Otters, seals, and historic gems: Set sail for Scotland and Norway and discover… Northern Soul

By cruising from Scotland to Norway you possibly can encounter two of the world’s most lovely international locations in a single go. 

A brief, five-night Scottish Isles With A Style Of Norway itinerary is tempting sufficient for even first-time cruisers to likelihood dipping their toes within the water – whether or not bracing or not.

Desperate to discover the Orkney and Shetland Islands, we set sail final July from Rosyth, close to Edinburgh, on board Fred, Olsen’s flagship Balmoral.

Thriller stones: Throughout the Orkney Treasures coach tour passengers go to The Ring of Brodgar on the Orkneys

Not many cruise ships are sufficiently small to limbo stealthily underneath the three Forth Bridges. This gave visitors a chance to marvel on the generations of engineering masterpieces as we silently willed Balmoral protected passage under.

The talcum-powder seashores and aquamarine shallows we glimpsed the subsequent morning might simply have been mistaken for idyllic Caribbean shores – have been it not for the seaside breezes and bagpipes welcoming 1,300 passengers to Orkney.

Skara Brae is the best-preserved Neolithic settlement in Western Europe and should have weathered many a storm in its 5,000-year historical past, but it wasn’t till 1850 that gales whipped the sand from the dunes to unearth the ‘Pompeii of Scotland’. 

Peering down by means of open-air roofs at clearly recognisable dwelling quarters with stone furnishings and hearths, it was thrilling to assume the location dates again to earlier than Egyptian pyramids have been even a twinkle in pharaohs’ eyes. 

Bryggen in Norway is a lively wharf filled with open-air restaurants and shops in ice-cream-coloured warehouses

Bryggen in Norway is a energetic wharf crammed with open-air eating places and outlets in ice-cream-coloured warehouses

No marvel there’s a saying right here that should you stick a spade within the floor, you’re prone to uncover an archaeological website.

On our Orkney Treasures coach tour, we had time to stroll round and marvel on the prehistoric Ring of Brodgar, too.

Like one thing out of Tolkien, the paranormal slabs have stood defiantly among the many windswept heather for the reason that third millennium BC. The everlasting thriller of why and the way they got here to be there stays resolutely unsolved.

Scottish summer season nights are simply as magical, when a median 19 hours of daylight means it barely will get darkish. As we sat down for dinner within the light-filled Spey Restaurant on board with its floor-to-ceiling panoramas, the Previous Man of Hoy was immediately ahoy, as clear as day.

As we drew nearer, we joined fellow diners to float out between programs to the open deck to stare in reverence and take pictures of Britain’s tallest sea stack teetering 450ft above the Atlantic Ocean.

The unique arch with two ‘legs’ that resembled these of an outdated man has since been eroded to a single pillar. Now a big crack threatens to topple the surviving column into the ocean.

With a bit trepidation we slid into the waters round Lerwick the next day for our pre-booked Shetland Sea Kayaking Journey. 

It didn’t take lengthy to identify what we had been hoping to search out – curious seals bobbed up round us, eyes huge with shock.

Sea kayaking in the Shetlands lets cruise passengers get up close and personal with elusive seals and otters, above

Sea kayaking within the Shetlands lets cruise passengers stand up shut and private with elusive seals and otters, above

Because the inexperienced persons in our guided group grew extra assured, we paddled throughout the bay, the slight swell cradling our kayaks. We have been richly rewarded for our efforts when first one otter then one other startled us as a lot as themselves, popping up from among the many seaweed-strewn rocks earlier than shyly diving again under the mirror-glass floor. 

Such a uncommon and elusive sight meant we have been greater than elated as we struck out for shore.

As Lerwick is an equidistant 200 nautical miles every from Aberdeen and Bergen, Shetland is sort of midway between mainland Scotland and Norway. Day three dawned with a cloudless sky because the ship serenely wove by means of the beautiful Norwegian fjords.

It changed into a sweltering morning as we donned shorts and helmets for a guided biking tour, and it was onerous to think about that it rains for not less than 230 days a 12 months in Bergen. 

Ranging from Bryggen, the energetic wharf crammed with open-air eating places and outlets in ice-cream- colored warehouses, our first cease at open-air museum Previous Bergen was a straightforward experience alongside flat and leafy cycle lanes.

However it wasn’t all exploring ashore – there was time for a day at sea on our return leg. A heavenly therapeutic massage in Atlantis Spa was adopted by extra leisure on deck. And that lazy, hazy afternoon, we turned a shade of salmon-pink sunbathing by the pool.

Then it was a cocktail or two from the Marquee pool bar, reside leisure at Showtime and dancing until we couldn’t bear in mind what time we went to mattress.

It’s true, blue skies and calm waters weren’t a given on our Scotland to Norway foray. However once they unexpectedly selected to disclose themselves, they have been as warmly welcomed because the otters, seals and historic gems.


Balmoral departs from Rosyth (Edinburgh) on 29th June 2020 for a 10-night Icelandic Wonders & Wildlife cruise. Costs begin from £1,599 per individual, based mostly on two adults sharing (chosen grades solely) until acknowledged in any other case, and contains lodging, all meals and leisure on board, and port taxes. For extra info go to