Cruise Diary: Flam, Norwegian Fjords Cruise
Steph - Cruise with Amber
I’d initially planned to get straight on to the website to book tickets for the Flam railway as soon as tickets were first released (which was about 6 months before we were due to visit). Unfortunately, I missed my diary note to book the tickets.
So three months before we were due to arrive in Flam, (when i finally remembered), I went on to the booking website only to find that all the slots had gone. There were some slots left but not until the afternoon and the trains were due to arrive back in Flam after our ship was scheduled to leave port way too close for comfort for me to enjoy the trip. You might be lucky with tickets – especially if you’re the only ship in port that day and you’re sailing on a smaller vessel. For example, my sister visited on P&O Arcadia out of peak season and walked straight on the train without buying tickets in advance.
Despite showing no tickets in the morning slots on the website, there were plenty of tickets available through the shore excursion offered by our cruise line. However after a bit of quick maths I realised this was going to work out at almost £350 for the family. Normally if it’s an awesome shore excursion experience, I’m prepared to pay that. While this was an awesome excursion, what put me off was the fact I’d be paying twice as much as other passengers on the same train (who were more organised and booked it independently). I couldn’t stomach that.
Then I discovered eMobiltiy Flam and these eco cars. There are 4 different tours available and the one we chose was the 2-hour trip to the Stegastain Viewpoint.
Two cars worked out just under £300 (3,600 NOK) in total. Not cheap, but cheaper than the shore excursion option through our cruise line. It was also somewhere different away from the main crowds and offered the chance for us to explore at our own pace. I booked on the earliest slot available – 10:00am.
We arrived in port early and once we had breakfast, we were off ship by 9:00am. Earlier that morning (approx. 6am) I watched us sail into Flam along the Sognefjord – initially from our balcony then on the top deck, finishing off right at Azura’s bow in the ‘secret’ Clam shell deck. This allows you to get some amazing photos – especially if the weather is with you – we had a quite an atmospheric sail in which allowed me to capture shots like this. Norway certainly delivers.
Once we were off ship, we had a little wander around. The kids spotted the small park (which is just a stone’s throw from the cruise terminal) from our balcony just as we arrived, so we headed there first and took few photos of the ship. Next it was on to eMobility Flam garage to collect our cars. After a short tutorial (which is all you need to get up and running) these cars are surprisingly easy to drive – automatic and electric. One pedal to go, one to stop.
Although we had a child in the back of each car, an adult can sit quite comfortably in the back seat and still see great views. The car doesn’t have any side windows, so you are open to the elements to a certain extent. It was a gorgeous, warm sunny day for us, so this didn’t pose any issues, however in less clement weather, you may need to wrap up warm.
We opted for the route which took us to the Stegastein viewpoint which was around 2 hours (round trip). As you climb you use the battery which gets recharged as you descend – so if you only have 20% battery left when you get to the top (which we did) don’t worry (like we did). It will quickly recharge, and you’ll soon relax (which we also did).
The Stegastein viewpoint is an amazing place – plus there is the bonus on the way back down of stopping off at various viewpoints to take pictures of view like this.
We stayed at this point for a few moments and the silence and spectacular scenery was like nothing I have ever experienced. You really do get a good sense of the enormity of the fjords from this viewpoint which you sometimes don’t get from your cruise ship. It was one of those ‘stay with you forever’ memories. Calming and energising all in one go.
The only downside about the Eco Cars trip to the Stegastein viewpoint is that while 2 hours is enough to get you there and back without rushing, I wish we’d had perhaps another hour in total to spend a bit more time to stop off and explore Aurland on the way back down. Or perhaps to stop a little longer to take in more viewpoints. But it is a fantastic alternative to the Flam Railway and allows you get to get a bird’s eye view of the Fjords. Highly recommended.
After we had dropped the car back in the garage, it was lunch time, so we headed back on the ship for something quick to eat. A quick buffet lunch later, we were ready to explore again.
After browsing for souvenirs and a visit to the Flam Bakery, we headed for the little beach across the river for a bit of a paddle. The beach is more of the grainy/pebbly variety (technical geological term). The water is cold, even on a hot day (it is glacial melt-water after all) but once you get acclimatised to it – it’s quite refreshing. However we remained perfectly satisfied with a little knee-deep paddling. More adventurous passengers decided to go for a swim. Judging by their reactions, it was as cold as we first suspected. The water is extremely clear as you can easily spot the little fish if you stay still for long enough. The beach is also shallow at the edges, but it does get deep quite quickly. Additionally, its worth bearing in mind that as the water is very cold, it’s not really suitable for long swims.
I don’t know where the time went, but whilst we were paddling, I noticed that it was 3:30pm. Perhaps too late to go on a hike or venture a bit further – so we decided to head back on ship and relaxed on our balcony for a while before sail away.
Writing about it now – it didn’t seem we did much in Flam apart from the Eco Cars. On reflection, I think we were just a little bit in shock and awe from the perfect morning we just had up to the Stagastein Viewpoint, coupled with the unique and breath-taking experience of driving through some idyllic Norwegian countryside. It was also an early start for me watching our sail in and transit through the Sognefjord. One thing I do know though, Flam is an amazing place, and I need to return to Flam to explore more of what it has to offer.
THANKS FOR READING
Hi, I’m Steph I’ve travelled around the world, backpacked across Australia, New Zealand and Hawaii and spent over 100 nights at sea. Having grown up by the coast, the sea is my passion and now I enjoy exploring the world on cruise ships with my family. Subscribe to my YouTube Channel to keep up to date with my ever expanding set of port guides to inspire you on your travels plus money-saving cruise tips, ship tours and cabin reviews.