Norwegian Fjords Disney Cruise Line Report — Day 6
Day 6 of our Disney Magic Norwegian Fjords cruise aboard was a port day in Bergen, Norway. This Disney Cruise Line report picks up after our impromptu day at sea due to the cancellation of our Geiranger port day.
The second-largest city in Norway, Bergen still has a small-town intimacy and atmosphere. These two things work to Bergen’s advantage, giving it plenty of character and points of interest to experience. It’s also a college town, so it has that certain inarticulable energy to it. (Perhaps an odd comparison, but it reminds me a bit of Ann Arbor, Michigan…if that were a Norwegian port city.)
Bergen was the city about which I was most certain when making our itinerary. Even though Bergen has a lot to offer, there was no real conflict or hard decisions that had to be made. I was pretty sure we’d be able to do everything we wanted to do in Bergen. As with past installments of this cruise report, I’ll start with some planning info…
The first thing to do in Bergen is Mount Floyen and the Funicular. Literally, the first thing. “Rope drop” this; be one of the first people to get off of the ship and walk directly to the funicular.
Alternatively, if you end up sleeping in, you’re likely better off saving it until late afternoon.
This is a must-do for everyone who visits Bergen, and as such, it seems most cruisers head to the funicular in the morning. We had a zero minute wait to do the funicular, but when we came down, there was a huge line stretching out the door.
While up at Mount Floyen, be sure to do the short “hiking” loop that takes you out to the small lake. It’s a lovely, goat-filled trail. We spent around an hour up at Mount Floyen, but you could easily experience it in 30 to 45 minutes. Don’t just go up to see the view and immediately leave.
On your way there, you’ll pass by one of the other must-dos: the Bryggen Hanseatic Wharf. This picturesque series of vibrant, old-world buildings is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and you’ll want to spend time there later, particularly in the Hanseatic Museum and SchÃ¸tstuene.
Highly recommended for insight into what you’re seeing in Bryggen.
We also recommend purchasing the joint ticket for the Hanseatic Museum that also includes the Norwegian Fisheries Museum, and transportation in between.
The Norwegian Fisheries Museum is exceptional, and provides a ton of insight into one of Norway’s largest industries. It’s not a huge museum, but features a diverse group of exhibits making it worthwhile for all ages.
Our next recommendation is visiting Old Bergen. This is an under the radar location, and the only reason we went is because a friend told us that part of Spirit of Norway was filmed here. Officially called the Old Bergen Museum, it’s really more of a village than a museum.
It features 50 wooden houses dating from the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries all reconstructed to form a small town representative of life in Bergen. We walked to Old Bergen from the Norwegian Fisheries Museum, but taking public transit would be more efficient. It’s not a pretty walk.
One potential recommendation is Fantoft Stave Church. This is not technically in Bergen, so you have to take the Bergen Light Rail (there’s a station near the Funicular station) out to it. Get off at the Fantoft Station, and it’s about a 10-minute walk from there (signs make it easy to find). Be sure to have cash for admission.
We did this because (to us) a stave church is iconic to Norway due to years of seeing one at Epcot. This one is definitely neat, and in a cool wooded location, but it does take some effort to get there. It was rebuilt in the 1990s, so it doesn’t have the history of some stave churches in Norway, but it’s the only one we could see on the cruise. We also had a “challenging” experience with this church, which I’ll share below in the report.
Finally, food. We made an effort to avoid spending money out of pocket at the other ports, but that went out the window in Bergen. On the recommendation of a few friends (and singer Sigrid!), we had pizza at Kafe Special. A good, cheap option that caters to a college crowd, but not distinctly Norwegian.
We also dined at BarBarista, to try Norwegian waffles. This spot is highly recommended for both its eclectic decor and it’s amazing waffles. Make a point of eating here. Once again, we also stopped at Godt BrÃ¸d, the bakery where we bought school bread earlier in the trip. We had school bread here again, and it was fantastic.
One thing you might want to consider is the Bergen Card 24 Hours. This provides free or discounted admission to a number of points of interest (including some above), plus unlimited public transit.
It didn’t quite work out for us, but if we tweaked our itinerary just a bit, it would have.
