Norway's fjords are a perfect cruise destination not just because the scenery – craggy mountains, mirror-clear waters, pastoral valleys – is gorgeous. An equal delight is the chance to visit charming villages and cosmopolitan cities such as Alesund, Bergen, Flam, Olden and Molde, among others, that aren't terribly accessible by land.
Also worth noting: Norway is a breathtakingly expensive place to visit, so a cruise, which includes meals, accommodations, entertainment and transportation from place to place, is a particularly good value.
The timing of my 12-night September (shoulder season) cruise in and around Norway's fjords and coastlines on Seabourn Sojourn seemed like a good idea for a couple of reasons. As in Alaska, fares are markedly cheaper on the shoulder compared to high season months like June and July. As well, summer crowds have dispersed. The trade-off? Weather could be unpredictable, even in late summer, and boy, was it ever!
I also considered the ship factor when choosing this cruise. Seabourn Sojourn and its nearly identical siblings Seabourn Odyssey and Seabourn Quest, are "small" ships, carrying just 450 passengers. But they're designed in line with the times -- aiming more at baby boomers than luxury's more traditional passengers -- and so feature more facilities and amenities than you could imagine would be packed on such an intimate vessel. Roomy cabins, a two-deck spa, the fabulous Seabourn Square library/cafe/Internet center, and numerous dining and drinking venues were a plus.
And above all, the atmosphere onboard is decidedly casual: There are neither formal nights nor rules about where and when you dine, not to mention with whom.
Join us on a trip of a lifetime to Norway's fjords.
--by Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor in Chief