A Norwegian fjords cruise is an amazing way to absorb the stunning scenery of Norway.
What better way to see the captivating beauty of Norway than by taking a Norwegian fjords cruise? Wake up to stunning and wondrous views each day from a new Norwegian town. Sail past towering mountains and rugged cliffs. Spot the tiny, colorful houses that dot the rocky mountains as you drift by. It’s truly a magical vacation that you need to take in your lifetime.
Justin and I embarked on the 7 day Viking Sagas cruise with Holland America Line. We sailed aboard their newest ship, the Nieuw Statendam, from Amsterdam to four Norwegian port towns: Oslo, Kristiansand, Stavanger, and Flåm. There were also two days at sea where we had the opportunity to relax and enjoy cruise ship living.
Reasons to Take a Norwegian Fjords Cruise
There are many advantages to taking a Norwegian fjords cruise over a land trip. First, it’s an easy way to travel from one place to the next. You fly into and out of the same airport (in our case, Amsterdam), board the ship with your belongings, and you don’t have to worry about transportation between cities. You spend each night in a comfortable room, waking up in a new place each day. And you’ll be able to unpack and get settled for the week. This is such a wonderful perk as we’re used to taking road trips where we essentially live out of our suitcases.
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The views from this Holland America Norway cruise are nothing short of spectacular. To fully appreciate the fjords, it’s best to view them from the middle of the water. You’ll be able to walk around the ship for 360 degree panoramic perspectives of the scenery all around you. There are ample opportunities for scenic fjord cruising. I also loved viewing each port or town from the vantage point of our balcony cabin (or from the top decks of the ship). It’s almost like having your own aerial view – no drone required!
In addition, having traveled through a couple of Scandinavian cities in the past (Copenhagen and Reykjavik, for example), we know that these countries are expensive. Dining out, spending the night, and most other costs of traveling in Norway are not cheap. Sailing aboard a Norwegian fjords cruise helps keep the cost down. It isn’t necessary to dine off the cruise ship when all the meals on the ship are included in the price. Taking a Norway coastal cruise is one of the most cost effective ways of traveling around the country.
When to Take a Norway Coastal Cruise
The summer months are the best time to visit Norway, with the chances of having the best weather. The Nieuw Statendam cruises around Norway from May to September. There are also opportunities to extend your cruise to lengthier expeditions, like cruising to Iceland, exploring more countries on a Scandinavia cruise, and even crossing the Arctic Circle. Justin and I sailed at the end of July and into the beginning of August, which I’d consider to be the best time for a Norwegian fjords cruise.
Packing for the Weather
Norway isn’t known for having stable weather, so expect a little bit of everything. We had days with bright sunshine and hot temperatures. We also had days of rain, wind, and seasonably cool temperatures. Expect everything, even all in one day. I recommend bringing a good mix of clothing: shorts and tank tops for the hot days, jeans and sweaters for the cooler ones. Pack everything from sunscreen to a rain jacket and umbrella.
Why Holland America Line for a Norway Cruise?
This was our first cruise with Holland America Line, and we absolutely recommend sailing with this cruise line for your upcoming holiday. We were both super impressed with the quality of service, the friendly and helpful staff, the level of care, the quality of the food, the comfort and cleanliness of our room, the on board entertainment, and the ports / destinations for the sailing. I’m so pleased to write such a glowing review of our vacation on the Nieuw Statendam. You’ll truly feel refreshed, invigorated, and enlightened after your cruise to Norway.
It’s a total breeze to book and plan your Norwegian fjords cruise. You can book everything directly through the Holland America Line website. Book your cruise, your shore excursions, spa treatments or dinner reservations in advance. You can print your boarding passes and luggage tags in advance of your cruise. It’s easy to arrange transportation from the airport to the cruise ship ahead of time. Then, the check-in process is easy-peasy. Cruising is such a stress-free way to travel where you can choose to do as much or as little as you like.
Perhaps you’d like to wait to book some activities until you’re on board? That works, too. Once you’re on the ship, you’ll have access to a range of activities in the daily “When & Where” guide. These details also appear on your stateroom TV and you can even look them up on your smartphone. The Nieuw Statendam is a cruise ship that focuses on music and art. Out of all the cruises I’ve taken, this one has the best nightly entertainment that I’ve ever experienced. Justin and I spent every night at the Music Walk on deck 2. We floated between the Rolling Stone Rock Room, Billboard Onboard, and B.B. King’s Blues Club where you could always hear live music all night long.
