We were recently lucky enough to experience a minicruise between Kiel in Germany and Oslo, Norway with Color Line.

I really enjoy a bite size travel experience and this mini cruise fits the bill perfectly. The return sailing allows enough time to enjoy a fantastic onboard experience, giving you four hours in Oslo to get a taste of the Norwegian capital. Four hours doesn’t sound long, but because you sail right up the fjord and pretty much into the city itself, it all works out.

As with any short break, you will get the most out of your time and budget with a bit of research and forward planning. Here’s my tips for a brilliant minicruise experience.

Make Time to Enjoy Kiel

Kiel. Port city, gateway for cruise bound travellers. This is true, but this maritime city is one that is worth making time for.  In a port city that has reinvented itself, you will of course find regenerated docks and some handsome harbour views.

But also- shopping, museums, parks, gardens and the historic old town to enjoy, with streets of specialist shops, bars and cafes.

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

Kiel is an enjoyable, 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.

Visit Laboe

If you have time before you sail, head up the coast to Laboe.  Half an hour out of the city centre, seaside Laboe has a resort fee nd is a great place for a walk. It is also home to the U-955 submarine and an 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.

Pack Light

Things to note about the cabin: unless you book top end, they are clean and comfortable but small. With limited storage. It’s only a two night cruise and the atmosphere is informal, so pack sparingly. Also worth noting our cabin had a hair dryer and plenty of towels ,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.

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 Color Line 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- 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 top marks from us.

And the all singing, all dancing concert in the show lounge is not to be missed. It’s a high quality theatre show recreated at sea. Great fun!

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

Plan Your 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. Don’t be put off, you can do a lot, even on limited time.

Don’t wing it though, plan your time. Museums, sculpture parks, A Royal residence… Oslo has a lot going on. Pre booking tickets and planning routes and transfers will save you time and money. For some Oslo inspiration from a local, check out this list of 33 Top Things to do in Oslo.

Read about how we explored the Norwegian capital here.

Book A Cabin With a View

We are generally travel on a budget and inexpensive accommodation is often an easy place to cut costs. This trip is one where the booking the cheapest option will dilute your experience. Booking an inside cabin with no window to the outside of the ship will save you a few quid but cost you in that you’ll miss the stunning views of the Fjord.

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

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, book the cabin with the view. Part of the experience and worth the spend.

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 discounting and 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.

And if nothing else, fun to browse even if you aren’t buying.

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, and some local Harrahorn gin (small batch, beautiful bottle and absolutely lovely)

There are a variety of goods on offer onboard and onshore, 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…

All of that to Say…

This 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.

If you’ve experienced a mini cruise between to cities in Europe, I’d love to hear about it. Inspire me, tell me about it in the comments.

Helen x

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