We were recently lucky enough to experience a minicruise between Kiel in Germany and Oslo, Norway with Color Line . Opinion seems divided when it comes to the humble minicruise. Depending on your priorities, budget, time constraints and expectations, a minicruise may or may not work for you. Us? We loved it. But with such a short break – two nights on board and around four hours in Oslo- you really are going to get the best out of your experience with a bit of research and preparation. Without further ado, based upon our experience and in no particular order here are our tips…

Don’t Overlook Kiel

Kiel. Port city, gateway for cruise bound travellers. This is true. But also much more than that. This is a city that has reinvented itself over the years and is worth making time for.  Kiel surprised me, I expected to find regenerated docks and some nice harbour views ( Thank you Kiel, on that front you did not disappoint!) But I didn’t necessarily expect to find some rather good shopping , beautiful historic buildings and the very pretty Hiroshima park . All within strolling distance of each other.

Things Helen Loves, Image of a lake framed by trees with historic buildings to the background
Unexpected views in Kiel

Kiel is a pretty compact, walkable city. If you are keen to explore on foot you can follow the Blue Line, a 1,600m self guided walk similar to the Hannover Red Thread.

Do Visit Laboe

If you have time before you sail, head up the coast to Laboe.  Half an hour out of the city centre, Laboe has a resort feel and is home to the U-955 submarine and the  impressive Naval War Memorial… worth a visit for the views from the top alone.

Things Helen Loves, Image of Submarine mounted on beach under grey skies.
U-995, now a museum on the sand in Laboe.

Don’t Overpack.

Things to note about the cabin: unless you book top end, they are clean and comfortable but they are small. With limited storage. It’s only a two night cruise and the atmosphere is informal, so pack sparingly ( says she who has never knowingly underpacked). Also worth noting our cabin had a hair dryer and plenty of towels and  so it really is just personal essentials to bring on board. If you’ve lots of ‘stuff’ like cables, chargers and so on think about bringing a hanging shoe organiser. It will roll up to pack and will save a lot of stress and clutter in the cabin.

Things Helen Loves, boy and teddy in bunk onbard ship
Comfy & Cosy tucked up in his bunk, the beds really were very comfortable!

Do embrace The Cruise Experience.

This is a minicruise. You aren’t going to get the full resort-at-sea cruise ship experience. But don’t be discouraged, the ColorLine ships have plenty to offer. The Aqualand swimming zone is a great way to kick off your cruise. Think lazy river, water slides, Jacuzzi and Sauna. The entrance fee includes towels-winner, no damp swimming towels sat in the cabin. Post swim, browse the shops or relax in one of the several bars or cafes before a relaxed dinner in one of the onboard eateries, options range from a 1950s inspired Diner to the a la carte restaurant. FYI, the 1950s Diner got the all round seal of approval from us. And the all singing, all dancing concert in the show lounge is not to be missed.

Things Helen Loves, picture of three children with Color Line photo prop
Lots of fun to be had onboard.

Don’t Be Put Off the Short Time Ashore.

The ship docks in Oslo at 10.00 and leaves at 14.00.  Passengers need to be back onboard by 13.45, so realistically you are going to have around three-and-a-half hours to get a taste of Oslo. There is a blog post upcoming about what we did with our time but the message here is –  Don’t be put off, you can do a lot, even on limited time.

Do Book A Cabin With a View

We are generally budget travellers and basic accommodation is often a a money saver without compromising the experience. Booking an inside cabin, or one with a view of the interior promenade, will save you a few quid but cost you’ll miss the stunning scenery as you sail  the Oslo Fjord. Of course, you could book the inside cabin and view the scenery from deck or from the Observation Lounge but there is just something lovely about chilling out in your cabin and watching the beautiful scenery drift by. In my opinion, a cabin with a view is worth the spend.

Things Helen Loves, Fjord scenery viewed through a port hole window.
Stunning scenery as we sailed the approach to Oslo

Don’t assume Duty Free is a bargain…

Excited at the prospect of duty free? me? Absolutely!  But it really is a case of buyer beware. There are some good buys in there but check the price point against on-line sellers and high street shops first. It isn’t always cheaper, especially given how competitive retailers have become with discounts, loyalty schemes. It feels even harder for us to get a real bargain because we are used to tax-free status and military discounts here in Germany, but I just didn’t think duty free was all that. I guess if you are used to shopping at Norwegian price points, it might feel a bit more of a bargain. Always fun to browse, if you are buying or not.

But do budget for a bit of shopping.

Duty free might not be all it’s cracked up to be, but there are some things worth checking out. We picked up a beautiful Christmas bauble, some Norwegian candy, some Harrahorn gin ( small batch, beautiful bottle,  delicious,well worth checking out) and a pair of trolls who have now been named Helen & Paul. There is a variety of goods on offer both onboard and on shore but prices and quality can vary. The on board supermarket is worth checking out if you fancy taking home a taste of Norway. Moose jerky, anyone?

Things Helen Loves, Picture of two miniture bottles of gin and a decorated Christmas bauble.
Harrahorn Gin & a pretty new tree decoration. That’s me set for the festive season then…

In conclusion:

The minicruise might be short but it’s a sweet way to dip into a relatively expensive destination, especially for a budget traveller. It is also a brilliant way of combining two destinations with some quality time at sea and a worthwhile alternative to the traditional city break. Most of all, for us, it was just really, really good fun.

Until Next Time,

Helen x

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.