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Cruising in the heart of Sweden on a historic Göta Canal boat

by Mike

22 March 2017 • Probably it was the oldest cruise ship I have ever been on. The Swedish JUNO was built in 1874, and she is still operating on the route she was built for: the Göta Canal.

The Göta Canal was one of the largest civil engineering projects ever undertaken in Sweden. The excavation works started in 1810 and it took 25 years to finish the Canal. The 190km long waterway stretches from Mem on the east coast to Sjötorp on Lake Vänern.

Nowadays only small recreational boats fit into the narrow parts of canal, together with the several historic vessels as the JUNO, the DIANA and WILHELM THAM. They offer cruises between Göteborg and Stockholm and are the most special way to discover Sweden from within.

Some pictures showing the JUNO:

Cabins are small. Do follow the suitcase instructions (or in other words: less suitcase is more space).The restaurantDelicious Swedish food. Set courses.Plenty of space outsideThe hull shows its age.There is a little café and reading room in front of the ship.The beauty of sunsets on the Swedish lakes.

I sailed on a four-day cruise from Stockholm to Göteborg, during spring.

What are the strong points?

- Leaving Stockholm directly from Skeppsbron in Gamla Stan, Stockholm's ultimate historic city centre.

- Small ship experience: you can't be closer to the landscape; you sail IN the landscape and you can touch it, smell it (the cows, the flowers), hear it (the cows again, trains, and silence), hike it, bike it etc..

- Small group of international passengers: soon you know all your fellow guests.

- You can make it as relaxing or as active as you want. Especially following the ship by bike is a very pleasant experience.

- Wonderful crew.

- This is Sweden at its best, with the two major cities and a full immersion in the countryside.

If you are addicted to luxury you might not like the very small beds, and the common showers and toilets. Well, this is a genuine piece of history you're sailing on. For me, the voyage and the fact of being on a boat that has survived several generations is for me the real luxury.

The small town of Trosa, which dates from all the way back to the 14th century.Cutting through the Swedish landscape. Even the rail has to be interrupted.After sailing on Lake Roxen, JUNO enters the 15-lock system in Berg.The Göta Canal can be very narrow.Can it get more Swedish than that?Midsummer sunset on Lake Vanern, Sweden's largest lake.Approaching GöteborgMy historic journey ends in Göteborg.

All necessary information can be found here.

My personnal recommendation: combine the cruise with some days in Stockholm and at least one day and night in Göteborg.

Text and photos: Mike