SOME LIKE IT HOT...SOME PREFER NOT
Porthole Cruise Magazine|August 2020
When the promise of Caribbean sunburns and crowds have lost their luster, it may be time to head for cooler climates further north.
STEVE LELAND

The Northern Sights of Norway

Savvy cruisers with a penchant for upscale travel will find a treasure trove of destinations to choose from in Seabourn Cruise Line’s catalogue of globetrotting itineraries. Few, however, would be as compelling as their summertime 14-day Majestic Fjords and North Cape itinerary aboard the impressive Seabourn Ovation.

Revealing picture-postcard beauty coupled with a collective introduction to Viking heritage, this captivating Norwegian adventure triumphs with enduring narrative and memories, outlasting any temporary tan garnered from a sojourn under the Mediterranean sun. Although the cruise actually begins and ends in Copenhagen, Denmark, the heart of the journey cuts through fog-enshrouded mountains and delves into the hypnotic dreamscape of Norway’s fjords and coastal villages.

After the first day at sea soaking up the glamorous comforts of the ship, our arrival in Ålesund opens the activity playbook with an exhilarating climb of 418 steps to the lofty Aksla viewpoint, providing a peek at the fairytale dynamics of the city’s Art Nouveau architecture. An alternative escape to the countryside ventures into the expansive scenery of Trollstigen, the mythical Land of the Trolls.

Norway’s lack of a defined western coastline forces the ship to weave its way through a segment of the country’s jigsaw puzzle of more than 50,000 sliced-and-diced islands, including the mountainous outpost islands known as Lofoten. The 4,500-person village of Svolvær displays the charm of a quaint fishing village dominated by the towering rock pinnacles of Svolværgeita, blessed by a wispy halo of clouds. With summer’s midnight sun refusing to take a bow, the pageantry of nature continues well into the evening as Seabourn Ovation squeezes its way into the narrow gorge of Trollfjord for a dazzling encore performance.

A wide range of excursions with varying degrees of interactivity is offered, but the zeal for stimulating exploits is best answered by the Ventures by Seabourn program, which here includes a series of zodiac, kayak, and hiking adventures. A squad of accomplished naturalists and professional speakers complete the experience with onboard presentations on ecology, culture, and history as part of the hallmark Seabourn Conversations agenda.

The sequestered city of Tromsø, the “Gateway to the Arctic,” exhibits contemporary Norwegian prosperity contrasted by seemingly little need for glamour. The Arctic’s inspiring topography and seclusion from populated chaos is exposed midway through the cruise as the expedition advances to the dramatic North Cape and the town of Honningsvåg, with its deeply colored buildings perfectly framing a harbor lined with fishing trawlers and their web of nets.

With another full week remaining, the ship sails southward through serene Nordfjord villages as well as Flåm, with its namesake railway adventure filling the bucket list with nostalgic train travel through the Flåmsdalen valley. The incredible afternoon navigation through Sognefjord’s visual majesty validates the remarkable popularity of the cruise itinerary.

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