure is drawing to a close. As we cross the North Sea, you may spot seabirds and dolphins that like to follow the ship.
Make the most of your day on board Maud. You may want to soak your tired limbs in the hot tub, work out in the gym, relax in the Explorer lounge, or edit the photographs from your trip. Don’t miss the Expedition Team as they review the highlights of your memorable expedition cruise to the fjords of Norway.
DAY 11: Dover
We pass the white cliffs of Dover during the early morning hours and dock at the city’s harbour. After breakfast, it’s time to leave your home for the past 11 days.
As you head home, you’ll take with you the unforgettable memories of Norway’s magnificent fjords along the west coast.