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We had to cancel our dream cruise in 2020 - 21 day Baltic/Fjords with HAL that went to Flam (a must for me)

 

We are looking to book something similar in 2022, but can't find anything that does the Baltic and Flam in under 28 days.  I have 2 totally different options, and I'm hoping to get some opinions from people - the bottom line is really should we do the Fjords or not.  The 2 itineraries visit the same ports, except:

 

21 day HAL Baltic Jewels and Norse Legends - May 7 -> goes to Alesund, Eidfjord, Geiranger, Bergen, Aarhus.  We would go a bit early to catch tulips in Holland.

 

12 day Norwegian Baltic - June 19 -> goes to Visby, Riga, Klaipeda, Gdansk.  We would add on Amsterdam before/after.

 

We are torn, because we really wanted Flam, and the idea of Latvia, Lithuania and Poland is intriguing.  But would you give up the Fjord portion to visit those countries?

 

Really appreciate any advice! Thanks!

 

(our other vacay option in 2022 was an Egypt and Jordan group tour so totally different!!)

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I think the mentioned ports for HAL cruise look much better than the Norwegian cruise.
Geiranger is an unnoticed substitute for Flåm with a long very scenic fjord sailing - instead of the train ride in Flåm, Geiranger has many fantastic viewpoints.
Bergen and Aarhus are some nice DIY cities - very walkable cities with several interesting attractions. Ålesund is small but quite picturesque.

Visby is located on the historic island of Gotland while the other ports are less interesting.

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This is a bit of an apples and oranges comparison. Would you rather visit the Norwegian fjords or some smaller less-visited Baltic cities?

 

Is there a particular reason that you only want to visit the fjords if you can go to Flåm? The ports you listed seem like a pretty solid fjord offering. Honestly, the sail-in/-out from Geiranger is much more dramatic than the one to Flåm. The more dramatic steep-walled fjord near Flåm is actually the Nærøyfjord, ending at the nearby town of Gudvangen. Flåm itself is on a wider arm of Sognefjord, and most of the cruising time on the way in/out is spent in the large stretch of Sognefjord. On a larger ship, you really only see the UNESCO-listed Nærøyfjord if you take a separate fjord cruise while you're in port.

 

The Flåm railway is fun, but not significantly different from mountain railways elsewhere (the valley turns behind a hill, so you don't really have fjord views on the way up). Cycling down from the other end of the railway is special, but having visited both places more than once, I still like Geiranger more. Especially when there are cruise crowds in town, since it's easier to get off the beaten path.

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8 hours ago, kaisatsu said:

This is a bit of an apples and oranges comparison. Would you rather visit the Norwegian fjords or some smaller less-visited Baltic cities?

Yes it really is apples and oranges!

I've wanted to do the Flam railway every since some family did it years ago. I'll admit I haven't really looked at the Norway ports on the HAL cruise so it's nice to hear they could be a great substitute to Flam. 

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On 7/13/2021 at 11:51 AM, kaisatsu said:

Is there a particular reason that you only want to visit the fjords if you can go to Flåm? The ports you listed seem like a pretty solid fjord offering. Honestly, the sail-in/-out from Geiranger is much more dramatic than the one to Flåm. The more dramatic steep-walled fjord near Flåm is actually the Nærøyfjord, ending at the nearby town of Gudvangen. Flåm itself is on a wider arm of Sognefjord, and most of the cruising time on the way in/out is spent in the large stretch of Sognefjord. On a larger ship, you really only see the UNESCO-listed Nærøyfjord if you take a separate fjord cruise while you're in port.

 

The Flåm railway is fun, but not significantly different from mountain railways elsewhere (the valley turns behind a hill, so you don't really have fjord views on the way up). Cycling down from the other end of the railway is special, but having visited both places more than once, I still like Geiranger more. Especially when there are cruise crowds in town, since it's easier to get off the beaten path.

We have been to both and agree.  If you are going to take the railway up and then cycle down in Flam then that would be a reason to consider it more attractive (but the ride down was much longer than I expected and turned out to be difficult to arrange in advance).  Both are great ports but Geiranger is a slightly better experience overall.  If you do go to Flam be very sure to buy tickets for the train online well in advance.  We saw so many disappointed people who thought they could get a ticket the morning of only to find that the cruise lines had snapped up every available ticket in advance for their excursions.

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  • 1 month later...

Hard to compare those itineraries, as I haven't been to many of them.  But I loved Alesund just for its beauty, and Visby (an island) for pretty much the same reason - but perhaps because I really like the smaller, photogenic places that others don't visit as much.  Bornholm, a Danish island, comes to mind - loved it, though you didn't mention it, so assume it's only visited by other cruise lines like Oceania.  In Visby I had a lot of fun photographing ruined churches and whatnot. Gdansk was great in many ways. Geiranger was nice to so so.  Riga was notable for a few absolutely fabulous huge art deco decorated buildings (or art nouveau?)  But other than that, Riga was nice but unexceptional to me. Bergen was walkable and nice, as previously mentioned.  Just my opinions, of course.  

Edited by IWantToLiveOverTheSea
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