Ship Life on Nieuw Statendam
One of our favorite aspects of cruising is life on board the cruise ship. It’s like a little floating city, but it’s not really like any typical city I’ve visited. First, it’s common place to greet everyone as you pass one another down the hallway or have small chats on the elevator. It’s easy to get to know the cruise ship staff because you’ll chat to them everyday. You can make friends everywhere you go: on excursions, at the pool, and at the music venues.
Our Verandah Stateroom
Justin and I stayed in a Verandah Spa Stateroom on the Nieuw Statendam, cabin #10035 (category VQ). This balcony cabin features one queen sized bed (can be made up into two twin beds), a sitting area with a couch, a private verandah, a shower, and floor-to-ceiling windows. This room is located on the Panorama Deck (deck 10), which meant that our verandah had amazing views from high up on the ship.
The style of the room feels light and airy, and more open and spacious than our past cruise ship cabins. I love the lighter colored wooden furnishings and the shades of turquoise and lime throughout the room. It really presents a breezy vacation vibe. I highly recommend choosing a verandah room during a Norwegian fjords cruise. It’s possible to wake up and watch the scenic sailings through the fjords right from your own room. Order room service breakfast and you don’t even have to leave your cabin to dine and enjoy the brilliant scenery.
There are many modern amenities throughout the stateroom. First, we loved the big flat screen TV across from the bed with a video on-demand service. This not only beats the smaller TVs we’ve seen on other cruise ships, but we’ve never had this amount of new movies to watch from the comfort of our room before. It’s like having a mini Netflix, right in the room. If you have some downtime on a sea day or want to unwind at night, feel free to curl up in your cabin and catch up on some movies.
There are also plenty of outlets in the cabin, both North American and European. You’ll find USB ports above both bedside tables for your phones. We also found that the Wi-Fi was quite speedy from inside our cabin, more so than other public areas on the ship.
We were also super comfortable in our cabin each day and night. The signature Mariner’s Dream bed was the perfect place to drift off into sleep and allowed us to feel well rested upon waking each day. There’s also an in-room safe, a mini fridge, ice service, complimentary fresh fruit on request, a magnifying make-up mirror, a blow dryer, 100% Egyptian cotton towels, and a premium massage shower head.
The nightly turn down service each evening by our cabin steward was made extra special with a new origami towel animal each night. We loved the special touch of having a new animal on our bed when we came back from dinner and drinks each night. It was always a surprise to see which animal would appear. Our favorite was definitely the monkey, hanging out in the middle of the room on a clothes hanger!
Public Spaces on Nieuw Statendam
There are lots of public spaces, both indoor and outdoor, for various interests and activities. There are two swimming pools, a larger one in the middle of the ship and one at the back of the ship, as well as numerous hot tubs. The bigger mid-ship pool is beneath a retractable roof, which stays closed if the weather isn’t cooperating. You can take a dip in this pool if it’s raining or chilly outside, and the water is heated, too. You can even watch movies by the pool at night with popcorn and snacks. There are a variety of seating options near the pool like loungers, tables and chairs for dining, and even larger couches and chaise lounges that are totally appropriate for a midday snooze.
Nieuw Statendam has a bright and modern fitness center with loads of cardio machines, weight machines, free weights, yoga mats, and a separate room for spin classes. While we only managed to make it to the gym once, it was such an enjoyable experience. There are cycling machines with digital monitors offering virtual riding experiences, which almost makes you forget that you’re working out. The treadmills face directly out to the front of the ship, so you can absorb the soothing ocean views as you exercise. If you’d rather get your exercise outdoors, there’s an outdoor jogging track, outdoor exercise machines, and a basketball court.
This Nordic cruise aboard Nieuw Statendam has lots of bars and meeting spaces to gather with friends and loved ones. Meet over a drink while listening to a variety of music. There’s also a casino, on board shops, an art gallery, numerous dining venues, a full service spa and salon, and two coffee shops for your caffeine fix.
On sea days and at night on your Norwegian fjords cruise aboard Nieuw Statendam, you won’t have to worry about feeling bored. There are non-stop activities and entertainment throughout the cruise. However, it’s all up to you. If you feel like relaxing by the pool and reading a book, go for it!
We participated in a few of the entertainment options and activities on our Holland America Norway cruise. One of our favorite things about cruising to Norway on the Nieuw Statendam was the entertainment itself. In addition to performances and comedy shows in the theater, we spent most of our evenings at Nieuw Statendam’s Music Walk. There’s non-stop live music all night long.
