When we sailed to Norway on the Disney Magic our first port of call was Ålesund. I researched Disney’s Port Adventures and originally thought about booking the Frozen event held at Sunnmøre Village. We weren’t sure if this activity would be right for Ethan so we couldn’t justify the cost. I did a search on google and discovered that we wouldn’t be far from Atlanterhavsparken Ålesund, The Norwegian Aquarium. Both Ethan and Little E are fans of aquariums so we thought it would be perfect. Disney Crusie Line does offer a Port Adventure to the aquarium. However, I discovered that we could take a City Sightseeing Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus Tour from the port which would take us to the aquarium. This gave us the chance to be on our own agenda for the day. Hopefully making this day more relaxed for Ethan and us all.
The Norwegian Aquarium
The Norwegian Aquarium is built into the coastal landscape at Tueneset, which is the coastline to the west of Ålesund. Atlanterhavsparken Ålesund displays sea life found on the Norwegian coast and in the Atlantic Ocean.
What makes this aquarium different from others we have visited is the spectacular outdoor area. Which also has amazing views of the Atlantic Ocean.
In this outside space, you will find the otters, penguin park and Sealbay. Sealbay is Europe’s biggest seal pool that also includes an underwater observatory. The penguins that live at the aquarium are Humboldt penguins. Norway is not the penguin’s natural area of the world, but the Humboldt penguin is one of the most endangered of today’s 17 penguin species on earth. The aquarium house these penguins as part of the European breeding programme for endangered species. This breeding project is successful and exported 5 penguins to France in 2014.
The water used to fill the different aquariums on display is pumped in straight from the sea. Being natural seawater the sight and the colour of the water are affected by the weather and the time of year.
The Norwegian Aquarium is also home to one of the largest seawater tanks in Europe, Atlanterhavstanken. This tank is 36 metres long and 17 metres wide. It contains 4 million litres of unfiltered seawater. The acrylic glass used to make the tank is 26.5 cm thick and it weighs 30 tons.
Daily Activities At The Norwegian Aquarium
There are daily activities that take place at the aquarium. Extra times are added in the summer months but the main activities are listed below.
- 13:00 – Divers feeding show
- 13:30 – 14:30 – Open activity room with touch-pool and crab fishing
- 14:00 – Feeding at the outdoor Otter park
- 14:30 – Feeding at the outdoor penguin park
- 15:00 – Feeding of the Harbour Seals in the Sealbay
Our Visit To Atlanterhavsparken Ålesund
The Disney Magic didn’t make port at Ålesund until 11 am. We weren’t in a huge rush to get off the ship so we made sure we had full tummies before we got off and boarded the City Sightseeing Bus Tour. I underestimated how long the bus tour would take to get us to The Norwegian Aquarium. This meant by the time we arrived we have missed the divers feeding show in the main tank of the aquarium. This would have been something I would have liked to have seen, but it really didn’t matter as we still had an amazing visit.
The Inside Of The Aquarium
The children loved the inside of the aquarium. The tanks were full of different sea life and some of the biggest crabs we have ever seen.
Next to every tank was an iPad showing you all the aminals you could see inside. It was easy to change the display language from Norwegian to English. With your chosen spices selected the information about them was displayed on the iPad. The children loved the iPads and I thought they were an amazing interactive way to learn more about the animals inside the tanks.
The Atlanterhavstanken was an amazing tank. Glass from floor to ceiling. The fish in the tank were just as interested in us as we were of them. It’s a shame that we missed the divers feeding show. I bet that would be amazing to watch.
The Outside Of The Aquarium
The most amazing sight greeted us when we walked out into the sunlight of the outside area of the aquarium. No words will be able to describe the view so I will let the photos I took do all the talking.
As soon as we stepped into the outside area of the aquarium the children spotted the water play area. We were blessed with a beautiful sunny day so all the children were playing in the water.
The water play area is on a gentle slope and shaped like a crab. It has channels for water to flow through.
There were wooden partitions that the children can move to change the flow and direction of the water.
This area held the children’s attention for ages. They were so happy playing with the water that we were able to relax and enjoy our beautiful surroundings.
The Octopus Slide
As well as the water area for the children there is also a giant octopus attached to the side of the aquarium. This octopus also doubles up as a slide. I did manage to get Ethan to go on the slide but the children were so intrigued with the water area we couldn’t get them away from it.
Whilst we were visiting the aquarium they fed the otters. I went over to watch whilst the children happily played with the water. The talk was in English, I didn’t really think about the possibility that this could have been in Norwegian. I’m not sure if they will always do these talks in English or if it was because an English speaking ship was in port.
When it was time for the penguin feed the Disney Crusie Line coaches arrived. The aquarium went from having just a handful of visitors to two coach loads full of people. I watched the penguin feed for a short time but we decided at this point it would be good to leave. Our visit had been so relaxing we didn’t want Ethan to get overwhelmed with the sudden change of people present.
We missed the seal feed but both me and Darren went to look at them in their tank. We both tried to look for them in the underwater observatory but I think the seals were enjoying basking in the sunshine at the top of the tank.
Our Thoughts On The Norwegian Aquarium
We absolutely loved visiting the Norwegian Aquarium. The scenery is amazing, you will never see a view like that in a UK aquarium. The children had so much fun with the water area which was helped by the amazing sunny weather we had during our visit. I have no idea if we will ever get the chance to visit Norway or even Ålesund again but if we do we would love to visit the Norwegian Aquarium again.
You can watch our video of our time at Atlanterhavsparken Ålesund, The Norwegian Aquarium below.