On the ferry, get set, go ...
With a coastline of over 80,000 kilometers and about 150,000 offshore islands in the kingdom at the Arctic Circle is simply nothing without ferries ... For us it is always a highlight to ferry in Norway with a ferry. It has something of additional deceleration, because especially on a road trip is a crossing to the other side of the fjord or an island often a welcome break. If you are traveling in Fjord Norway or generally on the coast, a road often ends at a ferry port. During a coffee we often wait for the next opportunity to translate ...
However, many of the ferry routes have been replaced in recent years by tunnels or bridges to increase the average travel speed in the country. The topic of the environment plays an increasingly important role.
In the future, people want to transport vehicles and people as environmentally friendly as possible. As early as 2015, the first all-electric ferry was used on the Sognefjord. In January 2019, five further fully electronic ferries were ordered by the shipping company "Fjord 1".
Anyone who has not been on the road in Norway before has quite certain and justified some fundamental questions about the ferry crossings in the country. From our own experience, as well as from the inquiries that reach us, we summarized below the Top 5 FAQ on this topic:
- Can or must I reserve a ferry crossing in the country?
Not at all ferry crossings is a reservation possible and necessary. On the so-called short distances one just joins the queues at the quay. In the high season you may have to adjust to longer waiting times. It can happen that you can not ride directly on the next ferry and have to wait for the next opportunity. In the main holiday period, the timetable is therefore usually adjusted. Then, additional ferries to the fjords commute to cope with traffic. It makes sense to use the ferry either very early in popular crossings or only in the evening. To sweeten the waiting time, there is a snack with delicious soft ice cream einen or a grocery store at many Fähranlegern. Especially for longer ferry crossings (such as the passage from Bodø to Moskenes in Lofoten) should be considered during the season but a prior reservation. Since one usually has limited time on vacation, a longer waiting period can be very annoying. Please note that only 40% of the available capacity can be pre-booked. The remaining 60% remain freely available to those who wait at the quay without a reservation. So you should be fast, especially in the high season. Alternatively, one could in this case, however, also avoid the land ...
- Are there ferry connections even in low season?
In the off-season, the timetables change mostly. Since it is much quieter in the country at this time, the ferry times are adjusted accordingly. But there are also ferries that for safety reasons only in summer drive, such as the following ferries: Andenes (Vesterålen) - Gryllefjord (Senja) or Bodø (mainland) - Moskenes (Lofoten)
In any case, you should inform yourself about the timetable in advance in the off-season, if you plan longer or more passages. Otherwise it may well be that you wait in vain for a ferry, or get stuck for several hours. As of today, unfortunately, there is no standard overview for all ferries in the country. The Norwegians are still working on that. So you just enter the name of the two ferry ports and the word "ferge". Mostly you will find then a timetable and the tariffs as a PDF on the Internet.
- Can I translate by ferry at night?
Generally this is possible. But at night, the travel times are also often limited and smaller ferries may not drive at all. To avoid long waiting times, it is advisable to take a look at the driving times in advance.
- What about security?
On our countless crossings we had only once a little queasy feeling when the untrustworthy ferry on the high seas also went on strike. With about 3 hours delay we still reached our destination safely. All subsequent trips for this day have been canceled .... You should also be prepared for this eventuality. There are different approaches taken by ferry companies to draw attention to the safety instructions. Some shipping companies issue safety cards that explain exactly what to do in an emergency. When leaving the ferry, these cards are collected again. Other companies in turn rely on short video clips, which are usually broadcast in the bistro of the ferry. The safety instructions will also be indicated by large posters that are attached to various locations on board. Life jackets and lifebuoys are available on every ferry. On some longer ferry routes you have to leave the vehicle for safety reasons. All RV owners must also close the gas tap in their vehicle. So that is not forgotten, you will find a sign in the ferry port.
- Which waves can be expected?
If you are used to crossing the North or Baltic Sea from Kiel or Denmark, you will hardly have any problems on a domestic ferry. We were always lucky on our innumerable ferry rides in the country. Even when the sea was rough, we hardly felt any swell on the larger ferries. But we have already been told of dramatic crossings with very high waves, especially to Lofoten. We always have trays for such cases and hope that it will not be so bad after all 🙂
Before our first crossing inland we were honestly very excited. We had no idea how big a ferry is and how to get there at all. But the pragmatic Norwegians make it really easy. Already when you drive to the ferry, you can see the lanes, which are marked by numbers. Are you the first on the quay, you place yourself in the track "1". Only when one track is completely filled, another is opened.
Then the wait begins .... If you do not know when the next ferry leaves, you can check out the posted timetable (Norwegian "Rutetider"). It may well be that a staff member of the ferry company collects the fare directly at the ferry terminal. However, it is also common to pay for a cashier right after you get on the ferry. You simply wait in the car until an employee comes to the cashier. Only very few ferries are paid directly in the office or in the bistro.
