Best to do Norway your way

My husband and I are taking an 11-day Hurtigruten Norwegian Coastal Cruise in August. The vessel departs Bergen, stopping at coastal towns, destination Kirkenes on the Russian border, from where the ship then returns to Bergen. While servicing more than 30 ports, there would appear to be at least 10 sizeable towns that are offered as shore excursions. Could you advise which excursions are not to be missed, as price is a major factor?

- K. McCormick, Hervey Bay, Queensland

By all accounts, this is a fabulous trip and, though the vessel makes many stops, in several cases you can hop off and take in the highlights on your own without joining a tour.

First, arm yourself with a good travel guide - my pick would be the Eyewitness Travel Guide - and use it to construct your own tour where time and interest allow. The Visit Norway website (visitnorway.com) also has plenty of information to help you create your wish list. In Ålesund, for example, where you will spend almost a full day according to the ship's schedule, you have plenty of time to admire the city's art nouveau architecture, take a peek at the reflections in the Brosundet Canal and have a seafood lunch in Norway's most important fishing port.

Trondheim is a real beauty but, as the ship is there for just four hours, consider a tour. My pick would be the City Walk, at £20 ($32) a person or the Trondheim with Nidaros Cathedral tour, at £35 each.

In several places you have the opportunity for adventures that you might not find anywhere else, such as the Sea Eagle Safari, the Midnight Concert in the Arctic Cathedral and either the Husky Adventure or the Russian Border visit in Kirkenes. Whether you do these depends on your interests.

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