Taking a cruise to Norway and not sure what to pack? That sounds just like me before my cruise. Now I’ve been and returned I’ve put together this guide on what to pack for a Norwegian Fjords cruise so you know what to take and what to leave at home.
A cruise around the Norwegian Fjords is one of those dream holidays. The scenery is breathtaking and there are many incredible activities and scenic tours on offer at each port.
Coupled with the very changeable weather you can get in the fjords, it’s not a surprise you might be wondering what to pack.
Obviously, you don’t want to overpack. I mean, who wants to lug a suitcase round full of things you mostly won’t use? Plus there may be limited storage space in your cabin.
Yet, you’ll want to have enough of the right things to have a great cruise, whatever weather is thrown at you.
It’s definitely a challenge packing for this type of cruise. You need to prepare for all eventualities but it needn’t be as difficult as you think.
In this guide, I’ll share details of what I packed for my cruise around the fjords alongside some items I wished I had taken.
Hindsight is a great thing eh?
What to wear on a Norwegian Fjord Cruise
I’ve tried to avoid simply listing out what items of clothing you should take as I think everyone knows the basics and you know what you like to wear.
What I have listed are things you should consider taking and why. Not all of these items will be for you as it very much depends on what you plan to do on your cruise.
Do have lots of shore excursions or activities booked? Or do you plan to spend most of your time onboard the ship taking in the scenery?
When thinking about what to pack, keep that in mind. It will make it a little bit easier to decide what to take and what to leave behind.
Layers, layers and more layers
If there was only one piece of advice I could give when packing for a Norwegian Fjords cruise, it would be this – layer up.
In fact, this applies to all Norway cruises. Whether you are sticking to the fjords or travelling further along the coast.
You never quite know what you are going to get, weather-wise, in Norway and it’s not uncommon to get four seasons in a day. You could start the day in your winter woollies and end it in your bikini.
Well, that’s probably a bit extreme but you get the picture. The weather is very changeable.
In the fjords, you can have snow, rain, wind and sun all within a few hours of each other.
If you plan to spend a lot of time on deck, particularly when cruising the fjords then you’ll want clothes that will keep you warm and dry, if the weather is not great.
Especially if you are up early for the morning sail-in. By layering, you can remove items as the day heats up.
Think of items of clothing like vests, t-shirts, thin long-sleeved tops and fleeces that you can put on top of each other.
Of course, I never followed my own advice. I checked the forecast the week before I travelled and it looked a bit sunny and warm. However, when I had visited glaciers and fjords in other parts of the world previously, it was quite chilly when you reached them so I packed my jumpers.
Turned out I hit the weather jackpot in Stavanger and Olden. While the early morning sail-in was quite cold, the day warmed up quickly.
A balmy 24 degrees was reached on the bridge of the cruise ship I was on when docked in Olden. I don’t think the temperature dropped much below that up on top of the mountains either.
I totally overheated in my jumper, so much so I’m surprised I didn’t melt the snow that was still on top of Mount Hoven.
A lesson learnt…
Being able to layer clothes comes in handy onboard too. I found the cruise ship I was on was quite warm so I mostly wore thin jumpers or t-shirts.
I had a fleece if I wanted to go out on deck. It’s easier to take things off as you heat up then sit there sweating in one heavy item of clothing.
Whether you plan to do some shore excursions, explore independently or maybe just relax on the ship, you’ll most likely be doing a fair bit of walking.
A comfy pair of shoes is a must as you’ll be on your feet a lot.
If you plan to do any hikes, such as the climb to Pulpit Rock, or long walks then you may wish to bring some walking shoes.
On my cruise, I did a couple of excursions which included a bit of walking. I just had normal trainers on and they were fine.
However, if you think you might do some more involved activities then it is worth checking what footwear is recommended.
Warm hat and gloves
I know it perhaps seems strange to recommend taking a winter hat and gloves on a summer holiday but trust me they will probably come in handy. It might also be worth popping a scarf in too, just in case.
The ship will sail into the fjords early in the morning so if you plan to get up and enjoy the spectacular scenery, it may be much colder than you expect.
Even in the summer, it can be quite chilly on deck. Especially if it is a bit breezy too, the wind cuts right through you.
I got up at 4.30am for the cruise along the Nordfjord and Innvikfjorden to Olden. While it was a lovely sunny morning with clear blue skies, it was absolutely freezing at times and quite breezy.
I had thermal leggings on under my jeans and a fleece under my jacket. I was very glad I had chucked my winter hat in my suitcase at the last minute and regretted not bringing some gloves as well.
