Combine Copenhagen and Oslo on a mini cruise

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Pearl Seaways from DFDS docked at the harbour of Oslo /

With so many budget airlines around nowadays travelling by ferry is an often overlooked option – but it’s actually an excellent way to slow down and enjoy the journey itself rather than just the destinations.

In fact, a Scandinavian mini cruise is the perfect opportunity to combine two countries and two great cities. My partner and I recently got the chance to do so, as she had won a “mini cruise” by DFDS Seaways – from Copenhagen in Denmark to Oslo in Norway (and back). It was the prize for winning an on-screen game in the cinema, so there you go… it’s worth taking the chance sometimes, and I have previously won a trip to Stockholm in Lonely Planet Magazine.

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Leaving Copenhagen behind and “setting sail” for Oslo /

We set out from the harbour of Copenhagen on a surprisingly sunny afternoon in May, and we walked straight up to the outside decks to see in this part of the city from a new angle. And within a few minutes of sailing we crossed paths with the royal ship of Denmark, as it approached the harbour. A welcome photo opportunity.

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Passing the royal ship of Denmark on the way out of Copenhagen Harbour /

Another highlight should have been spotting Kronborg Castle of Helsingør after about an hour and a half, but sudden clouds were unfortunately obstructing our view and making it impossible to snap a good photo. Simply bad luck, as this should be a beautiful sight.

SEE ALSO: A ferry-tale in Southern Denmark

Before we started exploring the ship we had checked in at our private cabin, which was small but comfortabel and equipped with a tv and an en-suite bathroom. We had a standard “inside” cabin without sea views, but there’s a range of different cabins to choose from, from standard to the more luxurious, so it’s all up to you and your budget.

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A look at the hallways onboard Pearl Seaways from DFDS /

For us it was fine, as we preferred to enjoy the rest of the ship and not stay in the cabin much. A nice feature on the tv was a channel showing live from the “bridge camera” – to keep an eye out to the front of the ship, as well as a channel showing the ship’s current location on a map. On this route the ship sticks relatively close to the coast of Sweden all the way, until reaching the long and fjord of Oslo.

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The foyer and reception area on the ship /

Although naturally far from the entertainment level of the world’s biggest cruise ships, there is a nice selection of things to do onboard these ferries, that are equipped with several restaurants, bars (with live music), cafés, a casino and a disco, as well as outdoor spas, playstations and a kids play zone. And of course tax free shopping of everything from perfumes to Lego sets and alcohol.

SEE ALSO: Combine Wales and Ireland with Irish Ferries

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Enjoying a drink onboard accompanied by ocean views /

Our journey up north (and back home for that matter) was surprisingly calm and comfortable, as the sea was quiet and the ferry big enough to be really stable – but of course it wasn’t the windiest of days.

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Outdoor bar area with views to the sea /

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Sailing through Oslo Fjord /

The biggest highlight of the journey itself was without a doubt the last two hours before reaching Oslo in the morning – when cruising through the magnificent Oslo Fjord under a blue sky. It was lovely just to stand out on the back of the ship and watch all the rocky islands glide by slowly, all covered in pine trees and dotted with small wooden houses.

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Oslo Fjord /

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You’ll pass many inhabited little island on your way through the fjord /

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Outdoor pool facilities with views to the real ocean /

We had left Copenhagen at 4.30pm the day before and arrived in Oslo at around 9.45am in the morning, ready to explore an often underrated capital (which I will write a seperate blog post about). On the website (and in brochures) it is indicated that you will have 6-7 hours to explore Oslo, but you shouldn’t calculate with more than 6, as it will take a little time to get through customs before entering the city, so plan with 6 to be on the safe side.

SEE ALS: Travel Tales: My dodgeball debut on a cruise ship

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‘She Lies’ is the name of this permanent glass sculpture in the harbour of Oslo /

The good thing is that from your arrival point you’ll only have a few minutes walk to the contemporary Opera House of Oslo, which is one of the capital’s relatively new attractions – and if you have no problems walking, you don’t really need any public transport to explore the centre of the city. 

4.15pm the ship leaves Oslo and heads back south towards Denmark, where you will arrive the following morning around 9.45 – and even if you’re Danish (but not from Copenhagen), this is an opportunity to explore your own capital too.

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Pearl Seaways “parked” at the harbour of Oslo /

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Pearl Seaways flying the Norwegian flag up front /

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Passing a small container ship on the way out of Oslo Fjord /

DFDS have two different ships sailing this route, and we travelled with Pearl Seaways that has a capacity of up to 1870 passengers. I don’t think it was fully booked for this trip, but there were absolutely no problems with queues or crowds anywhere on the ship.

All in all it was a great experience that I would love to repeat one day. And of course the opposite trip is available if you travel from Oslo to visit Copenhagen.

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Sunset ahead /

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An empty outdoor terrasse at the back of the ship /

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Watching the sunset over the calm sea /

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There’s nothing like a sunset at sea /

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By Brian Schæfer Dreyer