In one space, there’s the Billboard Onboard bar and the Rolling Stone Rock Room. There’s a rock band that performs in the Rolling Stone bar, and there are a pair of dueling piano performers at Billboard. Each plays a set for about 45 minutes. When the band finishes playing at Rolling Stone, the music immediately starts up across the way at Billboard. When the pianists wrap up their set, the live music starts again at Rolling Stone.
And then there’s the band at B.B. King’s down the hallway. The musical act at B.B. Kings plays lots of pop hits, R&B, and blues music. In the band, there are vocalists, musicians on guitar, keys, drums, saxophone, and one of the most talented bassists we’ve ever seen. There’s a massive dance floor at B.B. King’s so you can shake what you’ve got.
On sea days, check the “When & Where” guide for daily activities. There are dance classes, ping pong tournaments, talks about history and nature, trivia and board games, and so much more. We took a tour of the kitchen one morning to gain insights into the behind-the-scenes operations in preparing the food on the cruise. Did you know that the average weekly consumption of melon on board totals a whopping 4000 lbs? And the total amount of fresh vegetables for the passengers on board for the week is 18,000 lbs? There are a lot of mouths to feed, and the kitchen staff runs a “tight ship” (pardon the pun!). There’s a huge focus on cleanliness, being quick and efficient, and following a set of protocols that even includes official guidelines on plating meals.
Another interesting activity for the wine fans on board is the intimate tasting and wine blending class, BLEND by Chateau Ste. Michelle. While Justin and I enjoy wine, we both like drinking beer a little bit more than wine. We headed to the European beer tasting at the Billboard Onboard one afternoon. We sampled a few different European beers in various styles and engaged in a small beer trivia session with the host.
Art on Nieuw Statendam
You won’t find the antiquated cruise ship art auction on Nieuw Statendam. Instead, the entire cruise ship acts like a floating art gallery. There’s a separate smaller art gallery on board, but the best art is spread throughout the ship. In every stairwell, you’ll find unique and impressive works of art that look straight out of a museum. When you get off the elevator, you’ll discover statues, sculptures, and other three dimensional art pieces in various styles.
The central atrium on Nieuw Statendam is an architectural marvel, too. With a dramatic sculpture at its center, the central atrium extends three floors up with winding staircases. At the top, there’s an impressive ceiling with changing colors and projections. You might see pastel colors, wispy clouds, or constellations up above when you’re wandering through the atrium.
Would you like to add a luxurious flair to your sailing? Club Orange is Holland America’s new exclusive program that offers an enhanced experience to your cruise. It’s a wonderful way to receive priority access, exclusive amenities, and escape the crowds during peak dining times.
Club Orange members can dine in the exclusive Club Orange dining room for breakfast and dinner. While it will feature the same menu as the dining room for dinner and the Pinnacle Grill for breakfast, there are some additional daily dishes added to the menu that you won’t find anywhere else.
Access to Club Orange also includes one of my favorite perks, priority check-in and disembarkation, as well as priority tender service (if your cruise uses tenders at the ports – ours did not). It’s a great feeling to skip the check-in line when you reach the cruise terminal. This really sped up the embarkation process and we were on the ship before we knew it. There are also lovely additional perks like a welcome glass of sparkling wine, premium bathrobes to use in the cabin, and a Club Orange tote bag.
The name pays homage to the rich Dutch heritage of Holland America Line as it’s the color of the Dutch Royal Family. For those booking the Neptune and Pinnacle suite categories, Club Orange is included in your sailing. For non-suite customers, Club Orange access is $50 per day, and both guests of the same stateroom are required to enroll. It must be purchased prior to sailing (you can’t upgrade once you’re on board).
Food on our Cruise to Norway
On our Holland America cruise to Norway, the food was top notch. Our dining experiences are different from the average cruise passenger as we both seek vegan and plant-based options on board. If you have a food allergy or follow a special diet, you don’t have to worry at all. It’s easy to be vegan on Nieuw Statendam. The staff members will go above and beyond to ensure that you enjoy delicious and satisfying meals.
Vegan and Vegetarian Menu
When dining in the main dining room, you can request a vegan and vegetarian menu. You can order any dishes from this menu at any point in time throughout the cruise. There are appetizers, soups, salads, and entrees. Most of them are vegan, although there are a couple that are marked as vegetarian. In fact, there were so many options, we didn’t even have enough time to sample them all during our 7 day cruise. Some of my favorites included the Asian Noodle Soup, the Tempeh and Vegetable Kabob, and the Curried Cauliflower Steak. Justin really enjoyed the Grilled Portabella Mushroom with Zucchini Spaghetti.