This was in June believe it or not. Although that is not the height of summer, I was still a bit surprised at how cold it was early in the morning.
Hat and gloves may come in handy on shore excursions too. If you are going to view glaciers or heading up to the tops of mountains, and the weather isn’t great, the temperature might be cooler than you’d expect.
Waterproof jacket (and umbrella)
While we all wish for fabulous weather, or at least for it to stay dry while on holiday, there is a chance it will be a bit rainy and damp at times. Particularly when cruising the fjords. They see a LOT of rain.
Packing a waterproof jacket means you can still get out and about to explore the ports of call without worrying about getting soaked.
Fortunately, I had no rain on my cruise but I did pack a lightweight wind and waterproof jacket which was perfect for the early morning sail along the fjords.
If you are planning some activities such as hiking or kayaking, then you should consider bringing some outdoor gear. Or check with your activity or tour operator what, if anything, they will provide
If you are just strolling around the ports, then your usual clothes and footwear will suffice. However, if you plan some long walks or hikes then it is worth thinking about bringing some walking shoes.
That said, I did the walk to the Briksdal Glacier in jeans and trainers and it was fine. I walk a lot so didn’t find it overly strenuous (or hard on the feet) but if you are less mobile it might be an idea to take a ‘troll car’. These buggy- type vehicles drop you near the glacier viewpoint (around 10 minutes away) cutting out most of the walk.
Formal wear (or party wear)
Most cruises to the Norwegian Fjords will have one formal night. This could be a black tie evening or a celebration or chic night when you get to put on your finest party wear.
If the formal night is not for you, don’t worry. There will still be bars and restaurants you can use which don’t follow the formal dress code.
Check with your cruise line to confirm what type of night they will be holding and the required dress code.
A cruise to the Norwegian Fjords is quite fast-paced, you’ll have at least three or four port stops, with plenty of opportunities to get some walking exercise in as you explore the local area.
However, if the gym is your thing, there will still be time to get a workout or two in.
Most cruise ships have a gym and some will also offer exercise classes. Gyms usually open early and close late so you can get a workout in before or after a port day. Or you can save it for a sea day.
Some ships also have running/jogging tracks on deck. So pack your trainers as there is no excuse to not get your daily steps in.
Most cruise ships have a couple of pools and hot tubs so if you think you’d like to use them, pack your swimming costume.
If you are lucky with the weather, you might get the chance to spend a day by the deck pools so it is a good idea to have your swimwear with you just in case.
What to take on a Norwegian Fjords Cruise
Sunglasses and sunscreen
While it’s true that it does rain a lot in the fjords, you might get lucky and have some sunny days.
If the forecast for your trip is for sunny weather, don’t forget to pop in the sunscreen. Go for one with a high SPF as the sun can be quite fierce.
I never thought I’d get slightly sunburnt in Norway but I did.
The light can be quite harsh too so it is worth packing your sunglasses to take the edge off.
If you think you’d like to sit on your balcony (or on deck) and look out for wildlife then make sure you bring your binoculars.
You’ll most likely have a sea day getting to and from the fjords so that is an opportunity to keep an eye out for any sea life including dolphins.
Once you arrive in Norway, you’ll be able to use your binoculars to get a closer look as you sail along the fjords.
What tech should I pack?
Camera and your phone
If there is one thing you can guarantee on cruises to the fjords it is that you’ll probably end up taking a lot of photos. The views truly are spectacular.
These days it’s almost a given that most people have mobile phones and usually a camera on them. Before leaving, check how much space you have left on your device.
You don’t want to get to the fjords, get your phone out to snap an incredible shot only to discover your phone has no room to store any more photos.
If you have a camera (well, one not attached to a phone), don’t forget to make sure you have enough memory cards. Think about taking a large capacity card or maybe a few smaller capacity ones.
Trust me, you’ll want to take lots of photos of the fabulous scenery and of course your time on the ship.
Charges for your phone, camera and other devices
With the number of devices, we all have these days, it is surprisingly easy to forget to pack chargers.
Many cruise ships have shops onboard that stock electronic items including chargers however, these can sell out quick.
So do a quick double-check of your chargers before leaving home.
It is also an idea to have extra batteries or maybe a portable charger so you can recharge on the go. You may have long days off the ship so your battery could run down if you are taking lots of photos or updating your social media channels.
You don’t want to get to the end of the day and not be able to take a photo of the amazing view because your phone is dead.
