FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.
WF awards

Cruising the Norwegian Coast from Bergen to Kirkenes on Hurtigruten

by Barbara Rogers

Mar 4, 2020

Photo: Stillman Rogers

Cruising

Norway’s North Atlantic coast is so rugged and irregular that, for centuries, towns perched at its edge depended upon ships for any contact with the rest of the world. Even today communications and commerce are provided by Hurtigruten, a combination cruise line and freight service moving goods and people on a continuous circuit between Bergen, in the south, and Kirkenes, high above the Arctic Circle on Norway’s Russian border.

 

The six-day journey between these two is not the usual cruise ship experience — it’s ideal for parents and adult children vacationing together. Mid-May to mid-July is the best time, when the Arctic nights are the shortest and passengers can enjoy the famed midnight sun. In the long winter nights you’re almost certain to see the Northern Lights.

 

The ship stops at ports all along the way, by day and night. As we walked along the busy street during a summer stop in Tromsø, couples were strolling, people sitting in outdoor cafés and children playing ball in a park; we could hardly believe the clock on the town hall meant midnight, not noon. Norwegians enjoy as many of the precious daylight hours as possible, so even on the late-night stops you’ll be tempted to join the fun.

 

Ancient Hansa buildings in Bergen, Norway. Photo: Stillman Rogers

 

One of our favorite stops was the small city of Ålesund, its downtown rebuilt in the Art Nouveau style after a devastating fire in 1904. Today it boasts one of the best collections of Art Nouveau buildings in the world. There’s also a fascinating museum there tracing the story of the Norwegian Resistance during the Nazi occupation in World War II.

 

Stops can be as short as 15 minutes while the ship picks up a load of local wood products or as long as an hour or more with plenty of time to walk around town and perhaps pick up a locally made woolen sweater or a wood carving. Sometimes local craftsmen bring their work to sell at impromptu tables on the dock. Most of these towns are attractive, compact communities filled with lively activity and, in some, inexpensive tours are offered. On some of the daylight stops a bus will take passengers on scenic excursions to a Sami village or historic site, rejoining the ship at the next port.

 

These frequent stops can be a break from too much togetherness and give family members as much or as little time together as they wish. They also offer a glimpse of how life in these remote towns revolves around their port. Traveling on the ship that brings the outside world to their door gives passengers a sense of being part of local life.

 

Bergen harbor, Norway. Photo: Stillman Rogers

 

So does sharing the ship with locals traveling between ports. While the full-voyage passengers will meet each other and strike up conversations, it is not a social cruise with an emphasis on shipboard life. Hurtigruten’s atmosphere is informal, with no dress code and no floor shows, orchestras or midnight buffets. While not lavish, cabins are stylish and comfortable.

 

Because the route hugs the shore and the schedule includes at least one stop a day, the ships are constantly in and out of the fjords and bays and among the coastal islands, so the everchanging scenery keeps passengers on deck or in the panoramic glass-enclosed lounges. Even the dining room is surrounded by glass, although the delicious local foods will hold your attention (think fresh-caught and smoked salmon, succulent shrimp, reindeer venison and Arctic berries). There are places onboard to relax together or curl up in an armchair with a book. Saunas and outdoor hot tubs and talks on local wildlife, fauna and culture offer more diversions.

 

What makes this cruise unique — along with the history and scenery — is, passengers also include local people traveling home, on business or on family and daytrips, so the opportunity for meeting them is abundant. Most Norwegians know English, and conversation is easy.

 

The six-day trip can be from Bergen to Kirkenes, or the reverse, with a flight between the two destinations. The full 12-day trip is worthwhile because the return trip visits ports that were skipped or visited at night in the opposite route.

#WhereverFamily

Insta Feed
Destinations
Jul 12, 2024

Best Destinations for Sea Vacations with Children

Family travelers have begun taking advantage of a new type of travel: the sailing vacation. Sea-based vacation company Dream Yacht Worldwide is spreading the word that sailing vacations are great for families as no sailing experience is necessary and they might be more affordable than people assume.

Travel to Madrid with the Family and Find Activities to Keep Everyone Happy!

If life were a city, it’d be Madrid. Sometimes it can be quite the challenge to find a destination just right for the whole family. Different tastes and ages make agreeing on where to go seem impossible. Unless, of course, the destination you have in mind is Madrid. With all of its new immersive museums, musicals, soccer stadiums and monuments like Royal Palace, anyone who suggests coming to the capital is sure to get a unanimous yes!

Destinations / North America
Jul 11, 2024

Don’t Miss This Banana Split Festival in Pennsylvania

Family travel lets you explore so many exciting things, from outdoor adventures to games in the car on family road trips, but sometimes we have the most fun when we simply take time out to enjoy a good old-fashioned festival. And this coming August, Robindale Great American Banana Split Celebration is the place to do just that.

Hotels
Jul 11, 2024

Enjoy Family Wellness Programs at Sattva Land this Winter

Introduce kids to wellness tourism on family travel. Adults often escape to a spa or retreat to reset, and with wellness travel on the rise, this retreat in Belize offers an experience for the whole family.

United Continues Its Global Expansion

United Airlines keeps soaring to new heights, recently announcing another expansion of its leading global route network. The airline added new non-stop flights between Newark (EWR) and Marrakesh (RAK), Morocco; Tokyo (NRT) and Cebu (CEB), Philippines; and Houston (IAH) and Medellin (MDE), Colombia. That’s not all: United also plans to increase flights to popular worldwide destinations including Hong Kong (HKG); Seoul (INC), South Korea; and Porto (OPO), Portugal. Following the recent agreement to increase flights between the U.S. and Chinese governments, the airline now adds four weekly flights from Los Angeles (LAX) to Shanghai (PVG).

Slideshow
Jul 11, 2024

7 Riga, Latvia, Destinations for Family Travel

It’s time to start dreaming of your next family trip. Here’s some destination inspiration for you. Take a visual journey through Riga, Latvia, with us.