There are also moments where some items on the regular dining menu are vegan or can easily be prepared vegan. There was a hearty tofu and coconut curry on the dining menu one night that was naturally plant-based. There’s also a few menu items at the Canaletto specialty Italian restaurant that are vegetarian and can be prepared vegan, like a tomato risotto dish. Some of the other specialty dining restaurants include the Pinnacle Grill, Rudi’s Sel de Mer, Tamarind, and Nami Sushi.
The Lido Market on Nieuw Statendam is not your typical buffet – it’s so much better. You don’t need to worry about picking through stale food, food that’s been manhandled by other passengers, or food that’s not at a good temperature any longer. The Lido Market has several individual stations where you’ll find freshly prepared food for many different tastes. The food is all scooped and served onto plates by staff members behind the glass. This prevents cross contamination and improper food handling that can often lead to outbreaks of illnesses on board.
We adored the salad station the most. I know, that sounds so typical for a pair of vegans, right? Well, you just needed to point at all the different veggies, toppings, and dressings that you wanted in your salad, and the staff will whip it up in a big salad bowl for you. I also loved the Asian food station where they always had some veggie and tofu sushi available, as well as some sort of vegetable noodle stir fry. In the evening, you can have a stir fry made to order with the protein, vegetables, and sauces of your choosing. It’s easy to order a tofu and veggie stir fry, prepared right before your eyes.
Dive In (Fast Food)
Craving something a little more sinful? Dive In has lots of fast food options, including burgers, hot dogs, and fries. There’s always a veggie burger on the menu, too. We dove right in to burgers and fries on more than one occasion!
New York Pizza & Deli
The New York Pizza & Deli was one of our favorite food stops on our Nieuw Statendam cruise. You can customize your pizza however you like it. I always ordered a pizza without cheese (there isn’t any vegan cheese on the ship) and with lots of vegetables. You can also get bagels in the morning (there’s more variety here than anywhere else on the ship!) and snacks at night, like kettle chips and popcorn. You can eat your pizza in the dining space near the pizzeria or take it away in a box back to your room. I absolutely love how New York Deli & Pizza stays open until midnight. Late night pizza, anyone?
Room Service Breakfast
I think we must have ordered room service breakfast every single day on the ship, including disembarkation day. Every evening, there was a card left in our room by our room steward with the turn down service. You choose a half hour window as to when you’d like your breakfast to be delivered. There are a variety of options on the room service breakfast menu. And like magic, the food appears on a giant platter at your door each morning. Justin and I enjoyed breakfast on our balcony, as well as breakfast in bed. We didn’t have to get dressed or face any morning breakfast crowds.
For vegan options, we often ordered bagels and bread with peanut butter and jam, bowls of cereal with soy milk, veggie sausages, fresh melon, fresh banana, coffee and tea. Up in the Lido Market, there are a few more options, mostly hot items like potatoes and hash browns. It’s amazing how dining in our cabin was one of the highlights of our Norwegian fjords cruise. It’s one of those things that you certainly miss once you’re back at home and you need to make your own breakfast. Room service is also available 24 hours a day. The menu is on every stateroom TV.
Where to Find the Best Coffee on Nieuw Statendam
If you read this blog regularly, I’m sure you’ve gathered that I’m a self-proclaimed coffee addict. I tend to write a lot of coffee guides and I’ve shared tips on making your own coffee on the road. Sometimes cruise ship coffee isn’t that great. However, you have no worries at all finding a great cup of coffee on Holland America cruises. Coffee culture in Europe is real, and Holland America doesn’t want to disappoint, I’m sure!
If you’re looking for delicious coffee on Nieuw Statendam, there are two great spots to find it. One is the Grand Dutch Cafe on deck 3. This Dutch coffee shop offers more traditional brewed beverages made with HAL’s Rotterdam 1873 coffee beans, which you can also purchase to bring home. There are also a few sweet treats to pair with your coffee. You can also buy beer and alcoholic beverages at the Grand Dutch Cafe.
On deck 12, the Explorations Central & Cafe at the Crow’s Nest offers another wonderful coffee experience. You can also order Americanos and lattes here, as well as iced coffees, frappuccinos, and other frozen concoctions. Enjoy your coffee in this room with a view at the top and front of the ship.
As a bonus for those who don’t drink coffee but love tea, why not head to Classic Afternoon Tea? It happens each day on Nieuw Statendam in the dining room on deck 3 from 3:00pm-3:45pm.