We made this recommendation before, but it bears repeating: skip the CitySightseeing Tour Bus. Bergen is easily walkable, and part of the experience is strolling past the storefronts and absorbing the old world charm.
The hop-on, hop-off might seem convenient, but really, it’s just a waste of money.
Another option we briefly considered–but quickly ruled out–was a condensed version of the Norway in a Nutshell tour. I’ve mentioned this a few times in the report, so I should probably clarify that this is not an official tour (if you Google it, you might be led to believe otherwise).
The Norway in a Nutshell “tour” is a self-guided itinerary consisting of various forms of trains, buses, and ferries that takes you through the mountains and fjords. This is how we were originally planning to see Norway, and when I had planned it out that way, we were expecting to spend around 5 days doing this tour.
The frenetic pace of doing the Norway in a Nutshell tour in a single port day was what caused us to quickly rule this out. Plus, we still hadn’t spent much time just wandering around any of the port cities, and this itinerary would’ve been another port day almost entirely consumed by one activity.
By this point in the trip, we were already contemplating a return trip to Norway, and it made more sense to do it then.
At the time, I thought our itinerary for Bergen was pretty flawless–at least for our interests. In hindsight, I might give some thought to the Bergen City Museum, Bergen Maritime Museum, Fjell Fortress (outside of the city), and KODE — the Art Museums of Bergen. One thing a lot of people also seem to like is the Leprosy Museum, but that does not interest me in the slightest.
I’m not even remotely disappointed by our itinerary–we had an excellent day in Bergen. I think it’s more of a hindsight is 20/20 type of thing. I just mention those other locations to provide you with some additional options if you’re planning your own visit to Bergen, Norway.
Alright, on with our experience in Bergen. As with every morning, we started out by watching the ship arrive into port, and then had breakfast down at Cabanas.
At this point, I’m going to share with you a really bright idea I had: pack ourselves lunch so we wouldn’t have to buy food in Bergen! We were able to take food (except produce) off the ship, so this seemed like a good idea. Before you judge me too harshly for what seems like an obviously bad idea, just remember: I had not had any coffee yet that morning and good ideas aren’t my thing.
I decided to grab some smoked salmon off the Cabanas buffet, and put it in paper cups with ice at the bottom. Then, I grabbed a couple of bagels and cream cheese, and wrapped all of this up in cloth before throwing it into Sarah’s backpack. Like all great ideas, this plan was hastily formed and executed without much regard to potential downsides. On Page 2, we’ll share what we did in Bergen, including the ‘downside’ to my brilliant salmon refrigeration technique…
how do I find the last post on your trip report? Going on the 11 night in 2019 and need info on Copenhagen
I’ll help out uncle Tom here since he didn’t link to it above:
I’m looking forward to the replacement of Frozen Ever After with “Trollman! The Norway Experience”
I canNOT believe you made your wife smell like fish. Sarah is an exceptionally understanding woman.
Trolling Trollman! Trolling Trollman! I do admit your drawing skills are actually quite good haha not sure what I expected but apparently you exceeded it!
Wow, 20 comments so far and NOT A SINGLE ONE heaping praise upon the marvelous Trollman? Thanks a lot, “friends.” 😉
I’m as shocked as you are….how could there be no comments about Throll, I mean Trollman at all? I guess everyone was just too in awe to mention him.
Thanks for another great trip report. You’re giving me wanderlust, as always!
I took the Norway, Iceland, & Scotland cruise back in 2015. I wish we could have had Bergen as a port stop as my ancestors are from there. I will go back I just don’t know when but when it comes I hope it’s still offered. I loved all the cities we visited back then, Oslo, Kristansted and Stavenger. I enjoyed following you on your adventure through the land of enchantment.
Its been great reading your trip report since we were on the same cruise. (I stopped you pre-Frozen party to say I enjoyed your photography.)
We had the challenge of navigating each port with a five year old, which is an interesting experience. We went to the aquarium in Bergen – which was very nice and our 5 year old really enjoyed it. (If you are travelling with kids or you haven’t been to an aquarium before, this is great option). The thing that was totally overpriced but we totally loved was the Bergen Fish Market. The food was really great and we got Bergen Fish market beer – the first ingredient listed was Bergen rain water, which I totally loved. I’m kind of glad to hear that the funicular wasn’t too exciting b/c we showed up and saw the line and said uh no.
