Cruising Along Sweden’s West Coast

I was delighted when the West Sweden Tourist Board invited me on a press trip to cruise along the west coast of Sweden.

A couple of months earlier, I’d watched Timothy West and Prunella Scales cruise along the Gota Canal from Gothenburg to Stockholm on the ‘Great Canal Journeys’ TV show. Watching that show made me think that I’d love to take a cruise in Sweden.

The West Coast Cruise journeys through the Bohuslan archipelago between Gothenburg and Grebbestad.

Itinerary for the West Coast Cruise in Sweden

My cruise started at Grebbstad. I had stayed at the Scandic Europa, Gothenburg,  the night before taking the coach from central Gothenburg at 9am the next day, for the two hour drive north to Grebbstad.

On arrival in Grebbestad, we were greeted on board by the captain Pierre. Our boat, Wilhelm Tham, was built in 1912. In her recent past she had been one of the vessels doing the Gota Canal cruise. This west coast cruise was a new adventure for her.

wilhelm tham docked in grebbestad for start of cruise along sweden's west coast

There was an organised excursion at every port of call. You could choose to  go along, do your own thing on shore, or stay on the boat.

Fjallbacka

Our first stop was in Fjallbacka.

arrival in fjallbacka on sweden's west coast

The actress Ingrid Bergman had a holiday home here.

fjallbacka on sweden's west coast

Swedish crime writer Camilla Lackberg, was born here, and some of the novels were set around Fjallbacka.

fjallbacka on the west coast of sweden

Smogen

The next stop was Smogen. Close to where the Wilhelm Tham berthed, there was a large sailing ship, Lady Ellen.

lady ellen in smogen on sweden's west coast

I walked along the long wooden pier.

restaurant in smogen on sweden's west coast

There was a wide selection of restaurants and shops.

shop in smogen on sweden's west coast

Grundsund

It was almost dark by the time we arrived in Grundsund, where we docked for the night.

sunset in grundsund on sweden's west coast

As we were due to depart from Grundsund at 7am the next day, I decided to get up early so that I’d have some time for a wander around.

willhelm tham in grundsund on sweden's west coast

It was perfect morning, still and sunny.

grundsund on sweden's west coast

grundsund reflections

Gullholmen

The first stop of the second day was on Gullholmen.

gullholmen quayside on sweden's west coast

We visited the Skepparthuset Museum. It’s a sea captain’s home which has remained pretty much unchanged since the late 19th century.

Skepparhuset Museum in Gullholmen on Sweden's west coast

crockery in Skepparhuset Museum in Gullholmen on Sweden's west coast

I loved the painted ceiling.

painted ceiling in Skepparhuset Museum in Gullholmen on Sweden's west coast

Outside the museum we were offered fresh oysters and mussels.

fresh oysters in gullhomen on swedebn's west coast

There were wonderful views up the slope from the church.

gullhplmen view from rocks

Skarhamn

I thought that visiting the Nordic Watercolour Museum on the island of Skarham would be one of the highlights of my trip. However, the exhibition that was on during my visit was ‘Disney’s Art of Storytelling’. I had been rather hoping for a selection of works, including landscapes by Nordic artists.

nordic watercolour museum skarhamn on sweden's west coast - Copy

There were some brave souls swimming and jumping into the water from the wooden platform.

swimming in skarhamn

Marstrand

We arrived in Marstrand, our overnight berthing spot, at 6pm, which allowed time for a wander around before dinner.

marstrand's waterfront on Sweden's west coast

It’s a very pretty town with lots of grand buildings.

bar in marstrand on Sweden's west coast

cafe in marstarnd on sweden's west coast

Marstand sweden's west coast

During dinner there was a cruise out to see a light house.

lighthouse near marstrand on sweden's west coast

It was a 6.20am departure from Marstrand the next morning.

Leaving Marstrand on Wilhelm Tham on Sweden's west coast

Vinga

On the third day, our first stop was on the island of Vinga.

willhelm tham on vinga on sweden's west coast

It’s the most westerly island of the Gothenburg Archipelago.

approaching vinga on sweden's west coast

There were some sheltered spots for swimming on the island.

inlet in vinga on sweden's west coast

The Swedish composer and singer Evert Taube lived on the island, as his father was the lighthouse keeper.

lighthouses on vinga on sweden's west coast

Alvsborg

The final port of call on the cruise along Sweden’s west coast was on the fortress island of Alvsborg. The dramatised tour of the fortress was good fun.

historic tour at alvsborg fortress on sweden's west coast

I was accosted by one of the performers outside the prison.

historical guided tour in alvsborg on sweden's west coast

On the prison wall is an illustration of the prisoner’s sleeping accommodation.

Illustration of prison in Alvsborg Fortress on Sweden's west coast

Accommodation on the Wilhelm Tham

My cabin was on the bridge deck. I knew that it would be compact. There was a sink in the cabin, with a toilet and a shower nearby. I found the bed to be more comfortable than I’d expected. There was some noise from the boat’s generator during the night.

Most passengers spent very little time in their cabins. The weather was very good for most of my cruise, so it was great to sit in the covered area to the rear of bridge deck to make the most of the views. There is also seating on both sides of the boat, on the bridge and shelter deck.

If you prefer to be inside, or the weather isn’t so good. there’s a lounge to the front of the shelter deck.

Catering on Wilhelm Tham

Meals were served in the restaurant on the shelter deck.

The meals during the cruise along Sweden’s west coast were superb; very tasty and with local ingredients. Full board was included, which consisted of a breakfast buffet, a set menu two course lunch and set menu three course dinner.

I thought that there was bound to be picked herring on the menu some day. I’d tried it before, and didn’t like it. However, I really liked the herring served on the Wilhelm Tham.

herring, salmon and cheese lunch on wilhelm tham on cruise along sweden's west coast

Below are photos of some of the other delicious fare.

crayfish on wilhlem tham

Crayfish main course

elk starter on wilhelm tham

Minced elk starter

cod main course on wilhelm tham

Cod main course

venison main course on wilhelm tham

Venison main course

There was an honesty bar on the bridge deck.  Tea and coffee were complimentary. You could drink the tap water on board.

The Cruising Experience

Cruising along the west coast of Sweden is a very special experience. It felt magical to journey through such beautiful scenery on an old fashioned boat.

There’s a maximum capacity of fifty passengers on board in the twenty five cabins, so there’s an intimate atmosphere, with the opportunity to chat to fellow passengers.

The staff are all exceptionally friendly and helpful; they are focused on giving passengers the best possible experience.