Ports on our Norwegian Fjords Cruise
One of the main reasons to sail on a Norwegian fjords cruise is for the ports. This 7 day Viking Sagas cruise has an amazing selection of ports that surely won’t disappoint. We sailed from Amsterdam to Oslo, Kristiansand, Stavanger, and Flåm. While I’ll be writing about each individual experience in port, here’s a brief overview of each of our stops.
Cruising to Norway from Amsterdam
Cruising from Amsterdam on this Norwegian fjords cruise allows us to reach several ports in one week. Amsterdam isn’t too far from Norway. I loved having the sea days to relax, acting as book ends to the ports. While the days in each town and city can be jam packed with activities, it’s great to have some time to unwind on either side of that. Cruising out of Amsterdam also has its perks. For us, the flights aren’t too long from Toronto to Amsterdam. Amsterdam is a pretty accessible location for those living in Europe, too. There’s also the option of extending your stay by booking a hotel in Amsterdam and exploring Amsterdam for a while longer.
Oslo is such a fascinating city to explore, and it’s the largest city we visited on our Norwegian fjords cruise. While it’s impossible to see everything in Oslo in a day, it’s definitely the kind of city that will leave you wanting more. Justin and I booked the shore excursion, “Biking in Oslo”, which was a 3 hour tour along car free paths, parks, the fjord, and hidden back streets. We had a very informative and fun tour guide. Our small group made several stops along the way, learning about the history of the city. There were lots of opportunities to take pictures. We even got to visit the famous Vigeland park with over 200 sculptures by artist, Gustav Vigeland.
I loved taking the three hour biking tour in the morning, which allowed time for us to stop back at the cruise ship for lunch. Then, there were a couple of hours left to explore Oslo on foot and wander around the city. Once you’re back on the ship, enjoy the scenery of the fjords as you sail away from Oslo and towards Kristiansand. Here is exactly how we spent our day in Oslo, including additional ideas if you have two or three days in the city.
In Kristiansand, we booked the shore excursion, “Lillesand: The Jewel of Sorlandet.” First, we boarded a bus for a scenic drive to the village of Lillesand where he had some free time to explore. Next, we transferred to a boat for a ride along the coastline for scenic views of tiny coastal communities. Unfortunately, it poured rain for our entire trip, but that’s just how it works sometimes!
Thankfully, it stopped raining in the afternoon, just in time to explore the town of Kristiansand. There are lots of things to do in Kristiansand, including wandering through historic sections of town and down by the wharf. I discovered rows of white historic homes, checked out the Kristiansand Cathedral, walked up and down the main shopping street, found some colorful street art, and even had a yummy oat milk latte at a cafe. Here are 10 amazing ideas for what to do in Kristiansand from a cruise ship.
Justin and I didn’t take any excursions or tours in Stavanger as the town looked rather interesting on its own. Instead, we walked all over town, visiting Gamle Stavanger (largest surviving wooden house settlement in northern Europe), the Stavanger Cathedral, a beautiful pond and park, a quirky and colorful row of buildings with restaurants and shops, and an industrial area turned into a playground. There are also walls upon walls of street art and murals to discover here, too. Here’s our guide to visiting Stavanger from a cruise ship, complete with a self guided walking tour and map.
Saving the best for last, our day in Flam was quite possibly our favorite of our entire Norway cruise. Sailing into and out of Flåm was such a treat, as we soaked up the most spectacular scenery of the entire Norwegian fjords cruise. To reach Flåm, our ship sailed through the Sognefjord, the largest and deepest fjord in Norway.
Flåm also happens to be home to one of the world’s most beautiful train journeys. If it’s your first time in this Norwegian village, don’t miss riding the Flåm Railway. The journey and the destination are equally as beautiful. Mountains, valleys, waterfalls – the beauty was never ending! At our first stop, we admired a massive waterfall (Kjosfossen), and then soaked up the sensational scenery at our final stop (Vatnahalsen).
It was our first trip to Norway, and it certainly won’t be our last. Our visits to the ports were highly memorable, and we loved the comfort and hospitality of cruise ship living. Nieuw Statendam is the perfect home away from home, from the food to the entertainment. We are so glad that our first experience in Norway was aboard a Norwegian fjords cruise with Holland America Line.
A huge thank you to Holland America Line for hosting us on this cruise. We always provide completely honest reviews, and we were in love with this cruise adventure. This post contains affiliate links. If you click one of them, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.