Summer Cruise to Fjords Norway

What We Packed – Summer Cruise to Norway’s Fjords

The Trip

View from EidfjordHaving enjoyed two previous cruise holidays some years ago, I'd been wanting to sail to the Norwegian Fjords for ages. Persuading hubby was a little more difficult as he's not a fan of the formal dining and dress codes, but I bided my time and finally had my way!

The choice of cruise line, and indeed the individual ship, can make a big difference to the ambience and formality of your cruise. Knowing I wanted to visit the Fjords, and with limited holiday dates available to us this summer, there wasn't a huge choice of itineraries and I quickly narrowed it down to P&O. This gave us a choice of two ships, and we opted for Oceana as this has fewer evening dress restrictions (formal and smart-casual, but nothing in between as there is on some other ships). We haven't cruised with P&O before so I'm not entirely sure how ‘smart' they are, but from reading around it seems as though they do enforce dress codes in the main dining areas.

If you choose not to take part in the formal dining (dinner or lounge suits required for men, nice dresses for ladies) then you can still eat in the buffet restaurants – and this is what we've done on previous cruises. I don't mind taking the opportunity to dress up myself, but wearing a suit and tie (‘work clothes') isn't hubby's idea of a relaxing holiday. As such we didn't pack formal attire, although we did include something ‘smart' so we wouldn't feel quite so out of place wandering around the ship on those evenings (there are generally two formal evenings per week on most cruises).

The daytimes should see plenty of walking and sightseeing, with potentially very variable weather. Forecasts look pleasantly warm and dry, but things can change quickly and we'll need to be prepared for sun, rain, wind and cold! This makes layers the key, so we can mix and match to wear as much or little as needed. We will be away for one week, with two days ‘at sea' and four days ashore in different locations.

Sailing from Southampton in the UK, there's no need for us to fly on this occasion which makes a welcome change. After a relatively short drive to the port we'll just park up and check in – and your holiday starts straight away! No flying also means no real luggage restrictions (well, you can take as much as you can fit in your cabin!). However I still prefer to pack light – if only to avoid piles of laundry when we get home, and it's good to know it can be done for those times when you do need to cut down. I downloaded our Cruise Packing List, and pretty much stuck to it apart from swapping a couple of items with the assumption it won't be overly hot (e.g. I omitted shorts, but do have the skirt in case of warm days).

The Packing

Leaving the UK on a pleasant June day, I will travel in:

  • Walking trousers
  • Strappy vest
  • Smart/casual short-sleeved t-shirt
  • Light jacket
  • Comfy walking trainers

And for him:

  • ‘Rohan' style walking trousers with detachable legs (can be worn as shorts or trousers) with belt
  • Collared short-sleeved polo shirt
  • Light jacket
  • Comfy walking trainers

In a medium sized suitcase we've packed, for me:

  • 7 x underwear
  • 2 x each regular socks, sockettes, walking socks (all stuffed inside sandals/shoes)
  • Sleepwear
  • 1 set of swimwear
  • 1 strappy vest
  • 2 long sleeved t-shirts
  • 1 smart/casual short-sleeved t-shirt
  • 1 ‘active' t-shirt for walking
  • 1 smart evening top
  • 1 smart cardigain
  • 1 fleece
  • 1 pair smart/casual trousers (suitable for day or evening)
  • 1 pair leggings (I chose these instead of extra trousers)
  • 1 smart/casual dress (dressed up for formal nights with heels and pashmina)
  • 1 white linen skirt
  • 1 tunic top
  • 1 pair sparkly flat sandals (smart but comfortable for walking in too)
  • 1 pair kitten heels
  • Pashmina
  • Warm gilet
  • 1 set of jewellery
  • Baglett (versatile as a clutch or day bag, and the detachable strap doubles up as a handy belt too)
  • Toiletries (decanted into small bottles), make-up and first aid

Most of my clothes have a purple/grey tone, so I know everything will go with everything else. In fact, I have far more potential outfits than I will actually need! If you feel uncomfortable at the thought of wearing the same top for both day and evening, use it on a couple of evenings first (it will only be a few hours) and then relegate it to day wear when you will be more active anyway.

