Geiranger: Lack of infrastructure
(This is part 3 of “14 Nights Cruise – Iceland, Faroe Islands and Norway”)
On July 15th our ship arrived in Geiranger.
I had been looking forward to our day in Geiranger as one of the highlights of our Norwegian Fjord experience. When we looked outside we saw a sheet of low, grey fog, just above us, obscuring the views of the tops.
The small town or Geiranger, Norway has a year round population of under 300 people. In the peak of summer travel seasons, this little town can see as many as 10,000 cruise ship passengers come ashore in a single day!
We had a pre-arranged excursion with Geiranger Fjord Service. To be able to disembark on time we had to queue early in he morning at deck 4, because there’s no pier and we would have to disembark using tenders.
The process of distributing tender tickets was not well organized. Guest Relations told several guests (including us) that they would start to distribute tender tickets at 7.30 AM.
At 8.15 AM there was a huge line and there was no one from the crew to distribute tender passes. Some guests were very upset and went on level 3 to complain. After a few minutes a crew member appeared and started the process. We were able to go off the ship on tender boat #1.
We went to the public bus station in order to wait for our excursion bus. The departure was on time and the driver was very nice. The bus has a pre-recorded tape about the sights and they are complemented by the driver speaking through his microphone. There were several people from the ship going in the same excursion.
A private arrangement is an excellent option compared with the excursions offered by the cruise ship. It cost NOK 250.00 pp (approximately 42 USD pp) x USD 99.00 pp charged by the cruise ship.
Despite the bad weather, the scenery is very beautiful and we were able to have great views of the fjord while going to the top of Mount Dalsnibba. The bus driver allowed the guests to take pictures during few short stops (5 to ten minutes each). The day was cloudy (again!) and rainy. It was cold.
At the top of Mount Dalsnibba we had a view to the hairpin road where we had just been. It was very windy at the top with tiny ice balls hitting my face (like if it was a “sand storm”).
The access road to Mount Dalsnibba has many 180 degrees curves. It’s a hairpin road that is open only during summer.
There’s a huge lack of infrastructure in Geiranger. At the top of Mont Dalsnibba there’s a souvenir store and under it a public toilet (two stalls).
The access to the toilet looks like it is “civilized” but it is NOT! The public toilet is located under the souvenir store and there are only TWO toilets there. For DOZENS of buses arriving with more than 40 people in each + passengers arriving by car + people with disabilities + children. It’s a SHAME that a country that is considered one of the richest countries in the world and that makes a LOT of money from the tourism industry can’t provide DECENT CONVENIENCES for the tourists.
When you are at the top of Mount Dalsnibba in a bus excursion, you have TWO OPTIONS: If you chose to pee you will not be able to see the scenery or take pictures because the toilet line is outrageously huge! I opted for “not pee” in order to have time for my pictures. My husband, who opted for “peeing” stayed on the line during TWENTY MINUTES and when he was done the bus was already waiting for him. He did not have a chance to have a look to the scenery .
Anyway, I regret my choice of “not pee” and holt tight till the end of the excursion. Keep reading and you will know why.
When we went back to town it was raining harder. After disembarking from the bus I tried to go to the public toilet but I gave up when I saw how many people were trying to do the same thing! This is a shame! This is an absurd! How come Norway, an “upscale country” , with high HDI, high income, etc has only FIVE PUBLIC TOILETS in a town that gets ships carrying more than THREE THOUSAND guests EACH??? During this particular day there were two cruise ships there: Ours (Celebrity Eclipse) and another ship from MSC. These two ships together carry more than FIVE THOUSAND tourists. If you sum up crew members that are on a vacant day, it can be 7.000 people on shore. You also must sum up tourists that are visiting Geiranger by car or by bus.
Give me a break! If the city wants tourist’s money, they should spend in infrastructure and comfort for the guests. If they want cruise ships parking at the fjord they have to offer comfort to them!
When we noticed it would be impossible to wait on the huge line, just to use the toilet, we tried to go to one of the coffee shops.
They did NOT have toilets! The toilet was “outside” , and it would be the same one that had the endless line!
I gave up and returned to the ship.
There are NO hotspots in Geiranger. NO public WI-FI. No free Internet, anywhere there.
This is 21st Century in a country with one of the highest income rates in this planet. The only wi-fi was at a coffee shop where you had to pay 25 NOK for a cup of liquid to be able to check your email. If you did not “buy” something and get the password printed on your receipt… no internet! Voilá! This is a shame. Would it be “too bad” for this town or for Norway tourism to provide free internet? The guests would be able to check email and, maybe, upload pictures on Instagram. They would be commenting about the place. They could be attracting friends and family to go there. They could be sending tweets about Geiranger. In my opinion, they offer a bad custom experience that is not good for the brand (Tourism Norway).
Sorry Geiranger, you will not see me again!
From Geiranger we sailed to Flam
If you want to read about this trip since the beginning, please click here