Discover an abundance of adventures in Northern Norway

Members of Cruise Network Northern Norway and Svalbard are investing in building new infrastructure, developing shore excursions and increasing sustainability in the region

Discover an abundance of adventures in Northern Norway

Visit Tromsø

The northern lights are one of Norway’s most popular attractions for cruise guests

By Rebecca Gibson |

Members of Cruise Network Northern Norway and Svalbard are expanding their shore excursion offerings to help guests explore this region. Some of the new options in Brønnøysund include hiking and biking at Torghatten mountain, kayaking in the Helgeland archipelago, meeting a ‘modern Viking’, and visiting a local’s home for coffee. The destination, which has two ports with cruise piers, hopes these excursions will encourage cruise operators to stay longer, or overnight. 

Meanwhile, both Nordkapp and nearby Port of Sapmi are developing multiple experiences to enable guests to fully immerse themselves in the local Sami culture, for example by meeting reindeer and husky puppies, going dog sledding, and joining families in their lávvu (tents) to learn about their way of life and partake in the traditional coffee time ritual. The two ports are primarily targeting the expedition market, and Nordkapp, which will soon install a new tender pier, aims to increase winter calls too.  

Similarly, Bodø will be celebrating Sami culture and offering hundreds of other cultural activities to mark its status as the 2024 European Capital of Culture. The port, Visit Bodø and other key stakeholders are also developing the city’s future cruise tourism strategy to identify new shore excursion opportunities and necessary infrastructure developments to drive future growth.  

Narvik is developing shore excursions that immerse cruise visitors in local life. One notable excursion is the new ‘food and story’ walk, where a guide will take guests to restaurants and cafes to sample local dishes and share the history of the town. It will continue to evolve its shore excursion offering and make other investments to attract more turnaround and overnight calls. 

Lofoten Norway

Adobe Stock/Ilker

Lofoten is exploring how it can extend the cruise season and make operations more environmentally sustainable

Another destination focused on establishing itself as a turnaround port is Kirkenes, which is ideally positioned for cruise lines wanting to start or end their itineraries in the far northeast of Norway. The port is open year-round, can handle vessels of approximately 300 metres and close to Kirkenes’ international airport and other transport links. The town offers multiple shore excursions throughout the year and will soon have double the hotel capacity, making it ideally suited for pre- and post-cruise stays.  

Turnaround calls are also set to increase in Tromsø, with more airlines introducing direct international routes to the city’s airport in the summer months and new hotels opening over the next couple of years. The tourist board and local businesses are diversifying available activities to provide more options in the summer. The port will also open new shore power facilities in the city centre from January 2025 and in another location by 2027.  

Alta is also planning to build a shore power facility and either extend one of its two cruise piers, or construct a new one, to accommodate larger vessels. It aims to begin construction for both projects in 2028.  

Hammerfest’s new town centre cruise pier, which can host 280-metre-long vessels will be operational in summer 2024. The port is also working to become a year-round cruise destination and host ships for two days, so it is expanding its shore excursion offering with a particular focus on the winter months.  

The Vesterålen region now has four cruise ports, including one in Sortland, another in Melbu, one in the centre of Stokmarknes and a new facility that has just opened five minutes’ drive from the town centre. Melbu also has a new tender pier. These infrastructure improvements mean the region can now accommodate larger cruise vessels. 

Other ports are prioritising sustainability. For example, Harstad, which opened a new quay in the city centre in 2023 and can now accommodate 300-metre-long vessels, began using the Environmental Port Index in 2024.  

Meanwhile, Lofoten is implementing a comprehensive new sustainable tourism strategy. It aims to attract more environmentally cruise ships, spread calls throughout the year, increase the number of tour guides, explore partnership opportunities with nearby ports and improve its existing infrastructure.  

Longyearbyen in Svalbard is also focused on making cruise tourism more sustainable as it awaits a report from the Norwegian government about a possible cap on cruise visitors. Currently, cruise guests account for around half of the total number of tourists, so the port and destination authority is conducting an economic survey to calculate the benefits of cruise tourism and determine the optimal number of cruise guests to have in Longyearbyen at any one time. 

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2024 issue of  Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed. Subscribe  for FREE to get the next issue delivered directly to your inbox.  

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