Not tech as such I guess but the cruise line you are travelling with may not have the same type of plugs as your home country. So, check in advance if you need to take any adaptors.
You may be able to purchase adapters on board but you don’t want to rely on that, in case they are not available or sold out.
It would be a long week without being able to charge your phone or camera.
Miscellaneous items to pack
Reusable water bottle
Many ships have water stations for you to refill your water bottle and help reduce the use of plastic bottles.
You can refill before heading out in port or on a shore excursion and save yourself having to buy a drink during the day. Or you can refill and have some water with you as you explore the ship.
Your favourite toiletries
Your cruise cabin will come with toiletries in the bathroom. This is usually soap, shower gel and shampoo. Conditioner and body lotion are sometimes provided as well, although on some cruise lines you have to ask your cabin steward for this.
If you don’t want to go without your favourite brands, then you can bring them along. To avoid any spillage or leaks either pack them in your hand luggage or make sure they are securely sealed before putting them in your suitcase.
Your lips and skin can dry out more than you expect on a cruise holiday.
I didn’t take any lip balm with me and really regretted it. Especially after spending four hours out on deck in the wind. Next cruise, whether it is back to the fjords or not, I’ll be popping some in my bag.
If you are in an inside cabin you won’t need to worry about this as it will be plenty dark in there. However, if you are in a balcony or sea view cabin you may notice it doesn’t get fully dark at night.
Depending on when you go you might find it barely gets dark at all. I went in June and while I don’t think we reached as far north to get the full midnight sun, it was pretty close.
When I closed my cabin curtains there was a faint light around the edges so you could tell it was not dark outside.
If you are a sensitive sleeper and need your room to be completely dark, consider taking some blackout sleep masks.
If you are a light sleeper, then pack some ear plugs just in case. This will help you sleep through any potential noise disturbances, such as engine sounds, rough weather or people just being a little loud in the corridors.
Alarm clocks are generally not provided in cabins. At least I’ve never seen one yet.
If would like to get up early to enjoy the sail along the fjords, or have shore excursions booked and don’t want to miss the meet-up time, then bring an alarm clock with you.
Alternatively, you can use the alarm on your phone. Just make sure you don’t run out of battery overnight.
While a cruise around the Norwegian Fjords is not really one for sunbathing you may wish to chill out on a sun lounger every now and then. Particularly if you get lucky with the weather.
Bringing along a couple of towel clips means you can secure a towel to your lounger. Something you’ll be very grateful for if it is a bit breezy. It also gives you a way to identify your lounger or chair in a sea of them.
However, be considerate to your fellow passengers and don’t be one of those people that puts a towel (and clips) down and disappear for hours on end.
Alcohol or soft drinks
Many cruise lines let you bring limited alcohol on board for you to enjoy in your cabin.
So, if you fancy sitting on your balcony enjoying a drink while sailing along the fjords, you can bring your favourite bottle of wine or champagne to sip as you take in the scenery.
Soft drinks are usually unlimited but check with your cruise line to confirm.
Norwegian fjords packing tips
Now, that you have an idea of what you should think about packing for your Norwegian Fjords cruise, I thought I’d share a few tips on how to make packing a little easier.
Use packing cubes
I discovered packing cubes when I was backpacking 20 years ago and never looked back.
They are a great space saver and help to keep your clothes organised in your luggage.
As there can be limited storage in cruise cabins, particularly when a few of you are sharing, packing cubes give you a bit more storage space.
They make it very quick to unpack too. On my last cruise, I just placed my packing cubes with all my tops in on the wardrobe shelves and job done.
When you arrive at the port and drop your suitcases off, it could be some time before you see them again. They’ll turn up at your cabin, like magic, later in the day.
In the meantime, you’ll need some bits with you to get you through the first few hours on board. Give some thought about the kind of things you think you would need and then pack them in your carry-on bag.
Things like your travel documents, medications, any expensive tech devices and any valuable personal items should be in your hand luggage rather than your checked case.
The last word
Hopefully, you now have an idea of what to pack for a Norwegian Fjords cruise. With a little bit of thought and a quick check of the weather forecast, you’ll be good to go.
If there is anything you think I’ve forgotten let me know in the comments below.
Have a great cruise!
More information on Norway…
- Cruising the Norwegian Fjords on P&O’s Iona
- Exploring the Briksdal Glacier on a shore excursion
- Loen Skylift and Kjenndalen Glacier shore excursion
- Lysefjord cruise and Pulpit Rock from Stavanger
- Olden port guide