Coming to Oslo thinking a fjord cruise is expensive? Not at all. With Ruter’s summer offerings you may take a more than two hours cruise for just 150 kroner (USD 19).
Saturdays and Sundays during the Summer months Ruter (a common management company for public transport in Oslo and Akershus which is owned by Oslo municipality (60 %) and Akershus County Council (40 %)) offers three daily sailings, 10.05 pm, 01.05 am and 4.35 am from the Town Hall Pier in Oslo.
The cruise has four stops, and if you want to hop off and on, it’s possible, as long as you watch your time table.
Crew member Olav Nytrøen, is on his fifth cruise on Baronessen, the hydrofoil taking tourists to the islands and mainland in the inner Oslo fjord. He says that these cruises are extremely popular, maybe a little crowded on sunny days. “But people do enjoy themselves,” he emphasizes.
It’s wise to bring something to eat and drink, since there’s only a vending machine on board.
Stop 1. Fornebu
Oslo Airport, Fornebu (FBU) served as the main airport for Oslo and the country since before World War II and until the evening of October 7, 1998,
As of 2001, the Fornebu area is being developed as a center for information technology and telecom industry, as well as there being some housing project developments nearby. The new headquarters of Norway’s telecom giant Telenor are located in the area.
Stop 2. Vollen, Asker
Vollen is a part of the Asker municipality in Akershus county. For statistical purposes, it is usually treated as part of the Oslo urban area. It is mainly a residential area, though the area has a café, a restaurant, several art galleries, a primary school and secondary school.
Stop 3. Slemmestad
Historically Slemmestad was located on the old highway running between from Oslo and Drammen. Until the establishment of cement factory in 1888, this was a pure farming village. The largest farms were the Lillelien, together with øvre and nedre Slemmestad. Slemmestad was built around the Aktieselskabet Christiania Portland Cementfabrik cement plant. Aktieselskabet Christiania Portland Cementfabrik, later Slemmestad sementfabrikk, was in operation from 1893 to 1989. The company was for many years the principal manufacturer of cement within Norway. The factory was rebuilt several times with new and more modern cement kilns. Cement production peaked in 1973 when it produced 1,082,677 tons.
Slemmestad Cement Museum (Slemmestad Cementmuseum) is located in the cement factory’s former bag factory in Slemmestad. The museum was opened in 1991. It features photographs, artifacts, records and other documentation that shows 100 years of development of cement production and the great importance of the factory was Slemmestad and the people who lived there.
Stop 5. Oscarsborg
Oscarsborg Fortress is a coastal fortress, close to the small town of Drøbak. The best known part is situated on two small islets. The main artillery batteries are on the island Håøya and smaller batteries on the mainland to the west and east in the fjord and was military territory until 2003 when it was made a publicly available resort island.
A notable event in Oscarsborg’s history is the World War II sinking of the German cruiser Blücher in the Drøbak narrows (only 1 mile (1.5 km) wide), on the early morning of 9 April 1940. The cruiser was transporting German soldiers and bureaucrats for the planned swift occupation of Oslo, but the sinking by the Oscarsborg fortress delayed this, and thus allowed for the evacuation of the Norwegian Royal Family, parliament, and cabinet, and for the nation’s gold reserves to be denied the occupiers.
Stop 6. Drøbak
In summertime, cruise ships visit Oslo almost every day. Often, as many as four or five cruise ships visit each day, in addition to all the regular traffic, it has made Drøbak a popular sea-side tourist spot. However, the numerous restaurants, art galleries and mild summers are probably more important factors for visiting tourists.
Drøbak is also known for its many art galleries. The town has a Christmas shop called Julehuset (the Christmas house), and letters to Santa Claus often end up in Drøbak from Europe similarly to how they end up in Santa Claus, Indiana in the United States.
A small aquarium with local species of fish and shellfish is open to the public.
The best part of the cruise, however, is enjoying the fresh breeze and the scenic coastal landscape from the top deck.
“We really do enjoy the trip,” says Twinkle Dawes, who brings a family member, Shirin Sen, from India. They had bought a return ticket and stayed on board from Oslo and back.
The three friends Iver Strand, André Kongsvoll and Karl Petter Ulriksen, enjoy their summer vacation in a cabin at Drøbak and are preparing for a birthday celebration in Oslo.
“It is very convenient and the best way to go to Oslo from here,” they agree.
Oslo Fjord Cruises, text and photographs Tor Kjolberg