The other highlights for us on the trip was the slow cruise through Geiranger, the Petroleum museum, and finding as many Norwegian playgrounds as possible. (there were a lot!!!)
Side note – I totally agree with you on the food – I feel like its been a lot better on prior cruises.
I laughed at the line about Norwegian playgrounds. I visited Finland for work when my daughter was 4.5-years old and took my family along with me. I think my wife and daughter visited every playground in Helsinki!
We tried to find the Stave Church but got hopelessly lost. Rick Steve’s book was rather vague and my GPS sent us in circles in the wrong direction and up hill. If I was alone, I would’ve kept trying to find it, but with my 78 yr old mother in tow, it was time to call it quits and head back to the city. Wish I had realized you were on the same cruise, my team produced the new Welcome Aboard show on the first night.
I laughed out loud on the salmon in a cup over ice!!!!!
Awesome amount of information on Bergen. Thanks! I bet you have this in another cruise post Tom, but there are so many that I am not sure where to look! What does “rope dropping” a port entail? I have yet to go on a cruise. Do you have to get in some kind of line or just be sure not to sleep-in or…? I would appreciate a point in the right direction.
Rope dropping – be one of the first if not the first ones off the ship to head to your destination….just like when you go to Disneyland to be at the front of the rope to get to the best rides when the park opens.
Love your reports. And your reasons for choosing the sights 😉
“Ultimately, our desire to see a Spirit of Norway location (a film we didn’t really even like) won out”
Great report! The Fishing museum sounds very interesting! We live in Petersburg, Alaska, also known as Little Norway and commercial fishing here is huge. We have always wanted to visit Norway and will have to check out that museum!
You should get some credit for thinking to put your backpack salmon on ice.
We did the Fantoft Stave Church that day as well. Don’t worry. You didn’t miss anything. I likewise wanted to get at least one stave church in, even if it was a reconstruction; however, this was not worth the trek – in particular in the rain. For those making a future trip, I’d hit the other sites Tom mentioned.
The blessing and curse of reading your website: I’ve spent time the past few days reading about the Norway in a Nutshell and looking at how to get reasonably-priced flights to Norway!
Was the brown cheese similar to the Gjetost that they serve at Akershus in Epcot? (Or that you can buy at the grocery store?). Yes, 3-pages of Norwegian touring trip report, and my question is about cheese…
It is the same cheese. Brown cheese is a Norwegian speciality which has different names (brunost, geitost, gjetost), but it is essentially a cheese where the lactose sugar in the milk caramelizes in the cheese making process, turning the color of the cheese light brown. Many foreigners dislike the taste, but I think that has a lot to do with what they expected to taste. If you are used to cheese always being savory, then the caramelized, sweet brunost will taste weird. So I always tell people that it’s sweet before they taste it.
I asked because the kind of Gjetost you can get in stores over here (Ski Queen) is a mix of goat and cow whey. I think that is what they serve in Epcot as well.
My sister raises goats, so I tried making my own from some of her goat whey. It tasted quite a bit different, although I still liked it.
Having a grandfather from Norway, I was raised eating this cheese. We had it on toast for breakfast. I’ve been told it’s an acquired taste. You either love it or hate it. I was always told it was a “dessert” cheese. I was estatic when I found it in a specialty market. I bought it and experienced my childhood all over again.
Night 5 towel animal was a monkey? I really honestly thought it was a Thanksgiving Turkey hanging up. Very much enjoying this cruise report btw. We are not world travelers (yet), but all your trip reports from abroad are really inspiring us to take the leap! While the Disney cruises seem expensive, I feel like the fact that it’s Disney, would somehow make me feel more comfortable with traveling internationally. (side note; your trip reports from Japan also have us considering that as an option). Keep up the great work 🙂
If nothing else, I now know Salmon is not a travel-friendly food… Poor Sarah! I can’t imagine smelling like fish all day
Loved your reports, as well as the pictures. Was hoping there’d be one more part, but alas, the cruise was over. I cannot travel long distances anymore, so I feel you and Sarah are traveling for me, and taking me places I can no longer go. Thank you for that.
Really enjoyed this. Thanks!
Always nice to hear that. 🙂 Thanks for reading!