North Cape Cruise
Off we went on our second Cruise this year, this time to the Norwegian Coast up to North Cape about 200 miles plus above the Arctic circle. Were getting used to having our luggage collected and returned at £50 a case. No humping heavy luggage across London. Just a nice relaxed 5 hour journey by train to Southampton.
After a night in Southampton's Novo Hotel and as meal in the Hotel next door. The following morning we boarded our ship, taking the free bus from the station then a short walk to the Ocean Terminal, a first for us to travel on the 'Oriana'.
After one vibrating sea day we arrive in Bergen. Our who itinerary had to be changed as Stavanger had been taken off our ports of call due to too many ships docking there. Still we both like Bergen but this time we had to be bussed in again due to all the docks being taken up. Our dock was a Container Dock and very busy. But it was fine. Still it turned out to be a boost for my photographic prowess as it dropped us off near a park and the railway station that was just a short walk away. It also placed us close to the old Town that was quite interesting. A Hop on Hop off bus ride at about £24 for us both wasn't too bad and the weather was nice. Not too hot.
The following day we entered Olden Fjord under very low mysterious clouds. This time we took the Kjennadale Glacier & Lovatnet Lake tour that lasted just over 4 hours. An interesting trip, particularly the Glacier that seems to grown and shrink over the years so we were told. Out in the Mountains my wife and others found the primitive little hut tucked away in the bushes that served as the toilet. I roared when she showed me a photo she took of it. The very low cloud resulted in some interesting photographs both sailing in and on the tour even with poor light.
Next stop Geiranger Fjord, our personal favourite. Surprisingly not many up early on the stern as we slowly sailed in. We were booked on an 8½ hour trip called 'Fjords & Mountains. It was truly amazing. The high point was a disappointment due to very low cloud and it snowed. But the scenery on the down hill journey was amazing. It was like being at the end of the World. The barrenness and mountains were just beautiful. Also interesting was the short stop at a ski resort that was in full swing when we arrived. Frozen lakes and beautiful waterfalls and lots of snow covered mountains. Later in the afternoon we arrived at the small village of Hellesyit, an off shoot on Geiranger Fjord where after an hour or so walk around we caught the Local ferry back to Geiranger where we rejoined the ship. An amazing day.
Next day found us in Trondheim. Having witnessed the sun almost set then start to rise again. Called the Midnight Sun it takes place between May and August each year. Never been here before. It was a Sunday and not too many people about when we left the shuttle bus at the Cathedral. We had a good walk around turning left where we eventually discover where the trams started from. Here we took an interesting trip to the end of the line and on our return we got off at the Tram Museum where we waited a good hour for it to open. Photographing passing trams or chatting to the crew of the now empty P & O charter tram was interesting.
The Museum eventually opened which was free but interesting. Returning back to Trondheim we visited the maritime museum. Again Interesting but expensive for what there was in there plus descriptions were all in Norwegian. They were talking about putting some English translations up soon.
Photographed an interesting new bridge then a walk around the harbour. A visit to the Railway station where we purchased a single Ticket to Hell. We didn't go, it was just an interest item. More Photographs then the shopping area and back to the shuttle bus. Weather warm but overcast.
Monday was spent at sea where we crossed the Arctic circle by about 200 miles (I think) to North Cape, the northern most point in Norway. From the sea it looked so bleak and ragged as we sailed past North Cape Point in the early hours and into Honningsvag where we boarded a coach for a 45 min trip across what we though would be inaccessible territory. In fact the road was good and very busy.
The trip was titled the 'The North Cape'. It certainly was. We saw some amazing sights in all directions. A photo stop at a native settlement with a guy in local costume with a domestic deer. One couldn't help noticing his posh car parked across the road though. But the Experience centre was very interesting. We watched a movie taken from the air of Spitzbergen from a helicopter that really was amazing. The display of local birds (stuffed) was amazing made even more so by recorded sound affects of their cries.
Another sea day where I tried to shake of the cold I had the whole trip so far.
Our journey back South took us to Tromso. It proved very disappointing photographically. We made our way through drab streets covered with Graffiti passing two Beggars on our way to the Polaris Centre.
Now that was interesting and we watched the live seals in their Artic environment. We wished we had booked the Alaskan Huskies trip. Still another time perhaps?
Friday July 1st we arrived at Andalsnes. It was also my big 'O' Birthday. I opened the card from My son Allen in Leeds I brought with me that contained a lovely drawing from my Grandchild Loren together with a nice personal greeting. Returning from breakfast to find three tied balloons on our bed and a card from the Captain. So two cards on display now.
We were booked on a trip on the Rauma Railway. I couldn't wait. A fast scenic ride with photographic stops on the way. But not always a good idea to photograph through glass. Still I got some interesting shots on the way. That was a 3 hour trip and I was looking forward to our special meal that evening in the Terrace grill.
We knew the Wine waiter who had managed to hid our package card from the waiter staff, so no Bombay boys Choir. I bought a bottle of white German hock I knew I would never finish on my own so took it back to our cabin and in the fridge for the following day. What a great day.
Flamm was our next Port where we did the round trip on the mountain railway for K350 about £80. Having done this before we knew what to look out for. The return journey was in a reserved Coach for a party of Koreans. Lots of hand clasping and bowing and they didn't seem mind us at all. In fact many of them were asleep by the time we returned to Flamm. The Kjosfoss Waterfall was in full flood. We had never seen it in such a powerful state before. A stop for photos but the spray from the falls was as bad as heavy ran. We stayed in the coach. But on the return trip down we actually saw for the very first time the performance of the Maids of the Waterfall. Very impressive and very cleverly done high above the falls.
Next stop Eidfjord, a replacement visit after loosing Stavanger. A pretty place but it rained after we visited the Sysen Dam that I thought very impressive. So coffee in a near by Hotel. Some braved the elements and got soaked informing all that the Voringsfoss Falls were a disappointment. I did manage to get some shots though from below the Plateau. Had an interesting chat with our Guide who was a one time Councillor in Stavanger where he was born. But travelled the World working for the Red Cross and now retired.
Sadly this was our last Port of call. Now we have a sea day then back at Southampton. It's been a interesting and entertaining Cruise. Good food and friendly staff not to mention great company at the table in the evenings.
14 days that seems to go so slowly so we made the best of every day. I should mention the Comedian on this trip was typical Working Men's Club material. The Captain Hamish Reid was much more entertaining. The Headliners shows we had all seen on previous Cruises so I regret, as excellent that they are. We gave them a miss this trip. It's time P & O gave this some though in varying entertainment for regular cruisers.
Two grumbles. The vibration on this ship was terrible. I had bungs forced between the ventilation covers in our cabin to stop them rattling all night. The toilet flushed when it felt like it. Our traditional bottle of Gordon's Gin we part take on every trip had gone up 45% from £11 to £16.50. Just to rub salt into the wound, on our last sea day they were selling it at £7.50 a bottle. That made us really mad.
All in all an excellent Cruise we would do again. (With the exception of the Gin prices)