Fjord-borne journeying among Norway’s eternal wonders with Silversea

By Janice Wald Henderson
February 20, 2018
Norway's mist-veiled Geiranger Fjord
Jon Bower/Apex Photos/Getty Images

I can't even count the ports of call around the world I’ve arrived at by sea, but I can say this: Among all the wild, sophisticated, and distant places I have explored from the water, it was a meditative journey up the Norwegian coast that rocked my personal boat the most. The epiphany was delivered by Silversea’s Silver Whisper, which traced Norway’s west coast to the country’s—and Europe’s—northernmost region. And delivered discovery, both external and internal, all along the way.

Reindeer hitting the road
Vvvita/Getty Images

Perhaps it began with the counterintuitive companionship of a midnight sun. On our first night at sea, we stayed on deck most of the night to celebrate the novelty, sipping our butler-poured Champagne and belting out the Beatles’ “Good Day Sunshine” as the sun skirted the water’s edge until its dawn ascent.

WATCH: Norway's Beautiful Lofoten Islands

This was a potent precedent, as doing nothing but watching was never easier, or more rewarding. I spent hours leaning against the teak railing, enchanted by the coast’s sheer verticality, cobalt water, and emerald islands made entirely of mountain. Through the hug of mist along the shore, clutches of tiny, gabled-roof cottages popped out in bright, Crayola-like scarlet and lemon, as though planted by the illustrator of a fairy-tale.

But not all scenes were of whimsy and charm. In a narrow strait of the Geiranger Fjord, we passed slowly between the Seven Sisters and the Suitor, two towering waterfalls that roar in stereo down their rocky steeps. And while it made no sense that I could reach out and touch both cataracts, I set down my camera and actually tried to do so. High-drama scenery does that to a person.

City life in Bergen
Courtesy of Silversea/Richard Sidey

I did manage to leave my post on deck, though, and found more to love ashore. In Bergen—Norway’s second-largest city, teeming with art galleries and seafood restaurants—we cultured up. In Hammerfest, we huddled inside a tepee-like lavvu tent at a Sami village, nibbling homemade reindeer jerky around a camp fire while listening to stories of Europe’s northernmost indigenous people. On a bus from Honningsvåg to Nordkapp, we lumbered along winding roads as reindeer scampered away from us up sparse hillsides. And nally, at that northern outpost called Nordkapp, I fought strong gusts to reach the cliff’s edge. The ferocious wind did what no hairstylist can—blew my curly hair stick-straight. The whitecapped water below led to the North Pole, some 1,300 miles away. I felt mythic myself, infused with that strange Norse magic.

As we made our round-trip journey back into port at Copenhagen, I realized the greatest gift of this part of the world and seeing it by boat: Norway’s very features—fjords, waterfalls, mountains—felt as eternal as mythology. I could return next year or 10 years on, and that same magic would await me. What other journeys could I say that about with such certainty? In a world where change seems to pace in nanoseconds, and we pant to keep pace, I felt comforted by that constant. The rocks of Norway became my rock, and I exhaled, deeper and longer than ever before or ever since.

No one said they were pretty: Norwegian trolls
Richard Cummings/Getty Images

Take It Home
Traced back to Norse mythology, trolls rule Norwegian folk tales and most city streets: stamped on T-shirts, carved into statues that guard shops, and lined up inside those same shops in row upon row of differing sizes and degrees of, frankly, ugliness. And while a Norwegian troll may not be your prettiest souvenir ever, it will fittingly remind you of this strange and wild place. Don't leave the fjords without one.

Top Secret
Norwegian salmon may be high on your to-eat list, but local preparation overcooks the fish by our standards. A high-end restaurant catering to cruisers is your best bet.

Book It Now
Silversea often tweaks ships and routes to retain devotees' interest. Silver Spirit and Silver Wind cruise similar Norwegian journeys in June and July 2018, including 15-day round-trip Copenhagen and round-trip London routes. Rates start at $8,280;

Janice Wald Henderson is an award-winning cruise journalist based in Southern California.