Royal visit to Norway’s finest fjord is cancelled because of cruise crowds

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Passengers who joined Queen Mary 2 on Saturday for a cruise to the Norwegian fjords were expecting to spend today in the beautiful UNESCO-listed Geirangerfjord, often claimed as Norway’s finest.
But the visit has been cancelled and they are in the pretty, Art Nouveau town of Ålesund instead. Not quite the same.
Shortly after boarding in Southampton, passengers received a letter from the captain, Commodore Christopher Rynd, explaining: “Due to concerns over our ability to secure a safe anchoring position in Geiranger we have taken the decision to substitute our call at Geiranger with a call to Ålesund.”
Geiranger lies at the head of a narrow fjord, more than 70 miles from the open sea, and is one of the most spectacular cruise destinations in Norway – attracting 206 ships this year (now 205).
There is no pier for ships to berth alongside. Some moor at a buoy at the head of the fjord, others drop anchor; all of them take their passengers ashore by tender. Plans are in hand to provide a floating jetty so that passengers can walk ashore.
Popular excursions from Geiranger take passengers to the 1,500-metre (4,900-ft) Mount Dalsnibba, and along the hairpin bends to the Eagles Nest viewpoint, which gives spectacular views back down to the fjord and across to the Seven Sisters waterfall.
Inevitably, all this will one day be swept away by a tsunami; a section of cliff on Mount Åkerneset, further down the fjord is likely to collapse into the water with devastating effects and the local authorities have yet to find any way to prevent it happening.
The town itself is tiny, and becomes very crowded when cruise ships visit. Today’s schedule would have seen 1,400 passengers from Thomson Spirit and 1,850 from Mein Schiff 1 mingling with QM2’s 2,500. But that total of 5,750 falls short of the 7,650 there yesterday and the 8,000 who visited last week when two Costa ships and Crown Princess were all in port together.
A spokeswoman for Cunard said this week: “Despite our best intentions when this sailing was planned two years ago, congestion at Geiranger in this peak period has created some operational challenges which meant that we can give passengers a better experience by calling at Alesund instead.”
I have asked the Geiranger port authorities to comment, but have not yet received a response.
QM2 joined P&O’s Arcadia in Ålesund, which was completely rebuilt in the Art Nouveau style after a devastating fire in 1904.

By | 2017-06-15T15:59:30+00:00 17 July 2013|Cruise Destinations, Cruise News|2 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.


  1. Carolyn Spencer Brown 17 July 2013 at 12:30 pm - Reply

    While this secession might understandably be disappointing for QM2 passengers, Geiranger can be overcrowded, as it was on our visit there last year. Highly disappointing day, weaving through throngs. The beauty of this place was obscured by four ships worth of visitors (not to mention day-trippers). Ultimately. It is the responsibility of ports to determine what capacities they an handle. Our feeling last year was that Geiranger had its eyes closed. Kudos to Cunard for making a tough decision. And by the way: Alesund is a terrific replacement, a marvelous city. As long as it too isn’t congested!

  2. David Thomas 18 July 2013 at 2:37 pm - Reply

    We were fortunate that the Queen Elizabeth was the only ship due in Geiranger on our mid-June cruise. It didn’t seem crowded at all, probably because most of the passengers took a coach tour. We had an enjoyable time there. The only tour we took was on a small Viking boat, something we did not know about until we went ashore. Our first visit to the Geirangerfjord was in 1991 aboard P&O’s Canberra. At that time ships’ passengers did not go ashore, at least not those on the larger vessels like ours. But even if you don’t go ashore, just travelling through this fjord is a spectacular experience.

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