And for him:

  • 7 x underwear
  • 5 x regular socks, 2 x sockettes, 2 x walking socks (all stuffed inside shoes)
  • 1 set of swimwear
  • 2 long-sleeved rugby style shirts
  • 1 collared short-sleeved polo shirt
  • 1 ‘active' t-shirt for walking
  • 2 long-sleeved smart/casual shirts
  • 1 smart white shirt with cufflinks (for formal nights)
  • Tie (for formal nights)
  • 1 pair tailored trousers with belt (for formal nights – note we omitted a jacket/suit)
  • 1 pair smart jeans
  • 1 smart wool jumper
  • 1 pair formal shoes
  • 1 pair smart/casual shoes
  • Toiletries (decanted into small bottles)
  • 1 backpack for holding sightseeing essentials

We've also packed a rucksack which holds:

  • 2 x sunglasses
  • 2 x caps (good for shielding sun or rain)
  • 2 x packaway raincoats
  • Camera
  • Phones, iPad and chargers
  • Binoculars
  • Books/puzzles/games
  • 1 foldable water bottle

And my handbag, a roomy Healthy Back Bag that holds my travel wallet with tickets/passports/insurance/money etc.

Clothes laid out, rolled and ready to packAs usual I like the ‘rolling' method of packing – placing similar items on top of each other, folding the pile in half and then rolling up tightly into sausage shapes. Once this is done the whole pile of clothes looks much more manageable, and it then only takes a few moments to place everything in the case.

The Journey

We can highly recommend the service at Cruise Parking – it's a 15 minute transfer ride to the port at Southampton, the staff were extremely friendly and efficient and gave us a very warm welcome.

Check-in at port was also impressive, as we set foot on board Oceana just 20 minutes after the transfer bus dropped us off. It was certainly more preferable, friendly and efficient than flying! Your cases are handed over as soon as you reach port and are delivered straight to your cabin, so there's very little need to carry them around.

Whilst away we wore almost everything we took, and the selection proved really versatile across a number of activities. We did enless walking on shore, taking in both towns and mountains. We were lucky with the weather which was largely warm and dry on land, but at sea it could quickly turn cold and was very windy on deck – the fleece and gilet came to the fore then.

Formal night on the cruiseIn the evenings, casual dress was fine though there were a wide range of outfits – some suitable for the formal nights. On the formal nights themselves we didn't test out the dress restrictions and avoided the formal restaurants so are not sure if we would have got in (hubby being jacket-less). We did dress smartly though and didn't feel awkward around the ship, and there were a few men similarly dressed without jackets.

For ladies on formal evenings, almost any nice dress – worn with nice shoes and jewelry, maybe a pashmina – would fit the bill. There were a very wide range worn, from simple to glamourous, short or full length. TOP TIP: Beware of stormy seas, when the ship does rock around and it can be difficult to walk, so on these nights heels would not be the best choice. Our second formal night coincided with force 9 gales and I opted for flat sandals for safety!

The only things we didn't need, in the end, were raincoats and light jackets – but you would always take them just in case. And we didn't swim or sunbathe (although plenty of others did) so could have omitted the swimwear.

We could perhaps have done with an extra short-sleeved t-shirt in place of a long-sleeved one; it was warmer than expected, though long sleeves were better for the sea days – it's breezy outside and air-conned inside so can feel cool.

There was a launderette, which was free, but you do need your own washing powder. And a shop on board stocks essentials – toiletries, snacks etc – but it would be cheaper to bring them from home.

It's windy at seaClothing essentials would be a pullover to wear on deck when at sea – it was incredibly windy, and with long hair a secure hat or band to keep it under control is useful. TOP TIP: Also sunglasses really are a must – any sun is reflected off the water and it's so bright, so if you want to view the sights comfortably you need the dark glasses.

On shore you can walk for miles if you choose to explore independently, so comfy shoes are essential. If you're likely to step off the beaten track into the mountains this is even more important, so plan ahead. We completed a very challenging, steep climb to a waterfall – only to see two people had done it in flip-flops and wedge heels. They obviously made it up there, but the lady in wedges was really wobbling around and personally I'd fear breaking an ankle. Going down was even more tricky as the dry sandy path made it quite skiddy, my ankles and knees felt quite strained. In wetter conditions it would be even more difficult.

Clouds rolling in over the FjordsThe weather was inclinded to change very quickly in Norway, so even if you set off in bright sunshine carry a sweater and waterproof, and in the mountains take a drink and snacks with you. We didn't get wet, but when the sun went in and the wind got up you could see how quickly a storm could come in, and there was some rain after we were safely back on board.

Binoculars were definitely worth taking, to identify birds or ships out at sea. And I loved having the Baglett – just the right size to carry things without feeling weighed down. I used it non-stop, on shore holding my passport and camera and slung across my chest for security. On board it held my camera/phone and my cruise card – which is your access to all the facilities – carried on one shoulder for smarter occasions.

This was a fabulous holiday with amazing sites and things to do, so most of all don't forget your camera!