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.
The timing of my 12-night September (shoulder season) cruise in and around Norway's fjords and coastlines on
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!
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.