You can pay comfortably with cash, credit card or Ferjekort (more on this variant later). In the ferry price from the car is always the driver included, only for the accompanying persons must be paid extra. The ticket order for us two Nordland bloggers is thus: "En bil og en voksen, takk" (A car and an adult, please). Since our van is less than 6 meters long, we pay the same price as for a car. To anticipate the question: Formally, the tariff / price results from the actual length of the car, so in doubt with a bike rack. However, we have seen it very often that the cashier winks at us and just cashed the "6 meters" without attachments ...
When approaching the ferry, there are instructors who show you exactly in which lane you should park your car. With very few exceptions you usually drive forward on the ferry and without shunting, you leave this at the destination in the same way (you drive through the ferry, so to speak). There are only a few exceptions to this rule, such as the ferry from Solvorn over the Sognefjord.
Shortly before the end of the crossing, it is pointed out via the loudspeakers of the ferry that the port of destination will soon be reached and one should go to his vehicle. Then it is usually pretty fast. Once the ship has docked, the front hatch opens and a ferry operator manages the exit. There are often parking spaces in the harbor, which we like to use to let faster vehicles pass. This guarantees a relaxed and "chilled" onward journey for us.
As already mentioned, there are many short crossings of about 10 minutes. However, some passages can last up to 4 hours. In addition to the open ferries (where you can stay in the vehicle) for the short-haul, there are also larger ships that are closed and where you partially parked below deck. On these ferries you usually have to leave your car.
Almost all ferries have a toilet on board. The larger ferries are additionally equipped with a cafeteria and a salon. Here you can enjoy coffee and tea with waffles, grilled sausages, Lefser and many more. In the salon there are comfortable armchairs and tables to make the crossing as comfortable as possible. There you can also charge your mobile phone or notebook on your road trip. The Norwegian women often use this time-out to knit or crochet. On the other hand, we mostly find ourselves on deck with our camera, because the beautiful landscapes have to be recorded 🙂
The costs for a crossing are very different. In Norway, the regional ferry companies set the tariffs independently, which can also vary regionally. Regardless of the price increases on the one hand by the length of the crossing and on the other hand plays the size of the vehicle and the number of passengers traveling a significant role. Therefore, our following overview can only be a rough guide:
Because of its length less than 6 meters (without bike carrier), our van is usually charged like a car. Otherwise, the price usually increases with every meter of vehicle length. Thus, the price difference between a car and a mobile home with a length of more than 7 meters is often over 10 euros. When buying a ticket or when paying, you must therefore specify the length of your motorhome.
Children under 4 years drive normally for free.
What is the Ferjekort? How does the system work? What do I have to pay for and what can I save? Do I have to pay attention to something?
Since the ferry crossings on a road trip along the coast, the holiday fund can significantly reduce, you should think about the savings with the Ferjekort. The system of the Norwegian "Ferjekort" has been completely restructured and is valid since 01.01.2019. The provider, the Norwegian company AutoPass, we have already mentioned in this article about the toll in Norway .
- The Ferjekort of AutoPass is a prepaid card with which you get a high discount on most domestic ferries. A list of all routes that participate in this system, you can find in this overview on the Norwegian side of the provider AutoPass (which incidentally also bills the toll in Norway automatically): AutoPASS-ferjekort
- On the internet you can easily order your card on the site autopassferje.no . The website is available in Norwegian and in English. First, select whether the card should be used privately or commercially. Then you confirm the terms of contract. Then you give his mobile number and then receives a PIN sent to the specified phone. Then you enter his personal and the vehicle data, completes the process and is ready. After a short time you will receive your invoice by e-mail. Due to the high demand and the huge interest in the topic, we have published here a detailed guide with all monitor images and the individual steps to help you with the order perfectly.
- The Ferjekort costs 50 NOK (just over 5 euros / stand 01.19) administrative expenses, which will not be refunded later. The advance payments, which are prepaid to his customer account as a pre-paid card, were adjusted on 01.01.2019.
There are three vehicle categories, which are determined by the length of the vehicle:
- 0 to 8.00 meters (NOK 3500 prepayment)
- 8.01 to 17.50 meters (NOK 13,900 prepayment)
- over 17.51 meters (NOK 26,300 prepayment)
- The owner of the Ferjekort receives, if he uses the card privately, a discount on his ferry crossing (driver included) of 50 percent !! For a commercial user, there are still 40 percent. For all accompanying persons one receives 17 per cent discount. So you can save a few hundred euros on a longer round trip with many ferry crossings and a larger motorhome.
- If you only have 25% of the prepaid deposit on the card, you will automatically receive an e-mail with the reminder for a new prepayment. If you ignore this and your original balance is eventually used up, you pay the full price from the next crossing.
In the near future, as with the Norwegian toll, there will be an automatic registration of the ferry fees. This is being worked on intensively and that will greatly simplify this system. Some (few) ferry routes on the west coast can already be paid automatically with the AutoPass chip at the entrance to the ferry and receive corresponding discounts.
If you want to get a quick overview of the expected ferry routes on your route as well as a look at most timetables, then we recommend you this new online tool from Statens Vegvesen, which we present here in more detail.
We hope that with this article we have been able to answer some of your questions about ferry crossings in Norway. Do you have comments, questions or have we forgotten important information? Then we look forward to your comment.
Otherwise we only have to say: "Ahoy" and always a safe crossing 🙂