Posted October 22nd, 2018
How Iona Will Open Your Eyes To The Norwegian Fjords
You may already know that our very own Chris Mayhew was recently chosen to be one of P&O Cruises’ six Iona Insiders given the fantastic opportunity to follow the journey of the forthcoming biggest ship for the UK market from now until her 2020 launch. Well, Chris has just returned from an amazing few days in the Norwegian fjords with the other Insiders and has brought back tales of the excellent activities that will be available to guests sailing during Iona’s maiden season.
Up until now, we have heard quite a bit about the ship itself, but what about the breathtaking landscapes to which you can sail on board her decks? Here are 5 shore excursions you can look forward to if you cruise through the Norwegian fjords with Iona.
One of the best ways to get closer to the beauty on offer in this part of the world is to take to the water in a kayak and explore under the steam of your own paddle. Kayaking is available from the port of Olden, allowing you to gently glide through the serene surroundings of the innermost section of Innvikfjord.
Chris says: “There’s no need to worry if you’ve never kayaked before, the water is extremely calm and perfect for beginners. Your expert guide, Sol in our case, will take you through the basics and it’s surprisingly easy to get to grips with. The dramatic peaks make for an eye-catching backdrop to your adventure and you’ll soon find thoughts changing from polishing your paddle stroke to admiring the magical scenery.”
Eagle Bend Viewpoint
Not all of the activities available in the Norwegian fjords involve high or even moderate levels of activity. After all, it is the scenery that is the star of the show here and so one of the best things to do is simply stand back in awe. The Eagle Bend is a viewpoint accessed from Geiranger, a charming village found in the heart of one of Norway’s most impressive fjords. A twisting road winds its way up the mountain before revealing an enviable spot from which to soak up panoramas of Geirangerfjord.
Chris says: “While the rest stop on FV63 (another popular vantage point) provides sensational views of Geiranger, the Eagle Bend viewpoint gives you the best of both worlds. To the left, you can gaze back over the port into which you’ve just sailed, snapping a few pictures of the ship enveloped by stunning surroundings in the process, and, to the right, the famous Seven Sisters waterfall peeks its head from around the corner.”
On top of the waterfalls, mountains and fjords that this part of Norway boasts, there are also magnificent glaciers to discover. The journey to the foot of Briksdalsbreen starts in the port of Olden, where you will be transferred to the Jostedalsbreen National Park. It’s possible to see the glacier in the distance from here, but the delightfully named Troll Cars are on-hand to take you closer. The road to the top continues past raging waterfalls and jagged rocks until you reach a small lake above which the glacier tumbles down the mountainside.
“The Troll Cars are a great way of getting up and down the trail, but be sure to walk in either direction if you can. Travelling on foot reveals much more of the nature and gives you the chance to appreciate the waterfalls for longer and linger in the spray they create. Also, take a few minutes to see how the glacier has retreated by looking at the pictures inside the restaurant. It’s sad but fascinating to learn how this natural feature has changed over the years.”
If you’re looking to take the adrenaline up a notch then this is definitely the shore excursion for you. The water may be calm but it won’t be once you have sped across the fjord at high speed on a rib boat. You’ll have to hold on tight as you twist and turn your way from Olden pier, creating an ever-growing swell in your wake. Then, just as you open your mouth to scream, you’ll realise the experience has actually taken your breath away.
Chris says: “With Frode at the controls, we definitely had an experience that none of us will ever forget. One minute we were admiring how beautiful the setting was and the next we were hurtling across the water, clinging on for our lives. It’s a real rush. If you love life in the fast lane then this is an activity you’ll thoroughly enjoy.”
If your favourite foods include lots of fish and seafood, you’ll love mealtimes in Norway. Making great use of the natural environment around them, Norwegians gather freshly caught and sustainably sourced ingredients. This shore excursion puts you right on the frontline of the fishing industry, giving you the chance to see how many local fishermen spends their days. You will be taken out to the spot where crayfish baskets have been left on the fjord bed to learn how these creatures (amongst others) are caught and prepared. You’ll even help to reel in the ropes. Then, once back on dry land, it’s time to enjoy your catch.
Chris says: “This was a really interesting insight into fishing in Norway. Getting to be involved in catching our lunch made it all the more satisfying when it came of eating the fruits of our labour. The crayfish we caught were served up alongside lobster, crabs and other recently hooked delights to produce a spectacular seafood spread. Plus, there’s free-flowing wine for all guests during lunch. What more could you ask for?
The small village of Loen is home to one of the steepest aerial tramways in the world. Built in 2016, The Loen Skylift is the first cable car to be installed in Norway for over 50 years and can take you to heights of 1,011 metres and the top of Mount Hoven. At the summit, a panoramic restaurant serves tasty Norwegian dishes and there are both indoor and outdoor viewing areas. The recent addition of a suspended fireplace means you can quickly warm up after you have been exposed to the elements.
Chris says: “This was one of my favourite parts of the trip. The gondola was smooth and felt really safe, not to mention the amazing views it provided on both the journey up and down. From the top, we looked out over the fjord on which we had kayaked and the distant Lovatnet Lake. It gave us a great overview of where we had been staying for the previous three days.”
If Chris’s experiences have whet your appetite for adventure, you can call us on 0808 250 7052 to learn more about the Iona cruises we have available. Itineraries are on sale and selling fast, so be sure to book your Norwegian fjords cruise soon.