NORWAY is often described as a ‘once-in-a-lifetime destination’ but I definitely intend to return one day.

Growing up I thought of Norway as the country that brought us the Vikings and then, in the early 1990s, the likes of Lars Bohinen, Stig Inge Bjornebye and Jan Age Fjortoft.

It was renowned poet Adrian Mole who first opened my eyes to the beauty of the country.

In his seminal 1982 composition ‘Norway’ he described it thus:

Norway! Land of difficult spelling.

Hiding your beauty behind strange vowels.

Land of long nights, short days, and dots over 'O's.

Ruminating majestic reindeers

Tread wearily on ice floes

Ever aware of what happened to the


One day I will sojourn to your shores

I live in the middle of England


Norway! My soul resides in your watery fiords fyords fiiords


It was these inimitable inlets that my wife and I set off to explore on our first cruise experience – an eight-night Majestic Fjordland adventure on board the Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV) ship Magellan, named after the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan.

Sailing from the historic London International Cruise Terminal in Tilbury, where the Ten Pound Poms departed and the Empire Windrush arrived back in the 1940s, our first port of call was Amsterdam.

The famously relaxed inhabitants of the Dutch capital were partying harder than usual as they celebrated Koningsdag (King’s Day) so we diverted to the charming Keukenhof Gardens – a huge flower-filled park that opens for just a few weeks every Spring.

Then, after a day at sea exploring the ship and availing ourselves of the various entertainment options on board, the adventure really began.

As we pulled back the curtains in our cabin on day four we were met with our first breath-taking view of the fjords.

The tiny village of Eidfjord saw its population more than double as around 1,250 CMV passengers disembarked and we headed to the newly revamped Hardangervidda Naturecenter.

Then it was onto the Fossli Hotel, where composer Edvard Grieg wrote his Opus 66, to view the spectacular Vøringsfossen waterfall.

At 182m, it is only the 83rd highest in Norway but new viewing platforms installed for 2018 make for some beautiful photographs and you should be prepared to queue for the prime selfie spots.

One of our group was cursing herself for having brought only one roll of film on the trip and this is a part of the world that makes you thankful for the invention of the digital camera and mega memory cards.

Next up was picturesque Flam and what is marketed as the world’s most beautiful train journey to Myrdal after a leisurely mini cruise on Nærøyfjord. We also had a spot of axe throwing at the nearby Viking Village in Gudvangen – a kind of St Fagans with added interactivity.

The famous Flamsbana Railway does not disappoint as it winds up the mountainside from Aurlandsfjord for 20km, affording you some unique views of Western Norway's stunning scenery.

After a brief stop at the Aegir Brewery it was back aboard Magellen as we set sail for Olden and the nearby Briksdal glacier.

It’s well worth the 3km climb to the top but there is a fleet of nifty Troll Cars if you can’t face the hike and I can also recommend the Loen Skylift for spectacular views from the top of Mount Hoven, though not if you’re scared of heights!

Our whistle-stop tour concluded in historic Bergen, the second-largest city in Norway after Oslo.

Surrounded by seven hills and seven fjords, this laidback port is famously wet and windy.

The city has around 240 days of rain each year but we didn’t unpack our waterproofs as we perused the renowned fish market and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Bryggen.

This row of charming wooden houses, built after a major fire in 1702, is now home to a host of museums and arts and crafts shops and is the ideal place to stock up on souvenirs before you set sail for home.

But that is far from the end of the holiday. With a pub, piano bar, multiple dining options, swimming pools, cinema showings and a live show every night there is always something to keep you entertained on the high seas.

CMV has cruises departing from Bristol in August, September, October and December this year.

And next year you can cruise around the British Isles, Iceland, the Isles of Scilly and France from Cardiff, with departures in April and May 2019.