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Life in Sweden’s Slow Lane: Aboard a classic canal cruise

Heidi Sarna gives us a detailed day-to-day outlook of her trip with her family on a four-day classic, ‘cosy’ North European canal cruise.  Their trip last July aboard the historic 48-passenger M/S Juno was their first canal cruise and it won’t be their last. Heidi says it was a great way to chill out and step off the grid for a few days.


We loved moving at a snail’s pace through the beautiful Swedish countryside aboard the intimate little boat. Squat and oblong with a short stack, stubby nose, and a necklace of wooden planks strung around the hull for protection when passing through narrow locks, Juno’s looks haven’t changed all that much from 1874 when she was built to carry cargo such as timber and grain on Sweden’s Göta Canal, the backbone of a 600km waterway that links rivers, lakes and man-made canals across the heartland of Sweden.

The Göta Canal opened up the country to trade and commerce in the early years of industrialisation and enabled Sweden to avoid paying taxes to Denmark for using its waterways. Our four-day cruise from Gothenberg on the west coast to Stockholm on the east coast took us through 66 step-like locks – 58 on the Göta Canal, six on the Trollhätte Canal, and a pair of locks near Stockholm. On either end of the cruise, we spent several enjoyable days in each of the historic and very walk-able cities.

where to go for a cruise


My husband and I and our twin 12-year old sons occupied a pair of snug, train compartment-sized cabins at the topmost of three passenger decks. Each had bunk beds, a basin with running water above a small cupboard, and a slim closet thick enough for a few articles of hanging clothes. Our luggage went under the lower bunk (large suitcases get stored on a lower deck). None of Juno’s 29 cabins have TVs or bathrooms, with the 48 passengers sharing seven toilets and four showers. Frankly, I had dreaded this part, but it wound up being fine.

Lunches and dinners were served in a dining room (that also resembled a rail car) on elegantly set tables from a fixed menu; dietary requests are accommodated with advance notice. Highlights included a delicious seafood stew and an excellent raspberry pie that my family still talks about. The only dish we were lukewarm on was the reindeer! Breakfasts were buffet-style, and the daily filka was a teatime snack such as freshly baked cinnamon buns. We passed the days shuffling between the large, open-air seating area at the stern of the top deck, the open bridge where you can chat with the captain or take a turn at the wheel, and the triangle of open deck at the bow, one deck down.

To read more about Heidi’s adventures in Sweden, you can order a copy of the March 2016 Expat Living magazine from our shop. Don’t forget to Subscribe so you never miss an issue!

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